Archival and preservation of negatives

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Andrei de Ara?jo Formiga, Dec 4, 2003.

  1. Hello to all,

    I'm looking for good tips on how to archive my developed negatives.
    I started only some months ago to take photography more seriously and
    already have some rolls of film, all loosely archived. Obviously there
    will be lots of them in the future. So basically I think I'll need a
    system to keep the negatives, and some database to know what the films
    contain, when they were shot, et cetera.

    First I'd want to know how to best keep them. I can have the lab
    return me the film cut in strips or the entire uncut roll, which seems
    to be preferred by pros. But I don't know if this is really so, and
    why would it be so. Then how should I keep them ? I don't know how to
    store the uncut rolls; the film strips are kept in the plastic slips I
    get from the lab. Ideas would be greatly appreciated on this regard.
    Also, I'm seriously thinking about having the negatives scanned and
    keep the images on CD.

    Then I should organize a database of pictures. This should be easy,
    I'll get something done in the computer soon, and I'll need to come
    out with some scheme to label the films so I can address them later
    (and individual pictures). This should be a unique label for each
    film, of course. Any recommendations ?

    Well, that's it. Thanks to all the kind people here who respond.
    Andrei de Ara?jo Formiga, Dec 4, 2003
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  2. Andrei de Ara?jo Formiga

    Jud McCranie Guest

    I get the strips and store them in ARCHIVAL plastic sleeves designed
    for negatives. Then I put them in 3-ring binders on shelves in a
    closet. Keep them away from light, chemicals, high humidity, and high
    temperature. If you want to get really fancy, there is more you can
    do. Archival sleeves are available from photo dealers and
    Jud McCranie, Dec 4, 2003
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  3. Here
    html#12638) is Kodak's advice on storing negatives.

    There are several programs for indexing photos, and you can set up your own
    in a spread sheet.
    Marvin Margoshes, Dec 4, 2003
  4. The trick to long term (archival) storage of negatives is 1) to have them
    really well washed, archivally so!
    then 2) stored in acid free holders, and 3) handle them with photo gloves
    (no finger oils)

    Probably the easiest to use and also lend themselves to the organizing you
    want is to buy quality, acid-free clear plastic sheets that have little
    slots for strips of 5-35mm negatives. They have a place for a header at top
    for a title, and wholes on the left side to go into a 3 ring binder. You can
    get these from lots of quality photo places. One that ships around the world
    is Light Impressions ( .

    Doug in Redondo Beach
    Doug mcCormac, Dec 7, 2003
  5. Andrei de Ara?jo Formiga

    Jud McCranie Guest

    One more thing - I've heard that you should use processors who change
    the chemicals as often as they're supposed to.
    Jud McCranie, Dec 7, 2003
  6. Andrei de Ara?jo Formiga

    Gabriel Guest

    As long as your sleeves don't contain any PVC you should be fine. Assuming
    you then put them in a binder, make sure it's acid free, of course. And
    yeah - cotton gloves. Fingerprints are forever.

    At that point you need to protect them from high temperature and high
    humidity, as well as from radical swings in temperature and humidity,
    particularly occuring in a short time. Light and airborne particulate matter
    (we like to call it "dust") are also bad. A good box will help. The archival
    supply houses sell very nice acid-free boxes that will protect from light,
    dust and leaky pipes (for a time) as well as create help buffer the material
    inside against sudden changes in temperature and humidity. The pressed-board
    "Hollinger" box is the industry standard. Corrugated plastic ("Coroplast")
    is also good, and has the added benefit of being fire-retardant and
    cheaper. The staff at any Archives in your area can point you in the right

    Don't store your photographs in attics, sunrooms, furnace rooms, near your
    shelf of half-empty cans of paint thinner, in the laundry room, or in the
    shelf under the one that has that raspberry wine you just bottled that you
    weren't sure was quite finished fermenting yet. For that matter - avoid all
    water pipes and if you must store any sort of records in the basement, get
    them up a ways off the floor.

    By all this I mean you are probably best off storing your photos and
    negatives in a good quality photo binder, in an acid free box with a tight
    fitting lid, up top in the bedroom closet.

    Good cataloguing is a must. A picture of a bunch of people sitting on a
    riverbank is just a picture of people on a riverbank unless you can put a
    bit of context next to it - who, when, where, why? (I don't mean for
    pictures kept solely for their artistic merit, I mean ones that contain
    information as well and which might be useful to people who are not you, but
    who who might be interested in the things you photographed, especially years
    down the road).

    Just as a suggestion:

    Unique Number:
    Extent: (say you have 26 photos of the same picnic on the riverbank and they
    don't seem to require being described separately)
    Physical description: (eg., colour, b&w, dimensions)
    Scope Note: A description of the including names, places, event, etc.
    Technical Details Note: Someplace to note things like shutter speed,
    aperture, whatever.
    General Note: Anything else you think of to say.

    If it was me cataloguing my own photographs I might number them something

    2004 - 001 - 01 (Year / Roll / Image).

    Some database programs allow you to include a link to scanned images with
    the catalogue description. Definitely if you are storing scanned versions
    you should indicate the file name and location (ie, CD number). Long term
    preservation of electronic media is a nightmare, but it's nice to have
    access and distribution copies. Don't count on more than 10 years from a CD.
    Similarly - hard drives are prone to breakdowns and you might want to
    consider keeping a hard copy version of your catalogue in a safe place.
    Having a well-catalogued collection will add immensely to its value when
    your heirs sell it to your local Archives 40 years from now.


    Gabriel, Dec 15, 2003
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