I’m sure someone who knows more will be along soon, but I have found the main enemies of so many materials you would like to preserve like photos are heat, light and air.
I have Polaroids from 40 years ago, kept in a cool (60F) environment, in a dark place, away from moving air, and they are in pretty good shape. I have some monochrome Polaroids from 65 years ago that are in perfect shape, but that’s a different technology.
Another method, if preserving the image is your goal, not necessarily the actual, original material, is to make a very good, hi-resolution scan and save as a file with no lossy compression, like TIF. Of course, then you will have to worry about how to store the digital data, but that’s another task.
Past that, I put my prints in frames on the wall, but that is because I had a darkroom and could run off enlargements cheap (well, not if you count the cost of the equipment, which now sits awaiting the dump when I die).
you say you have 30 year old photos which are in good condition. So it seems that you’ve already done a good job of perserving them for 30 years.
Re-mount the photos in a new album if you want, and then store it in the same conditions (was it a dark closet?)that you’ve been using for the past 30 years. Should be good for another 30 years.
Or am I missing something?
I don’t know what was so special about this album. I bought it over 30 years ago, and it must have been cheap, I was chronically broke then.
I was hoping someone would be able to say, “use acid-free backing and unobtanium acetate film”.
The album was stored in the dark, but in an attic with the expected temperature gradient - nearly freezing to too hot to breathe, and a similar range in humidity. So, it must have been the backing or film that preserved them so well.
Early Polaroids were extremely unstable - the film pack came with lacquer and an applicator. Rumor was that they would fade quickly if not preserved.
If it is only 30 years, it was well after the process had stabilized so lacquer was no longer needed.
But I’ve never heard of archival qualities of Polaroid of the 80’s - hence the recommendation to scan.
Acid free was important for traditional prints due to the thinness of the medium.Polaroid has the chem pack between the image and the back.
Still wouldn’t hurt to use archival paper and do not allow moisture to get trapped on them.
That may have looked like a lacquer, but it was primarily a chemical fixer. The Polaroid developing process only developed the image, but did not fix it like standard film processing does, so it immediately began to slowly fade if not coated.
You know, I am sure you know a lot more about photography, art and chemistry, than do I. That is, after all, why I posted. But what is really important here is not art, but memories. If I lose these, I will have no mementos of that time, no pictures of most of these people. That means a bit more to me than the reputation of the technology.
Which, in this case, has held up weirdly well.
If I ever find out exactly what by pure chance I did right, I will revive this post and let everyone know.
I have worked in serious, and not so serious, photographic circles, and the Polaroid process was highly useful. It did not supplant conventional photography in all cases, but extended it.
I used it in middle & high school to provide photos of events that went right to press, as we had no darkroom lab and couldn’t wait for commercial processing.
I used it to take pix of stuff for accident investigation and insurance purposes, where even a few hours thru a photo lab would have slowed down the claim processing and Polaroids were perfect for the reports.
I used Polaroids as insurance. Even if my film didn’t come out, I knew I had backups before the film went to processing.
I have used Polaroids (as many photographers have) to check on lighting, set layout, and camera angles before committing to film.
I have used Polaroids, from the original B&W film to SX-70, for personal uses where it was far more convenient than waiting for developing. Take a picture and hand it to someone right there.
Polaroid was far from a joke for both professionals and amateurs in its heyday.
Polaroid was very useful when you had to know immediately that you got a quality photo. in science and technology the setup of the thing to be photographed could be extensive (hours and days) and longevity of it might be short; you needed to know of a good photo immediately.
The 4x4 pictures may be unreal, but large format Polaroid is definitely real photography. The mass-market cameras suffered from “good enough” film and lenses, but the professional Polaroid films were amazing.
Some shrewd people scooped up all of Polaroid’s stock when they went out of business, and are keeping busy with a 20x24" Polaroid camera.
I don’t know if they are sold now, but some years ago, photo albums were sold with a clear, acetate-type film with a slightly sticky backing designed to be spread over an entire page of small photos to seal them to the page. I’m not sure if the sticky backing was glue or electrostatic attraction, but it worked pretty well. It didn’t seem to destroy the photos – they could be removed without damage – and the glue was benign.
I don’t know if this is still the way photo albums are made – I haven’t seen one for 20 years.