Even though we live in the digital age of photography, if you want to display images as wall art, you'll need to print them. While photographing and producing images is no longer a chemical process, printed images are still susceptible to fading.
You may even have old memories that you'd like to pass on to future generations. So, what can you do to keep your photographs from fading? Apart from printing your photographs with archival inks and mediums, keeping them out of direct sunlight and storing them in a cool, dry atmosphere are only a few of the tips you can use to ensure your photos last a lifetime and beyond.
You could be a passionate photographer with some stunning pictures you want to sell or show, or you could simply have some priceless memories you want to hang on your wall, or you could have purchased a beautiful painting and want to keep it looking its best for as long as possible.
Knowing what causes pictures to fade is the first step in understanding how to make them last longer, as we've all heard the adage "prevention is better than cure."
So, What Is the main cause of pictures fading
Have you ever observed the fading of a photograph in your picture frame that gets a steady dose of afternoon sunlight? UV rays from noon to 4 p.m. are to blame, as they affect the chemical composition of the picture. Furthermore, the ink used to print your picture includes chromophores, which are light-absorbing bodies. The amount of light absorbed by these chemical compounds, particularly UV light, breaks down the chemical bonds of the picture dye over time, resulting in colour degradation.
Very interesting! But how to Print Your Photos Without Fading?
Ink that is UV and Fade Resistant
Nowadays, there are two kinds of inks used in printing: dye-based and pigment-based. Dye-based inks were more common years ago because they were less expensive and had a wider colour gamut.
Dye-based inks had the drawback of fading faster and being water-soluble, which meant that a single drop of water might ruin a print.
Printing technology has progressed significantly. The consistency disparity between the two inks is now minimal, and pigment inks have the advantage of being water and UV resistant. The majority of commercial print labs use pigmented inks from major manufacturers such as Canon and Epson.
Papers from the Archives
When having your images printed, you might have already come across numerous paper choices. Typically, a gloss, sheet, satin, or lustre finish is available.
You'll need to print your pictures on archival paper if you want to preserve them for a lifetime, or at least a few decades.
To achieve a degree of whiteness, normal papers use chemicals in their manufacturing process. However, it is these acids that cause images to yellow over time. Since archival papers don't contain any acids, they're also known as acid-free papers.
There are also two separate grades of archival paper: archival and restoration.
The distinction between the two is that conservation grade paper is produced from wood pulp, which degrades over time.
Archival grade, also known as museum grade, is made of cotton rag and has been checked to last for over a century.
Frames and mounting
Conservation and archival framing can cost you more, but it's a price worth paying if you want to add a layer of security to the final step in presenting your photograph.
Nothing acidic comes into contact with the print in this form of archival framing. As a result, all mounting tapes, boards, and mats must be acid-free.
A dust cover is often used by framers to keep not only dust out of your print but also insects out of it. They'll even protect the print by mounting it behind UV-safe glass or an acrylic cover.
Nothing lasts forever, but some photographs are well worth preserving. They can be memories, a record of a bygone era, or simply a breathtaking photograph that you'll never see again.
There are some important steps we can take to conserve both old and new photographs, and it's not impossible for them to last for decades. Original images dating back to the early 1800s have been well preserved to this day. It's more convenient to save our photos in digital format because they're easier to share and display with others.
However, I always wonder if a well-maintained physical print is a better bet. Will future generations be able to read technology from the past?
Will an alien race be able to retrieve knowledge from an old hard drive if human civilization vanishes? We'll never know!