Care and Handling of Photographic Materials

This workshop discusses photographic processes identification, and the structure, composition, and format of a broad range of photographic materials. Agents of deterioration and mechanisms of deterioration are covered, as well as proper storage and handling techniques for photograph collections. Ways to minimize potential damage and information loss in an emergency or disaster are also included.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • identify and explain differences in structure, composition, and format of various types of photographic materials
  • identify agents of deterioration and understand the mechanisms of deterioration
  • implement proper handling and storage procedures for photographic collections as well as select appropriate housing enclosures and storage materials
  • develop some understanding of salvage and recovery procedures for photographs following a disaster


Structure, Composition, and Formats

Understanding the composition and structure of photographic materials in order to identify types and formats of prints, negatives and transparencies. This will serve to facilitate the identification of photographic processes.


Why and how photographic materials deteriorate, including inherent chemical instability, physical damage, biological attack, and adverse environmental conditions. Common deterioration problems and how to recognize them. Remedial actions that can be taken to slow down or stop deterioration.

Storage, Handling, and Display

Proper storage conditions including temperature, relative humidity, light, pollution levels, type of storage room, and storage container. Procedures to minimize physical abuse and chemical damage including protecting the surface from oxidizing agents during exhibition and researcher access. Examination of existing international technical standards and recommendations by experts in the field.

Disaster Recovery

Procedures for the safe recovery of photographic materials from water damage and other disasters. Minimizing potential for damage during the salvage and recovery operations

Target Audience

Curators, collections managers, conservators, archivists, and other personnel responsible for the preservation of archival materials.


Greg Hill


English, French

Enrollment Limits

Minimum 10; maximum 20


2 days

Special Requirements

  • Meeting room
  • Projector
  • Screen
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