Reliving memories through photographs is an activity that many people enjoy. Photo albums might have taken a back seat since the arrival of the smartphone and digital picture frames, but they are still a popular item for storing printed photos. Photo albums have come a long way in recent years, and this list may help you pick the best photo albums for your collection.
This list focuses on the top features and attributes of photo albums such as style, number of pages, and archival quality.
- BEST OVERALL: Pioneer Photo Albums CLB-346/BN Sewn Bonded Leather
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Pioneer Photo Albums 3-Ring Photo Albums
- BEST LUXURY: Rustic Ridge Leather Photo Album with Scrapbook Pages
- BEST FOR BABY MILESTONES: Pearhead Baby Photo Album
- BEST FOR WEDDING PICTURES: RECUTMS Leather Cover Wedding Photo Album
- BEST FOR SCRAPBOOKING: Potricher Self Adhesive Scrapbook Album
- BEST FOR INSTANT CAMERAS: Ablus 128 Pockets Mini Photo Album
- BEST TO PRESERVE PICTURES: Pioneer Photo Albums Fabric Frame Cover Photo Album
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Photo Album
For some, choosing a photo album doesn’t take much thought and any convenient option will do. However, in addition to storing photos, an album helps to protect photos and is a convenient way to display family photos. This is especially important for older printed photos that you want to preserve for generations. Here are a few things to take into consideration when choosing an album.
Photo albums are available in several sizes, capacites, and cover materials. The three basic types are ring binder, memo, and scrapbook.
- Ring binder albums allow you to add or rearrange photo pages as you wish. The rings pop open, so you can add or remove pages as needed.
- Memo albums feature spine-bound pages. They often feature slip-in photo pockets and ruled spaces, so you can write captions next to each photo.
- Scrapbook albums are designed to hold 12-inch by 12-inch scrapbook photo pages. They can be ring or glue bound with a set number of pages. The large page area allows you to add decorative options to personalize your album.
Size and Photo Capacity
Albums are available in a variety of sizes and capacities, and come in both landscape and portrait orientation. The sizes are categorized in inches and mirror popular photo print and picture frame sizes. Some popular sizes in inches are: 4-inch by 6-inch, 5-inch by 5-inch, 5-inch by 7-inch, 6-inch by 8-inch, and 8-inch by10-inch.
Scrapbook albums are larger, typically 12-inch by 12-inch or larger to fit specialty scrapbook paper of the same size. This bigger size helps accommodate large memorabilia such as ticket stubs, stationary, award ribbons, etc.
Capacity varies quite a bit based on brand and style. Ring binder albums allow you to add more pages as needed, whereas with a glue-bound album you are limited to the pages that are in the album. The size of the printed photos also determines how much space you may need per page. In general, you’ll want to select a photo album type based on the number and size of your photos.
Binding & Cover Material
Albums have either a glued or ring binding. Ring albums are similar to a three or four ring-binder used for school or work. The metal rings pop open and allow you to add or remove paper or photo pockets as needed. These album types are a popular choice due to versatility and price.
Albums with a glued binding come with a fixed number of pages. They have a classic look, and resemble a traditionally bound book. These types of albums are often memo-type and have lines printed on the pages where you can record notes or memories.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to cover material. Popular choices include leather, faux leather, buckram (a stiff cotton cloth with a loose weave), paper, and other fabrics. You can go with a classic leather or fabric cover or get creative by customizing a paper cover. Cover materials are available in almost any color and texture imaginable, but classic colors like navy, black, and red are popular choices.
Some albums feature a decorative cover window, so you can showcase a particular photo. This feature allows you to set the theme for the album. The windows often have a protective cover and a slit or a removable backing, so you can change the photo as often as you want. Cover windows on albums are available in various sizes to fit photos from wallet-size to 4-inch by 6-inch.
Cover windows are popular in wedding and baby milestone albums. Many scrapbooking albums also feature them because these albums are often themed.
There are three types of pages found on photo albums: pockets, adhesive, or nonadhesive.
- Photo pockets are made from clear plastic. They allow the user to slide the picture into each pocket. The pocket sizes are predetermined in popular print sizes like 4-inch by 6-inch, 5-inch by 7-inch, etc. They are a popular choice for ring binder albums.
- Adhesive lined pages allow you to place photos on the page without the need for photo corners or glue. The adhesive is strong enough to hold the photos, but you can still reposition or remove them as needed. These pages also feature a clear plastic that covers the photos to help keep them in place and protects them from dust and dirt.
- Nonadhesive pages are basically just paper. Typically, the paper is of archival quality and made to not discolor or deteriorate over time. Sometimes you may need to use photo corners or an adhesive to mount each photo to the paper. These pages may or may not have clear plastic covers. Nonadhesive paper is popular in scrapbook and memo albums.
It’s important to use an album with pages that are acid, lignin, and PVC-free, also referred to as “archival safe.” Photo albums that have this label are photo safe. This helps protect your photos, since they are not in contact with chemicals that speed the deterioration process of paper.
Photos are mounted into albums with photo corners, glue sticks, double-sided tape, or by inserting them into a pocket designed to hold photos.
- Pocket pages are a popular choice for mounting photos because they’re easy and convenient. There is no need to purchase adhesives; simply insert the photo and that’s it.
- Photo corners are small bits of tape that are shaped like triangles with a removable backing. They slip easily onto the corners of photos. They can be tricky to use because they are so small. Photo corners are a great way to mount larger photos or memorabilia into scrapbooks.
- Double-sided tape is tape with adhesive on both sides. It easily holds photos in place on paper pages. Double-sided tape is also popular for use in scrapbook albums.
- Acid-free glue sticks are also used to mount photos into nonadhesive paper albums. They are easy to use and dry fast. Depending on how much you use, the glue may permanently adhere the photo to the paper.
Photo albums make thoughtful presents to celebrate special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, or the birth of a new baby. Getting one with a special decorative element makes the album more unique. Some decorative elements include tie closes, mosaic windows, page protectors, unique cover materials, and even embossed designs.
- Tie closures can be ribbon, string, leather, or elastic. They are both functional and decorative. They help keep the album closed when not in use and add a sophisticated finishing touch to the album.
- Photo windows in the cover allow you to showcase a special photo or introduce the album’s theme. If you want the option to showcase more than one photo, mosaic windows allow you to do that.
- Page protectors are usually a thin, clear plastic that keeps your photos dust-free and in place. Not all albums come with them, but they are a handy feature to have.
- Show off your personality with an unforgettable cover. If you find yourself bored with the basic navy, brown, or black covers, then look for albums with unusual covers made with metallic materials or wood or featuring an embossed design.
Our Top Picks
Now that you understand the different types of photo albums available and other shopping considerations, such as binding, cover materials, and photo mounting style, it’s time to pick the right option for you. This list features high quality recommendations based on specific criteria for each selection.
Featuring a quality sewn European bonded leatherette cover with a deluxe raised rounded spine, this photo album stores up to 300 4-inch by 6-inch photos. Each page features bidirectional pockets to hold photos horizontally or vertically on the same page.
Each page also features a memo area next to each pocket to journal names, dates, places, and other special annotations. The pages and plastic pockets are acid-, lignin-, and PVC-free, so your photos are safe from yellowing and fading.
With its classic leather style, the album is functional and attractive. It’s perfect for storing photos from special occasions as well as everyday use. The only downside to this album is that it will not hold photos larger than 4-inch by 6-inch. However, the album is versatile and modestly priced, making it a suitable pick for most of your photo storage needs.
If you need to organize a large amount of photos fast, Pioneer Photo Albums’ 3-ring Photo Albums are an efficient option. Sold in a set of two, each album holds 504 photos each. However, if you need to add more photos, you can purchase refill pages separately.
The album is a nice compact size at 8.5 by 13.3 inches. It is ideal for mass storage of photos that won’t take up a lot of space. As with all Pioneer products, this album is made from archival materials and is photo safe. The album features pocket pages that hold three photos up to 4-inch by 6-inch in size. The pages only offer a horizontal orientation, so if you prefer vertical/portrait orientation photos, then you may want to consider other options.
The Rustic Ridge Leather Album showcases your prized memories while keeping them safe. The album cover and decorative tie wrap enclosure are made from genuine leather.
The album is a generous 13.25 by 10 inches in size. It holds 400 4-inch by 6-inch or 200 5-inch by 7-inch photos on acid-free cardstock paper. The album does not feature photo pocket pages, so you may need photo mounts/corners or double-sided tape to adhere the photos to the pages. Each page features a semitransparent sheet to protect photos. The album also has 100 pages (50 sheets) of cardstock pages. This stylish album makes a lovely showcase for photos, and it makes for an impressive gift.
Ths Pearhead Baby Photo Album is made to record all the major baby milestones. The album includes 50 guided journal, acid-free pages to add photos and record of all those precious moments. Beside each photo, there’s ample space to annotate a memory or record your child’s growth stats.
There are special pages to include prints from the hospital, a birth announcement, visitors, gifts, homecoming, and more. The album is not designed to hold a lot of photos—just one or two per page. The photos need to be mounted with photo corners, double-sided tape, or glue. The album comes with a clean-touch ink pad to make your own foot or handprints without leaving a mess on your baby’s skin.
The cover features a classic, chevron pattern in a gender neutral gray with two photo windows to showcase special photos of your bundle of joy. The Pearhead Baby Photo Album makes a great baby shower gift for the mom-to-be or for the excited soon-to-be-grandma.
This generously sized album, made by Recutms, gives you 120 pages of archival quality pages to fill with photos of your big day. The album features a sewn leather collage frame cover with a 10-inch by 10-inch window to display your favorite photos from your wedding day.
The album measures 14.5 inches by 13.4 inches and features five different styles of transparent pocket pages in both horizontal and vertical formats. The waterproof pockets will hold photos up to 4-inch by 6-inch. The photos rest snuggly on a textured black inner page that highlights the color of your photo while also keeping your photos in place. This album makes a great gift for a wedding shower, anniversary, or even Valentine’s Day.
Record your family’s greatest adventures and milestones on Poctricher’s scrapbook album’s self adhesive pages. The album features 40 pages with a light adhesive designed to hold your photos in place, while still retaining the ability to be readjusted if needed. The pages also feature a thin, plastic protective cover to keep your photos safe from dust, debris, and moisture.
The album is wrapped in handmade linen and features a cover window to showcase your favorite photo. It comes with a metallic marker pen, so you can annotate dates, notes, and other information directly on the photo pages. The album is available in a variety of colors.
Film isn’t entirely dead thanks to Fujifilm and Polaroid. The film companies have made instant photos popular again with their line of mini photos. Since the film is fragile and not archival, to keep them in good condition, they need to be allowed to dry out for a few weeks before being stored under a protective plastic film in an album.
The Ablus Mini Photo Album features a sturdy faux leather cover. Inside it has clear PVC pockets that will hold up to 128 Instax or Polaroid minis photos. The cover is available in a variety of colors. It’s modern, simple, and makes a wonderful companion gift to pair alongside an Instax Mini 9 or Polaroid SNAP.
Organize, protect, and share your photo memories with others easily with Pioneer Photo Albums’ Fabric Frame Photo Album. In order to keep your photos looking their best for years to come, they must be protected from UV light, dust, and moisture. This album made by Pioneer Photo Albums features 200 archival pocket sheets and paper that holds up to 200 4-inch by 6-inch photos in both horizontal and vertical orientations. These pages are free of acid, lignin, and PVC, making them photo safe and excellent at preserving your pictures.
The album also features a cover frame to insert a favorite photo and a deluxe rounded book bound spine. There’s a memo space by each pocket to journal names, dates, places, and special memories. The album makes a great coffee table book and will look equally attractive on a bookshelf.
FAQs About Your New Photo Album
If you have additional questions about photo albums or are wondering how to keep your photos damage-free in long-term storage, read on for answers.
Q. How do I stick photos to a photo album?
Photo tabs or acid-free glue sticks are easy options for mounting photos to an album without damaging the photos.
Q. What material is best for the cover of a photo album?
Photo albums are covered in leather, faux leather, buckram (a stiff cotton cloth with a loose weave), paper, and other fabrics. The best material for you should complement your home decor or personal style.
Q. Are photo albums designed for long-term photo storage?
Yes, photo albums are a great option to store photos. Albums with archival and acid-free pages with PVC-free plastic page covers will help preserve photos longer.
Q. What should I know if I store old photos?
Old photos should not be stored on photo pages with adhesives. Instead, store fragile photos on paper that’s free from acid and lignin. A photo album that features PVC-free pocket pages intended for long-term storage without damaging the photos is an ideal choice.