Shoeboxes Are For Storing Shoes, Not Photos
I’m not exactly sure how the trend started – but shoeboxes are notoriously used to store old photos. Arguably, more popular than photo albums themselves, shoeboxes can be found in closets and basements all across Canada – filled with photographs. My own mother kept her small stash of old family photos in this way (until I found out about it… 😉 )
Why is that? Who exactly told everyone that shoeboxes were ideal for photo storage? Although shoeboxes, based on their sizes and shapes, seem like convenient storage units for old pictures, they can be a photograph’s worst enemy.
Why are shoeboxes poor choices for photo storage?
First, it’s important to know that the chemicals inside the ‘cardboard’ material is dangerous to photographs. Second let’s consider ventilation – Shoeboxes certainly don’t provide much of it. And when photos are cooped up in these rectangular prisons, they often become victim to moisture damage and mould growth. This is especially true if those shoeboxes are kept in dark, dingy basements where mould tends to find their homes. It’s important not to store photos in basements, attics or garages where temperatures and humidity fluctuate with the changing of each season.
To be completely fair, I shouldn’t be blaming the shoebox for photo damage as much as I should be blaming the locations where shoeboxes are generally kept. As mentioned, these popular photo storage containers are most often stacked in areas of the home that make them susceptible to damage caused by temperature and humidity changes.
“Keep in mind that shoe boxes are not water-resistant,” reminds LifeStorage.com, “Consider using them for organizing your photos, but storing them in a archival water-resistant container or in a place where you know they will never come in contact with water.”
The site also points out that “an ideal container for storing printed pictures would have a sealed, water-resistant exterior, such as plastic, and soft but stiff dividers to separate prints on the inside.” Such a storage idea begs the question: How can you possibly enjoy your photos if they are locked up in sealed containers?
I’m a firm believer that photos deserve a great deal more respect.
Pictures are taken for a reason. The images capture special moments in the lives of the photographers and their loved ones, and because of that, should be showcased in ways that can help for family members and friends to relive those special memories. The shoebox storage approach only serves to bury those memories and deteriorate the quality of the prints. It’s a better idea to store your original photo collection in archival storage products AFTER having scanned them so that the photographs can be viewed and enjoyed – which was their intended purpose after all!
In my opinion, a photograph is the ultimate way to capture and document the most important parts of our lives. What good are the photos if they are tucked away and kept out of sight? I founded PhotoWise, in part, because I know how overwhelming it can be for people to locate, sort and organize the countless photos they have stored in shoeboxes throughout their homes. It’s my mission to relieve my clients of that stress and I provide them with peace of mind – knowing that these disorganized and risky storing procedures can be corrected.