Conservation is different from digital restoration. Conserving old photos and conservation is the stabilization and preservation of existing photos or documents, to prevent further damage and slow or halt the degradation process.
With conserving old photos is it first important to know what they are made of. Photographs frequently consist of multiple layers, each layer containing different substances which behave in a variety of ways. This complex structure can make certain types of deterioration untreatable. What might be beneficial to one layer may be harmful to another. Consequently, the first line of defence for the owner is to prevent problems occurring in the first place. Photographic conservators have wide knowledge of photographic techniques. They can identify processes and materials used in your object or collection as a preliminary to improving storage or carrying out treatment.
This can be a valuable service particularly if the photo or document is of great historical importance. Handling of photo and documents can deposit natural oils and grease from our skin which in turn react with any acid, or dyes within the paper causing staining or mould growth, undue fading or accelerated aging. Finding a way of stopping this with the correct specialist can be a great help.
Finding a conservator.
Where do you look for such a place? There is no one place to go for this type of conservation, you first need to identify what kind of specialist and then where to find them. You may require a plastic based photo conservationist or paper or even glass. Fortunately, there is a place to look. The conservation register.
The Conservation Register is a selective and regularly updated database of conservation-restoration practices that was originally established in 1988 by the then Museums and Galleries Commission. Not only does inclusion in the Conservation Register demand high standards of conservation-restoration expertise, but it also takes into account the overall aspects of good business practice. Since 2004, the Conservation Register has been owned and operated by the registered charity, The Institute of Conservation (Icon).
Regular users of the Conservation Register include:
- Private individuals and historic house owners
- Museums, libraries and archives
- Bodies such as English Heritage, Historic Scotland, the National Trusts, the Heritage Lottery Fund
- Antique dealers and auction houses
- Insurance companies and loss adjusters
- Other conservators
From the Conservation Register You can find these local preservationists and conservationists in your area.
Please note that conservation is not digital restoration. “There is, unfortunately, one area where damage is irreversible, and that is fading and tarnishing. This can result in a considerable loss of detail and once it has happened it cannot be reversed, so the advice given above about care of photographs is particularly important. Conservation can only help to keep what remains, but a conservator will be able to give pragmatic advice about what can nevertheless be achieved.”
At this point, a digital photo restoration artist can help so do get in touch.