Storing prints, slides and negatives after scanning

Storing prints, slides and negatives after scanning

The length of time your prints, slides and negatives last is up to you and how much care you take in storing them away. There are some inconspicuous problems with certain storage techniques that may never have crossed your mind, and which could be detrimental to the longevity of your photos. 

The conditions in which the photographs are stored are paramount in storing prints, to prevent them from deterioration and fading:

Relatively dry (about 30-40% humidity) – This is probably the most important factor when storing photographs because excess water in the air can have an adverse effect on the inks used in the photos

Cool temperature (slightly cooler than room temperature is okay, but 4°C is the optimum particularly with colour photographs)

Clean and risk-free environment - this means avoiding attic or basements because they can be prone to flooding and leaks. They may be the most obvious and hassle-free place to store them but is it worth the risk?

Dark – find the darkest place possible or cover wherever you are storing them with a thick blanket or store them in opaque boxes


In my opinion, the best overall storage container is the cardboard box, complemented with lint-free tissue paper for wrapping up groups of photographs. This is because the cardboard box is great at absorbing excess humidity, is opaque, is a very clean environment and best of all, is cheap!

Note for transparencies: Plastic boxes are not suitable for some types of negatives, so it may be worth containing them within another box if you wish to use plastic containers for your photographs.

Sources: Library of Congress