With digital it easy to forget that having photographs in frames and on our walls and tabletops has a powerful effect. We see and remember the beauty and joy of our lives.
We also forget that the most secure way to have heirlooms is through prints. Whether a print is from a digital image or from film, printing on archival paper will give us memories that we can pass down to our children and even grandchildren.
There are two ways that are readily available to make prints from digital photographs. One type of process, the digital C-print, is the same as that used for color negatives. Your digital file is printed on a continuous tone printer that uses silver-based paper and processes that paper with traditional chemistry. These type of prints can last up to 60 years.
A new form of printing is done with pigment-based inks. This is different than inkjet prints. Pigment based inks are often called archival and are rated to last 100 years depending on the paper used. You must use a paper that is also rated archival for the print to last. I recommend that you work with a trusted professional lab for both the digital C-print and the pigment-based ink print.
It is advised to keep prints away from direct sunlight. If you wish to frame them, using an archival mat to separate the print from the glass or acrylic is a must. Without a mat, the print may stick to the glass and be ruined. The glass and acrylic can also come in UV protective forms.
Albums have been a traditional way to store prints and have the advantage of being able to group prints by event, trip, or keeping track of the growth of your child or children. Look for albums that are archival. For mounting the photos there are a multitude of products from archival corners, tapes and archival glues. Prints can also be stored in archival boxes. There are also archival plastic sleeves. These products are very popular and easy to find. The images I am using as illustrations are prints mounted to an archival paper in an album, one with archival corners and the other with archival glue tape.
Although printed books are fun, they are not archival. Do not consider them for heirloom pass alongs.
Canvas prints, on the other hand, can be top coated for longevity to prevent fading from sunlight and scratching or scuffing. There are several top coating options that have UV inhibitors and waterproofing. Have your canvas prints done professionally and ask about the top coating options. These options may also offer you a choice in finishes from matte, satin, semi-gloss, or gloss.
-Alice Garik creates photographs and art for her clients: maternity and families. She works with her clients to uniquely tell their stories. Visit www.alicegarik.com and contact her for a consultation.