Before and After the damage


Storing photos in a box is a practice that will damage each image, even without a disaster. A basement or attic is usually not isolated, so those are places to avoid when storing photographs. Time will fade colors, and we can lose what we want to preserve.

Try not to touch the face of your old photos without cotton gloves because skin oil and dust will stay on the surfaces. Extreme temperatures, sunlight, and humidity impact photo chemicals and paper.

When choosing photo albums, avoid sticky adhesive types, as they can damage your photos. Opt for archival-quality albums with non-acidic paper and plastic made of pure polyethylene, polypropylene, or polyester. Avoid PVC completely, as it can harm your photos.

More information about saving Photographs and Transparencies by the Minnesota Historical Society can be found at


Restoring water and fire-damaged photos can be daunting, but you can salvage many precious memories with the right approach. If photos are stuck together, they may not be recoverable. The best approach depends on the damage's severity and the photograph type.

Here are some tips to help you navigate through the restoration process.

  • Act as soon as possible: Time is of the essence when dealing with water-damaged photos. The longer they stay wet, the more difficult it becomes to save them. Try to start the restoration process as soon as possible, ideally within the first week or as soon as you can recover them from the area safely.
  • Handle with Care: If the photos were water damaged, avoid letting them dry out completely, as they may stick together and become irreversibly damaged. Instead, keep them submerged in cold, clean tap water while you work on them. Change the water daily to prevent the growth of fungi.
  • Gentle Cleaning: When cleaning the photos, be gentle to avoid further damage. Rinse them in cold, clear running water, not spraying the water directly onto the photos, which could harm the emulsion. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear. (F) Gently brush off any loose soot or debris from the surface of the photo using a soft brush. Please don't rub it hard or you may grind it in debris. Gently blow off any loose soot with a compressed air can. Be careful not to touch the photo itself.
  • Separate with Caution : If the photos are stuck together, resist the urge to force them apart, which could cause tearing or ripping. Instead, carefully separate them into small batches and return them to the water for further soaking.
  • Individual Cleaning: Once separated, clean each photo individually using soft materials like cotton balls or a soft brush. Be patient and thorough, ensuring that all foreign objects are removed before rinsing the photos again.
  • Proper Drying: Hang the cleaned photos from a clothesline to protect them from dust. Consider using special solutions to facilitate uniform drying and prevent spots on negatives and slides.
  • Addressing Curling: If the prints curl while drying, moisten the paper side (not the emulsion) with a damp sponge. Place each print between two pieces of acid-free paper or photo blotters and weigh them down with a flat, heavy object until they dry flat.
  • Digitize: Scan or photograph the damaged photo for backup before attempting restoration. This preserves the image in case the original is too far gone.

By following these tips and exercising patience and care, you can increase the chances of successfully restoring your water-damaged photos and preserving your cherished memories for years to come.

More detailed information about dealing with water and fire damaged photographs can be found at and at


Fired photographs that suffered damage around the borders might need to be cropped off. We apply our expertise to restore all the affected areas. Evaluate the extent of the damage to the photo. Fire damage can include charring, discoloration, warping, and soot accumulation.

Our expertise extends to restoring antique photos with the same meticulous care and attention to detail that we do with damaged photos.

At FotoRescue, we're here to save your treasured memories. Whether your photos have been torn, stained, or faded by the sun, we've got you covered. Scan or take an individual photo of each image you want to preserve. Save it. Upload it.