State of the art for photo albums
January 26, 2020 3:49 PM   Subscribe

I finally finished a long-term home project of organizing thousands of loose photos from the pre-digital era. I now have them all sorted by year taken, and now plan to edit them down as I decide which are worth going into an album. I haven't bought a photo album in 20+ years. 4 X 6 sleeves, vs. magnetic sticky pages? "Photo album" vs. generic three ring binder with 3-ring inserts? If I use pocket inserts I'd like to be able to have both portrait and landscape photos orientated correctly. Is that even possible? If you have opinions or links to products that have worked well for you please share.
posted by COD to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If the photos vary in size and orientation consider using photo corners.
posted by Botanizer at 4:01 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

A lot depends how long you expect to store them for, less than 15 years and you can use anything, greater than 20 years and my experience is that just about any kind of plastic will have started welding itself onto the photos.
For archival storage traditional photo corners do work but are a bit of a PITA to line up correctly.
HERMA Transfer glue is a good compromise, the worst case is it might eventually mark the rear of the photo.
posted by Lanark at 4:10 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

Would others in your family like the photos? Scan them and make them into books to be printed by Shutterfly or others. The books aren't cheap but WOW what a family memory.
posted by tmdonahue at 4:24 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]

I have a precious family album where the only existing copies of some very special original photos are stuck forever on those stupid sticky pages, and will shred if removed, so I do NOT recommend them.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 7:41 PM on January 26

It's tedious, but scanning them is an excellent way to share them with family,and to preserve them. Then you can have cheap prints made and use a glue stick to affix them to pages, or have Shutterfly, Walgreens, whoever, print a book for you.

My 'magnetic' photo albums with sticky pages dried up, and the photos fall out. The mounting corners are fussier,but last longer, though glue isn't forever, mostly.
posted by theora55 at 8:57 PM on January 26

If you care about preserving the photos, you absolutely need an album that had the word "archival." Sticky pages can ruin photos, as can the wrong kind of plastic.
posted by tiny frying pan at 10:59 AM on January 27

Avid photographer here! Get them scanned. Or, depending on how many there are, it may be cheaper to buy a scanner and scan them yourself. Scanners can be finicky little buggers, so there's a bit of a learning curve, but if you're OK learning a little technology, I think it's a worthwhile investment of time. Two reasons to scan them: (1) now you can disseminate them quickly and widely. Example: my dad is organizing a family reunion next year, and I made a Facebook group for people to post their scanned family photos (and I've offered to scan photos for any technophobes). As a result, all the family members have dusted off their old photos from as far back as the 1930's and scanned them and they are really amazing! (2) You can make really high quality photo albums out of digital prints. There are a number of labs that will do this for you: if you're super comfortable with design software, Bay Photo is an example. If not, Printique (formerly AdoramaPix) is a decent bet. Now you don't have to worry about sticky pages ruining your precious photos. Yay!

If you have some objection to getting them scanned, Seldex makes lovely little DIY photo albums. They're in Australia, so you might get hit with some shipping, but the albums are really very nice. Finao is their American distributor, but Finao only sells to pro photographers. However, if you know a photographer with an account there, that's a good option. Muji also used to sell nice ones but it seems they've discontinued them. I can't 100% vouch for their archival qualities though, so you may want to ask your local photo lab or art store if they have something that will really conserve your photos for a long time.
posted by rjacobs at 5:07 AM on January 28

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