Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

Photo Preservation Reminder In The Wake of Hurricane Sandy

I was watching some news coverage of Hurricane Sandy a few days ago and there was a woman standing on the site of what was once her home, holding a battered and soggy wedding photo of her parents. She was sobbing, saying this was the only photo she could find of her parents. It was painful to watch. For years, I have been writing about the need to protect heirloom property such as photos and scrapbooks. I can’t recall where I read this but insurance companies report that the number one loss item  is personal photos. Unfortunately, there is no monetary value to these. Technically they are just pieces of paper with images on them. But because of the emotional value of photos, they do indeed carry the most import.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Professional Photographers Society of New York State is offering photo restoration services to those whose family photographs have been damaged by the flood waters or other impacts of the hurricane, free of charge as a public service.

“As a society of professional photographers, we understand the true importance of photographs to sustain our spirits. We work with individuals, couples, and families every day to capture these memories,” said PPSNYS First Vice President Honey DeLapa. “Photo restoration is a way we can assist in the healing process for our neighbors in communities that experienced devastation from Hurricane Sandy,” DeLapa continued. Professional photographers throughout New York State are volunteering their time and resources to assist families in restoring treasured memories damaged in the recent storm.

PPSNYS provides the following “tips” for photo preservation as a public service:

Tips for Keeping Water Damaged Photos Safe

Check with family members to see if other copies of the photo exist, or even old negatives.

Lift the photos from the mud and dirty water carefully. Remove photos from water-logged albums and separate any that are stacked together.

If you have time and space right away, lay each wet photo face up on any clean blotting paper, such as a paper towel to blot dry.

Begin with photographs for which there are no negatives, or for which the negatives are also water damaged.

Photos in frames need to be saved when they are still soaking wet, otherwise the photo surface will stick to the glass as it dries and you will not be able to separate them without damage. Use a water stream to gently separate the photo from the glass. If the photo has already dried, leave it this way! Restoration professionals can scan the photo through the glass.

Try to get to photos as soon as possible. Freezing photos will delay further damage including mildew, which can set in quickly. Also, you can stack them between wax paper to keep them from drying and sticking. Older photographs should not be frozen without first consulting a professional.

Sending any damaged heirloom photos to a professional is recommended.

To help prevent this type of damage and loss in the future, photos should be stored in archival quality locking tubs that can be moved quickly when a storm is approaching. We recommend routinely storing them on high closet shelves in the event of a flash flood. In the past, I have put my own photo tubs in the car trunk when a severe storm is approaching. Other items to consider storing in the same manner would be scrapbooks, children’s artwork, and other ephemera (collected items that have meaning to you.)

Legacy Multimedia also provides excellent photo restoration and retouching services for photos previously damaged or neglected. Please let us know how we can help you.


Stefani Twyford is a personal historian and video biographer sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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