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By: Danette Mckay
Digital photo prints are very similar to old style film photo paper prints. There are a few things to consider when printing digital photos and when handling the printed photo paper.

Digital photos can be printed on many types of paper from high end quality special photo paper down to regular cheap white printer paper. If you are casually printing some digital photos at home on regular paper than you have not much to worry about handling the prints. Regular paper photo prints where not designed to last for a long time and thus you can handle them in any way that you need.

Printing digital photos on special photo paper though is different. Photo paper is similar to the paper on which old film photos where printed. Printing on photo paper involves a chemical process through which the photo is printed and then stabilized on the paper. Photo paper also most likely includes some coating layer. The coating layer is a chemical that is spread over the paper print in order to protect it. There are two main types of such coating gloss or matte.

Handling photo paper with care was more important in the old film photos era. The reason was that in many cases the photo paper was the only copy of the photo taken and thus it being ruined over time meant the loss of that photo. In some cases the film negative was kept and thus new prints could be made but film negatives quality deteriorated over time too and negatives care handling was needed in order for them to survive for a longer period of time.

With digital photos new prints can always be made from the original digital photo files. As long as you can access the digital photo file its quality will stay exactly the same for eternity. Digital photos quality does not deteriorate. Printing a digital photo in a thousand years would result with the same or better quality as printing technology advances as printing it today.

Nevertheless good handling of photo paper prints can extend their lifetime and make printing new copies a rare event. The basic thing to remember with photo paper prints is to keep them clean. Avoid touching prints with dirty or oily hands. Finger oil stains is one of the most common factors in photo prints aging. The other things to remember is avoid direct sun light. Long exposure to sun light fades the print colors and blurs the photo. Store photo prints in dark dry space such as in a drawer as opposed to on a table exposed to the sun.

Avoid folding photo prints. Photo paper is relatively thick and folding it breaks the consistency of the chemicals layered on it. Folding photo paper usually creates a fold line that can not be removed anymore. Folding can also create damage to the chemical layers around that fold line making the photo at this area blue and distorted.

And lastly is temperature. Photo paper prints prefer cooler temperatures. Do not store photo paper prints in hot areas or expose them to high temperature for long periods of time.
Danette Mckay explains about this subject in more depth at printing pictures
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