How to Protect Autographed Photos

By Krista Lee Childers
Getting an autograph is exciting and valuable, so keep it safe.

So you have just met your favorite football player or movie star and had them sign their photo. Or perhaps you ordered the signed photo on the Internet. Now what do you do with it? Photographs are usually signed with a permanent marker and are no thicker than any other photo. Photographs are very easily susceptible to bending, ripping, fading and moisture damage so it is important to protect the photo right away and keep it in a safe environment.

Keep it flat. Never roll the photograph, like you could do with a poster. Place the photograph in an archival/acid-free sleeve. These can be found in any arts and crafts store.

Keep the bagged photo between two pieces of acid-free foam board 1 inch bigger than your photograph all the way around. Tape each side shut. Write a description of the photo on top of the board with a thin felt-tip marker.

Keep it in a space that has a controlled temperature. Never leave it where there is excessive heat or cold as it can manipulate and ruin the photograph.

Frame styles range from simple to ornate.

Frame the photograph. This method is highly recommended because not only do you get protection, but you also get to view and enjoy your signed photograph.

Find a frame that fits your photo. You can either frame it the same size as your photo -- most signed photographs are 8 by 10 — or put a mat around it. Mats are the thick paper type border that can be placed around your picture in any color. Mats keep the photo from sticking to the glass.

Add a mat. If using a mat, the frame should be about 2 inches larger all the way around than the photograph. If your photo is 8 x 10, the next standard size frame would be 11 x 14. Make sure the mat is acid free as otherwise the acid from the mat will slowly eat away at your photo. Use acid-free tape on the top back of the photo to secure it to the mat.

Add spacers instead of a mat If you choose to keep the photo and frame the same size. You can get spacers from most frame shops. Spacers are thin, plastic lengths that are cut and taped against the inside of the glass, giving your photograph to have space to breathe. A photograph should never touch the glass as it can stick and be destroyed.

Use acid-free foam board as the backing for your framed photograph instead of cardboard. Cardboard is acidic and will deteriorate your photograph over time.

Use conservation glass to frame photo. This type of glass protects your photograph from ultraviolet light, which is not only in sunlight, but in your house lights as well. Keep your photograph out of direct light.

Things Needed

  • Acid-free sleeve
  • Acid-free foam board
  • Acid-free tape
  • Frame with glass
  • Mat or spacers

Tip

Taking the signed photograph to a professional framer will ensure your photograph is handled and framed properly.

If the photo comes with a certificate of authenticity, keep it with the photograph or on the back of the frame in a sleeve.

Never mount or cut the autographed photo as it will decrease its value.

About the Author

Krista Lee Childers has been actively writing since 1998. Her work, both creative and journalistic, has been featured in several school-affiliated publications including "Euphemism" and "The Indy." Childers' favorite subjects to write about are arts, crafts and hobbies. She received a Bachelor of Science in print journalism from Illinois State University with a minor in technical writing.