The International Organization for Standardization [ISO] provides a forum for representatives from various companies and organizations to discuss factors that improve product quality. At these meetings, which are held twice a year, companies gain general knowledge that facilitates product improvements. The ISO allows each company to validate their testing procedures as they learn about best practices from others in the industry. Companies that do not participate are essentially operating in the dark.
I participate on the ISO committee that addresses image permanence. These images include everything from a 4×6 print to a photo book to a drivers license. Participation gives me an inside view into the the factors that determine how long photos will last. Without the ISO, my knowledge of factors that permanence would be far more limited than it is. I have learned about the importance of humidity, ozone, light, and heat in determining product lifetime. In my current position, this knowledge allows me to test and validate the expected lifetime for driver’s licenses and other IDs, ensuring that the image will be durable and long-lasting. After all, a driver’s license or ID photo is important, even if it is unflattering.
Membership in the ISO Working Group on image permanence is open to anyone interested with an interest in participating. For more details see The IS&T Standards Program and ISO/TC42 Photography or send me an email.
Anyone can use ISO standard since they are publicly available documents. Unfortunately, not everyone may understands how to implement and follow recommended procedures, leading to misleading product claims and product that may not meet customer expectations. I cannot do a lot about these issues other than to continue this blog and point out misleading product claims when I see them.
Note added June 17, 2013: The U.S. member body participating in the ISO requires a fee to join the committee that addresses image permanence and photosafety but no fee to comply with issued standards. What is required is testing to ensure compliance, and testing costs money. Of course if you don’t run the tests you really have no idea what you are getting.