Fundamentals of Photograph Archiving.

A Manual by Sebastian Dobrusskin, Wolfgang Hesse, Martin Jürgens, Klaus Pollmeier, Marjen Schmidt.

English translation of the fourth, essentially expanded and updated edition of "Faustregeln für die Fotoarchivierung" (Rundbrief Fotografie; Special Edition 1) by Martin Jürgens. 

Translation granted by the project "Safeguarding European Photographic Images for Access" (SEPIA) of the European Commission on Preservation and Access (ECPA).

91 pages, ISSN 0945-0327, PDF-File (152 KB), EUR 10,00.

Payment possible by bank order or Credit Card (Visa, MasterCard).
American Express or cheques are not accepted.
Please avoid transmitting credit card details via email!




Photographs have preserved views and interpretations of the world for more than 160 years. They shape our way of seeing: they are the optical memory of the industrial age. Next to silver halide photography, new imaging technologies have now become prolific. Of these, the group "digital prints" has been included in the fourth edition of the guide "Fundamentals of Photograph Archiving". In this publication, a digital print is defined as every direct, i.e. without the use of a photomechanical matrix, print of a digital file that does not rely on the exposure of photographic material.

Photographs are very fragile artefacts. Great expertise is required to preserve them. Although photographic processes were and still are extraordinarily varied, there are some common factors. Conditions for archiving, exhibition, and handling can therefore be summarised in basic rules; this also applies to digital prints.

Not all measures proposed here are free or even inexpensive. However, apart from the fact that all efforts should be seen in relation to the primary task, the maintenance of the collection, some improvements can be achieved without great financial means. This applies particularly to the mistakes that one learns to avoid. In this sense also, the fourth, critically re-examined and expanded edition of this guide builds on the preceding ones.

The guide "Fundamentals of Photograph Archiving" structures disconnected and scattered knowledge and hopes to serve as a manual for a differentiated approach to conserving photographs and digital prints.

We hope that this guide will be useful as a tool to the advantage of the collections you are responsible for. Your critique and suggestions can be helpful for later revisions, and we therefore invite you to send us your comments. At the same time we ask for your understanding, in particular relating to the statements we make on digital prints. Much cannot be foreseen in view of their rapid development, and the internet provides us with a constant, if coincident, source of numerous innovations. The appendix offers a preliminary orientation to this area.

Given these tendencies and the possibility that, despite our in-depth investigations prior to the formulation of these rules, the full accuracy of our recommendations cannot be guaranteed, we would like to explicitly point out that the authors and editors of this guide cannot accept responsibility for damage that results from the consultation of the rules, persons, or companies presented here.

Thus, the realisation that your own responsibility and activity plays the crucial role when it comes to preserving a collection is all the more important.

Sebastian Dobrusskin, Wolfgang Hesse, Martin Jürgens, Klaus Pollmeier, Marjen Schmidt


Avoid the misconception that photographs and digital prints are arbitrarily reproducible and therefore their preservation as originals is of secondary importance.
Use the inherited images not only in terms of their pictorial information, but also as compound objects of unique and complex materiality and as historical sources with multiple layers of meaning. (Rule No. 1)


© by Authors and redaction. No responsability is accepted for the correctness of this information. Update: 02.12.2010. Webmaster: Wolfgang Jaworek