Reliving memories through photographs is an activity that many people enjoy. Photo albums may 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 shoppers pick the best photo albums for their collections.
Our 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 Sewn Bonded Leather
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Pioneer Photo Albums 3-Ring Photo Album
- BEST LUXURY: Rustic Ridge Leather Photo Album With Scrapbook Pages
- BEST FOR BABY MILESTONES: Pearhead Baby Memory Book
- 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 to be preserved 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 photo pages to be added or rearranged at the drop of a hat. The rings pop open, so pages can be added or removed as needed.
- Memo albums feature spine-bound pages. They often feature slip-in photo pockets and ruled spaces, so users can write captions next to each photo.
- Scrapbook albums are designed to hold 12-inch-square scrapbook photo pages. They can be bound with a set number of pages using rings or glue. The large page area allows users to add decorative options to personalize their album.
Size and Photo Capacity
Albums are available in a variety of sizes and capacities, and they come in both landscape and portrait orientations. The sizes are categorized in inches and mirror popular photo print and picture frame sizes. Some popular sizes are: 4 inches by 6 inches, 5 inches by 5 inches, 5 inches by 7 inches, 6 inches by 8 inches, and 8 inches by 10 inches.
Scrapbook albums are larger, typically 12 inches by 12 inches 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 users to add more pages as needed, whereas a glue-bound album is limited to the pages that are in the album. The size of the printed photos also determines how much space users may need per page. In general, shoppers will want to select a photo-album type based on the number and size of their own photos.
Binding and 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 users to add or remove paper or photo pockets as needed. These album types are a popular choice because of their 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 notes or memories can be recorded.
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. Shoppers 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, but classic colors such as navy, black, and red are popular choices.
Some albums feature a decorative cover window for users to showcase a particular photo. This feature allows the theme to be set for the album. The windows often have a protective cover and a slit or a removable backing, so users can change the photo as often as they want. Cover windows on albums are available in various sizes to fit photos from wallet size to 4 inches by 6 inches.
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 of clear plastic. They allow the user to slide the picture into each pocket. The pocket sizes are predetermined in popular print sizes such as 4 inches by 6 inches, 5 inches by 7 inches, etc. They are a popular choice for ring-binder albums.
- Adhesive-lined pages allow users to place photos on the page without the need for photo corners or glue. The adhesive is strong enough to hold all the photos, but the images can still be repositioned or removed as needed. These pages also feature clear plastic that covers the photos to help keep them in place and protect 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 users 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 photos because they are not in contact with chemicals that speed the deterioration process of paper.
Photos are mounted into albums with photo corners, glue sticks, or 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 triangular 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 onto nonadhesive paper albums. They are easy to use and dry fast. Depending on how much used, 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 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 showcasing of a special photo or to introduce the album’s theme. If users want the option to showcase more than one photo, mosaic windows allow this to be done.
- Page protectors are usually made of a thin, clear plastic that keeps photos dust-free and in place. Not all albums come with them, but they are a handy feature to have.
- Show off an individual personality with an unforgettable cover. If shoppers find themselves bored with the basic navy, brown, or black covers, they’ll want to look for albums with unusual covers made with metallic materials or wood or those featuring an embossed design.
Our Top Picks
Now with an understanding of the 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 photo book based on how many photos need to be stored. 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 contains bidirectional pockets to hold photos horizontally or vertically on the same page.
Every 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 photos are protected 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 for everyday use. The only downside to this album is that it will not hold photos larger than 4 inches by 6 inches. However, the album is versatile and modestly priced, making it a suitable pick for most photo-storage needs.
- Type: Memo
- Photo size: 4 inches by 6 inches
- Capacity: 300 photos
- Available in 3 classic colors
- Spaces for writing beside photos
- Holds horizontal and vertical photos
- Durable leather cover
- Photo sleeves can tear easily
Get the Pioneer leather photo album on Amazon.
If a large amount of photos need to be organized fast, Pioneer Photo Albums’ three-ring photo albums are an efficient option. Sold in a set of two, each album holds 504 photos. However, if more photos need to be added, refill pages can be purchased separately.
The album is a nice, compact size at 8.5 inches long by 13.3 inches wide. 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 inches by 6 inches in size. The pages offer only horizontal orientation, so if vertical/portrait orientation photos are preferred, then shoppers may want to consider other options.
- Type: Ring binder
- Photo size: 4 inches by 6 inches
- Capacity: 504 photos
- Affordable 2-pack
- Pages are easily moved around
- Excellent photo capacity
- Sturdy cover material
- Smaller photos tend to fall out from the open edge
Get the Pioneer 3-ring photo album on Amazon.
The Rustic Ridge Leather album showcases prized memories while keeping them safe. The album cover and decorative tie-wrap closure are made of genuine leather.
The album is a generous 13.25 inches long by 10 inches wide in size. It holds 400 photos that are 4 inches by 6 inches in size or 200 photos that measure 5 inches by 7 inches on acid-free card stock. The album does not feature photo-pocket pages, so users 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) made of card stock. This stylish album makes a lovely showcase for photos, and it makes for an impressive gift.
- Type: Scrapbook
- Photo size: 4 inches by 6 inches or 5 inches by 7 inches
- Capacity: 400 (4-inch-by-6-inch photos) or 200 (5-inch-by-7-inch photos)
- Sophisticated design
- Made of genuine leather
- Users can customize photo layouts
- Significantly more expensive
Get the Rustic Ridge photo album on Amazon.Â
This Pearhead baby photo album is made to record all the major baby milestones. The album includes 50 guided acid-free journal pages to add photos and record of all those precious moments. Beside each photo, there’s ample space to annotate a memory or record a 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 footprints or handprints without leaving a mess on the baby’s skin.
The cover features a classic chevron pattern in a gender-neutral gray with two photo windows to showcase special photos of the 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.
- Type: Memo scrapbook
- Photo size: Anything up to 9 inches by 10.75 inches
- Capacity: 50 pages
- Space for personalized written details
- Includes ink pad for handprints or footprints
- Available in 4 attractive colors
- Cannot add additional pages
Get the Pearhead photo album on Amazon or at Target.
This generously sized album made by Recutms provides 120 pages of archival-quality pages to fill with photos of the big day. The album features a sewn leather collage-frame cover with a 10-inch-square window to display favorite photos from the wedding day.
The album measures 14.5 inches long by 13.4 inches wide and features five styles of transparent pocket pages in both horizontal and vertical formats. The waterproof pockets will hold photos up to 4 inches by 6 inches. The photos rest snugly on a textured black inner page that highlights the color of the photo while also keeping the photos in place. This album makes a great gift for a wedding shower, anniversary, or even Valentine’s Day.
- Type: Memo binder
- Photo size: Up to 4 inches by 6 inches
- Capacity: 500 pockets
- Can add or remove pages
- Wide selection of colors
- Photos slide in and out easily
Get the Recutms photo album on Amazon.Â
Record a family’s greatest adventures and milestones on the Potricher scrapbook album’s self-adhesive pages. The album features 40 pages with a light adhesive designed to hold photos in place while still providing users the ability to readjust them if needed. The pages also feature a thin plastic protective cover to keep photos safe from dust, debris, and moisture.
The album is wrapped in handmade linen and contains a cover window to showcase a favorite photo. It comes with a metallic marker pen, so users can annotate dates, notes, and other information directly on the photo pages. The album is available in a variety of colors.
- Type: Scrapbook
- Photo size: Up to 10.8 inches by 8.6 inches
- Capacity: 40 pages
- Attractive textured-linen cover
- Available in a wide variety of colors
- Great price
- Ideal for custom layouts
- Plastic film can create air bubbles if not careful
Get the Potricher photo album on Amazon.
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. Because 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 or Polaroid Go.
- Type: Photo binder
- Photo size: 2 inches by 3 inches
- Capacity: 128 photo pockets
- Plenty of storage
- Easy to handle
- Available in multiple colors
- Can start to look bulky once full
Get the Ablus photo album on Amazon.
Organize, protect, and share photo memories with others easily with Pioneer Photo Albums’ fabric frame photo album. To keep 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 photos that are 4 inches by 6 inches in both horizontal and vertical orientations. These pages are free of acid, lignin, and PVC, making them photo-safe and excellent at preserving pictures.
The album also features a cover frame in which 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.
- Type: Memo
- Photo size: 4 inches by 6 inches
- Capacity: Up to 200 photos (if all horizontal)
- High-quality texture cover
- Color options can match most preferences
- Thoughtful space for written messages
- Pockets can feel tight for 4-inch-by-6-inch photos
Get the Pioneer fabric photo album on Amazon.Â
A classic choice for storing a lifetime of memories is the Pioneer leather photo album, which holds up to 300 photos in a stylish brown, black, or burgundy leather cover.
Shoppers looking for a high-quality scrapbook album for their cherished memories will want to take a look at the Potricher photo album, which is available in multiple color options and features a stylish textured-linen exterior.
How We Chose the Best Photo Albums
When gathering our recommendations for the best photo albums, we looked at the most popular types to provide a selection of our top picks of ring binders, memo albums, and scrapbooks, each with their own advantages for certain intended uses. Most of our selected options are suitable for standard photo sizes, including a pick for the increasingly popular mini-size photos from instant cameras.
We made sure to include several options for the most typical uses for photo albums, with standout picks for wedding albums, baby photos, scrapbooking projects, and classic family photo collections. All of our recommendations feature durable outer cases to keep precious photo keepsakes a lifelong treasure, some of which are available in a selection of colors and fabrics like linen or leather.
If you have additional questions about photo albums or are wondering how to keep 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 shoppers should complement their 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.