4 Tips To Maintain and Preserve The Quality of Your Old Family Films

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

People who are in their 20’s today are probably the last generation who have their childhood photographed via film cameras. They’re likely the last generation who have piles of photo albums in their homes and have a couple of special photos framed for display.

It’s really rare to find families who have photo albums in their houses nowadays. Others might’ve lost their photo albums already but still have the negative films with them. Which is great! That means you can still have them processed by photo printing shops that offer film processing services. 

Film photographs bring a unique and sentimental feel

Film photographs bring a different feel compared to digital snaps. Have you ever seen an old photograph of you and your family and suddenly you remember being in that moment? Or simply smile at how different that time was, but thankfully, a single, non-curated photo reminds you of how simple yet beautiful your childhood was. 

Nowadays, film cameras are somewhat popular again. A lot of people buy film cameras and negative films more for aesthetic purposes than as a memory keeper. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t special, either. Thanks to them, a lot of professional photo printing shops are offering film processing services again.

If you’re one of the people who value old family films and wants to preserve them for your grandkids to see, here are some tips on how you can do so.

1. Make them a physical copy 

If you no longer have a copy of photographs that used to be displayed at your parent’s house, but still have the negative films with you, that’s great news! Since you have the films with you, bring them to a photo printing shop for film processing. 

It would be nice to have them printed and keep them in a photo album. This time, you can have them displayed in your house. Also, maybe make more copies of some special photos and give them to your parents. They surely would love to revisit the past and remember how life was when they were younger.

The great thing about film processing these days is that photo printing shops enhance the quality of your shots. If you have it done at a professional photo printing shop, they offer scratch and dust removal services for your films. Also, their prints usually incorporate density and colour correction, making your old snaps refined and high quality.

After you have printed copies, keep the film as well. Those negative films serve as your ‘hard drive’ to your childhood memories. If ever you lose your printed copies, as long as you have your films, you can always have them processed in a photo printing shop.

2. Make them a digital copy too

One of the surest ways that you won’t ever lose a copy of your important films is to make them a digital copy. Once you have your negative films printed, have them scanned if the photo printing shop that you had it serviced on doesn’t provide negative film scanning. 

Some professional photo printing shops offer a service for negative film scanning. If you don’t prefer to have your photos printed anymore, this is a great way to have convenient access to your memories. Also, digital files are not only convenient; they are also easy to recopy. With this, you get to store your childhood photographs on your phone, laptop, tablet, and hard drive.

Of course, if you can, take care and still keep the original film. That way, you have a memento of the negative film. You’ll never know when you’ll need it again, in the future. If not, just a remembrance of a significant film. Keep the film in a transparent plastic card to avoid scratches and dust. That way, you can also preserve its original quality.

3. Avoid touching negative films and printed photographs with your bare hands

If you’re one of the people who no longer have the negative films of your old photos, but still have the original printed copy, that’s okay. It’s likely that if you have the original copies, you tend to look at and touch the photos with your bare hands. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, it can leave thumb marks that can stay on the photo, especially if it’s an old one. 

As much as you can, look at your photos carefully without having to take them out of the album. Avoid touching the photos, especially if your fingers are dirty or damp. If ever you do and notice some fingerprint marks, wipe it gently with a dry cloth to remove it. 

Unfortunately, old photographs with fingerprints on them are harder to remove. A tip is, don’t try to scratch or force to remove the marks. Leave them instead. But, if you are eager to have them removed, you can bring them to a photo printing shop and they can help you with scratch and marks removal. 

There are also some cleaners that you can purchase online. But, if you want to ensure that your photo will be safe and won’t fade, it’s better to bring them to a professional photo printing shop instead. 

4. Keep them in an album with transparent protector sheets

If your mom is a creative person who loves creating her own “photo books” with labels, and stickers on them, it would be nice to keep her work and the photos the way she designed them. However, if your photos are stuck on paper as an album, the tendency is that your photos will discolour easily. 

If you’re a sentimental person who highly values keeping things the way they are as much as possible, you can skip this tip. But, if you want to refine and preserve your original printed childhood photographs, one thing you can do is to store them in a brand new photo album.

It’s better if you go for photo albums that have an individual transparent jacket for each photo. Before you put them in a new photo album, clean and wipe the photos gently. Then, just like the third tip, avoid touching the photos with your hands. 

If you have a pile of printed photographs that aren’t in photo albums and are just piled up together, consider putting them in one. If you notice, piled photos are easy to turn yellow compared to photos that are stored in an album. This is due to the acid used in printing coloured photos.

That’s why choosing the quality and material of photo albums is important. As much as possible, it’s better to go for clear plastic photo jackets that will protect your photos and prevent them from any discolouration. 

Preserve them in a way that is convenient and works best for you

If the reason why you’re looking for ways how you can store your old photos is that you want to be more organised, then go for the one that works best for you. Maybe you’re moving to a new house and need to let go of your old family albums already. You can then go for digital storage instead so that you still have a copy of all your childhood memories.

Whatever your reason is for preserving your old family films, choose a way that works best for you. If you prefer taking care of your original childhood pictures, go and preserve them the best way you can. 

Those photos are not instant and definitely can’t be restored once they’re gone. So, while you still have it, and if you can, preserve them so that you get to treasure those moments when your world was simpler and innocent. Cling onto those photographs so you’ll see how your family saw you through the camera lens that captured those moments. 

About the author:

Bianca Banda is a writer for DS Colour Labs Ltd (DSCL), a professional photography lab that offers a vast range of products and services to aid every photographer’s needs. She is a massive lover of Japanese cuisine and enjoys binge-watching comedies or variety shows.


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