Photography/Protecting Old Photographs
QUESTION: I have some old photographs which have been laminated using that stick plastic lamination found at most stationary stores.
I tried removing it, but that just made things worse.
My question is, will this ruin the photographs over time?
Most of the photographs are I think polaroid films.
ANSWER: Hi there!
Polaroid made roll film as well as instant film, so I'm not sure which you mean.
A photo would help, but if you're referring to instant film ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant_film
), then yes: attempts at removing the print from the casing will likely damage the resultant print. The only way of "safely" removing the photo is to physically cut it out of its casing.
If it's a print that has been laminated or "sandwiched" between two pieces of transparent plastic, then you might try a hair dryer, or try using a towel with an iron as described in the following tutorial:
In either case, you're likely to damage the print and I'd advise leaving it as it is; that would be the safer bet. Heat and sunlight can both affect the pigments on a print and cause them to fade.
I hope that helps. Please feel free to post a follow-up or another question.
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QUESTION: Thank you for replying!
Sorry for the vague details... I am ignorant in this area.
The photograph is basically just covered only on the one side with the stick plastic.
I guess I should just leave it as it is like you said.
So is it mostly just heat and sunlight which will cause the most damage?
Is the lamination relatively less damaging?
Please, there's no need to apologise. It's wiser to seek expertise than to inadvertently destroy a print that has sentimental value.
Yes, I'd say leave it be. If its only covered on one side, then the laminate layer has most likely been applied using an adhesive. Attempts at removal will probably result in damage. The laminate plastic layer should serve to protect the print from physical damage anyway.
There are several different lamination methods, so it's difficult to say whether the process will be damaging our not. What is inadvisable is the heat based lamination that is used to protect documents or certificates, wherein the paper is sandwiched between two pieces of plastic. Thus usually serves its purpose for thinner paper, but for photos or thicker paper it can create air pockets or if the seal is incomplete it can allow moisture within and retain it, creating an ideal habitat for fungus.
Heat and direct sunlight (they usually go hand-in-hand) are indeed damaging to photographs, but just how much will also depend on the kind of ink and paper that has been used.
Prrsuming there's no direct sunlight, a print on photographic paper done in a good lab will last you a few decades without any fading. Your "old" print will last for years to come if it is taken care of.
A print using an inkjet, in comparison, will last a few years at most. This also depends on the quality of ink you use among other things, but speaking generally, inkjet prints fade quickly.
So in summary, don't remove the laminate and if you're going to frame the photo, make sure it's on a wall or area that doesn't receive direct sunlight.