After a disaster, losses that are a cause of great angst are damaged photographs. Photos contain priceless memories and are irreplaceable if you don’t have digital backups, copies or negatives stored in a safe location. If your facility is the victim of a flood, fire or another type of disaster, photo recovery may be possible, depending on the extent of damage, if you act quickly.
Document Recovery Tips to Salvage Photos
The most successful document recovery efforts begin with a comprehensive disaster preparation plan that includes steps to prevent damage to photos, as well as ways to salvage them. One of the best ways to prevent the loss of photos is by storing photos and negatives in a safe, dark, dry, climate-controlled location offsite, such as a safe deposit box. Place photos that you would like to save that are not on display in an acid-free archival box or photo album. The makers of archival products also sell special binders and sleeves in which to store negatives safely. Do not use paperclips, rubber bands or adhesive tape to store or display photos, as these items cause damage. If your building experiences a disaster that damages photos, use the copies you stored or take the negatives to a film-processing center and order copies of the prints.
If negatives are not available, create high-resolution digital copies of existing photos using a scanner that has a minimum 32-bit color depth and resolution of at least 1,200 dpi (the higher the better). It is a good idea to save the scanned photos onto a physical storage device, such as a CD or USB flash drive, as well as a cloud storage solution online. This redundancy is helpful if the storage device is lost, stolen or damaged. If your facility experiences a loss that damages photos, you may reprint the copies using a printer or order printed copies from a photo-processing center.
When irreplaceable photographs experience water damage, call a document recovery specialist, like Polygon, immediately. The expert will give advice about what to do with the photos as you wait for the experts to arrive.
If photos are wet, but not stuck together or dirty, place them face-up on clean blotting paper in a dry, well-ventilated room away from sunlight. Do not use printed paper or newspaper. Change the blotting paper every couple of hours until the photos dry. Alternatively, you may dry the photos by hanging them from a line using plastic-coated paperclips. As you work with the photos, wear gloves and do not touch the emulsion or photo face.
If a framed photo is wet, do not peel the picture from the glass. Instead, submerge it and the glass in a clean sink or bucket filled with clean water. After a few minutes, the picture will loosen from the glass. Use the same technique for photos that are stuck together.
When photos are dirty, do not rinse them under running water or rub them. Instead, place them in a bucket or sink filled with clean water and change the water frequently.
If you don’t have time to dry the wet photos, rinse them, stack them between sheets of wax paper, and place them in a plastic bag with a zip top. Place the photos in a freezer until the document recovery experts arrive. Freezing will not damage the photos; it prevents further damage and mold growth.
Polygon’s Document Recovery for Photographs
Polygon uses many of the techniques mentioned to salvage damaged photographs in addition to using the latest technologies and industry best practices. The process involves cleaning the photos using gentle yet effective techniques, drying them and ensuring they lie flat without causing additional damage. Specialists can even salvage wet negatives, film, x-rays and blueprints. When the damage is extensive, experts may restore a damaged photo by scanning it and touching it up using advanced software.
When you have wet, damaged photos, time is not on your side. Talk to a Polygon representative today to minimize the damage and preserve the memories.