Preserving a Fading Autograph on a Photo

Alex HaleyDear Donia,
How do I preserve a fading autograph on a photograph?

Q. Dear Donia,

I have a signed personalized photo from Alex Haley dated 1973 that he sent me as he was retracing his roots sailing on a ship similar to the slave ship his ancestors sailed on as captives being brought9 to America for sale. Alex always wrote using a green felt tip pen. Even though I had it framed by a professional framer, the handwriting has really faded badly (the photo as well but not as much). Can the autograph be saved? Thanks, Georgia

A. Dear Georgia,

What a fabulous piece of history to have, and I am so sorry to hear about the fading. Unfortunately, our modern inks and color photographs are dye based and not very stable. The best thing you can do is have the photograph digitized and all the work at enhancing the ink and restoring the photograph done on this digital copy.Your original can then be safely stored in the dark which will help slow the deterioration and you can then display the copy so that any future damage is to the copy.

I know this isn't the optimal choice, but it is the best one if you want to save the original photograph for the future.