Dr. Mark’s Guide to Photo Safety

Photo Safe

Photo safety is a complex subject and it is difficult to know what to do about it. Here, in one concise list are my recommendations for Ahni, Zoe, Creative Memories, Our Memories for Life, and anyone else concerned about photo safety:

  1. Run pH and buffering tests on paper products. These test will verify that the paper is acid-free and buffered to resist the effect of acids in memorabilia and in the environment.
  2. Test all colored paper for bleed. Dyes should be an integral part of the paper and not migrate to items attached to the paper.
  3. Run the photographic activity test on paper and adhesives. The photographic activity test ensures that products will not react with photographs and other materials.
  4. Avoid PVC. With so many other materials available, there is really no reason to use PVC.
  5. Test adhesives to ensure that photos will not fall off album pages over time.
  6. Evaluate light stability. While it is not directly related to photo safety, I really hate to see products fade.

These tests may not cover all aspects of photo safety, but they provide a good starting point.

Tests should be run annually to ensure that products remain photo safe.



About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
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5 Responses to Dr. Mark’s Guide to Photo Safety

  1. Thank you for not leaving all of us high and dry. So many of us came to respect (and love) you during our years of association with CM!

  2. chybaskids says:

    Dr Mark, how DO we do these tests in our little abodes?

    • Mark Mizen says:

      This list focused on tests that manufacturers should run to validate the photo safety of their products. However, versions of every test except number 3 can be run at home.

  3. Linda Camden says:

    thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with all of us!

  4. Thank you Dr. Mark for making sure we’re informed on photo safety. Greatly appreciate all you do.

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