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Avoid a Digital Disaster

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Cropped Photos

File Formats Choices

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Great Wedding Photos

Holiday Photo Tips

Learning Colour

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Top 10 Photo Tips for Christmas

The Truth About Video Tape

Travel Hints

Water Damaged Photos

water damaged photos

recovery steps that can help


Most photos, negatives and color slides can be cleaned and air-dried using the following steps:


  • Try to dry the photos inside if possible, as sun and wind will cause photos to curl more quickly. If you don't have time right away to dry your damaged photos, just rinse them to remove any mud and debris. Carefully stack the wet photos between sheets of wax paper and seal them in a Ziploc type plastic bag. If possible, freeze the photos to inhibit damage. This way photos can be defrosted, separated and air-dried later when you have the time to do it properly.

    The childhood photo shown is owned by a family friend from Graceville Brisbane, retrieved on Saturday 15th January 2011. Below is the fully restored photo done by Fotofast.

  • If they are stuck together, place them in warm water for 5 minutes and carefilly lift apart. Gently rinse both sides of the photo in a bucket or sink of clear, cold water. Don't rub the photos and be sure to change the water frequently. If you have time and space right away, lay each wet photo face up on paper towel. Don't use newspapers or printed paper towels, as the ink may transfer to your wet photos. Change the paper towel every hour or two until the photos dry.
  • Carefully lift the photos from the mud and dirty water. Remove photos from water-logged albums and separate any that are stacked together, being careful not to rub or touch the wet emulsion of the photo surface.
  • Film including cine film and slide (if wet) cleaning, wash the film in clean warm water, next rinse off in clean water and drop into a bath of 5% acetic acid mixed with water to harden the emulsion for a few minutes. Final step, useing a few drops of Kodak Photo-Flo or similar in water, drop in and squeegee off any excess water. You can carefully use your fingers for this is you don't have a proper film squeegee.
  • Slides, even if they are not actually water damaged they may be affected by mould & fungus after being exposed to such high humidiy, having them scanned is a good solution.


More Tips for Handling Water Damaged Photographs & Memory Cards


  • Try to get to flood-damaged photos within two days or they will begin to mold or stick together, making saving them much more unlikely.
  • Begin with photographs for which there are no negatives, or for which the negatives are also water damaged.
  • Photos in frames need to be saved when they are still soaking wet, otherwise the photo surface will stick to the glass as it dries and you will not be able to separate them without damaging the photo emulsion. To remove a wet photo from a picture frame, keep the glass and photo together. Holding both, rinse with clear flowing water, using the water stream to gently separate the photo from the glass. If this can't be done clean and dry it can always be scanned later.
  • It is important to note that some historical photographs are very sensitive to water damage and may not be recoverable. Anything before mid 1970's may be on the older type paper, today's photos are on "plastic" based material and are more likely to be able to be saved. Older photographs should probably not be frozen. You may also want to send any damaged heirloom photos to a professional photo restorer after drying, we can assist with this. CD/DVD/Camera cards/Hard drives are much harder to repair if at all.
  • With electronics, including memory cards, put in to ziploc bags of fresh dry rice, allow it to draw out the water for a few days. Gun shops can be a good source of silica gel blocks with an electric dryer in to redry quickly. We will attempt to recover the data off the memory card above after trying the fix.


All the above recomendations are guidelines only. If you require anymore help please call our friendly team on 07 3229 5083 we are open 7 days a week and here to help


Phil Gresham - Fotofast 17th January 2011 following the Brisbane Floods