How to Store Your Printed Photos

You won’t regret the time you spend gathering, sorting, organizing and storing photographs for you and future generations to enjoy.


store printed photos

Storing Printed Photographs

The second big step in organizing your printed photos is deciding on how to store them. Once you have gathered, sorted and organized your printed photographs the next step is to decide how to store your printed photographs. If you missed the first big step visit How to Organize Your Printed Photos.

It is important to store your printed photographs in an archival manner so they can be enjoyed for years to come. Archival products are more expensive than shoe boxes (which are very bad for photos), but think of it as an insurance policy for your memories.

Storage products should be acid-free, archival, lignin-free, and PVC free. Acids in some papers, cardboards and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) products will literally eat away your photos over time and should be avoided.

Whichever Photo Storage idea you choose, make sure that they are stored where you live.  Don’t store them in a garage or attic or basement which can get too hot, cold, or damp.  Your photos are happiest in the environment you live in, plus then they are easier to enjoy. 

Here are a few common ideas to help you store printed photographs:

photo albums

Photo Albums:

Your photos should be stored away from humidity and not in direct sunlight. Depending on what you plan on doing with your photos, and how many photos you have, you may have more than one storage system. The most common type of storage system is a photo album, which can be a traditional pocket album, or a scrapbook album. Make sure the album is acid and lignin free and contains only non-PVC plastic. Magnetic albums are not a safe archival storage method for your photographs.

A scrapbook doesn’t have to be fancy with lots of fancy papers and embellishments – it can be as simple as photos on a page with photo corners and a little bit of journaling or it can be elaborate. The choice is yours. Pocket albums come in small pocket sizes for 24-36 pictures or larger albums that hold 200-500 photos. An album is the easiest way to share your photos with others and it is so fun to sit and look through the album with friends and family and reminisce.  If you only create one album, make it a Favourite Photos album, and gather all those photos that made you smile as your were sorting them, and put them in this album.  Enlarge your very favourite ones and add the enlargements in also. This will become your prized treasure!

Pioneer photo box

Photo Boxes:

Photo Boxes are another great option for storage, especially if you want to do something with the photos at a later date but can’t get to that right now. Make sure to label the outside of the box so you know what is inside -this could be by the year or theme depending on how you have chosen to sort your photos. Your Photo Storage boxes must be archival quality made for photographs. Actual shoe boxes usually have a lot of lignin in them, which will deteriorate your photo, and acid that will eat away at your photos so they are not a safe way to store your photos. You can find the photo safe photo boxes at Photo Expressions.

Large file boxes are great for storing larger photos or memorabilia. Again remember to make sure that they are safe for your photos. When you store larger memorabilia away from the photos they relate to, post a note with the photo as to where you can find the item. If you have larger items such as children’s artwork, you can reduce the size by making a colour copy (make sure the paper and toner is acid free like at Photo Expressions) or by scanning them and printing a smaller version from the computer. Another great idea is to take a photograph of the artwork or project (with or without your child) and then print this photo and add it to your system. This also works for other bulky items that don’t fit into an album or storage box.

Archival Envelopes:

Archival envelopes come in many sizes and are a convenient method of storage especially for those larger items. They can be used to store those hard to archive items such as papers, certificates or photos. Make sure to label them and if necessary, place corresponding notes in your photo albums or photo boxes to show where these items are stored.