The Archival Life of Photographs

How long do our photographs last?

Answer: At least 65 Years

Below is more detailed information


The short answer to "How long do photographs last is: Now-a-days, photographs that are printed by professional photographers will almost always last at least sixty-five years without discoloration or fading.

We guarantee that all of our photographs will last for at least sixty-five years without fading or discoloration.

The archival life of this photo is dependant mostly on what kind of paper it is printed on.Here is the longer answer to "How long do Photographs last":

In this day and age, photographs are no longer printed on photographic paper using a non-digital enlarger and then developed in an old fashioned wet darkroom. In the bad old days this was the only way it was done and photographs generally faded and discolored in five or ten years.

Now-a-days, all photographs are printed digitally. This generally happens in one of two ways.

Some photographs are printed by large photographic labs with what are called a light jet printers. This is a quarter of a million dollar printer the size of a small bathroom that exposes regular, emulsion-coated photographic paper digitally which is then developed in an old style, wet-chemical processor. The photographic paper used in this process is generally Fuji Crystal Archive Photographic Paper which has an archival life of 65 years.

When Fuji invented this paper about 15 years ago it revolutionized photography. Before this paper, the best paper was Kodak Photographic Paper which was lucky to last even ten years. Kodak refused to upgrade its paper which still has an extremely short life; the result was pretty much the end of Kodak as the number one photographic company.

Photographs digitally printed on this Fuji Crystal Archive Photographic paper by lightjet printers are still a good, archival way to get photographs printed today. However, state of the art photographic printing is now mostly done with very large inkjet printers.

The first injet printers were not at all archival and the prints were not particularly beautiful. Prints made on them sometimes lasted for only a few weeks. Nowadays however, the best inkjet prints are better quality than any other form of fine-art photographic printing and will last for anywhere from sixty-five years to well over 200 years.

The best of the ink jet printers, in my opinion, are the Epson Inkjet Printers. These are digital printers that can print on all kinds of materials up to 60 inches wide and which are extremely archival.

We have been using an Epson 9800 ink jet printer that prints pictures up to 44 inches wide since about 2005. We normally print on Epson semi-matte photographic paper which we we guarantee to last for at least 65 years without any discoloration or fading. We also print on a smooth, mat, fine-art paper a lot like water color paper that will last for over 200 years. We can also also print on fine-art canvas which we guarantee for sixty-five years.

When you order one of our photographs online, it will be printed on the Epson Semi-matte paper. This is a great paper that produces brilliant, long-lasting photographs that look great framed with glass or laminated. If you want to have our pictures printed on fine-art water color paper or on canvas, you need to give us a call or email us.How long a photo like this lasts depends on mostly on what kind of paper it was printed on.

Here is an article about laminating our photographs to prevent glare and reflections. We think that lamination is the very best way to display our photographs.

Here is an article about framing our photographs. This article explains how to use Reed Photo in Denver to get a low cost laminating job that is extremely attractive. Other ways of getting our photographs framed are also discussed.

If you have any questions about archival life, printing materials or framing, please give us a call at 207-604-2661 or emaill us.

Fred Hanselmann, January 24, 2010