How to Get a Picture Unstuck From a Glass Frame

Lee Weal

Taking photographs of family, friends and memorable occasions is a pastime enjoyed the world over. Most of us have framed photos that have been around for years. If the frame breaks or the photo needs to be reframed, it can be a problem if you find the photo has stuck to the glass.

Keep negatives of favorite photos in a safe place or make copies.

This usually happens when the picture is exposed to moisture that softens the gelatin in the photo. Once the gelatin dries, the image sticks to the glass. In many cases, the photo cannot be saved without damage, but this may depend on how long the glass and the photo were stuck together.


In some cases, photos cannot be saved using the soaking method. Consult an image restoration specialist for pictures with sentimental or financial value.

  1. Take a photograph of the stuck image or scan it as a backup. If the photo cannot be released from the frame without serious damage, the duplicate backup image can possibly be enhanced by a photo lab.

  2. Place the photo and glass into a shallow container, image side up. Fill it with enough distilled water to cover the items.

  3. Let the photo sit in the water for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Monitor it from time to time to see if the photo is floating free of the glass.

  4. Place the photo and glass on dry towels and blot away excess water. Gently insert a thin spatula between the photo and the glass. Peel them apart very slowly.

  5. Flatten the photo on a dry towel or paper towels and weigh down its edges with paperweights to prevent curling. Allow the photo to air dry.