Photo Boxes vs. Photo Albums — Where Do You Store Your Original Photos After Scanning Them?

by Curtis Bisel
updated: February 10, 2024
2 comments
Curtis Bisel
February 10, 2024
2

Most of us with photo scanning projects aren’t lucky enough to have all of our original paper prints already organized, sorted, and currently stored in the container you desire for them to exist in for the next half a century or more. Well, that is, unless you have decided not to save your paper prints after you scan them.

If you’re like most of us, your paper prints are probably still being stored in whatever storage containers they have been in for the past 40-80 years or so. This likely means multiple types of paper envelopes, plastic bags, cardboard boxes, and decrepit old photo albums — maybe only held together now by a mall shopping bag it was stuffed into back in the late 80s.

Does this situation below look similar to yours?

Here’s one of my family’s “magnetic” self-sticking style photo albums that is now completely falling apart from years of love and neglect!

It’s just so easy to leave our old paper prints in these original old storage containers and put off worrying about them. I mean, why make this decision when you don’t absolutely have to, right? At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.

But, once you get into your project and you begin pulling out and scanning your prints, then you are faced with a decision of whether or not to put them back into their original containers or buy new and, most likely, much better ones. And if new, which type should you buy?

I recently asked my 10,000+ subscribers to the “Scan Your Entire Life Newsletter” who have already finished scanning their photos, or those who at least know the answer, where are you going to store your paper prints after scanning them?

Where Do You Store Your Original Photos After Scanning Them?

Survey Results

In Photo Albums

40 %

In Photo Boxes

54 %

Other Storage Option(s)

13 %

Not Saving Originals

10 %

The above percentages for “Photo Albums” and “Photos Boxes” are combined totals with the partial storage options. For comparison, here are the result percentages when broken out to isolate those who picked the partial storage options as well.

In Photo Albums

10 %

Mostly Photo Albums (some in Photo Boxes)

13 %

In Photo Boxes

26 %

Mostly Photo Boxes (some in Photo Albums)

28 %

Why Did You Choose to Store Them This Way?

And then the second question, participants had the option to write out, at any length, what led them to decide on which storage medium was best for them and their photo collections.

For anyone who is having a hard time making this often debilitating decision of what to do with your original paper prints after you have scanned them, reading through all of these answers below will be extremly helpful.

Why? Because, what do most of us do when confronted with a problem we can’t make a decision on, even after months of thinking about it? We try and find out, “What did everyone else do?”

Survey Results

0%

Photo Albums

open photo album with four print photos on left page

Ease of Accessibility

45 %

Of those surveyed who said they plan on storing all or the majority of their paper prints in "photo albums," 45% explained it was mainly due to one of many reasons that make them seem musch easier to access.

Reasons ranged from how quickly they could pull the albums off the shelf, to how much easier they felt their photos were easier to look through this way, and even how much they prefered the overall presentation.

Photo Albums
I was talking to some archivists in a FB group, and they mentioned "bit rot." I'm still not exactly sure what bit rot is, but it made me realize that even digitizing is not necessarily a permanent solution for preserving images. I want all of the options available for future generations who may want to view the images I have. (Many of the images, anyway. I'll only print a fraction of the digital photos we've taken over the years, for example, and I won't save every snapshot.)
 
Also, I personally still love to look at the paper prints, especially of my oldest photos. They are the same prints my grandparents held, and possibly even the prints my great and great-great grandparents held! They are the photos that my husband's grandparents and great aunts and uncles lovingly mailed from Europe to the US as the only way to keep in touch before long-distance phone service. The image is important, but for me, the physical object also remains important, BUT I *might* be overly sentimental. 🙂

I chose albums over boxes because the photos are more accessible in albums.
 
I chose three-ring binders and an assortment of album pages to fit the album that holds photos of various sizes. Each album is dedicated to a digital folder. Each of my digital folders of scanned photos are by family, so my parents, each set of grandparents, and each set of great-grandparents have their own folder, and the same for my husband's extended family. There are a couple of "special" folders. My husband's grandfather was in the Austrian-Hungarian Navy. Those photos have their own folder. I was a dancer. My career-related photos have their own folder. Each digital folder then has its own matching 3-ring album of physical prints. The archival photo sheets I use are all the same dimension to fit into the 3-ring album, but they hold different photo sizes. As you are turning the pages, you might see a page with two 5x7s and then a page with six 3.5 x 3.5, and then a page with one 8 x 10.

It's not a perfect solution. Having pages with different-sized photos is a little messy looking. There are a few photos that do not fit any of the photo sheet sizes, so I put them in the sleeve they fit best. Sometimes I only have one 5 x 7, but the sheet holds two, and then I have to decide how to deal with the open sleeve. Overall, for me, though, it's a good solution.
Kay H.
Omaha, NE, USA
Photo Albums (some Photo Boxes)
The viewing, and it's easy to organize chronologically.
Leigh
Unknown
Photo Albums
I want to be able to flip through albums, not have fingers touch them directly too often, and not have to pull them each out of a box to see the whole thing. Even if they are barely looked at, they will be accessible and useable, not easily put out of order, and easier to notice a photo is missing from the collection and where to put it back.

Somehow it gives me a sense of completeness. However, it does seem a bit daunting to get them perfectly in order and to fit various sizes.
Anonymous
Unknown
Photo Albums
Currently, I have them in photo boxes. I think, eventually, I will take them all out, keep the best ones in albums, and perhaps throw away the others.
Natalie
Detroit, MI, USA
Photo Albums (some Photo Boxes)
Photo albums for those photos of greater interest - people and history (the way it was) - ones of greater interest or relevance that my family and I like to look at together.

Photo boxes for those photos of lesser interest, but occasionally we are interested in reminding ourselves of the past.
Darby
Sydney, Australia
Photo Albums
I had several in albums to begin with, and I tend to arrange them before putting them back. Also, when in photo boxes, they aren’t in sleeves and aren’t as easy to look at.
Deanna R
Keithville, LA, USA
Photo Albums
Able to access and look at photos, better protection. Archival albums are still relatively flexible and easy to rearrange sleeves.
Joan C.
Gent, Belgium
Photo Albums
Convenience.
Richard A. Rupsis
Unknown
Photo Albums (some Photo Boxes)
For me, tis the easiest solution. Many prints are not going to be scanned, so they will go into albums. The early ones of my children are being scanned (using FastFoto), some re-printed, and then placed into scrapbooks with archival-quality sleeves.

At the moment, my progress is chaotic!!!
Peta M.
Argyle via Donnybrook, Western Australia
Photo Albums
We hope to someday have a history room to showcase photo albums.
Anonymous
Unknown
Photo Albums (some Photo Boxes)
Easier to get to if needed in a hurry.
Gil Perry
Sanford, NC, USA
Photo Albums (some Photo Boxes)
Photo albums you can put on a bookshelf or put on a table during the holidays, where they can blend in nicely with books and decor. Boxes have to be stored somewhere, and if storage is a premium, that could be an issue.
Leslie Daniel
Franklin, VA, USA
Photo Albums
With Albums, I’m able to show them to my kids and share stories.
Stephanie
Iowa, USA

Protection / Preservation

35 %

Of those surveyed who said they plan on storing all or the majority of their paper prints in "photo albums," 35% explained the main reason was they felt this was the best way to protect or preserve them.

The answers varied, but the general reasoning was that albums would protect or keep them from any harm or preserve them, which would help slow down the decomposition process.

Photo Albums (some Photo Boxes)
[My prints] were already in photo albums — the bad kind, so sticky on the back. Used archival paper and archival sleeves and put them in 2 ring binder. I "cleaned up" and got rid of multiple scenery pics and similar/blurry pics. If I found one that was misfiled or left out, I either reassemble the page to fit it or enter a new page in the binder if all are important.

The ones in the photo boxes are "similars," unidentified or people my kids won't care about, or scenery that someone might want to keep but otherwise is in most travel books.
Kathie Brzoska
Norwalk, CT
Photo Albums (some Photo Boxes)
I made scrapbooks of "My Life" all along. So putting them back in there made sense. The old pictures from Mom and Grandma that I did not put in what I call "My Heritage Scrapbook" are in their 3-ring binder in archival sheets. In my "Heritage Scrapbook," I have old postcards or tin-type photos. I just can’t throw those away.
Liz Smith
Athens, TX, USA
Photo Albums (some Photo Boxes)
I wanted to protect the prints from excess handling. What I have actually begun doing is using an online printing facility like Blurb.com to make actual books, one for each nephew and niece. (I do not have children.) The books lend themselves to adding stories about the people in the photos and naming all the folk in the photos. These books cost over $75 each for an inch-thick book. More if one uses acid-free paper. 

But the cost, as a photographer friend reminded me recently, is vanishingly small compared to the expenses we used to have in the days of film. Then there were the expenses of film, developing, and printing. The other costs from that era were intangible such as confronting the limitation of 12, 24, and 36 exposure rolls of film. And that limitation, coupled with the actual dollar cost per frame shot adds up to the cost of foregone opportunity. Shooting several frames of a given scene or group was financially beyond most of our means.

Digital photography has no such limits, especially now that data cards can hold very large numbers of photos. They can be captured and saved on the data cards in both JPG and RAW format. We no longer have to wait for days to see the images we have made. We can edit and enhance almost without limit and save the image in one or more of a dozen formats. Flexibility galore.

We print comparatively few of our images until preparing a tangible book. I carry around my images, both as shot by me or saved as screen captures from public sources, on my 512GB iPad. One of the activities I most enjoy is looking at, studying, and thinking about photographs, both mine and those from the internet. 

I fell heir to the family photo archive from both sides of the family and as far back as the 1880s. Everything from tintypes to early Brownie snapshots up to and through large studio portraits from my parents’ childhoods in the second and third decades of the twentieth century, from my own generation's formal studio portraits in the late 1940s and 1950s, and head and shoulder portraits that I used over the years to satisfy the need for such portraits in business promotion.  

I am scanning EVERYTHING, making multiple backups, and distributing the best of the collections to the generation that follows me. They are approaching their fifties, the age at which people tend to want to look into the faces of family members who came before their parents. 

Eventually, my executor will be charged with disposing of or handing on the digital files and the printed photo books. I hope that at least one person in the second generation that follows me will be interested in taking on the role of family archivist. If not, so be it. But I shall have made that task as easy as I can for the young family archivist, perhaps now in kindergarten or as yet unborn.

Oh, the data cards and solid-state external drives are in my safe deposit box at the bank, and my copies of the books are in my den. And some particularly fine physical photos are in appropriate acid-free containers.
Chris MacNaughton
Grimsby, Ontario, Canada
Photo Albums (some Photo Boxes)
For what it's worth, I mostly store slides and film strips in plastic pages that have been designed for them. I have relatively few hardcopy pictures that are unique from the film or slides. I expect I will save those in some sort of boxes.
Anonymous
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Photo Albums
Loose photos in a box get damaged and lost easily. Most others don't appreciate the value of protecting our family photos and wouldn't be careful when viewing them. I decided after scanning I would put ours in chronological order as best I can.

Because they are various sizes, I am planning on mounting them in this order onto cardstock with photo corners and inserting each into acid-free sleeves, then putting them into enclosed binders. It's not the most convenient; however, I think this will protect them the best for long-term storage.
Anonymous
Unknown
Photo Albums
Archival photo albums will help preserve the old photos and allow future generations the opportunity to flip through the pages of our family’s history. Nothing beats looking at the actual hard copies of photos!
Mary J.
Eugene, OR, USA
Photo Albums
Protects and preserves them better. Provides the option of looking through them without damaging them further, if necessary.
Anonymous
Unknown
Photo Albums (some Photo Boxes)
I store all my old family photos in proper archive-quality sleeves and in archive-grade boxes. 

Scanning has produced mixed results, despite being a professional in this area. Scanners tend to produce a slightly soft image due to the distance from the glass, and I don’t own a dedicated device, although I have considered it. I have an attachment for my professional DSLR, which produces 41-megapixel scans. You need HDR and three bracketed photos to get good results. It is extremely time-consuming, and focus is hit-and-miss, but I will be trying tethering to get a live view of the camera on the monitor using DarkTable.
Steve
England
Photo Albums
Con for boxes - photos can get stuck together, I guess it’s a reaction to the chemicals and humidity. I had many of my Navy days that were stored for 50 years plus in boxes that were glued together. I was able to separate some after soaking in hot water overnight, with marginal results. The best solution was to reprint from negatives.

Here is a tip for anyone getting started in this activity. Before scanning the first image, find EVERY photo and document you can and organize them into whatever grouping you will use. I scanned a number of old family ancestor photos and organized them. Later I found 2-3 different groups of photos at different times in some of my mom’s things.
Frank
Unknown
Photo Albums
Putting the photos in photo-safe acid-free albums will keep them protected for future generations.

When the photos are displayed in albums, by year and or events, with written stories and documentation and memorabilia, it is easy and meaningful to enjoy looking at them, alone or with family and friends.
Christina Blomberg
Forest Knolls, California, USA

Kept in Original Storage

17 %

Of those surveyed who said they plan on storing all or the majority of their paper prints in "photo albums," 17% explained they felt the best place for their paper prints would be to return them to their original or initial storage location where they were before they started their scanning project.

Photo Albums
I bought 40 matching albums 20 years ago, so all of my pictures are in chronological order already.
Jim Stenehjem
Gilbert, AZ, USA
Photo Albums (some Photo Boxes)
I only have a limited number of blank photo albums and don't want to buy more, so the excess will go into boxes (probably in their original Kodak envelopes that also have the negatives for each roll).
Karen
California, USA
Photo Albums (some Photo Boxes)
Most were already in albums, so it was easy to continue. But moving forward, as I scan, I will keep some in boxes (and envelopes) until the scanning process is over. Then put them into albums like the majority I have. My mom was diligent about storing her photos in albums, and it has paid off for me.
Karen B.
Indiana, USA
Photo Albums (some Photo Boxes)
Photos are being returned to whatever storage they came from. In the future, when all scanning is done, I'll rethink the problem, hopefully to make it easier for my kids to find those originals when they want.
Santo S.
Montreal, QC, Canada
Photo Albums (some Photo Boxes)
It's the most practical because that's where they were located, to begin with!
Andy Parrett
Unknown

Miscellaneous

3 %

Of those surveyed who said they plan on storing all or the majority of their paper prints in "photo albums," 3% had detailed explanations that were unique and didn't match those of others.

Photo Albums
I would eventually like to put all my photos in albums, so I have stored them in boxes in chronological order waiting for the time when they can go into an album.
Sarah
Southampton, England

54 %

Photo Boxes

Takes Up Less Space

30 %

Of those surveyed who said they plan on storing all or the majority of their paper prints in "photo boxes," 30% used specific words like "less space" to define why they chose this storage medium.

Many said they feel photo boxes are smaller than albums and can hold more. Additionally, there is an appreciation for the convenience of their size, where they are compact enough to be put in places around their home where albums couldn't be. Additionally, their form factor and ruggedness warrant the stackability feature.

Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Less storage in boxes compared to albums. However, some of my pictures in albums I could not safely remove, so scanned them in place and kept the albums.
Chuck
Kuna, ID, USA
Photo Boxes
I don’t have the space for photo albums. Also, I live in Florida and have learned from experience that the humidity isn’t friendly to plastic and leather albums.
Michelle
Delray Beach, FL, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
The boxes and envelopes purchased from Archival Methods are archival-safe. They are less bulky and take up less space than albums. They also "contain" the photos, whereas album pages can become loose, and photos are more exposed to "outside" damage. The larger format photos are in protective sleeves and also stored in boxes rather than framed or in albums.
Anonymous
Unknown
Photo Boxes
Space and I can more easily keep some in a “fireproof“ safe.
Anonymous
Unknown
Photo Boxes
I put them in sleeves (archival, many versions) that are clear. Two in a sleeve, back to back (sleeves are expensive!!), and then file in boxes by year and subject/category. I like getting all the same boxes so that they stack well and fit on my bookshelf-type storage. Binders aren't so great for stacking unless you get the archival kind that slides into squared-off enclosure boxes. Also, if they are standing up, the individual pages can "slouch" towards the bottom. 

There are binder boxes with three rings in a clamshell-type box — these are my favorite. They'll hold a lot of the photo sleeve pages (e.g., three images or six back-to-back for 4x6) and then can be looked at more like an album. They are better for stacking, although they have some of the same cons as albums listed in your review. 

Great review [in the newsletter], by the way!
Sara G.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
I will be storing in boxes the photos that I decided to keep.
 
My albums are mostly mixed dates, and they’re bulky. I feel like photo boxes will take up less space and be easier to sort chronologically.
Angel Smith
Randleman, NC
Photo Boxes
Planning to store them in photo boxes to take up less space.
Mark C.
Canton, OH, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Most of mine fit in boxes, and the ability to stack them is space-saving. Most viewing will happen on a digital platform rather than in a flip album. I'd rather create a hardcover photo book of favorites if I want to flip, and those can be printed with a flat spine book-binding option.
Jo
Morgan, MN, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Boxes store a larger quantity in a given volume of space and are likely less expensive for the same number of prints. You didn’t mention slides or negatives, but boxes are my choice for them, also.

Once any photos have been digitized, had all metadata added and confirmed, there should be no reason for further physical handling once they are placed in archival storage. Viewing should be with digital copies, with the digital originals safely backed up in at least three separate places. 

I’ve compared prices for X number of slides stored in plastic pages for binders vs. X slides stored in boxes. Boxes are less expensive and store X slides (or negs) in less shelf space. Once digitized, slides can be quickly and easily rearranged in numerous ways for digital slide shows with no need to haul out, set up a working projector and screen, then pack away the equipment after the show. Again once digitized and any info from labels/mounts added to digital metadata, there’s no need for physical handling, with potential fingerprints being added or mounts jamming in a projector. The Bell & Howell “Cube” projectors were notorious for crunching cardboard mounts.
Art Taylor
Hanmer, Ontario, Canada
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Storing mostly in photo boxes will take up less space. The albums will probably have the better photos, and I'm hoping to have some type of "index" as to where each photo is located. That way, if someone wants to see more photos connected with those in the albums, they will be able to find them.
Patty D.
Tampa, FL, USA
Photo Boxes
Space and better archival quality. Cheaper.
David
Worcester, UK
Photo Boxes
They take up minimal space until I can summon the courage to dispose of them entirely.
Anonymous
Unknown
Photo Boxes
Easy compact storage in shelving in the closet of my crafting room, where I do all my digitizing. I scan from 35mm film strips. Photos with no film strips associated with them are kept in a basket in their original envelope (think J.C Penny family and baby photos and kids' sport and school class photos) all old archive photos are kept flat in an archival box. All are in the craft room closet and are available for scanning.

Kids will get digitized photos, any doubled prints, and their class, sports, and J.C Penny's photos once scanned. I keep one copy of the originals to build scrapbooks for my own enjoyment. If I build a scrapbook of a year in family life, I may decide to destroy any photos not used, knowing the kid have the double paper print and the scanned photo. 

When I pass, they can decide what to do with my collection. But they have the scanned photos of their life and some paper copies to do with as they see fit. The scrapbooks were my original priority, but my kids are never going to look at those, so I transferred my energy to scanning all 35mm negatives and a smaller basket of paper photos. And when that’s done within the next year (getting close to done), then I can relax and make scrapbooks for my own enjoyment, and if I never get all of them done, that’s OK.
Lisa Curry
Corvallis, Oregon, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Albums will allow my family to see a collection of family photos from each time period without having to look through a multitude of photos from each event/time period. Storage boxes will be a compact way to store those photos.
Darlene J Triska
Unknown
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Allows for more efficient storage and is more likely for them to be organized. I would prefer to have all the favoured prints in albums and the less important ones in boxes, but the sheer volume is just too daunting.
Travis Paul Wong
Unknown
Photo Boxes
I like the photo boxes because they are uniform in size, easy to store, and easy to move.  I label them by year(s) and use card stock, cut to size, to use as dividers or event markers inside the box (e.g., January, Disney Cruise, Xmas, Graduation) between the pictures. The boxes and dividers began as a method to sort my photos, place them in chronological order, and identify duplicates without hundreds of loose photos being scattered and stacked all over the house.

For photos I have received from family, especially older and/or distant relatives, that I can not easily determine the date, I divide by main subject (Great Aunt Lonnie, Mandy's Children, Chicago House), and when I get together with a person who can help me with the names and dates, I can find them easily since they are all together.  While I am still in the process of scanning photos, the dividers have been very helpful in finding photos I haven't scanned yet but are needed, such as for a funeral or a holiday newsletter.  Not all the pictures I have are photo album worthy, and I can't imagine the space needed to store so many photos in albums.
Debra L.
Long Beach, CA, USA
Photo Boxes
Albums are bulky; to share photos, I use email and google drive. They are shown on my digital frame, so I see them anytime I am sitting near the frame. The originals are in the boxes for my boys to go through when I don't feel the need to store them myself.
Jo
La Quinta, CA, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
The albums currently are taking up too much space.
Kat
Whitby, ON, Canada
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
It keeps them in order, takes up less room, and hopefully is not harmful to them.
Michelle
St Joseph, MI, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Hard to find archival albums, bulky and inconvenient for a large volume of prints, less flexible and more work intensive to use albums.
Janet M-C
Marietta, GA, USA
Photo Boxes
Albums are a storage nightmare. I am looking to eliminate my albums and go digital with a small number of favorites saved in photo boxes.

I am 65. My Mom, RIP, was the keeper of family albums (slides, movies, scrapbooks) and left so much that I have a storage unit rented for her things. I don't want to do this to my one child. I need to tame the monster so he can travel light in his world.

I have not yet started on my albums. I intend to earmark about ten photos per year from my life, so I have my "Celebration of Life" slide show in work. I'm planning to live to 105, so I don't need it soon, but the thought is in my mind.
Linda R.
Carlsbad, CA, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Space concerns. The photo albums take up to much shelving space.
Chuck
Kuna, ID, USA

Ease of Organization

18 %

Of those surveyed who said they plan on storing all or the majority of their paper prints in "photo boxes," 18% reasoned that they were better at handling organizational tasks.

It could be they find it's faster for them to initially put their photos into boxes or even that it's faster to organize or sort them once they are inside. Additionally, some stated boxes allow for a larger range of photo sizes to be stored.

Photo Boxes
I can mix 35mm slides, negatives, and prints to keep all three types in chronological order by using archival sleeves for each format in a dust-protected binder box. My dad took a lot of slides and prints and kept the print negatives (which yield better scanning results than scanning from the prints), so this seems the easiest way to organize early childhood family pictures.
Anonymous
California, USA
Photo Boxes
The ability to easily sort and combine duplicates.
Anonymous
Unknown
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Long ago, I thought the albums (binders with archival pages) would make the most sense. However, the issues with sizes for different prints and having to move everything to keep the dates in order are making me think that photo boxes are actually the way to go. If I can gather the energy and draw myself away from all the other projects, I plan to move all paper prints to boxes. Fingers crossed!
Pat
Massachusetts, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
I’m a digital-first person, and I have found that my hard copies are horrendously out of order based on the available media — and funds — at the time.

I hope this project will allow me to collate photos from the same event that ended up in 4 different albums, like a wedding, for example. And since this will be my first true effort to label the backs with unique numbers, I want to speed up sorting without having to re-insert and re-sequence. I dread filling an album with 300 photos in order, only to later find a dozen that should go at the beginning.

If I finish scanning all my pre-smartphone pics in my lifetime, maybe THEN I will go back to more beautifully ordered and presented albums, but my guess is that my time and money will be better invested in digital assets. I do plan to keep special albums or gifts as they were, as well as albums that don’t belong to me, like my parents’ stuff. My siblings may cherish the original containers, and it’s not up to me to take that away.
William Z.
North Carolina, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Time seems to be my most valuable commodity at this point, and it feels faster to store prints in boxes than to try to sort them into albums - though I'd like to assemble some albums to give away to family members, in part to reduce the total number of photos I'm storing.
 
Plus, I'm at the downsizing stage of life, so need to conserve space. 

Plus, my adult children (20-somethings) don't seem too interested in keeping the non-digital formats. Even my husband is questioning why I don't toss/give away all the hard copies and just archive the digitals in multiple places.
Mollie King
Calvert County, MD, USA
Photo Boxes
I hope to organize by year by doing this way.
Lynn B.
Alberta, Canada
Photo Boxes
Portability:
Stackability:
Sortability: **** this is most important to me!
Easier to Digitize:
Anonymous
Unknown
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
I have torn down all my family's old albums, which were poorly organized and made of questionable materials, and created my own small set of albums. The new albums allow me to curate and sequence, particularly significant photos. For example, I am placing 4 to 6 pictures of each Christmas gathering in a chronological album that becomes a quick, sequential flashback of my family. I've also made albums that contain the best images of one family member from childhood to today. I have even printed digital images to keep such sequences going. By maintaining only a few albums, I'm not overloading those who'll inherit them.

I'm storing other reasonably good photos in photo boxes and discarding the mediocre-to-bad images. There's a hierarchy of quality and/or interest, with the albums holding the more important images.

I like the photo boxes because I can use dividers cut from file folders to sort and identify photos and then easily add to these categories when other pictures come my way. Even though my knowledge of specific dates and names, and events are sometimes fuzzy, it is certain to be far better than anyone who inherits these pictures, so I need to give them at least some structure. 

Though this system wouldn't work for everyone, I designate a photo box for a certain family member or family branch, and then I have boxes for events, friends, houses, holidays, animals, and travel. You can see the war of keywords here--the anchor is sometimes the person, sometimes the date, and sometimes the place. For physical storage, I found I needed to allow multiple principles to govern the storage so that the retrieval concept becomes clearer. If I organized everything by person, filing and retrieval would be too tedious, and the real reason for certain photos would be lost.
Alex B.
East Montpelier, VT, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Many are large 8x6" formats and do not fit conventional sleeves or are very small 2x2" or 2x3" from the 30s/40s and are too loose and fall out of sleeves. 

I also store negatives and colour-positive slides, which are not conducive to albums.
Rachel C.
Montreal, QC, Canada
Photo Boxes
They are somewhat protected, and I can organize them by year.
Naomi
North Dakota, USA
Photo Boxes
Easy to organize, search, and access.
Anonymous
Unknown
Photo Boxes
They are plastic clear and specifically made for photos. I can organize or compartmentalize into the subject matter.
Scott
Crooksville, OH, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
The 'photo boxes' are actually shoe boxes and temporary storage while I catalogue, annotate, save the digital version and jettison the print or mount up and annotate a physical album.

Long term, I will have specialist archive boxes for the few older family prints being retained, a small collection of special event and travel albums, and otherwise only digital storage in year/month/date/place folders on a Lacie portable drive with a backup somewhere online.
Julie Warren
Edinburgh, Scotland

Protection / Preservation

15 %

Of those surveyed who said they plan on storing all or the majority of their paper prints in "photo boxes," 15% offered a variety of reasons why they felt boxes would be the best way to protect or preserve their photos. Their main concern seems to be it's how they feel comfortable keeping their photos safe.

Photo Boxes
I store my photo prints in archival safe boxes I purchased from Creative Memories in the 1990s and in Creative Memories archival safe pocket page scrapbooks. Creative Memories products are acid-free, lignin-free, and were designed to be archival-safe.

I have been a customer of Creative Memories since 1995 and most currently a Creative Memories advisor since 2020.
Melissa A.
Edmond, OK
Photo Boxes
I probably will keep the photos after scanning. They are already listed by location and year. I fear that digital information will not be considered important by my heirs.
Robert Cullick
Austin, Texas, USA
Photo Boxes
Boxes are better for archival storage. I use white gloves to handle the prints.
Mark
Corvallis, Oregon, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
I am using three-ring binder boxes from Archival Methods for the photos and documents that are from before 1972, which is when I was married. I use either standard sheet protectors or photo pages. Some of these have been scanned, some have not. These are items I inherited from my parents and grandparents. I have some photos that date back to around 1900. At least two are at the time of the Civil War. 

Very few of the photos that were taken after I was married have been scanned. Typical of most people, some are in albums, but most are still in the developer envelopes and stored in moving boxes or plastic tubs and generally unsorted. Yep - mostly a hot mess! I suffer from paralysis by analysis.

My scanning strategy is that my kids will mostly know who is in the photos from their generation but have virtually no knowledge of the generations preceding their grandparents.
Sarah M.
Overland Park, Kansas, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Most of our photos are stored in photo boxes, loosely sorted in chronological order. I do have some slide-in albums partially filled and a few partially completed Creative Memories albums, but these are not much of a collection. I have over 20,000 photos but will not digitize all of these, just the best ones. However, I will keep all the originals in photo boxes, stored in the back of a closet (where they are now), just in case. I'm not sure what to do with the partially completed albums. No need to decide now, we are empty nesters and live in a large house.
Cindi
Charlotte, NC, USA
Photo Boxes
Archival boxes are the best way to protect against further deterioration, and making photos digitally available is more practical amongst all generations nowadays, people don't look at photo albums anymore (there's a reason these photos are stored the way they are – in bags, envelopes, etc.)
Morgan D.
Durham, UK
Photo Boxes
Better for archival preservation; easier to organize, access, and store.
Greg M.
Northern Kentucky, USA
Photo Boxes
Acid-free clear Plastic photo storage boxes with individual plastic holders for better classifications. And protected from any water mishaps.
Scott
McLuney, Ohio, USA
Photo Boxes
The prints and negatives, if they exist, are in archival envelopes that are in archival boxes. The negatives in the envelopes are in archival negative preservers. The boxes have a Record Group number. When the prints were scanned and imported into Lightroom Classic, a keyword for the Record Group was given to the scanned print.

For me, it is much easier to keep the envelopes in archival boxes, which are also labeled. I only have one photo album that is from the 1940s, where my mother wrote details about most of the photos. The album will not be changed. If I decide to rescan a print, I can use Lightroom to find its approximate location (Record Group number).

I learned a lot of what I do from your site years before you started the membership program. Thanks for all of your help.
Gary G.
Vernon Hills, IL, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Print ink fades over time, no matter what you do.
Ronb
Scotland
Photo Boxes
Just for backup. In the event the digital image is lost or want to start over on the restoration process. A digital file is always left in the box.
John G.
Fort Worth, TX, USA

Single Storage Location

11 %

Of those surveyed who said they plan on storing all or the majority of their paper prints in "photo boxes," 11% expressed how the boxes would give them the ability to keep the collection(s) intact and together in one place.

Slightly different from those just seeking protection and preservation, they had more specific reasons, such as dealing with the challenge of how to break up the entire collection for multiple family members or simply to maintain a backup of the originals in case there is ever any kind of "failure" with their digital copies.

Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Our photo albums sit unviewed on the shelf. Our family doesn't live close by. To give each grown child an album means making multiple copies of everything. So after scanning, the photos will be in boxes, the family will have access to the digital copies (probably FOREVER), and we might learn how to use our TVs as slide shows. We also have a couple of early-generation digital photo frames. Ultimately, the paper copies will be available but probably never accessed.
Sandee
Wisconsin, USA
Photo Boxes
I want to be able to retrieve them if need be. Don't want to say "could have, should have" regrets later.
John M.
Atlanta, GA, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Believe it or not, the kids and grandkids love it when we bring albums out.

To be honest, I use both. I curate only some photos to put in albums-they tell a story, the rest of the photos can go in a photo storage box just in case someone says, "Do you remember..."

This way, you don't have a ton of bulky albums, but you do have the photos as a backup if technology fails.

Also, there are so many archival pocket pages that you can do any size of photographs or a combination of them on the same page; I love that I can move pages around too.
Carolyn Shiery
Orange, CA, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Photos of people - in photo albums with written info on the back of the photo for anyone to easily view.

Photos of holidays or places not of any interest to anyone else except me - in photo boxes until I check I have digital copies, then they are thrown away.
Trish J.
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
There are two classes of prints in my collection. Those more than 90+ years old and those less. The old ones are all in albums. They were already heavily culled by the previous generations of family who kept them, and so most are good or important. I like to have them in albums to show when discussing family history, and there aren't so many that storage space becomes a problem. I also tend to do more to keep them in proper storage conditions of temperature and humidity...

The more recent ones are of more variable importance or quality and most often have negatives with them (or were slides, to begin with). With the newer ones, I tend to do the sorting and organizing on the digitized versions and just store and catalog the originals. Moving, sorting, and rating the digital images is much faster and simpler than dealing with the paper.
Tim S.
Palo Alto, CA, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Besides a handful of paper prints, I'm mainly just storing them to keep them. I plan on using digital frames to display photos.
Justin
Tigard, OR, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
The boxes can take the "out" shots, and I can put the feature pictures in an album. Sometimes, it is the background of a photo that's more interesting!
Eve-Lynn
Uxbridge, ON, Canada
Photo Boxes
At this point in my life I know we don’t pull out albums to look at. We pull up our digital albums. The printed photos have become a tertiary backup.
Anonymous
Texas, USA

Portability

7 %

Of those surveyed who said they plan on storing all or the majority of their paper prints in "photo boxes," 7% said boxes gave them the ability to make their collections portable.

Often this mobility has to do with the need to return photos to their rightful owners once the scanning project is completely over.

Photo Boxes
At the time, photo albums were easy to do and keep in order. Since I don't have children, the plan is to put them in boxes, one for my brother, one for my niece, and one for my nephew. I plan to put tabs by years so they will be easier to work with and look at. Prints that aren't family-related will get put in a box for us or tossed.  

I do plan on scanning them all before dividing them up and putting the thumb drive in each of the boxes. Also, duplicate prints will be made for my family if they could go in duplicate boxes. I'm trying to decide what to do with vacation pictures since the family really isn't going to care that I've been on vacations overseas, etc.  

I know that I don't need to keep all those pictures of scenery since I haven't looked at them for several years. Trips with my mother, sister by another mother, and I will be included in the boxes. Hard decisions, but thankfully all my pictures are marked, dated, names, locations, etc. So that is the good part! The bad part, I had over 10 feet of a closet shelf stuffed with photo albums.
Anonymous
Unknown
Photo Boxes
Kids are not interested. Will be discussing most of the photos but just keeping the ones I love, divided into boxes for each child, ancestors, my husband‘s and my childhood photos, and our parent's photos.
Anonymous
Unknown
Photo Boxes
I actually plan to send pictures that have people in them TO them for fun and memories...the best of the best I will save in photo boxes. I removed mine all from many photo albums and do not want the space that they take anymore.  So, hoping to have very few actual photos left!
Wendy Ellis
Chicago, IL
Photo Boxes
Easily accessible and more portable. I began using photo boxes years ago and have always been pleased with this method.
Ann G.
Florida, USA
Photo Boxes
I actually am kind of split on my answer. I plan to keep a few in photo boxes, but I also intend to get rid of a bunch, perhaps mail them to family, just get rid of them or let my little kids use them and not worry about them. The bulk of my family photos still belong to my mom/grandmother, so I intend to return all of those.
Ashley
NC, USA

Sheer Volume of Photos

7 %

Of those surveyed who said they plan on storing all or the majority of their paper prints in "photo boxes," 7% expressed that boxes were their only choice because of their vast quantity of original photos.

It's not specifically a concern of space in their home, but that because of the number of photos they have, albums just aren't even a possibility for the majority of their collections.

Photo Boxes (some Albums)
The sheer volume makes albums untenable. I can't bring myself to destroy the originals, but putting them in well-labeled boxes (that's the aim) will work for me.
Carolyn T.
Hamilton, ON, Canada
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Because of the volume of photos I have, my albums could never be comprehensive, rather I use them to showcase the best photographs as well as those which may not be the greatest images but which showcase the life events and people, places, and things that I would like to be remembered.  

I am one of those people who is committed to scanning almost all the photographs I have because sometimes it's the not-so-perfect pictures that capture things that we take for granted but which might be interesting to future generations whose lives and surroundings are very different. The blurred image of my son in our kitchen might not be the greatest photo of him, but the items on the table, the countertop, and seen through the open cupboard door are an unplanned but perfect reproduction of the environment and artifacts that he grew up with. I have some wonderful studio portraits of my great great grandparents, but what I wouldn't give to be able to see inside their home and get a better sense of how they lived day to day.

I'm not sure how many picture photo albums I will assemble in the future. For now, I have undertaken my scanning project with the aim of making digital photo books. The advantage of these is that one book can be reproduced several times and given to multiple family members. They are also less cumbersome and weighty than my old albums and less fragile so that even my four-year-old granddaughter can look through them without me worrying about damage or wear and tear.

Once scanned, I will get rid of some photographs, including duplicates (who didn't go for the 2-for-1 processing option?) and poor-quality images without other potential merits. But I will hang on to the rest because......well, you just never know!!
Karen Falder
Victoria, BC, Canada
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
1. My kids don't look at the scrapbooks I've made them, and they are relegated to back corners of their houses. They do look at the digital scrapbooks I've made for them. 

2. I have thousands of prints, our own and inherited ones. Putting them in albums would create a huge number of albums, taking up a huge amount of space. 

3. I'm a bit compulsive about chronological order, and albums mess that up. Not to mention finding the type of page needed to hold the sizes and shapes of the photos to go in that page.
Lynn D.
Fitchburg, Wisconsin, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Boxes are better as the volume of photo albums is difficult if you have multiple family photo collections.
Marvin Bjornstad
Elk Point, Alberta, Canada
Photo Boxes
Too many photos to store in albums, and I don't have the room to store more albums. My parent's photos are photos of their lives, holidays, etc. And I am sure that not everyone in future generations are going to be interested in everything about their lives, just the important family pics.

I haven't started scanning and storing my pics yet, but it is on my to-do list.

Thanks for your newsletter, I read it regularly, getting tips on the best way to get around attending to the job I have to do. 
Thank you, Zena
Zena
Melb, Australia

Miscellaneous

5 %

Of those surveyed who said they plan on storing all or the majority of their paper prints in "photo boxes," 5% had detailed explanations that were unique and didn't match those of others.

Photo Boxes (some Albums)
I'm referring to fotos. I started out with about 100 albums with fotos encased in plastic, some with that sticky backing. I also had fotos from my grandmother's cedar drawer that had just been thrown in there. Puerto Rico with heat and dampness, and I rescued them when I closed down the house.

I have an Epson scanner FF680W, a Canon TS9120, and an Epson V600 for larger documents, fotos, and slides with a slide frame. The difficulty was straightening out the curved bent fotos, which my husband, an amateur photographer who used to develop his own prints, straightened out for me. In the Epson went the smaller fotos that fit and could be fed through, a very fast process although it's cumbersome to find them and rename them. The flatbeds, well, for those that had to be individually scanned and color ones. Many Sepia fotos were scanned in those.

Am I done? no!! I still have 2 large boxes of framed fotos and several  - 5-10? - smaller fotos. It's a lifetime job.

My naming system is simple: foto date or estimated date: year, day, month if available or easy to estimate, location (Puerto Rico, New York, Virginia, etc.), city if known, then general info such as person(s). I'm not sure if this is the proper way, but it's worked for me. I took a hiatus, and it's been a year since I returned to the task, which is very tedious for me.
Digna Irizarry Cassens
Yucca Valley, CA, USA
Photo Boxes
Two main sources of photos. Many, many hundreds of loose photos of various formats. Thousands of photos in the original envelopes in which the developer enclosed both my photos and negatives.

The loose photos are going in 4x6x1 plastic boxes that hold about a hundred photos each. The 4x6 size holds lots of different odd-format photos. The envelopes go in cardboard boxes from Michael's. They are 4+x6+x10. Not sure of the exact size and am too tired to check. I'm sure you get the picture.

The objective is to save negatives along with photos. I also have a bunch of negatives not attached to any photos. A headache.
John T.
Bayonne, NJ, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
Most of what I have to scan are actually the negatives. The photos I have been given over the years from other family members will be scanned and then added to photo albums, otherwise, they will be boxed. I don't really want to dispose of them as they come in handy in the future. Who knows.
Tim Cove
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
I currently have old photos in storage boxes, but I just purchase black boxes the size of an album which have archival plastic sleeves in them. I will see which I like best to decide where to store the current-day photos. So many options!
Susan Horn
Reston, VA, USA

Kept in Original Storage

4 %

Of those surveyed who said they plan on storing all or the majority of their paper prints in "photo boxes," 4% explained they felt the best place for their paper prints would be to return them to their original or initial storage location where they were before they started their scanning project.

Photo Boxes (some Albums)
I have left most of the photos in their original "storage" locations (albums or envelopes within boxes that may reflect from whom or where they came). 

The original uploads of the photos are saved to folders on my computer that indicates the source. In that way, should someone have a scan and seek to find the original, they can trace it back. The reason for this is that, on occasion, I've found that where a photo has been found helps identify where (or when) it was taken. This approach has been particularly helpful when scanning old greeting cards that are often un-dated but generally were just piled up in rough order of receipt.
Hal L.
San Francisco Bay area, CA, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
As have not scanned everything, my son may (LOL) wish to flip through the boxes and albums to see if any photo is important to him.

Personally would just like to throw all and everything away as there are only two of us left to care.
Evelyn Bailey
Sault Ste Marie, ON, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
I'm operating under the assumption that the digital versions will be the only ones that will be accessed and viewed by my kids and "grands." Pictures already in albums will stay there (perhaps with some consolidation) since removal may cause more damage. Ones in photo envelopes will get some basic identification & consolidation, but not much more than that. My time and effort will go into — identification, sequencing, adding metadata, and correcting deterioration.
Bill
Gainesville, FL, USA
Photo Boxes (some Albums)
To be honest, I replaced most slides back into their reels and put photos back into the photo boxes they were given to me in. I carefully noted the physical location of each batch of photos that I scanned so the picture could be located "easily" thinking I could go back and place them in permanent storage later. It's so much though!
JBH
Apex, NC, USA

Albums No Longer Relevant

3 %

Of those surveyed who said they plan on storing all or the majority of their paper prints in "photo albums," 3% indicated that albums are no longer a realistic option in today's world.

Photo Boxes (some in Photo Albums)
Just retain the most significant photos. Have scan files saved in 3 places. Don't expect to flip thru albums, So in yesteryear.
Linda
Carlsbad, CA, USA
Photo Boxes
Prior to digital photography, the album was really the only place if you wanted to show your photographs without having people touch them. Now, after scanning them into a digital file, I am putting them into photo boxes (who looks at albums now).
Nadeem M.
Calgary, AB, Canada

13 %

Other Storage Option(s)

paper prints piled in a wood box

Of those surveyed who want to hold onto their original photos but who felt neither "photo albums" nor "photo boxes" would be adequate for their collection(s), they were given the option to choose "Other storage option(s)."

Additionally, they were given an additional field where they could explain what other types of storage they prefer(ed) to use.

Other Storage Option(s)
Photos were scanned and then put in groups chronologically and stored in large plastic containers — in an unheated garage in Northern Michigan. Oops!

I didn’t want to throw them away and didn’t want to take any more time doing anything with the photos. I might toss them eventually or just take the best ones to put in a couple of albums.
Cheryl S.
Florida, USA
Other Storage Option(s)
They are tossed into see-thru, acid-free 14"x 14" x 3" stackable boxes.

My most immediate focus is to get the prints scanned and saved digitally. Each photo has been given a unique ID number that corresponds with the scanned file name. I am not concerned at this point with a particular form of storage for the paper prints other than knowing that they ARE being preserved all together.
Brenda C.
Pulaski, TN, USA
Other Storage Option(s)
Frankly, in the boxes and manila envelopes they were already stored in. Expediency ruled, but probably not the best option. I could do better, so thank you for the pros and cons of both storage options.
Martin B.
Eugene, OR, USA
Other Storage Option(s)
About 30% of my photos are in photo albums, and they remain in them after scanning. About 60% were in their original drugstore envelopes containing prints and negatives. I scanned most from the negatives and returned them to their original envelopes. The balance was scanned, and I put them in plastic bags.

ALL OF THESE ARE NOW IN PLASTIC BINS, with a note that they have all been scanned and are digitally available on various hard drives and some in the cloud.

I have been working with my family on this project, and they have told me they really have no interest in the originals as long as they can be viewed from the digital scans. I saved everything in the plastic bins I described previously just in case someone decides differently after I am gone. Otherwise, I have taken the attitude that I have done my duty to my family to preserve these images digitally for future generations without the family having to worry about storing a bunch of bulk. That would be their choice. I do admit to separating out a few photos from the early 1900s after scanning, in case my family would like those special originals.

I don't know whether my comments will help others, but I highly suggest you assess the feelings of whomever you will leave your library of photos to. If they really want all the originals and commit to safeguarding them for the future, then you should pay careful attention to the results of this survey and follow the recommendations to honor their wishes. If they insist the digital scans are sufficient, then make sure you back them up on multiple types of media. I have three separate external HDs in addition to the original on my computer HD. One of those Hard Drives is in my Safe Deposit Box. Then you can be less cautious in organizing and storing the original photos and negatives. Also, if there are any original photos that would have sentimental value, keep them separate and let your family know you have them.

Best of luck on all this.
Stan B.
Chicago suburbs, IL, USA
Other Storage Option(s)
Plastic storage container with multiple smaller photo boxes. Not "archival," but better than the grocery bags stuffed in bins. Prints are HIGHLY unlikely to ever be accessed, negatives are in binder boxes; again, better than crammed in paper sleeves and findable.

I'm dealing with over 500 rolls of 35mm snapshots that were in original paper packets, stuffed into bins & drawers. Haven't dealt with the old albums yet.

Placed negatives into 8x10 negative sheets, id'd with numbered stick-on labels on the negative sheet & on the small photo box. Scanned the sheets & made (well... "making") available online to kids cross-country. Scans aren't professional but are high enough quality that a 4x6 can be made of a single frame. Any "keepers" identified (in this flood of snapshots) can be found using the contact sheet id for a pro print from film or the original 4x6 in the box storage.

The boxes are below. Don't know how "archival" they are, but they beat being at the bottom of 150+ packs dropped randomly into a bucket. Don't trust the handles, and don't use them as carry-ons, but they are great for stacking in storage. 

Many of the 200+ contact sheets posted so far were never seen by my 30-ish kids, and they've clipped & enlarged snapshots for their use (mostly on phone).

IRIS USA 4" x 6" Photo Storage Craft Keeper, Main Container with 16 Organization Cases For Pictures, Crafts, Scrapbooking, Stationery Storage, Protection and Organization, Multi-Color/Clear.

UniKeep 3 Ring Binder - Black - Case View Binder - 1.5 Inch Spine - with Clear Outer Overlay - Pack of 3 Binders.

There are tiny loose prints from my dad's WWII tour and albums still to be dealt with. The clear boxes should suffice for the small prints and the albums... Some have large prints >100yrs old; still thinking on those.
Gus Altobello Jr.
Syosset, NY, USA
Other Storage Option(s)
Plastic see-thru storage bins. More rugged than cardboard boxes.
BillyMc
Piedmont, MO, USA
Other Storage Option(s)
Other types of “plastic” bins — I know these are not the best, but it is what I had on hand and could afford — according to year. Not sure if I will be keeping the prints or not, as I just do not have the space.
Anonymous
Canada
Other Storage Option(s)
Plastic boxes with lids. Hanging folders labeled by years or decades. Maybe not best forever, but as I find photos and/or programs, itineraries of important documents that have to do with a particular year or decade, they can be sorted easily without reordering.
Anonymous
Unknown
Other Storage Option(s)
IRIS compartmentalized containers. Also, some archival boxes. I like the organization of the compartmentalized boxes. In MY opinion, the archival boxes are just barely organized. Just my opinion, though. I know it's unpopular.
Anonymous
Unknown
Other Storage Option(s)
Perhaps in some plastic shoe box-style containers. But I do have all scanned photos on a number of flash drives - from 8g to 500g SanDisk. One place is not enough. Not even 2. My son had TWO Sandisks, a 2 terra, and a 4 terra crash! NOTHING is recoverable from either. 40,000+ p[x gone. Talk about a sick feeling. That it was.
Dan B.
Fernandina Beach, FL, USA
Other Storage Option(s)
I use a container with 16 cases for 4x6 and smaller prints. For 5x7 and larger, I use art portfolios.

For the small prints, I can fit so many photos into one container. Then each of the 16 cases can be labeled by decade or event, or person, whatever I choose. The art portfolios for larger prints are easy to manage in much the same way. They come in a variety of sizes and varying numbers of pages and are archival-safe. The best thing about both of these options is the footprint or real estate they take up on a shelf is minimal. The containers stack if I have more than one; the portfolios stand on end like binders but have so rings. Retrieval is easy, as I can grab just one case from the container or one portfolio.
Joanne S.
Atlanta, GA, USA
Other Storage Option(s)
Scrapbooking albums, mini albums made especially with paper for occasions, and some photo albums.

If the photos are old or irreplaceable, I would store them in a safe, acid-free storage box or album, depending on if I want to see them (album) or just store them (box). I like crafting with a memory-keeping orientation, so that is why I choose to do what I do.
Ileana Granados
San José, Costa Rica
Other Storage Option(s)
Manila envelopes. I sort by subject or person, or family. That way, photo size doesn’t matter, and I’ve been able to “gift” family members with their photos. Easy to open and check contents.

I wanted to keep different photo album pictures together, and these envelopes make it easy. I label the contents of each envelope with a post-it note.
Laurie
California, USA
Other Storage Option(s)
Accordion files, identified by family (his or mine), sorted by decade. (If photos have survived DECADES stored haphazardly as they were, they will most certainly survive being sorted this way — AND they have a handy carrying handle to boot!

They have a huge capacity, easy to sort (by decade), easy to store, and easy to grab in case of an emergency (think fire, flood). And easy to find and retrieve a previously scanned photo to be rescanned.
Cathy Glover
British Columbia, Canada

10 %

Not Saving Originals

paper prints, slides, photo album stuffed at the top of a trash can

Declutter

54 %

Of those surveyed who said they did not save or plan on saving their original photos after scanning, 54% explained their primary motivation was to declutter their home.

Not Saving Original Paper Prints
My main reason to scan was to declutter, so I tossed all the photos as I went and made sure they were backed up both in Shutterfly and in my cloud storage.
Anonymous
Unknown
Not Saving Original Paper Prints
Decluttering fully. My kids don't want photos. Gifting them all with a USB drive.
Karen C.
Scottsdale, AZ, USA
Not Saving Original Paper Prints
After scanning thousands of photos and organizing by year, then creating Shutterfly “yearbooks,” I decided to sort out the physical paper photos by the person of interest and give that bundle to that person. I have a very hard time actually throwing away photos, so this way, I am giving them to someone, and if they choose to keep them or throw them away, I won’t know!!

I do have one box of photos of myself and my husband, my parents, and my husband's parents. I’m not sure what to do with those yet, but I’m down to just that one physical box of photos rather than 20+ albums of photos...
Kellie F.
Loxahatchee, FL, USA
Not Saving Original Paper Prints
I scanned my photos in order to free my life of the physical items, and so have binned the original prints. My mother recently died, and I have her entire collection of physical photos in various albums. I shall be doing the same. 

I have, however, kept the negatives (for now) as they take up little space. I plan to bin those too, but that is a little more difficult. 😉

P.S thanks for the website, it has kept me motivated over the years.
Nicola
Jersey, GB
Not Saving Original Paper Prints
I have 100 scrapbooks. No way my adult kids want that bulk, so I’m scanning scrapbook pages and also all pre-digital loose photos, including vintage. Husband has already done 4000 slides. We don’t need to downsize our home yet, but when we do, I want this task done so I can cheerfully ditch the shelves of albums and move forward with one well-backed-up hard drive!
Lynette A.
Maple Grove, MN USA
Not Saving Original Paper Prints
Just don't have room to store the albums and photo-safe boxes. Plus, I can easily share the digital albums or entire photo collections if I desire (I use Apple Photos and iCloud). And many thanks to Curtis for helping me through the process of "getting it done."
Dirk H.
Roseville, CA, USA
Not Saving Original Paper Prints
The idea of throwing out those original old brown and white photos is a hard decision to make.  Looking at all the albums in our hall closet (taking up much of the room) covering over 50 years of family growing up, moving, life events, and traveling is also devastating! I thought long and hard about what to do.

For me, this all started when my parents and in-laws passed away. The houses had to be sold, and everything was dispersed among family members.  We tried going through the family pictures at that time, but there were so many (loose in boxes) that they all got put in a bigger box to be taken care of "later." I received some from my sister (the keeper of the pics), but many are still in the "later" box. I looked at them, smiled, and then added them to my "later" boxes! This cycle will probably repeat itself when I die, and somewhere down the line, they will eventually be thrown away. I can't let all those memories be lost forever!

What I plan on doing is attacking the easiest things first. I already have travel albums organized, so all I need to do is scan them and then discard the album. Each of these albums will be saved on a labeled thumb drive, where pictures that are found later can be easily added.  These will then be stored in some kind of case.  I haven't given much thought after that, but I'm sure there will be other challenges to face!

Kids these days don't stop long enough to "smell the roses" all I can do is give them the rose.
Elaine B.
Houston, TX, USA

No Use

31 %

Of those surveyed who said they did not save or plan on keeping their original photos after scanning, 31% said they no longer had a use for them.

This is different from someone trying to declutter. In this case, they may not have an issue with the "clutter," but they feel they no longer see a useful purpose for keeping them — a "why even bother" situation.

Not Saving Original Paper Prints
Because future generations will have no use for physical photos.
Anonymous
Unknown
Not Saving Original Paper Prints
Due to the discoloration-like color casting that appears on old photos, I felt that once they were digitized, that would be my new format, and if I wanted to print any of them out, I had that option.
David Elliott
Vallejo, California
Not Saving Original Paper Prints
The albums they are in now are not the best storage, but when they are all scanned, I would discard them. No one that's left in my family would be interested in seeing them anyway.
Darren
Florida, USA
Not Saving Original Paper Prints
I was gifted a Google hub. Since then, my photos show up randomly every day for viewing. It is in the kitchen and is a wonderful way of seeing memories pop up every day. Initially, I scanned them all, and they are in Photos and also in the cloud with Google Photos. I hope this is of interest. I have still kept all the photo albums, but they will probably end up in an Op Shop (a thrift store where donated goods are sold cheaply).
Poppy
Australia

Miscellaneous

15 %

Of those surveyed who said they did not save or plan on saving their original photos after scanning, 15% had unique explanations that didn't match those of others.

Not Saving Original Paper Prints
There wasn't a hybrid answer that matches my plan to save negatives in an appropriate-sized archival box. As for photos that don't have negatives, I will probably only save the prints that are deemed more valuable by some criteria that I haven't yet fully determined. 

In addition to determining a mostly clear logic for saving prints, I also hope to find a safe(r) disposal method for what I'm not keeping. I plan to explore this subject in our forums - how to best dispose of the photos and albums that were made with a variety of toxic materials and chemicals. Ideally, I'd like to have it all safely incinerated so that it doesn't leech into groundwater somewhere. I'd also feel better about completely destroying what I'm not saving once it's all digitized, as opposed to having my family memories lying in a dump somewhere!
April Taulbee
Buffalo, NY
Not Saving Original Paper Prints
Well, it wasn’t really a choice. I had them all (30+ years and some family historical pix, too) scanned and in albums. But then I made the hard decision to leave them all behind when my daughter and I left a bad situation with not much more than our clothes and some personal items.

I spent so many years protecting those precious albums, but knowing I had them all scanned and backed up to both the cloud and an external drive made it easier to walk away without something we didn’t have the space or time to bring with us. Add this to the benefits of having all your photos digitized. You never know what circumstances may part you from your physical photos, and it’s better not to have to stress over leaving them behind when other things are more important. 

Going back, I would leave the prints in photo boxes. We moved a lot and had probably 30 albums/scrapbooks, and they were so very heavy to box & move each time.
K.
Oklahoma, USA

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Survey: Where to Store Your Prints (#20)
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