Your web browser is out of date. Update your browser for more security, speed and the best experience on this site.
Find out more
Sea Of Steps, Frederick H.Evans
CREDIT: RPS Collection

Keeping and Caring for Photographs

New archives need to be planned for a purpose and designed to ensure that material can be accessed by those who wish to view items or use the archive for research.  Decisions need to be made at the outset about what is to be stored, where it will be housed and what information is going to be recorded to identify items.  Information is most likely to be stored digitally and for a small archive a spreadsheet may be adequate whilst larger projects may be able use one of the free software packages designed for museums and archives. The largest projects may require dedicated programs. The care of old family photographs requires similar decisions on what to keep and how.  

Handing the material also requires planning from a very early date, as does the physical storage, which is essential.  When older material is “found” or discovered for the first time, it should not be removed from its existing location without professional advice unless it is in immediate danger of destruction (e.g. fire or flood).  Moving material from say a cold location, where it has been forgotten and undisturbed for years, may require careful planning from the outset.  The physical environment for long term storage may also require professional assessment and may be expensive for large or historical collections.  Affordable materials are available for domestic use.

The following resources provide information and pointers towards essential professional advice:

The British Library Preservation Advisory Centre has produced a range of specialist booklets, including one dedicated to photographic material. British Library booklets can be downloaded at:

Professional advice and training may be obtained from The Centre for Photographic Conservation,

Other resources include:


Archiving photographs digitally:


Geoff Blackwell ARPS and Dr.Ed.Bylina. March 2021.