27 September 2012
By its nature, photography is a highly light sensitive medium. When exposed to direct sunlight or electric lighting, photographic prints will fade and deteriorate over time. Colour photographs and vintage black and white images are both particularly vulnerable to ultra violet light rays and museums have strict guidelines in place with regards to the level of light they can be displayed under. When photography is exposed to bright light this often goes hand in hand with heat which results in brittle photographic paper with a higher risk of cracking and splitting. Heat encourages chemical reactions to happen more quickly, speeding up the degradation of your photography even further. We recommend following these steps to reduce the risk of long-term damage:
• Avoid hanging your photographic prints opposite windows where they will be exposed to direct sunlight
• Rotate which works in your collection are on display to minimise the amount of time the photography is exposed to UV light. We recommend a policy of 6 months on display followed by 6 months in storage.
• Dim your lights! Some particularly delicate photographic prints will fade even in low level lighting, however this is still a good policy to follow.
• Do not spotlight your photographs! This may offer a temporarily beautiful aesthetic result, but dramatically increases the rate at which your photographs will fade and deteriorate.
• Invest in UV coating for your windows to limit the amount of ultra violet light reaching your photography.
• Invest in LED lighting. This lighting solution is good for photography as it does not generate excessive amounts of heat which can encourage photographic paper to become brittle.
• Do not display photographic prints in hot or humid environments. We recommend a dry area at a stable room temperature of 21 degrees centigrade.
• Protect your photographic prints with conservation picture glazing which contains a 99% UV filter.