Pictures for a Lifetime
July 1994

“Pictures for a Lifetime,” Ensign, July 1994, 72–73

Pictures for a Lifetime

If one picture is worth a thousand words, a family photograph album must be worth volumes. Here are a few tips to help you produce, mount, and store your photos and negatives in order to make you family’s photographic history interesting, enjoyable, and an important source of information.

Taking the Pictures

Remember that a good photo begins with a sharp, well-framed, and correctly exposed image—not expensive equipment.

Often the most engaging photos are unplanned—baby’s first step, children spattered with paint from an art project, or Dad taking cookies from the cookie jar. A candid photo may reward you with genuine emotion not attainable otherwise.

Record habits, characteristics, or talents of individual family members. Each photo can tell a story, whether it conveys a feeling through someone’s expression or an event through action. Illustrate everyday family life, and give added dimension to your subjects by catching them in routine activities such as mowing the lawn, playing with pets, or visiting neighbors. Family heirlooms and artifacts may also be photographed to create artistically expressed portraits. For example, one of Grandma’s handmade quilts can serve as a backdrop for a photograph of her.

Mounting Your Memories

Give some thought to the layout of each page in your photograph album. Photos may be arranged in a variety of ways; for example, you can group them by personality, by event, or chronologically.

Label and mount photos soon after they are developed so you can record important information about them while the events are still clear in your mind.

Use photo-safe products such as acid-free paper and photo-safe glues and inks. Mounting photos with common household glues and cements or on preglued or magnetized sheets can damage photos irreparably. Using appropriate products can preserve photos for generations.

Safe Storage

Negatives and slides are fragile and easily damaged. Protect them from scratches, dents, dust, and moisture.

I have found that archival plastic negative sheets are ideal for storing both slides and negative strips. These sheets can be bound in albums and labeled with a brief description.

Store negatives and photograph albums in separate places, keeping the negatives easily accessible. In the event of an emergency, negatives may be saved more easily than several bulky albums of photos.

Light and humidity can damage negatives and photos. Ideally, each should be stored in a safe, cool, dry, and dark place, with approximately 40 percent humidity and between 60 and 75 degrees.

A well-designed photographic history can help families vividly recall special times in their lives. It can strengthen bonds of affection, togetherness, and unity.—Danette Turner, Mesa, Arizona