Store and Protect Large Photos Solution

June 15, 2021

I've shared my goal to better organize our (thousands) of photos and school moments and projects a few times over the years. It's one of my biggest organizational thorns in my side! I've never found a great way to store photos, especially in a way that we can really enjoy them. 

I'm sure many of you are asking why I haven't just used photo albums, and I do plan to add them to albums eventually. I haven't done that yet because we had WAY too many photos to even begin adding them to albums. And so many of them are too big to fit into the albums we have. 

You can see how many boxes of photos I had when I shared our organized linen closet a few years ago:
organized linen closet with photo boxes

You can see how that started as my "Monica closet" here. :) That didn't include the larger boxes full of bigger photos as well. 

I'm so thankful to have all of these pictures! Most of them are from my childhood and older family photos. Unfortunately I have very little as far as mementos from my youth so these photos are a real treasure!

Earlier last year when the world slowed down, I vowed to take the time to sort through ALL of the photos. I spent many nights going through each box, sorting and decluttering. We had SO many double photos (you youngins won't even know what I'm talking about!). Remember when you could get two of each photo developed? 

I tossed ALL of the doubles and also tossed photos of people I didn't know. I'm not talking about long lost family members, but childhood friends I don't remember, or photos my parents took of people I don't remember at all. (My mother passed away last year and my Dad didn't want them.) 

decluttered our photos before a few years ago, but it's definitely easier to let go of more as I get older. 😁
I sorted what I had left into decades and organized them in the photo boxes that way. I cut the boxes down from eight to four!

I still had the issue of organizing a TON of large photos -- sized 5x7 and up. I threw all of them into larger boxes like this one so they were all in one spot: 
large photos stored in box
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It's bugged me that these have been piled up in here instead of organized so we can enjoy them. A few weeks ago I came across the answer to my problems!

I'm not sure if I can adequately describe my love for these simple art portfolios. They are the answer to so many of my paper organization woes! They come in a bunch of different sizes: 

various sized portfolios for photos and art

When I got them I knew they would work really well to organize paper items as well. School papers, cards, mementos -- anything paper! I have books in the following sizes: 
Each one has 24 pages, room for nearly 50 photos or sheets in each album.

So far I am thrilled with these portfolios! They are super simple and clean atheistically -- easy to wipe off and plenty sturdy: 
simple black photo portfolio

But they also give enough that you can fit a TON inside and they still close nicely. They have held the bulkier kindergarten art projects beautifully. There is a small spine that you could label as well. 

I am so very happy with these books. I started with the 8x10 size for my parent's old photos and pics of my grandparents: 
protecting old photos in portfolios

Aren't they a beautiful couple? 

**As I was filling these albums, I realized how sad it would be to have them closed away in these forever. I'm determined to create a wall display somewhere in our house. There's truly nothing like these vintage photographs and I'm looking forward to showing a few off! 

I'll update you when I figure out where and how I'm going to do that. :) 

It really is such a relief to have them nicely stored away where they will be protected. AND we can turn the pages like a book and enjoy looking through them now. It's a huge upgrade from having them piled in a box!

Speaking of boxes...I shared years ago how I had been storing our son's school art and papers in these large boxes: 
storing kid's artwork in boxes for each year

It actually worked GREAT while he was young (after elementary I didn't keep nearly as much) because I would start a new box every school year. I had it out in our kitchen and would throw in papers I wanted to keep as he brought them home. 

But years later...I've realized that yet again, they are just sitting there piled up. We never, ever look at them! I wanted to be able to look through them like our photos, so I've been using the larger sized portfolios for his artwork: 
storing large kids artwork in portfolios

That 11x17 size is perfect for the big art! I've used one of the 9x12 albums as well. 

Something else occurred to me as I've been sorting through these papers...I've kept them for ME most of all. I do want our son to have some of these pieces of his childhood, but I don't have any expectations that he'll be dying to take them one day when he moves out. ;) 

I think when he gets married and has children, he may want them. But for now, this is for me! And that's OK. With that in mind, I've started getting harder on myself to only keep the really cute stuff. I realized after filling one 9x12 book with papers from just kindergarten that perhaps I should let go of just a BIT more. Ha!

These portfolios are such a simple thing, but are a solution I was desperately searching for! I love that the photos and paper are nicely organized and protected, but we can easily access them and enjoy those memories. 

I'm not done yet -- it will probably take me a couple weeks to get through everything and organize it how I want. But it will be SO worth it!! Then...I'll just need to get the thousands of photos off my phone so we can enjoy those

**By the way, I'll be sharing these and some of my other organization favorites on Amazon Live tonight (Tuesday)! Come watch at 8 p.m. EST and say hello. :) You can see the live here.

Or you can follow my Amazon Storefront here and you'll get a notification every time I go live. If you miss it, I'll update this with a link you can watch later. (You can see it here! Thank you to everyone who joined!) 

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  1. Where do you buy the art portfolios?

    1. I found them on Amazon -- I link to all of them in the middle of this post. :)

  2. Nice! but I hope you also scanned them. I have books of photos that get pulled out maybe every other year. I watch my scanned photos all the time. They are in folders on my iPad and backed up to iCloud. I can access them from everywhere, search for people and places, and easily share with family.

    1. Good idea! I haven't yet, but maybe someday!

    2. Photomyne is great for that so far. I've only been using it for a week, but I was able to scan all my my grandma's family photos dating back to the 1800s.

  3. I've been using the large ones for my kids art for years. It works great. I think I have the 18x24 size and I store them under the couch.


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