Store and display your photo album

The Best Way to Store Photo Albums

Preserving precious memories captured in photo albums is a timeless tradition. But ensuring their longevity can sometimes be a daunting task. From faded colours to bent edges, improper storage of photo albums can lead to irreversible damage to these irreplaceable treasures.

So, what is the best way to store photo albums and safeguard those cherished moments for generations to come?

Join us as we unveil expert tips and techniques that will protect your photos and albums from deterioration, and also help preserve their value over time.

Discover how simple changes in storage methods can make a world of difference in maintaining the integrity of your photo collections.

Let's explore some innovative solutions that will revolutionise the way you view and store your cherished memories.

Grandparents looking at photo album with grandkid

Importance of properly storing photo albums

The purpose of a photo album is not just to preserve photos, but to protect and preserve your memories and a piece of your history. Properly storing photo albums is crucial for preserving cherished memories and protecting them from deterioration over time. 

When photo albums are not store properly and are exposed to light, humidity, or temperature fluctuations can cause photos to fade, wrap, or becoming damaged over time. By correctly storing photo albums, keeping them in a cool, dry and dark environment, you are ensuring that your precious memories remain intact for future generations to enjoy.

Remember, every picture tells a story - protect those stories by storing your albums with care.  

Storing old photos in photo albums

What causes photos to deteriorate?

Photographs can deteriorate due to factors like poor processing, exposure to pollutants, physical fragility, and chemical instability. The National Archives of Australia offers some helpful information about the causes of deterioration of photographs, which we've summarised below:

  • Handling of photographs is a common cause of damage to photos. For example, supports can break, paper supports can tear if not properly cared for. It is always best to carefully handle photographs by the edges to prevent damage. 
  • Older black and white albumen photo prints may fade in high humidity. While older generation colour images from the 1970's may shift their colour balance over time, as dyes fade.
  • Pollutants in the air can cause gradual discolouration and staining in images.
  • Resin-coated paper prints might develop cracks over time, and cardboard mounts can yellow and stain photos with age, due to acid. 

It's important to store photographs and albums properly to slow down deterioration even though some aging is inevitable due to the inherent properties of the materials used.

Deteriorated old photo album

The best way to protect, store and display photos

Protecting, storing, and displaying photos requires careful consideration. There are several important aspects to consider for maintaining the quality and longevity of your photos. The most important considerations would be investing in archival-quality and acid-free photo albums, and storing your photo albums in a cool, dry, and dark place.

Acid-Free Materials - Acid-free and photo safe materials will prevent discolouration and degradation caused by pollutants. We highly recommend slip-in photo albums (also called pocket photo albums) made using premium acid-free paper with crystal clear, photo-safe polypropylene slip-in pockets for long-term storage and protection of your photos.

Some archival grade materials designed for storing photos, are professionally lab testing using a P.A.T test. This type of testing will help confirm that the materials are suitable for proper, long term archival storage for photos. Read our article to learn more about P.A.T testing

Cool & Dark Environment - A cool, dry and dark environment will prevent your photos from fading and mould growth. Exposing your photos to direct sunlight or UV light can cause physical damage. Avoid light exposure for long-term preservation of your photos.

By following these practices, you can ensure that your photographs remain in a great quality and cherished for years to come. 

Photo safe slip in photo album

How to store photo albums on shelves

Shelves are usually the first homes for most photo albums. This makes them accessible and easy to enjoy them. However, it is essential to prioritise both accessibility as well as protection. 

Stability - Photo albums can get heavy, so start by selecting sturdy and stable shelves made of quality materials that can fully support the weight of your photo albums without bowing. Also, ensure that the shelf is not too narrow and can fully fit your photo albums as any overhang of albums off the edge of the shelf can get damaged over time.

Upright - Place your albums on the shelf vertically and consider using bookends or album dividers to keep your albums upright and stable.

Protection - Also, using archival-quality boxes or sleeves can help protect the albums from dust and light exposure. It is important to dust the shelves and albums regularly to prevent buildup and protect your memories.

Accessibility - Finally, to make your photo album display more appealing and easily accessible, consider grouping albums by theme or chronology. Or you can also label each album to easily locate them. This can create a curated and personalise look that displays your story. 

By applying these practices, you can transform a simple shelf into a beautiful display while keeping your cherished memories organised and protected. 

Photo Albums displayed on a shelf

How to store albums in a box

When it comes to long-term storage containers for photo albums, there are several aspects to consider that will ensure the best protection and preservation. 

Solid & Durable - Start by selecting a sturdy, solid and heavy plastic or metal container with sealable lids that ensure protection from dust and environmental fluctuations such as humidity.

Avoid using cardboard boxes. These can deteriorate over time, absorb moisture or be vulnerable to insects chewing through the cardboard and potentially your albums.

Protection from Light - Another key aspect to consider when selecting your container is exposure to light. Natural light contains UV rays, which can cause colour fading and deterioration over time. Light proof containers that are opaque can prevent damage caused by any light. 

Size - It is also important that you select a container that comfortably accommodated the size and quantity of albums that you are planning to store without overcrowding.  

Internal Protection - Once you have selected a suitable container, we recommend placing an acid-free tissue paper at the bottom to create a protective barrier. Then, place the albums inside the box ensuring they are not overly compressed. 

It is also recommended to wrap any leather or fabric photo albums with acid-free tissue paper for extra protection. And use dividers and spacers to maintain proper alignment if necessary.  

Identification- Finally, label the box with its contents for easy identification. It is helpful if you sort and organise your photo albums by theme or chronology. Easy identification can also minimise excess handling and reduce wear and tear. 

Photo Albums stored in a box

Choosing the right storage environment

The optimal storage environment to preserve your photographic materials is a cool, dry and dark space. Ideally, in an environment that maintains consistent conditions to minimise the risk of photo deterioration over time. 

Listed below at the vital considerations for choosing a proper storage environment for your photo albums:

Cool and dry to protect from moisture and humidity:

When it comes to long term storage of your photos, it's very important to avoid any location that are too hot or too humid. If the environment is too hot your photographs can fade and crack. If the environment is too humid, your photos could mildew and mould.

Ideally, to prevent your photos from deteriorating long-term, the environment should have temperatures ranging between 15 to 21 degrees Celsius (60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit) and relative humidity levels around 30% to 50%. Avoid areas where temperature or humidity fluctuates. 

Well-ventilated to protect from pollutants:

Ensure there is good air circulation where you store your albums. Adequate ventilation helps prevent the build-up of pollutants and moisture, which can be damaging to photos over time.

Dark to protect from sunlight:

Ensure your photographs are stored aways from windows or any other sources of direct sunlight as sunlight exposure and heat can fade your photos over time.

For this reason, it is best to avoid storing your photos in a shed, in an outdoor garage, or along the outside walls of the building where temperature and environmental conditions are prone to fluctuate or prone to extremes.

How to store your photos infographic

Additional tips to store your photos

Scan your older photos

Old photos were most likely printed on papers that can break down, deteriorate or become acidic over time. While is important and meaningful to keep the original photo as long as possible, it is also important to make a digital copy of those historical, unique and special photographs. 

Scanning old photos is a good and easy method to create digital copies and provide you with peace of mind knowing that you can reprint any damaged photos in case of any disasters. 

Scanning old photos

Upgrade your photo albums

It is important to regularly inspect your collection of photo albums very once in a while, and check for any signs of damage or deterioration.

Some older, traditional photo albums may have been manufactured with materials that are not archival quality and may even be damaging your photos. Other photo albums may have been exposed to humidity, light or other environmental conditions that could also be damaging to photos. 

Upgrade your older photo albums to new, acid-free, archival quality and photo safe albums such as slip-in photo albums, to ensure your photos are well preserved for generations to come.  

Scan your photos and upgrade your photo albums

You can also get larger capacity photo albums that are especially designed to hold up to 500 photos, which can be ideal for bigger collections. 

Organise your memories

As you get older, your collection of photo albums can grow, and things can become awkward to manage and sore.

Organising your photo albums chronologically or by theme make it easier to be able to revisit those special times and enjoy your photos.

Frame your favourite photos 

Photos bring beautiful and meaningful memories back to life. While you are properly storing your photo albums, you are likely to come across a few treasured and forgotten photos.

Why not frame your favourite photos so you can see and enjoy them every day. Whether is a table-top metal photo frame for a portrait, a multi-photo collage frame or a complete gallery wall set, framing your favourite photos will fill your home with joy. 

Framed picture of a couple in a timber photo frame

Preserve your memories for future generations

In conclusion, properly storing your photo albums is essential for preserving your precious memories for years to come.

By following these recommended methods such as using acid-free materials, keeping your albums in a cool and dry environment, and handling them with care, you can ensure that your photos will remain in good condition.

Take the time to invest in proper storage solutions to protect your memories for future generations to cherish.

Kid holding photo album

Shop Australia's Largest Range of Photo Albums Online with Profile

Profile offers Australia's best range of premium, high-quality photo albums backed by our exclusive Picture Perfect lifetime guarantee. So, you can rest assured that your photos will be protected by the best quality picture albums. 

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Explore the complete collection of photo albums from Profile Australia today. Whether you're looking for a traditional wedding album, a baby photo album or even a modern coffee table display box photo album, Profile offers a full range of albums and photo accessories in all styles and sizes. 

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    This article was written by Jared Davis -

    Jared is published author, writer and an industry-recognised educator with over 30 years' experience. He teaches classes and workshops on topics including conservation methods and techniques for handling photos and artworks, to professional picture framers all around the world.

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