Brisbane independent photo specialist FotoFast has some helpful tips on how to handle water-damaged photos and memory cards.


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 Ziplock-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.

If they are stuck together, place them in warm water for 5 minutes and carefully 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 unprinted paper towels… Remove photos from waterlogged albums and separate any that are stacked together, being careful not to rub or touch the wet emulsion of the photo surface.

Slides, even if they are not actually water damaged, may be affected by mould & fungus after being exposed to such high humidiy; having them scanned is a good solution.

You need to deal with flood-damaged photos as soon as possible or they will deteriorate rapidly. Framed photos need to be separated from their glass frames while they are wet or the emulsion will stick to the glass; if the glass and photo have stuck together, scanning might be a better option than attempting to separate them;
With electronics, including memory cards, put into ziplock bags with fresh dry rice and allow it to draw out the water for a few days.

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FotoFast was incredibly quick off the mark in offering a free photo-to-CD service for flood victims to archive images of lost or damaged goods for insurance claims.

FotoFast – in collaboration with HP – offered the free transfer of files on memory cards and even 35mm film on to a personalised photo CD with an index booklet, plus a duplicate CD to send to the insurance company.

Story by Keith Shipton, trade news editor at Photo Review and publisher of