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How to Preserve and Display Your Vintage Photo Collection
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How to Preserve and Display Your Vintage Photo Collection

Vintage photographs can often be one of a kind, or at the very least, highly sentimental. If you have vintage photos in your collection, you’ll want to do everything you can to protect them from damage so that they last as long as possible. These photos can often be irreplaceable, so it’s important to do all you can to preserve them.  

A vintage ford coupe parked in front of the spite house in Alexandria

How to Prevent Damage to Your Photographs

Preventing damage is one of the best ways to preserve your vintage photo collection. Restoration of original photographs is costly and difficult, and there are limitations on what can be done, so it’s important to prevent damage before it happens. 

Preventing Sun Damage 

Sun exposure is a huge danger to prints and artwork of any kind, and vintage photographs are no exception. Even short periods of sun exposure will cause fading over time, and prolonged exposure will exacerbate the damage. Once fading occurs, there is no way to reverse it. 

The best way to prevent sun damage is to avoid displaying your vintage photographs in areas of your home that receive direct sunlight. Before hanging your photographs or choosing where to display them, watch the path of the sun inside your home during the day. Make sure you know where it reaches so that you can avoid these areas when hanging your photographs. 

If you can’t avoid placing a photograph in an area that receives sunlight, you’ll want to make sure you have it framed using UV-protective glass. This will help prevent fading caused by sun damage. 

Preventing Dirt and Dust Accumulation

Dirt, dust, and other debris collecting on the surface of a photograph can cause damage. Wiping this debris off can cause small scratches on the surface of your print. Framing your vintage photographs behind glass with prevent the buildup of any problematic dust and debris. The glass can easily be wiped clean, eliminating any need for the surface of the photograph to be touched.

A black and white landscape image of the Van Horn Range

Choosing the Right Framing Materials

Even if you’re careful to keep your photographs out of the sun and behind glass, they can still accrue damage over time if they aren’t framed with the right materials. Non-archival framing materials can cause yellowing, fading, and other discoloration over time. Depending on the quality of the materials, this damage can happen quickly or slowly, but it is a near-certainty with poor-quality materials. 

It can be hard to verify the quality of materials if you are using pre-made frames. To guarantee that you’re prints are framed with the highest-quality, archival materials, the best option is to work with a framer to create a custom frame. A framer will be able to ensure that your frame is made with archival materials to keep your photographs safe for as long as possible. 

A Ford vehicle parked in front of Alexandria's Christ Church

Decorating with Vintage Photographs

Vintage photographs, whether genuine vintage or reproduction, make a unique decor option. They offer a sense of nostalgia as windows into the past. Any vintage photograph you display is sure to be a conversation starter. 

Thrifting Vintage Frames for Unique Displays

Pairing vintage photographs with vintage frames is a great way to create an even more unique display. Vintage frames can be found at antique sales, but you may also have luck finding unique vintage frames in thrift stores. You’ll certainly need patience, as it might take some time, but the payoff of finding the perfect, unique frame, will be worth the effort. 

Matching Your Wall Decor With Your Furniture 

If you have antiques or rustic pieces of furniture in your home, vintage photographs make the perfect decor for your walls. Both offer nostalgia of different kinds, reminiscent of times past. As mentioned above, tying in vintage frames as well can help bring everything together, allowing you to use your decor to express your appreciation for nostalgia and items from the past.

Consider Reproduction Prints for Longevity

If you’re concerned about the longevity of genuine vintage photographs, reproduction prints are a great option. All of the vintage photographs in our collection are available as reproduction prints on both paper and canvas.

Modern Archival Materials Provide Quality and Longevity

While the quality of materials of vintage photographs can’t be guaranteed, the materials used for modern reproduction prints can. All of the materials we use are fully archival, and rated to last over 100 years with fading or discoloration. 

Display Reproductions and Safely Store Original Vintage Photos

If you choose to display reproduction prints, you can keep your original vintage prints stored safely away from potential harm. Archival print sleeves and storage boxes will help ensure your prints last as long as possible. Keep these out of the sun, and in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment to help them last.

A vintage photograph by Dorothea Lange of a railway Brakeman in Nevada

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