Safely Removing Photos from Black Photo Album Paper

Dear Donia,

How do I safely remove photographs glued to black paper in a photo album? 

old photo album

Q. Dear Donia,

I have photographs glued by the top edge into photo albums with black pages. The photos overlap in "tiers". What is the best way to remove them so I may scan or copy them? Thanks, Lee

A. Dear Lee,

There are a couple of ways that you can approach removing the photographs from the album. The first is if you only have photographs on one side of the page. The black paper of these old albums is usually really deteriorated and should tear easily. Simply slide an icing spatula (a thin pallet knife like a butter knife but without serrated edges) under the photograph on the bottom of the tier so you don't scratch the photo below. Then gently try to slide the spatula under the photo to separate it from the black paper. This works easier if the photo is only on with dots of glue and not a full strip across the top. If you have difficulties, try minutely rocking the spatula to get it started. 

Work on the pages that only have photos on one side so that you get the technique down before carefully doing the same thing on the pages with photos on both sides. You will want to do the same thing but use a lot more caution so you don't damage the photos on the opposite side. You will also want to work on a soft, smooth surface (like a pillowcase) so the photos on the side facing down won't get scratched.

If this technique does not work, please let me know and we can come to another solution.