May 15, 2010

How long will those photos last? One year or a 100?

Have you ever seen photos from the eighteen hundreds in museums and thought, those are really old photos? Some of them look like they may be faded and some of them look like they may be good as new. The point is there are still good images on paper produced over 150 years ago that were produced by a photographic process. How long will photos produced today last? Some of us are still making images by a silver process that has a long history of recorded longevity and others of us are now making images using ink. The ink prints today are the new kid on the block and really the ones in question. If you are printing your own photos and they were going to fade next year to something that people viewing them would say “what happened to this photo?” would you still print it? So what about 2 years or 5 years? I would like to think that my images would last forever but since almost nothing lasts forever there must be a common ground that is reasonably acceptable to most reasonable people. Just for discussion lets pick 100 years of print life. I may be happy with that if my print was on display on a wall but how about if it is kept in a dark place? The questions go on and on as for what is acceptable and reasonable for a photograph to last. Who knows? How do we measure? Who do we trust for the answers ? Epson? HP? Kodak? Do they have a biased view of the results? I bring up this topic because for some photographers it is an important topic to consider when selling an image to be displayed. For those of you interested in this topic there is a new source available for determining image life that I would like you to visit and if interested support. Aardenburg Imaging & Archives is a photo testing site that has some very interesting data on just how long a print should last under many different conditions. At the very least click on the link and take a look at the site. Mark McCormick-Goodhart is the man in charge of this project and needs some additional support to continue his work. I have no connection with Mark of any kind other than I find his work relevant and necessary to photographers everywhere. If you have any thoughts on this topic let me know.

Best wishes, Gary