When people find out that I am a professional photographer they inevitably talk about their own
experiences with photography studios, shoots and photographs they have taken over the years. The
topic of organizing, storing and archiving personal photographs comes up quite a bit so I thought I would talk about how to organize your images like a pro.
Storing Photographic Prints
There are many good options for storing and organizing photographic prints but they have one thing in common. This is archival quality materials. Archival quality items are free of any acids that may
deteriorate the photos over time. Any albums or containers you put your images in should always be
labeled archival quality so you can insure they will not cause harm.
Additionally, it is important to store all photographic prints and albums away from direct sunlight, heat and moisture. These can cause unwanted fading, warping and discoloration.
Storing photos in an album
Many of the best professional photographers typically prefer albums for displaying a large volume of printed images. There are several types of albums but the main three types are flush mount (the image is printed right onto the album page), matted (the image is slipped into a mat attached to the page) or adhesive (the photo is affixed to a page using photo corners or glues).
Flush mount albums
Good quality flush mount albums are my preferred choice for archiving images. The images never get
loose or pull away from the page and they have a sleek and modern look. Our photography studio
creates albums for clients using an amazing album company located in Italy. Each book is printed on
long lasting archival papers and then hand bound by artisans.
For my own family I create a yearly flush mount album with my favorite images and moments from that year. I have one for every year since I was married and all of the albums are beautifully crafted in Italy with matching caramel colored leather. They are gorgeous and bring me joy every time I look through them.
Matted and adhesive albums
Most people are not professional photographers and do not have the time and patience to create flush
mount albums. For these situations you can store your images in a matted or adhesive album. Matted
albums are great when you have larger photos that fill up a page and are all similar in size. You simply
slip the photo into the mats on each page and it is fast and easy.
If your photos are smaller or irregularly sized you can use an adhesive album. For this album style most professional photographers would recommend using archival photo corners to hold the images onto the page. Glues, tape, sticky pages, etc. can all damage your photos long term.
Archival boxes – The fast and easy way to store prints
Archival boxes are a great long-term storage solution for a variety of collectables, including
photographs. This is the storage solution used by many museums and fine art print photographers.
Archival boxes are acid and lignin-free, and are constructed with metal corners that make the boxes
sturdy and secure. They protect your prints from dirt and dust, as well as UV exposure from light, which can fade photographs over time.
I first came across archival boxes while in college studying photography and have been using them ever since. They are a fast and easy way to store photographic prints. All you have to do is toss the
photographs into the box. As a professional photographer they are my go-to storage solution for loose prints as well as other small mementos such as cards. I organize my boxes by date range and they stack neatly for organization.
Archival tissue for extra protection
If your images are fragile, or particularly valuable, I would recommend using layers of archival tissue
between the prints. Vintage photographic prints especially benefit from the addition of archival tissue to your archival storage box. Archival tissue is an acid-free paper that can prevent the delicate images from sticking together and becoming damaged.
Storing Digital Images
Each year we capture more and more digital images. As camera phones and social media explode so has
the volume of digital photographs we store. Storing digital photographs can be overwhelming but it
really comes down to organizing your images and backing them up offsite.
Organize the images first
It helps to organize your images before you back them up. Many professional photographs organize
photographs by date and I am no different.
Every year I create a folder for the year ahead and then organize that year’s images within this annual
folder. If you are short on time, organizing all the photos together by year is a decent basic framework.
To take it further, and be a real pro, you can break down the images into subfolders within this annual
folder. Every time I shoot a session, or capture personal photos, I create a subfolder for the images.
These subfolders are labeled with the date the shoot was captured and what was photographed. An
example looks like this:
2020 Folder (This would contain subfolders like the ones listed below)
– 12-25-20 Christmas Portraits
– 12-28-20 Kids Playing in The Snow
– 12-31-20 New Year’s Eve Party
Backup your digital images (and then back them up again)
Once the images are organized it is really important to back them up. You never know when a virus, lost
phone, broken hard drive, flood, fire, etc. can wipe out your images. Experienced professional
photographers like to have the images backed up at least twice and preferably three times.
Store a copy offsite
At least one of these backups should always be offsite. In the age of cloud storage this has become
easier than ever. Your images can reside on a hard drive or mobile phone and have a cloud backup.
Many cloud services, such as those provided for your mobile phone or Dropbox, even offer an automatic sync option that automatically uploads the images to the cloud.
Please be aware that automatic syncing does have some downsides. If your images on your computer
hard drive are damaged by some viruses, such as a cryptolocker, your damaged images will automatically sync with your cloud storage. This means the syncing will replace your original cloud files with the virus damaged files. You will not be able to view or open the damaged images on either your hard drive or cloud storage.
If cloud storage is not for you then the images can be downloaded to a second hard drive or disk and
taken offsite. Many of our photography studio clients take a second copy of their important photos to the office or the home of someone they trust.
Please note that the type of cd and dvds used to store photos do not last forever. They can start to break down in as little as 5 years.
Get Help From A Professional Photographer
If you need help with the organization, display or storage of your photographs feel free to contact our
photography studio. We understand how important a lifetime of photographic images are and can