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Preserving your work at home
Students learning the fundamentals and best practices of photography will produce a great deal of work as they develop a full grasp of their chosen field. Whether looking to save only the most outstanding work or hold on to all of their negatives and prints as a way of learning from mistakes as well as triumphs, students can properly store and preserve their work with the help of the best archival methods available.
Maintaining the proper environment
Schools with photography programs will likely feature well-equipped storage rooms. However, when storing prints at home, students may not be able to exactly replicate these storage environments. Using the proper archival products can help students achieve professional-grade storage spaces (or close to) at home.
The room used for storing photographs should be the coolest and driest area in a home, and remain that way year-round. A closet is ideal for this purpose, provided it's above ground, while a basement closet would be too susceptible to dampness and mold growth to be practical. If there is any way to ventilate the closet, this can also be beneficial in limiting the accumulation of moisture.
Standards of plastic and paper enclosures
Students will be best served by ensuring that the enclosures they use are composed of the proper materials and adhere to certain standards. When using plastic, it should be uncoated and made from pure polyethylene, polypropylene or polyester. Paper enclosures and envelopes, meanwhile, should be acid- and lignin-free, and if possible should not have center seams, which can promote fading or staining in the prints.
Additionally, it will be extremely helpful for photography students to research the basic facts of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) ISO 18916 Photographic Activity Test (PAT). This set of guidelines is considered the "gold standard" of photo preservation, and materials that meet its stipulations can be thought of as ideal for that purpose. As examples, the pH of paper in direct contact with photos should fall between 7 and 9.5 (to be acidic, pH must be below 7).
Picking the ideal enclosures and storage methods
Photo negatives can be kept secure in appropriately sized polypropylene sleeves or cardstock paper file folders, or both, for extra protection. These are both provided in the four-up negative file kit, along with a box to keep all of these items organized.
For full-sized prints, polypropylene pages are useful for storage. Use them in conjunction with various binders for added protection against the elements as well as easy access. With a combination of all of these archival methods, students can rest assured that their initial forays into the field of photography are easily referenced and kept intact.
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