Why Do Print Images Fade?
Why Do Print Images Fade?
Home /Science / Why Do Print Images Fade?

Why Do Print Images Fade?

By Dillon Wallace

Don't Say Goodbye to Your Memories

Pictures are worth 1,000 words, but what about a blurred out and faded photo? Is it more like 326 words? What kind of decreased value are we talking here?


While that vintage and distressed polaroid look may be a hip trend on social media platforms, it’s only that way because of the filters placed digital photos. In real life, an actual polaroid and other analog film will continue to fade over time until that hip, vintage look is nothing more than an unsalvageable photo.


But why? What causes film to fade like it does? And more importantly, what can you do to preserve your old photos and the memories they hold from fading away?


Light Damage

Have you ever noticed that old photo hanging in your picture frame – the one that gets a steady dose of afternoon sunlight – fading over time? The culprit are those noon to 4 pm UV rays affecting the picture’s chemical makeup. Furthermore, the ink used in your photo’s print contains a light-absorbing body called chromophores. Over time, the amount of light absorbed by these chemical compounds, particularly UV light, will break down the chemical bonds of the picture dye, resulting in color degradation.


Acid Burn

Have you ever harmlessly taped your old photos to a photo album page, fridge or other surface? Well, little did you know that the adhesive in tape contains a chemical composition that’s strong enough to stain the print.


Acid burn can also happen when you don’t think twice about the type of paper you printed your photos on. If you didn’t print your photos on acid-free paper, you may notice a yellowish tint to the picture over time as a result.



Air exposure to your photos seems like a helpless battle, but it’s process of oxidation is another cause of photo fade.


The best thing to do is store your photos in a perfect vacuum … because we all have one of those, right? Rather, try to print your photos with pigment-based inks rather than dry-based ones because pigment dyes are suspended in clear resin, significantly reducing the oxidation effect.


Brown Spots & Foxing

Ever looked at your box of old photos and noticed any weird, streaky brown spots? This is known as foxing and its cause is from a variety of fungal growth. This happens most often with photos stored in damp/humid conditions – making basements a perfect candidate.


Regardless of what photo fate awaits your pictures, there isn’t much you can do in terms of stopping the degrading process. The best thing you can do is take care of your photos, keeping them away from direct sunlight and damp storage environments to prolong the inevitable.


But if you really want to preserve your past, then make the decision to get your photos digitized. It’s easy, convenient and the most effective way to save your memories from fading away into oblivion.

Continue Reading
10 Tips For Making The Perfect Birthday Slideshow
10 Tips For Making The Perfect Birthday Slideshow
How to Create a Slideshow for a Funeral
How to Create a Slideshow for a Funeral
How to Make a Photo Slideshow
How to Make a Photo Slideshow
Our Favorite Throwback Products
Legacybox Media Conversion Kit. Shop Now>
Impossible Polaroid SX-70 Original Instant Film Camera
Victrola VBB-10-SLV Boombox with Cassette Player
Three Ways to Become the Family Hero
Digitally Preserve your Legacy. Shop Now>
Make a Highlight Reel
Enjoy a Trip Down Memory Lane
Three Ways to get Organized
Digitally Preserve your Legacy. Shop Now>
Repurpose Old Items
Condense the Clutter