How to store photographs
Learn how to store photographs, keeping them vivid and looking new for generations to come.
Support & Drivers
No matter how your photos are printed, they’re subject to environmental conditions—such as light and humidity—that can cause wear and fading. Learn how to store photographs and protect your treasured prints, so they'll remain brilliant for years to come.
Choosing photo albums for storage
An attractive album cover can be appealing, but it isn’t as important as the quality of the album pages.
A photo album is ideal for both showcasing and protecting your printed photos.
- There are many types of photo albums available, including strap-closing books, spiral and ring binders, and albums with clamp bindings.
- Regardless of the design, albums should always be stored in an upright position. If they are lying on their side, the weight of the album may cause indentations in your pages or damage the photos.
- Be sure not to overfill a three-ring binder: If it doesn't close all the way, you could lose a page.
- The style of your album is less important than the album pages, which are in direct contact with your pictures and can potentially cause damage.
Use archival-quality album materials
To avoid adhesive album pages, which could potentially damage your pictures, opt for using photo corners instead.
Archival-quality materials are designed to be chemically inert, which means they won’t cause your pictures to dissolve, fade, or deteriorate.
- Avoid acid or lignin: When selecting pages for your photo album, look for ones that are acid- and lignin-free. These chemicals can yellow and damage pictures.
- Don’t use adhesive: Look for plain pages without adhesive, unless it's archival quality. Instead, use photo corners to secure your pictures.
- Use page protectors: To limit your prints' contact with air and preserve them for future generations, use page protectors and pocket corners. But beware of ones that contain PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which will eventually damage photos.
- Get the right pen: When writing in your albums and scrapbooks, use permanent pens with acid-free inks.
Where to store photographs
Store photographs in boxes that limit the amount of light or air that they’re exposed to.
Store photographs in a cool, dry, dark place that's safe from threats such as pet damage and flooding.
- That doesn’t necessarily mean the attic or basement. Store photographs in a room that's relatively well ventilated and doesn't have dramatic temperature fluctuations.
- A closet, chest, or cabinet (with the prints in a box that limits light and air exposure) is a safe solution.
- For heirloom pictures, consider extra protection, such as a fireproof box or safe.
Avoid faded photos and other damage
Protect your framed prints from fading by keeping them out of direct sunlight.
Remove fingerprints from your photo prints using a cotton ball dampened with rubbing alcohol.
When learning how to store photographs, follow these tips to protect them from light exposure (one of the biggest causes of photo fading) and other types of damage:
- If you frame your pictures, hang them out of direct sunlight.
- If that's unavoidable, try rotating prints occasionally or using frames with anti-UV glass. This type of frame is often found at photo stores and frame shops.
- Aluminum frames are ideal, as they are lightweight and are not affected by humidity.
- Original HP inks resist the effects of filtered sunlight, indoor halogens, and common fluorescent and incandescent light.
- Be sure to put an acid-free mat between the frame and the photo to prevent your prints from sticking to the glass over time.
- When showing pictures to friends and family, try to avoid touching the surface of the prints. Skin leaves oils that can permanently stain a print after a number of years.
- To remove fingerprints and smudges, try using a cotton ball dampened with rubbing alcohol.
Get long-lasting photos with HP
When you print using Original HP ink and photo paper, you get long-lasting photos, true-to-life colors, and water resistant prints.
When you print using Original HP ink and Original HP photo paper you get:
- Long-lasting photos: Original HP inks deliver bright, amazing colors that resist fading for generations.1
- True-to-life color: Original HP inks create up to 72.9 million rich, brilliant colors that bring your photos to life.
- Water resistant prints: Printing with Original HP ink and Original HP photo paper in combination can help your photos resist damage from moisture and everyday handling.
Discover how to get lab-quality photos at home.
Learn more about Original HP photo paper.
Now that you’ve discovered the different ways you can store your digital photos, take the time to explore each method a little more in-depth:
- 1Display permanence rating by Wilhelm Imaging Research, Inc., or HP Image Permanence Lab. For details, visit www.hp.com/go/printpermanence