What is scrapbooking?
Scrapbooking is simply the saving of one’s photos AND the story behind them. It’s photo journaling with flourish! I truly love learning people’s stories and I would gladly sit with each of you and listen and help you journal out the fascinating, painful, beautiful path you’ve walked.
Scrapbooking is an amazing, pricelessway to preserve family history and the hobby has been around since the 15th century! It simply began as a way to keep track of items by putting them in a book for safe keeping and could include anything the owner found valuable, which might include greeting cards, newspaper articles, or playbills and tickets. It began as journals or diaries where thoughts and events were simply written down.
Another popular way to save those bits was to store them in family Bibles. Many people today have precious history from their ancestors due to these beautiful books keeping the artifacts safely tucked inside!
These books are really some of the earliest forms of personal family history-keeping, which is what scrapbook albums are as well. In the mid-1800’s many bible publishers even began to include those pre-printed pages to document birth, death, and wedding information. Often important documents, newspaper clippings, birth announcements and other forms of documentation were carefully tucked into the pages of the family bible, moving us closer to what we now call scrapbooks.
Collecting of specific types of items into journals began to evolve. There were journals, or albums, full of postcards, stamps, recipes, sketches, and more. Diaries were considered more personal and contained thoughts, desires and details of events.
The journals began to evolve into hardbound books with paper pages where photos and keepsakes were held to the page with glue and captions were written underneath. Sometimes photo corners were used to hold the photos to the page.
Marielen W. Christensen (Elk Ridge, Utah, USA) is credited with modernizing scrapbooking as we know it. As the author of Keeping Memories Alive and brilliant entrepreneur that opened a scrapbooking store in Spanish Fork, Utah in 1981, she paved the way to the beautiful and creative way we preserve our stories today.
What to look for in an album or scrapbook
When purchasing scrapbooks, look for quality books with side loading sleeves
When purchasing scrapbooks, look for quality books with side loading sleeves (page covers) (See far right photo above). If sideloading is not available, then top loading will do. Sideload keeps completed pages from falling out, wherein top-loading pages if the album is tipped the pages might slide out.
I never suggest magnetic (sticky) page albums. Ever. I learned this one the hard way and lost photos of my oldest daughter as a one year old.
I never encourage or suggest magnetic (sticky) page albums. Ever. I learned this one the hard way and lost photos of my oldest daughter as a one-year-old. She was sitting in a field of dandelions and was blowing on it with all her might. I’ll always remember that moment because I had scrapbooked it, but she won’t because of the album I had it in it was lost. The adhesive reacted to the photograph and, well, it was like it had melted and smeared. Totally unrecoverable. Lesson learned. It’s worth the money.
Albums and paper should come from someplace you trust. When purchasing from a yard sale or second-hand store consider that they may have been stored somewhere that allowed it to pick up oils (like in a kitchen or garage) or mold (like in a basement), dust, pet fur/dander, or other things that might cause your photos to deteriorate.
Instead of second hand, I love to take advantage of coupons! I set a budget and then wait for things to either be 50% off or use a coupon to make it that. I still stick to my budget, but I get twice as much!
Instead of used, I love to take advantage of coupons! I set a budget and then wait for things to either be 50% off or use a coupon to make it that. I still stick to my budget, but I get twice as much! Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and JoAnns all have coupons and apps!
To get started you will need
- Album to hold your finished pages
- Pattern paper (these are bound slabs of matching, fun paper) and
- Cardstock solid paper.
- NOT construction paper as it’s not photo safe, It fades quickly and just doesn’t look very nice in the albums.
- Double-sided sticky tape – the permanent kind. The other kind won’t hold your photos on as it’s meant to be temporary
- Photo trimmer – For trimming photos slightly and cutting page elements, a nice paper cutter (my preference is for the guillotine type shown above) is so much better than trying to guess or having slightly skewed cuts. Look for a solid base, good handle, and easy to read grid/ruler.
- Pen to write in the album with. Journaling (the story behind the photo) is the second most important part of scrapbooking!
- Calendar or journal to document the events and information – especially when going through old photographs
- Ink – An easy and inexpensive way to add color and pizzaz to your layout!
- Pattern Paper
- Storage Solutions
Quick Kit – I designed this quick kit template in 2009 for my ScrapbookingClasses Yahoo group. It’s meant to help you cut enough pieces for a 2-page layout.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.
These items aren’t required, but might be helpful:
- Ink – It’s not just for stamping! Although stamps are a fun and easy way to add to a page! The ink that I’ve shown above is my favorite! Each little wedge slides away so you can use one color at a time!
- Photo Storage – IF you have a lot of photos to sort and store, these are great.
- Supply/Supplies storage – When storing your paper, keep it somewhere out of the elements, away from sunlight, dust, little fingerprints, and smoke. They make folders, drawers, and other fairly inexpensive storage solutions.
- A lint-free photo cloth to wipe the photo off before placing it in your album is a good idea. That way anything from your workspace is removed before being place in the sleeve.
- A workspace – I started at my kitchen table. Whatever works best for you!
- My Quick Kit – Simply sign up at the bottom of this page for the free Quick Kit which shows the exact dimensions for enough pieces for most of my two-page layouts!
Most people don’t actually have physical photos anymore, but if you do, here are some things to keep in mind: Don’t wrap them with a rubber band – the band warps, or misshapes, the photo. Keep them out of the heat/sun, away from anywhere that might get wet and up where kids can’t reach them.
Digital photos; keep in mind that the technology of yesterday is probably not that of tomorrow. Do you recall a time before Netflix? Before CD’s? How about before Amazon?
Shutterfly – Free Photo Printing
I know the Shutterfly app (Click link for a free photo book!) allows a set number of free prints per month when you install their app on your phone. This is a great reminder to use up your prints each month and an easy and inexpensive way to get your prints.
I’ve been with Shutterfly since 2004 and photos I uploaded then are still there. Shutterfly is great, but I don’t rely on them for storage of my photos. Digital photos; keep in mind that the technology of yesterday is probably not that of tomorrow. Do you recall a time before Netflix? Before CD’s? How about before Amazon? I do!
Instead I have a backup drive I store all of my photos to. When storing digital photos, I recommend naming photos by event and year to make them easier to find later. If possible, I tag them with the important information like who, what, when, where, and why. It’s easy to recall those details right away, but probably won’t be at a much later date.
My phone backs up to my Google drive and then that is backed up to my external Seagate backup drive.
Photos are typically 4×6″, however, digital photos are 4×5.3 (according to Snapfish and a bunch of other sites, plus I run into it a lot. When I print my photos I choose the 4×6″ size on purpose. I know many of the printing sites will do a digital size like explained by Snapfish, so it’s whatever you prefer.
Traditional photos are 4×6″, however, digital photos are 4×5.3″
Supplies are purchased, photos are in hand, now what?
Now that supplies are purchased, photos are printed, space is ready, now what? It’s easiest to start with the most recent events. Pick an event and look through all of the photos for that event.
The great thing about scrapbooking is that you have the story to go with the photos! You don’t need to include every photo.
Examples of good and not so good photos for scrapbooking
Look through the pics from the event and set aside any that are blurry or out of focus, subject/content is not clear, or the photo is random.
For example, here is a photo I took while visiting the Black Hills in South Dakota, USA. As you can see, the photo is fine. The animals are there and the greens are nice, but there really isn’t any focus to show off how cute these little guys were!
This photo is a much better capture! Here you can see their cute faces, there is movement as you can tell they were walking towards us and the focus is on the animal.
As you can see, this photo is much better than the first one so I would choose it. I could use the first one if I wanted, but I could use both if these are the only two pics I have of these guys.
Choosing the photo for your album
Here is another example. This is Ryan in 2004. Now, if this was the only photo I had, I would probably keep it.
However, the sunlight hitting the camera lens caused the bright spot. I had several more photos to choose from, so I used the one below.
The first photo is cute, but this one is so much better! Could I use both? Sure, but your eye would always be drawn to what is wrong with the photo instead of how adorable this little guy is!
A good rule of thumb is, when in doubt, leave it out! If you have a better choice, go with that one. It’s better to have two great photos and journaling (the text that goes with the photo) rather than 5 photos, but two of them aren’t very good.
Picking the paper to go with the photos
To add pop to your photos, find what color is strongest in the picture. In the photo of Ryan above, the dominant color is green.
Select a contrasting color. Using the same photo of Ryan, I chose tan.
This is a 4×6″ photo so I cut a piece of tan pattern paper 4.25 x 6.25 and using the double-sided tape, adhered the photo to the pattern paper.
Next, I cut a rectangle 4.5 x 6.5″ of solid cardstock mounted (or adhered using the double-sided tape) photo to it. With the example of Ryan’s photo above, I would go with a nice forest green cardstock.
The photo would then have a nice tan pattern paper behind it and a solid green border behind that. The pattern paper on cardstock is called a photo frame or photo mat. It really helps the photo jump out and gives you the colors for your layout. Use the same papers to make a border and journaling box.
Journaling and Borders
Journaling is simply the story behind the photos and is the second most important part of the layout. The first being the photos.
Journaling is simply the story behind the photos and is the second most important part of the layout. The first being the photos. Be sure to include Who, What, When, Where, and Why of the pictures.
When struggling with what to write about the photos, pretend you are writing to a great, great-grandchild. What would they want to know? It is highly unlikely they will be able to recognize anyone or any place in the photo on their own. You need to tell them.
When struggling with what to write about the photos, pretend you are writing to a great, great grandchild. What would they want to know?
An easy way to identify what your page, or layout, is about is to apply a border. Using the same colors as the photo mat, create a border for the top of your layout and add the title using stickers, stamps, a cutter (like the Cricut or Cameo) or hand draw it.
Once you have the elements (photos, journaling, border, etc) on the page, slide it into the page sleeve. Store the pages in your album and laying flat. Standing the books up on a bookshelf may warp the book and pages if they are heavy.
Backup Drive Options:
I have the Seagate external drive shown below to back up all of my photos to. Although I have photos stored in Shutterfly, some have been there since 2004), I can’t guarantee Shutterfly will be around next year or that their service will be free. I’ve experienced online programs being purchased by other companies and losing what I had stored there so now, I don’t take a chance.
I simply have my photo’s stored on the backup drive and I organize them by year, month, and then event.
According to the description on this product:
- External portable hard drive formatted for Windows out of the box
- Drag-and-drop file saving
- USB 3.0 powered
- For Mac compatibility this hard drive requires reformatting.