If you've been printing or developing photographs for a number of years, chances are some of your photos are already fading and losing their original quality. The fact of the matter is that properties of most photo paper and the chemicals and dyes used in printing on it don't react well to long periods of exposure to light and air. Even when properly framed and stored, the average time it takes a photograph to start losing quality is roughly six to seven years, and within twenty years noticeable overall fading has usually set in.
So what's someone to do if they don't want their favorite memories to have a life of less than twenty years before they need replacement? Easy: print photos on canvas.
Canvas pictures are a new phenomenon in the world of photography, coming to full fruition only a few years ago when technology advanced enough to make canvas printing as affordable as traditional photo printing. Printing pictures on canvas is cheaper than ever, quicker than ever, and more used than ever. The best part? Pictures printed on canvas can last well over one hundred years before noticeable fading begins.
Look back to all of the long-lasting remnants of culture throughout the world. What are the two best preserved formats found by archaeologists time and time again? Stone and canvas. Obviously printing photos on stone isn't really plausible (or likely something you'd want to do), but canvas? Photos on canvas can be ordered by simply uploading a digital picture to a professional canvas printer's website, or by attaching it to an email to a qualified canvas printing technician.
Now, you may think that printing photos on canvas (or canvas prints in general) shouldn't last as long due to the way they're printed on the canvas, and not painted into it like traditional works of art from hundreds of years ago. While it seems like a logical conclusion, it's very wrong. Thanks to the current technology used with canvas prints and specialized inkjet printers, your photos are transported to the canvas prints in a fashion similar to traditional painting by injecting the canvas with special dyes and ink, ensuring high quality images with rich vibrant colors which will most likely remain vibrant and show no color loss until the day you die.
Wilhelm Imaging Research, Inc. is just one of the many reputable organizations which has taken their time to look into modern canvas prints to try and figure out how long they can last before they begin to fade. The result is an astounding 60-148 years without any noticeable fading in a humid, sunlit environment. For most people in the United States, you'll be looking at the upper end of the spectrum as many places don't reach regular year-long humidity levels of 60%, the baseline used in Wilhelm's testing.
How can you tell if canvas prints will last a long time where you live? Let's look at some basic weather facts. The ten most humid environments in the United States are all in Alaska, with an average humidity in the 70-80%'s. One of the most extreme environments possible in the United States when it comes to housing your canvas prints, Alaska also features a varying amount of sunlight throughout the year with some months having near constant sunlight. Even in these most adverse settings, according to one of the researchers at Wilhelm, a high-quality canvas print can still last approximately 70 years on average in Alaska assuming the owner keeps it in an environment not completely exposed to the outside elements. For the rest of the country where there's far less constant exposure to sun and a much lower level of humidity, that's fantastic news.
In most areas of the US, humidity levels rarely reach above the mid-30s. Taking the average temperature, amount of sunlight, and humidity in the United States, canvas prints last (on average) well over a century if they're kept in a stable environment. As you can see, printing your photos on canvas is not only affordable with prices starting under $25, but is also well worth it, as your memories will assuredly last a lifetime.