Archives… For Photography Worth Keeping
Print File Archival Preservers have become the industry standard for permanently preserving irreplaceable negatives, prints, slides, and transparencies. In response to a growing number of inquiries, Print File, Inc., provides the following archival storage profile and the prescribed industry guidelines for preserving valuable photographic material.
Until recent years, archival film storage had been associated, at least in the public mind, with museums, government agencies, libraries, or other institutions concerned with the preservation of photographic records; however, other users of photographic film, such as commercial photographers, printing houses, publishers, and schools, have long been concerned with how best to ensure permanence of their irreplaceable photography.
A sophisticated generation of amateur photographers who observed how time, humidity and casual storage damaged valuable slides and prints, nowadays, have converted to using archival storage techniques. They, too, appreciate that a picture good enough to keep is good enough to keep forever.
For photographers interested in permanent film storage, let’s examine what constitutes “archival storage,” safe parameters of storage techniques, and how Print File archival preservers ensure your finest photography maintains every detail and color while protected and preserved.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is the industry’s definitive source of recommended and proven procedures for photographic film and print storage. Their publications, ANSI IT9.16 is recommended reading for anyone serious about safe archival storage methods. This publication outlines safety guidelines for processed film and print storage, enclosures, and containers.
According to ANSI, archival storage is “the preservation of records having permanent historical value.” The permanent storage of film is contingent on several factors. The first factor is the quality of the film itself. These days, however, commercially produced film adheres to strict quality measures which maximize image permanence. The second factor and one of prime concern is film processing.
How and Where to Store Your Film Archives
Other factors, which you can control, include storage temperature, humidity, light, and the type and quality of your storage enclosures. For example, black-and-white materials should be stored at about 68 degrees F and no warmer than 77 degrees F. Color materials, ideally, should be stored at 50 degrees F or below. The lower the storage temperature the less likely the chance of deterioration, even down to 0 degree F, if feasible, for the commercial archivist.
It is recommended by Print File, Inc., that the relative humidity of film storage be between 15% and 50%, with 30% an optimal level. Any higher humidity promotes the growth of fungi which will attack emulsion and eventually destroy the image.
Metal storage cabinets are better than wood storage due to the vapors emitted over time by varnish, wood, glue, and paints.
The Construction of Archival Safe Film Enclosures
ANSI recommends these enclosures be constructed of such inert materials as “uncoated polyester (polyethylene terephthalate) and uncoated cellulose acetate. Polyethylene and polypropylene have been found suitable as they are generally inert, unplasticized, and have good chemical stability.” Archivists should avoid “highly plasticized sheeting and coatings or plastics of unknown quality containing residual solvents or plasticizers.”
Print File, Inc. – An Industry Leader in Top Quality Archival Preservers
Because archival storage is critical to the permanence of your photographic records, Print File manufactures clear polyethylene and polypropylene negative, print, slide, and transparency preservers which comply with every ANSI standard and have proven themselves safe for your photographic material in independent laboratory testing. When it’s time to store your own slides or prints, you can be sure they stay preserved and even outlive you!
Exclusive thin backing coupled with high clarity provides excellent resolution when proofing without removing negatives from the preserver. No other manufactured preserver has this feature. Also, continuous seams eliminate the problem of negatives hanging up in the sleeve itself. You can literally load and unload Print File preservers easier and faster.
Our Exclusive Hanging File System is designed specifically for hanging photographic records in standard file drawers or file boxes. Simply slide the hanger into the preserver’s I.D. strip, and it’s ready for hanging. And you don’t need to be a professional photographer to keep your negatives, prints, slides, and transparencies permanently protected. While you might not be able to maintain an optimally cool, dehumidified vault, you can be assured that careful handling and storage of film and print material, using Print File archival preservers, will help keep your film library in top quality condition for years to come.
The Print File Archival Preserver product line is available at fine camera stores in the U.S., Canada and throughout the world.