Picture Frame Conservation Considerations for Photographers

6th Jul 2016

Photographs are priceless treasures – these capture a moment of time that one can never go back to. These are often moments of joy, love and celebration, as well as glimpses of passing youth and innocence. As a photographer, you do your best to capture these moments.

But your job does not end there. You can go the extra mile for your customers by using archival framing methods to ensure that the framed photos retain their color and quality much longer and that these photos are protected from damage.

Here are some ways you can conserve photos during the framing process:

  • -Use acid-free and lignin free material. Acids in the paper and other materials that touch the photo paper can cause the photo to become brittle and discolored. Meanwhile, the lignin in some types of paper eventually breaks down and become converted into acids. There are various papers, card stock, matting and mounting boards that have different levels of archival protection. The higher the conservation level, the more expensive the cost. You can discuss with the client to determine his preferred balance of conservation and cost. The same goes for the type of tape or glue you will use during the photo mounting process.
  • -Use glazing that has UV protective capabilities. Light, both natural and artificial, has its negative effect on the photo. Over time, light causes the components in the photo paper to break down. As a result, the photo may fade, get discolorations or become brittle. The UV-protective glazing deflects the rays that can cause damage.
  • -Consider: glass vs. acrylic. Glass can provide excellent visual clarity but is more vulnerable to breaking. When the glass breaks, the shards can also damage the photo. Think about using acrylic, which is lighter and more resistant to breakage. However, you need to remind your client to avoid using scrubs and other harsh cleaning materials, since acrylic can easily get scratched.
  • -Use matting or spacers. Matting boards do not just heighten the visual impact of the framed photo, these also provide some space between the photo and the glass. During times of extreme temperatures (such as summer or winter time), moisture can build up on the inner side of the glass. The space provides a “breathing space” that allows the moisture to eventually dry up. Without this space, the photograph will come into contact with the glass and will also absorb the moisture that has built up in it. Over time, this can cause mold or mildew to form in the surface of the photo paper. If you do not like to use matting, you can also use spacers, which are transparent strips that you place on the inner edges of the frame.These spacers also work to separate the glass and the photo.
  • -The mounting technique should be reversible. Never glue the photo onto the mounting board. This is considered an irreversible method since removing the photo from the mounting will damage it. Rather, use archival methods that allow your client to remove the photo from the mounting and the frame, as needed. Some options include photo corners and hinging methods using tape. These options allow the paper to expand or contract, depending on the level of humidity, without getting restricted by the way it has been mounted.