Care Instructions for Photographs

Collecting Photography

Instructions for handling and care of Fine Photographic Prints

Exhibition quality prints by Ansel Adams were made with great care. Every effort has been made to insure that they have practical archival quality and will last indefinitely unless subjected to an extraordinarily destructive environment, excessive humidity, vermin and/or poor handling and storage conditions.

The fine photographic print is a delicate object. The surface is easily marred, and any damage will be readily apparent. Therefore:

  1. Do not display in direct sunlight (if your wall gets sun, we recommend the Modern Replica as a good option in this circumstance).
  2. Keep the slipsheet over the print at all times when not on display.
  3. We recommend overmatting prints for both storage and display.
  4. Current archival standards call for use of “handling mats”, in which the mounted print is corner mounted on to a back board and the overmat is taped to the backboard. This ensures no glue or adhesive on the original mount (see #7 below)
  5. Do not slide prints about in a stack. The weight of prints in a stack can be considerable, and minute bits if grit will cause surface abrasions or indentations.
  6. Prints should be stored in containers (portfolio boxes) that are of special design. There are now many on the market. Do not store prints in ordinary wrapping paper or cardboard which are chemically impure. Avoid musty, humid areas as well as areas in contact with fumes and gases. Do not store unframed prints on edge; the mount may become curved.
  7. Never use rubber cement, scotch tape or any hygroscopic material with, or adjacent to, photographic prints; they can be extremely damaging to both print and mount.
  8. Use Plexiglas or glass in the frame. Plexiglas has the advantage of less weight and is clearer than glass, but it does scratch easily. Be aware that glass can break and damage or destroy a photograph.
  9. The backing material in the frame should be high quality archival board. Ordinary cardboard is chemically impure.

Last Updated on May 24, 2021