Best Photo Albums

Updated March 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

27 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
143 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Shopping guide for best photo albums

Last Updated March 2019

Hands up if you're guilty of taking snaps on your phone or digital camera, storing them in the cloud or adding them to your social media feed, and then never looking at them again. Yup, us too! But a quality photo album is a great way of storing your photos in a physical format, making you more likely to bring them out and look at them.

First, you need to procure yourself a photo album to start storing those photos, but which one to buy? You'll find several different varieties of photo albums on the market, not to mention different sizes, materials, paper types, modes of organizing, and designs. If all these choices are leaving you confused, you've come to the right place for some assistance.

Our in-depth guide to photo albums will give you all the information you need to find the best vessel in which to store those precious memories. And if you just want to buy one, check out our favorites.

Some photo albums have space for notes, which is great for adding pieces of information about when or where photos were taken, or even fun anecdotes about days out.

Types of photo albums

Slip-in photo albums

Perhaps the most common variety on the market, slip-in photo albums feature fixed pockets in which to put your photos. It's quick and easy to store photos in a slip-in album and allows for easy rearranging of your snaps. But, on the downside, all the pockets are orientated the same way, which makes it difficult to store a mixture of portrait and landscape photos. You can do it, of course, but you'll need to turn the album to look at a portrait photo on a page of landscape snaps, which detracts from the viewing experience. It's also impossible to be creative with the layout of a slip-in photo album, since the pockets are fixed.


Self-adhesive photo albums

Self-adhesive photo albums have sticky pages covered in a clear sheet of plastic. To affix photos in the album, you peel back the clear plastic and stick your photos directly to the adhesive page, then stick the clear plastic back over the top when you're done. What's great about self-adhesive photo albums is that it's easy to be creative with the photo layout and it’s quick to stick photos in place. However, once the photos are affixed to the page, you generally can't peel them off, so you need to get the layout right first time. The other drawback is that the adhesive yellows over time and can be damaging to the photos, so this isn't the best type of photo album for passing down the generations. You can also trap dust, hairs, and other things under the plastic, which is especially problematic if you have furry pets around.


Photo corners

If you like the idea of being free to place your photos anywhere on the page and any orientation, but don't want to stick them down permanently, a quality album with photo corners is your best bet. While they allow you total flexibility of layout, and the option to switch and reposition photos later, it does take longer to fix photos in place using photo corners.

 

EXPERT TIP

Slip-in photo albums list the number of photos they can hold. Others have flexible layouts. Check the number of pages and size of each page to estimate how many photos you can fit inside.


Staff  | BestReviews

Key considerations for selecting a photo album

Binding

You can find photo albums with a range of different binding types. Some look neater than others and some are more durable.

Case bound photo albums look like hardback books and appear neat and professional. Case bound albums can further be divided into glue bound and book bound options.

  • With glue bound albums, the pages are simply glued into place, whereas book bound options are stitched.
  • Book bound offerings are more durable, which is ideal if you're looking to make a photo album to pass down to your kids and grandkids.


Wire and spiral bound photo albums feature pages mounted on a wire spiral, much like a reporter's notebook. It's easier to lay a spiral bound album completely flat, but they don't look quite as neat on a bookshelf as case bound options. This can be remedied, however, by choosing a concealed wire bound album, which looks from the outside like a case bound book, but spiral binding is hidden inside.

Although they're not as popular, you can also find ring bound photo albums. These let you open the binding to add new pages, remove pages, or rearrange pages, if you decide the snapshots would look better in a different order.


​​​​​​​Number of pages

Photo albums should list the number of pages they contain — these are sometimes referred to as sides. A 40-page, or 40-side, album has 20 double-sided pages, so essentially 40 useable pages. Choose an album with an appropriate amount of pages for the photos you want to display. You don't want to be left with a load of blank pages you'll be unlikely to fill, but you don't want to run out of space, either.

​​​​​​​
Cover material

Choose a quality cover material and your photo album will last longer. Some photo albums feature thick card covers, which is perhaps the least durable option. More common are either fabric-bound or leather-bound options.

In today's market, photo albums bound in real leather are uncommon. The majority of "leather bound" photo albums are actually bound with faux leather, which is almost as durable, cheaper, and suitable for use by vegans and people who avoid using certain animal products for religious reasons. If you don't particularly like the appearance of leather, fabric covered photo albums are a durable alternative.


Size

Photo albums come in a range of sizes, from compact albums large enough to hold a single, standard (four by six inch) photo per page, to huge A3 or A2 tomes. Though you want to pick a photo album that's large enough to hold all the snaps you intend to put inside, it shouldn't be too large to fit on your bookshelf. In our experience, albums too large to fit on a shelf are stored away in attics or basements and rarely looked at.

Some photo albums contain sheets of special paper, such as glassine, that sit between pages to protect photos over the years and stop them from sticking together.

Photo album prices

You can find small, basic photo albums for as little as $5 to $10. These often hold just a single photo per side and may be made from materials that damage photos over time. Mid-range photo albums cost around $10 to $30. You can find a wide range of sizes and options in this price range. High-end photo albums cost between $30 and $80. This includes true archival albums, large albums, and those made from top quality materials.

Tips

  • Consider choosing a photo album that uses acid-free paper. The acids in paper degrade photos over time, so if you want these albums to be passed down your family tree, acid-free is the way to go. 
  • Pick a photo album that's visually appealing from the outside. Choose a color, style, or pattern you like. If you're not too keen on the appearance of your chosen album, you might not want to have it on display.
  • Choose the right album for the size of the photos you want to add. The majority of photos are printed at four by six inches. If you'll be adding non-standard sized photos to your album, you're better off using photo corners or a self-adhesive album, since most slip-in photo albums have pockets designed to hold standard sized photos.
  • Think about creating themed albums. Rather than sticking all your favorite photos in one huge album, consider creating several smaller themed albums. For instance, you might want one album for your wedding and/or honeymoon, one to document your children's birthdays, one for holidays, and so on. Alternatively, you could create chronological albums — one per year.
DID YOU KNOW?

You can find photo albums with a sleeve on the outer cover to hold a single photo, which you may use as a clue to what's inside.

Other products we considered

You already know our five favorite photo albums, but there were several more we found during our research that are worth considering. The Classic Leather 3-Ring Album by We R Memory Keepers is crafted from archival faux leather with stitched edging and metal corners for durability. The 3-ring design allows you to add, remove, and reorder pages. Want somewhere to store your travel photos? The Punch Studio World Atlas Photo Album is an excellent option. It holds 200 four by six-inch photos, but you only have the option to place them in landscape, rather than portrait. Choose between a wide range of cover colors and finishes with the Golden State Art Photo Album. This slip-in album holds up to 150 photos in acid-free and PVC-free sleeves.

If you want to put together a large number of photo albums, consider buying ones that allow you to write a note on the spine so it's easier to find the right album when they're all lined up on a shelf.

FAQ

Q. Are photo albums designed for long-term photo storage?
A.
Most photo albums will keep your photos in decent condition for a few decades, but if you want your great, great, great grandchildren to be looking at these albums in 100 years, you'll need a true archival photo album. Pick an album that's acid-free, lignin-free, and PVC-free for long-term storage.

Q. Do all photo albums have white pages?
A.
While many photo albums feature white pages for you to stick your photos on, some have black pages for contrast or brown craft paper pages for a rustic look.

Q. What should I consider when storing old photos?
A.
If you're making an album of vintage family photos, made sure you use one with acid-free pages to preserve these delicate snaps.

The team that worked on this review
  • Alvina
    Alvina
    Photographer
  • Amos
    Amos
    Director of Photography
  • Branson
    Branson
    Videographer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Production Assistant
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Lauren
    Lauren
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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