what do I use to put photographs in a scrapbook?
June 14, 2005 12:30 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way or product to use to place photographs in an scrapbook? I found old photographs lying around in an envelope and I would like to put them in an album in a way that will also preserve them (some of them are over thirty years old and have seen better days).

I'd like to put the photographs on pages that I can write on. Are there any protective but transparent envelopes I can use to connect them to the page? I want something that will protect the pictures but at the same time let me enjoy seeing them.

and while I'm at it what can I use to gently clean the pictures (some of them polaroids) without harming them?
posted by mirileh to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total)
First and foremost: make sure all items that you're going to use are acid-free.

I have my photos in scrapbooks attached with those little old fashioned corners. It works well for me.

As for transparent envelopes - I'm not sure they're needed. I have some photos that are over 60 years old and look as good as they day they were printed. However, I don't have any experience with Polaroids (archiving or cleaning them). Hopefully someone else can help with that.

You also might want to get reprints of the photos that aren't in good shape. It's spendy, but having a "back-up" is, possibly, a good idea.
posted by deborah at 1:01 AM on June 14, 2005

I've seen clear envelopes with adhesive backing, which I think were for this exact purpose. They were in a non-chain paper store, so I'm not sure where you'd get them if the local craft stores (ie scrapbooking central) don't have any.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:46 AM on June 14, 2005

deborah, do you find that when turning the pages the photos pop out of the corners if you're bending the page too much? [/derail]
posted by blueberry at 5:47 AM on June 14, 2005

Seconding deborah -- acid-free everything. It's more expensive but the cheap stuff will seriously damage the photos. Any decent art supply place will have what you need -- paper, clear acetate sleeves, the corners deborah uses, other adhesives, blah blah. If you can't find it where you are, try a froogle on "scrapbooking supplies" and you should get a jillion on-line sources.

Also and OT -- you didn't say if these are family photos but if they are, ask your folks about the people, places, events, etc. Get as much info as you can and write it all down on the back -- with an archival pen only, maybe on vellum and then glued down. My family (and lots of others, I'm sure) has many lovely photos of people who may or may not be relatives in various unfamiliar settings, with no info on the back except for cryptic notes like, "Bud and Sonny." Everyone who might know who Bud and Sonny were, and why they're wearing sunbonnets, is dead.
posted by vetiver at 5:50 AM on June 14, 2005

Light Impressions is a good source for archival supplies.

I would think that in addition to the using quality archiving material, the best way to preserve them would be to scan them. Burn them to a cd and if they are family photos, give a cd to each person who would be interested. This way, there isn't just one copy of each photo, which has the potential to disappear forever somewhere down the line.
posted by undertone at 7:09 AM on June 14, 2005

If you really want to preserve them, the first thing you should do is create digital copies.

Second, use acid-free, archival quality materials. Most scrapbooks and photo albums clearly state somewhere that they have these qualities if they do. Additionally, an album with a sheet of vellum between the mounting pages is nice because it prevents your fingers from touching the photos too much.

I have used photo corners before, but find it annoying that the picture almost pops out or pops out if the page is bent too far. I recently used adhesive squares and liked those better. Either would allow you to mount on blank pages and write next to/above/below the photos.

You could also buy an album that has plastic sleeves in which you insert the photos, with a lined section next to or under each photo where you can write a brief description. Of course, this type of album requires all your photos be the same size...

The sleeves mentioned before can be found here, although I'm sure you can find similar products for less elsewhere.
posted by suchatreat at 10:01 AM on June 14, 2005

blueberry - they do a bit if I'm not careful, but I really enjoy the old fashioned look of the white corners. I use scrapbooks/photo albums with black pages and use a white pen for captions. Also, before opening a book I wash my hands. When adjusting a photo that might have slipped I'm careful to keep my fingers on the edges.
posted by deborah at 1:18 PM on June 14, 2005

For the record, I'm under the impression that with the paper making methods used today, pretty much everything these days is acid-free anyway. "Acid free" is just marketing they stick on those products where people are going to want to be reassurred and/or products where it can be used to scare customers away from competing products, but acid-free is true of pretty much everything - the (very real) problems people had with acidic compounds ended aeons ago. "Archival quality" means even less than "acid free", it's just marketing. If it ever did mean anything, it doesn't mean anything now, since the label is slapped on any old thing.

I don't recommend entrusting your photos to my hearsay, (ie you'd want do your own research and confirmation on modern papermilling), but awareness of the marketing practices of the scrapbooking industry can only help.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:21 PM on June 14, 2005

thanks all!
posted by mirileh at 11:51 AM on June 15, 2005

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