How many of you have a stacks of photos that look like this?
|Aaackkk!!! They’re everywhere!|
For the vast majority of folks with this kind of photo collection, your photos are on glossy photo paper. The proper term is a coated paper. In any case, what you need to label these photos is NOT A BALLPOINT pen!!!
Chances are, you had some relatives (or yourself) who wrote on the photos with a ball point pen, and it created indents on the other side of the picture. Back in the 70s and 80s, archival quality pens were not readily available. If someone has written in ball point pen, praise them for doing their best to record the who, what, and why behind the photos. Things could have been worse. Your mound of photos could have no names, dates, and places and the people who know those facts are no longer living.
If you have photos that are unlabeled, you will want to label them. Yes, you’ll eventually want to digitize them. For now, label them with an archival quality pen such as the ones sold at Michael’s in the scrapbook section by Pigma. You’ll notice many of the pens come in a variety of colors and thickness of the pen tip. I prefer a medium-fine tip and the color black.
If your photo collection has old paper backed photos, you should use a soft lead pencil. One traditional archivist pencil is made by Stabilo. You can purchase a pack of 6 for $9.95 from ArchivalMethods.com.
Practice on a sheet of paper to see how much pressure you typically write with and determine if you need to be more or less firm when you write on the actual photos. You don’t want to smash the tip or press too hard to repeat the ball point ‘etching’ problems of days gone by.
|Label photos with Pigma pens|
In an ideal world, you’ll write on your pictures in a clean, dry workspace while wearing white, cotton-knit gloves. If you work in a less than ideal situation, do your best to focus on a flat surface that is dry. You want to reduce the possibility of bending your photos more. Clean and dry your hands well before working. Then be as careful as you can to keep your fingers off of the print side of the photo print. (Remember how your mom yelled at you to keep your hands on the edges of your print in the 80s? No? Well, mine did.)
Do the best you can. What is important is that you did your best to label the who, what, and where of a photo on the back so that this information stays together in the future.
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