What causes photos to fade?

While we have gone into the details of how environmental factors can ruin old photographs, we haven’t ever really gone into the science of some of the more stubborn causes of damage.

Have you How exactly does sunlight damage a picture that was protected in a frame? And how do photographs stored in a box suddenly become streaky and damaged, even though you haven’t handled them in years?

To answer these questions and more, we explain how our surroundings affect these photographs.

Understanding Light Damage And Effects on Vintage Photos

You may have noticed yourself how some photos fade over time. This is because the UV light affects the chemical makeup of the picture. The ink that is used to print these photographs contains a light absorbing body called chromophores. When any amount of light is absorbed by these compounds, the UV rays in that light break down the chemical bond of the picture dye, causing the colors to fade away.

old damaged photograph

The best way to avoid exposing your most valuable pictures to excessive sunlight is by keeping your photos in UV protectant glazed frames and away from direct contract. However, if your pictures are already too damaged, get in touch with a professional to know how to get your old photos restored.

Reducing Pollutant Exposure

Various toxins and pollutants in your home and surroundings are not just damaging for your pictures. Household chemicals, second hand smoke and dust can damage the chemical composition of your pictures and cause fading, stains and even abrasions on your photographs. This is why it is important to keep your pictures away from the fireplace or any open windows.

You must also never use any cleaning chemicals if you’re cleaning dust off the photographs. The chemicals used in the cleaner may cause the colors to run and may even damage the paper quality.


Preventing Acid Burn

Acid burns usually occur when photos are stored in acidic material. For instance, if you use masking tape or adhesive tape to fasten your picture in an album or another surface, the strong chemical composition of the adhesive causes a strong staining on the print. Another way your pictures can get an acid burn stain is if the photo is printed on acidic paper. You can easily differentiate those prints by their strong yellowish appearance.

Along with making sure that such pictures are stored in acid-free papers, consult professionals in picture repair to know the extent of the damage.



Foxing (Brown Spots)

Foxing or browning is most often an issue with older photographs and documents. Foxing is caused because of a variety of fungal growth. The growth gives way to blotching and yellow spots which gradually become visible as brown spots. This usually happens when the photographs are stored in damp conditions.

For each of these causes, the best solution is to not only take good care of your pictures, but to also consult a professional as to your next step.

Heritage offers genealogy research as photo scanning services so that all your photos are kept in safe conditions.

If your old photographs have any of the above damages, we urge you to contact us so that we can help you maintain your memories while providing you with an affordable photo restoration service in Houston that will restore the beauty of your photographs.