Posts Tagged ‘color photographs’

Color Photographs: Deterioration

Color pictures are composed of two elements: the negative and the image. The negative is the film while the image is printed on different types of paper. Today, most photographs are printed on resin coated (RC) papers. This means that the image is printed on a paper coated with a substance that protects the print surface from abrasion. Over time, these RC papers develop cracking.

Kodacolor film, Ektachrome slides and Agfacolor color are three of the color photographic processes used by family photographers that have had disturbing preservation records.  However, instant pictures deteriorate the fastest.

Next week I’ll talk about instant pictures and special concerns.  You can read more about this topic in my book Preserving Your Family Photographs or contact me via email at

Color Photographs – History and Background

Walk into any home and you’ll see color photographs on display, either standing in frames or hanging on walls. The photos depict graduations, family vacations and other events of significance to the owner.

The transition from all black and white photography to commercially available color took close to a century. Daguerre and others tried to invent a color photographic process by experimenting with different chemicals. But they were largely unsuccessful in their quest for permanent color images. In 1850, a New York state Baptist minister, Levi Hill, announced that he’d found a way to reproduce natural color in daguerreotypes, but he refused to reveal his methods. He called his process Heliochromy and his plates were called hillotypes. Many photographers labeled him a fraud. Yet in 2007, researchers working under the auspices of the Smithsonian Museum of American History found that Hill had indeed been able to capture blue and red hues.

To learn more about the history and background of color photographs, check out my book Preserving Your Family Photographs.