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How do you stop photo prints from fading? May 30, 2013 10:15 by Matt Bird

Photo prints fading is a huge annoyance, ruining the recollection of those special moments that the picture represents… But it’s not all doom and gloom!

There are three clear factors that cause your photo prints to fade, and you’ll find details below on how to minimise their effect, helping your prints stay brighter, for longer.

If at any point you want some more science behind the how and why, read our post on why photo prints fade.


sunlightHow to stop Light fading your photos

Ultraviolet light is the bane of your photos existence, wearing your photo down to a shadow of its original self.

Obviously you can’t keep your photos in complete darkness, but the two key aims are:

  1. Keep the photo out of direct sunlight. 
  2. If possible, use frames with anti-UV glass

This minimises your photos UV exposure, and should ensure they last far longer.


moistureHow to stop Moisture fading your photos

Stop getting your pictures wet. Done! Seriously though, if photos aren’t on display and are just being stored somewhere try to keep them in a cool, dry place.

Anywhere that gets humid or damp, such as basements or bathrooms, are not ideal places for photo storage, so be aware that any pictures you place in these rooms will likely suffer from a change in hue.

For pictures on display, keep them cool to maximise their longevity.


airHow to stop Air exposure fading your photos

Air exposure causes your prints to fade by a process called oxidation and, short of sorting your photos in a perfect vacuum, you can’t stop it.

Assuming you don’t have access to a perfect vacuum, your photographs resistance to air will depend on the type of ink it uses.

  • Dye-based inks: weak to air exposure, dye is exposed to air nearlyconstantly
  • Pigment-based inks: Particles suspended in a clear resin. This resin significantly reduces the oxidation effect.

This means if you haven’t purchased your printer yet, and air exposure is a major concern, side with one using pigment inks for the best, longer lasting prints.


Finally, prepare for the inevitable…

These precautions will make your photo prints last much longer, but ultimately you are fighting time itself…. and time usually wins.

In light of this, make sure to keep backups of all your treasured pictures. For example, every picture I love is saved on my PC hard drive, a backup external hard drive (not to mention it’s probably on Facebook). That’s 3 copies I can run crying to if my first print fades to oblivion.

If you’ve got any tips on maintaining the quality of your images, or some awesome frames and display techniques that keep them shining for ages, comment below and share the wealth :)

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One Comment

  1. Paul says:

    The first thing to think about for long lasting prints is NOT to print them yourself. Take your files to a respected photo dealer or laboratory and have them printed onto true, professional quality photographic paper with a 100 year life expectancy (yes really). Ink-jet technology has not been around for a long enough period of time to prove how long it will last, no matter what the manufacturers tell us. True ‘wet lab’ photo paper has been developed (no pun) over a long period of time and is far less likely to fade. Yes its more expensive but worth it in the long run.