Preserving Water Damaged Photographs

There are certain steps that you need to take if your photos are submerged in water. These steps will increase the odds that they can be restored.

The victims of Superstorm Sandy lost many precious belongings to water damage. Among them were treasured family photographs. However, some of these photos may be able to be restored. Alan Radom of Artisan Photo Restoration in New York City, Luis Nadeau, a photo conservation expert, and Sebastian Wintermute, a photo restoration cognoscente, all offer their advice in what to do with photographs that have been submerged in water; as well as if and how they can be salvaged. In some circumstances, photos may have been so severely damaged that it is impossible to restore them and in others, the expense may not be worth the effort.

If you have a stack of wet photos, carefully attempt to separate them one by one as soon as possible. If you cannot separate them without tearing them, Wintermute recommends storing them moist in a plastic bag or tub. “Most photographs can stay that way without sustaining any further damage up to ten days,” he says. As soon as you can, contact a freeze-drying company and ask them if they can separate them and dry them for you.

If the wet photos are in photo albums or glass picture frames, do not try to remove them. According to Radom, a photo restoration and conservation company will be able to photograph or scan the photo through the plastic or glass. Restoration of photographs can be quite expensive so you do not want to salvage photos you can do without. Your home insurance company may cover some or all of the cost but if they will not Marc Bushelle Photography and many other organizations are offering free services for Hurricane Sandy victims.

Since the process is expensive, Nadeau suggests that you only try and salvage two types of photos, those that contain personal event memories and originals. Wintermute says to ask yourself, “Do those twenty-year-old pictures taken at an office party or pics of your neighbor’s dog really need to be restored?”


Porter Photo Repair ( is a restoration specialist working closely with you. Your photos are personal, so your restoration project should be, too. You get direct contact with the person doing your restoration work, not automated messages. To learn more about the company’s photo restoration services, visit the website today.

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