Photo Storage

Every time I walk into my craft room, I pass this:

On top of my small bookcase, I store printed photos and memorabilia waiting to be scrapped. I used to be really good about filing it all in that photo box you see, but nowadays I'm far more likely to just pile it somewhere... including on top of the photo box.  

These are Trevor's school pictures and class picture that came home in the fall.  They're still in their envelopes.  I always buy the absolute cheapest package that includes the class photo, as that's all I care about.  The portraits we take at home of Trevor are so much better than any school picture that I don't even give these out.  But since I have no other way of getting portraits of all his classmates, I buy the cheap package.  

Last week, I posted about using a Baskin Robbins gift card holder on a layout and not caring that it might not have been acid-free because it wasn't touching my pictures.  That must have been on my mind, because when I went in to my scraproom earlier today, I noticed these pictures for the first time in months.  (Isn't it weird how you can pass by something several times a day and it's virtually invisible to you?)  When I noticed them, I had a fleeting worry that the envelopes they're in might not be acid-free.  While I don't care all that much if my embellishments on scrapped and scanned layouts are not archival, I do care about preserving the one and only copy of Trevor's class pictures.

I grabbed my acid-tester pen and did a quick test.  Blue is acid-free, green is medium acid, and yellow is high acid.  Fortunately, the envelope tested blue.

But what about the reorder form that's tucked inside the envelope, touching the entire class photo?  Blue as well, thank goodness.

Moving the school pictures off the pile revealed an envelope of to-be-scrapped pictures from Costco.  Acid-free?  Nope.  I watched as the ink dried from blue to a light greenish yellow. Wow.  

I don't tend to store pictures in Costco envelopes long-term.  Instead, I use Shutterfly envelopes, all neatly labeled by topic.  Since they're more expensive than Costco and do nothing but pictures, surely their envelopes are acid-free, right?  

No.  In case it's hard to see in this picture, the line on this Shutterfly envelope is yellow.  It's more yellow than the Costco envelope. 

I will be moving my pictures out of these envelopes and into something else as soon as I can figure out what that something else will be.  I'd like them to fit into the photo organizer I already have.  Any recommendations?


  1. Oh wow! Very eye-opening!
    And I am the same way w/ school pics!
    I usually buy the smallest package and then buy an 8x10 as an add on.
    I like to have the class picture, a small pic to scrap (either wallets that I scrap as a collage or a 4x6) and the 8x10 goes in a frame in the living room.
    Although lately I notice the pics haven't been coming out up to par, like they don't fix my daughter's messy hair or have her head at a weird angle so I still have her school pic from 2 years ago up in the frame, LOL!
    Good luck w/ your organizing!!! I know how tough that is!

  2. Oh wow. Now I'm going to have to pull all of my photos out and reorganize everything. Thanks. I think? LOL

    1. Sorry! Ignorance is bliss, isn't it?!? Test your envelopes - they may be different than mine and perfectly ok.

  3. Yikes!! I had no idea! I believe how you saw how mine are ... I got rid of all envelopes ... they were taking up too much space as not only do I have four million photos of my own... my folks have given me all of their photos too!!

  4. Oh wow. I didn't know that the ones that come from the photo store aren't acid-free envelopes.
    I have very few actual photos. I only print ones I want to scrap. The rest are on digital dvds and backed up on portable hard drives.

  5. GREAT post! I only have a couple of photo boxes anymore, I only print what I scrap or frame. I have noticed that some of my oldest pictures that were once in those old terrible magnetic albums have spots on them. I've tried to scan my favorites. Thanks for sharing this info!


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