Why it happens in the first place
Photos stick to glass when moisture pokes it’s nasty little head into the frame, causing the print emulsion to adhere to the glass. This is common in areas of high humidity, like bathrooms, but it can happen anywhere in your house due to temperature changes throughout the year or even from cleaning the glass.
To avoid photos from sticking to the glass….
• do not spray cleaning solution directly onto a framed picture; instead, spray your rag and then wipe
• mat photos when framing so the photo doesn’t come in direct contact with the glass.
Before taking any action to remove the picture, some considerations…
• If your picture is one of a kind and precious, bring it into a photo lab and have it professionally removed. Labs sometimes use a product called Photoflo that helps loosen the photo from the glass, and the technicians are trained to handle your photo safely.
• If you want to try to remove the photo yourself, make sure you have a backup copy.
If I don’t have a digitial file, I use the Kodak Picture Maker at Target to take a picture of the picture stuck to the glass (just put the whole thing on the photo copier!). This is cheaper than going to a photo shop and I have been very happy with the quality; in fact I have an entire wall of old black and white photos in my living room that were all copied at Target (more on framing copies versus originals, and how to retouch old photos in this post!)
Please note that I have used the following method on photos produced in the 1960s to today, but I can’t guarantee that it will won’t damage your photos, so don’t hold me liable if this doesn’t work for you. That being said, I have never ruined a photo using this method. 🙂
How to remove a picture from glass yourself
Can you see the white spots on the bottom of the picture? That’s where it’s stuck to the glass and if I pull it, the photo will rip, and the glass with still have the emulsion stuck to it.
• Place the photo and glass in a pan of lukewarm water, making sure the photo is completely immersed.
• Check the photo in an hour. Some photos may soak off quickly, but if you get any resistance to the photo coming off the glass, put it back into the water. The shorter you keep the photo in water the better; some photos may break down over an extended period.
This photo is only about 8 years old and I ended up soaking it for 5 days! I checked it a couple times a day and it just wasn’t budging, but on the last day it just came right off the glass and there was no damage to the photo.
Now the photo is free and the glass in the frame is usable again!
For more photo projects, check out these posts!