Friday, September 27, 2013

To Scrapbook or Not to Scrapbook

by Stephanie

I used to scrapbook. A lot.
Not so much.

My oldest son has 4 scrapbooks that document his first 5 years.  Plus a school scrapbook through first grade.
My daughter has 2 scrapbooks that document her first 2 years.
My youngest son has 5 pages that document his first 5 months.

When I started scrapbooking around the turn of the century (wow….that sounds like a really long time ago!), I loved the cutting and pasting. I loved pulling out photos that I treasured and adding embellishments and fun papers and stamps and paint and whatever my little heart desired. I loved amassing huge quantities of supplies.

But then I started paying attention to design and line and form and all the stuff that makes everything work together, because I wanted my pages to look good.

And then it got hard.

I found scrapbooking became so creatively taxing to make all the decisions……which of the 500 photos from an event should I use? Which size of the photos should I print out? Which layout design should I use? Which paper? Which embellishments to use (or none at all)? I got overwhelmed just thinking about it. And to be honest, my photography needed some work.

So I started working on my photography.

And I found that it was easy. Photography wasn’t taxing at all. I loved it. I was satisfying my creative longings, and I didn’t have to expend so much effort to get an end result. I took pictures and pictures and pictures and more pictures.

And I stopped scrapbooking.

Fast forward 3 years, to present day……

Here I sit on a pile of close to 10,000 photos (in electronic form) that I have not scrapbooked or rarely even printed out, feeling mighty guilty that the only thing my youngest child has to physically look at to remember his childhood are 5 measly pages in a scrapbook.

So what to do?

I could print those photos out like a mad woman and put them in a photo box somewhere.
Or in a regular photo album.
Or have them printed in a cool photo book (which I did print a photo book from Artifact Uprising one week after returning home from vacation this year…… patting myself on the back as I type this).

But I’ve been documenting the everyday life of our family for the past three years and I want to put it in a format that my children can pull out, peruse, laugh, reminisce, and do it over and over again.

Something keeps drawing me back to scrapbooking. Or some form of it.

I’ve been having this battle in my head about what route to take for the past several months and I’ve finally decided that I am going to take the project life approach, day by day, week by week. Except I’m going to try the digital format, ala Cathy Zielske. I purchased the digital supplies this last week and will be using the start of school this year as my ground zero. I’ve finished the first layout, had it printed at Costco, and while I’m not 100% pleased with it, I am not going to dwell on that, but instead going to move on and figure it will get better as I go. And right now, my need to get the memories and photos in print supersedes my need for everything to be perfect. 

I’d love to hear how all of you document your life! Do you print photo books? Do you scrapbook? If you scrapbook, are you paper or hybrid or fully digital? Or do you have some other super cool way to get those photos off your hard drive and into a format other people can enjoy? Please do share!

Oh and by the way......Don't forget to enter the FOL 'Thank You' giveaway!  Follow this link to see the beautiful prize we have for you and to get all the details for entering. 


Kelly said...

Lol-I think I could have written this! 1st child gets all the glory-by the time #3 gets here-well-you know! I have tons of flash drives-have not decided what to do. But you got me thinking at least. Great post.

AFishGirl said...

I am going to read this again and come back for all the comments. I really want to hear what others do. I've never scrapbooked. I now have a "print me" file on my computer and the shots that sing out to be go into that. Once I get to 100, I'll print. I'm not there yet. What will I do with them? Likely just make small albums for the grandchildren, maybe with or without notes. My 7 year old and 3 year old grandchildren LOVE to look at this one small album I made for the eldest and they look for ages and talk about the pictures. Let us print. Please. All those shots. Let's get them printed. Even if they go on the fridge. We are a culture in need of the tangible. End of Fishgirl rant.
oxoxox Pam

kelly said...

oh steph...a subject near and dear to my heart. i'm also a long-time scrapbooker and in some ways, it used to be so much easier with my old film point &shoot. just take in my roll of film and pick it up the next day and voila! pictures in hand. but now i find myself in the same position that you describe - so many photos...on my computer. for the past year and a half, i have been using the traditional project life and, if i will let go of my need to re-invent the wheel, it has made that aspect of memory keeping easier. but i am still trying to get into a good workflow for printing my pictures. one of the things i've done is set up a collection in lightroom for photos that i want to print. i can then print them out at home and get them into an album pretty quick. which is fine for a few. but if i have alot of photos to print i send them off to walgreens near my house. i would love to see more of your digital PL...i too am a big fan of cz and her clean and simple style. i think getting our photos off the computer brings this whole process - capturing life & telling our stories through photography - full circle. thanks for getting the conversation going here!

Elisa Schulz said...

I'm not a scrapbooking person. I love to see other people's scrapbooks, but I just don't have the patience for it. Back in the film camera days, I'd get the prints and put them ALL into album sleeves (I couldn't imagine throwing any away!). When I got a digital camera I kept doing the same thing with the prints. By the time my third child came, however, I noticed it was getting hard to remember when a certain picture had been taken. then I started paying more attention to my photography and seeing that I didn't need to keep every single shot. Enter photobooks: whoohoo! I usually print one per season or trimester -- whenever I have a sizeable group of images that have something in common or that will fit into a 20-something page book. Whenever there's a Groupon for a Shutterfly photobook, I get it. Snapfish also has deals sometimes. I love the books because they don't take up much space (a huge issue in my house) and they look great. And I can even add text to the pages! :) And the spine contains the important info on when those pictures were taken. That works for me...

CarolHart said...

Stephanie, your photographs are wonderful and your children will appreciate whatever format you choose to print them out in. I've never been a scrapbooker myself but have certainly admired the work of others...and it is work! I like Elisa's idea of printing things out seasonally. I think I shall give that a try myself. Though my son is grown and living on his own now, I would like to see how my husband & I lived each season through. Guess I'd better get to work!

Dotti said...

Like others here, I am not a scrapper and Project Life just isn't calling my name. I do make photo books, though, of trips, family vacations, birthday parties, family reunions, etc. I'm contemplating a photo book for each of my granddaughters school years. I also have canvas prints made of particularly memorable photos both to keep and to give. So I think I'll stick to this. It suits my personality better. That said ... I'd better get busy ... I'm way behind in my photo books! PS - Blurb is my fav photo book company.

Viv@within the Frame said...

I am a digital scrapbooker and I have yet to find a company that prints 12x12 in the uk so I'm going via Artitact with an 8.5x8.5 . I am drawn to Project Life more and more though....

Kim Stevens said...

Not a scrapbook person, but I did have a very sweet bloggy friend send me a creative memories scrapebook with completed pages and all I have to do is insert some photos (I was beyond excited). I just don't have time to lay out all those pages and would have difficulty making all those detailed decisions. I sadly don't have any scrapbooks for my kids (gasp), but have made some books with blurb...just need to make more!

Roxi -Coppercurls Designs said...

Your first few words mimicked my blog today! Never paper scrapped only digitally. Photography took over. Had a few books printed.

terriporter said...

Oh, my, are you ready for me to write a book here? This is a subject I feel so strongly about that it will be hard for me to not rant on and on. My scrapbooking history is this: always interested in photography and took lots of photos of my kids growing up, sitting down each Mother's Day and putting them into peel-and-stick albums with little typed captions of who, what, where, etc. (I know, totally ahead of my time!) Then in 1997 I discovered scrapbooking and it was the perfect hobby for me. I began working on a book of my oldest son's life for his high school graduation and went from there, pulling everything out of the peel-and-stick albums clear back to 1984 and scrapbooking them. I actually got caught up. I stopped doing books for my kids when they graduated from high school but kept my own books and then began books for my grandkids, which are the three I am doing now.

The thing I regret about my older books is that they were missing the stories. Sort of "just the facts, maam" scrapbooking. That changed when I discovered Ali Edwards ( and her photos+story approach. Of course, it took me longer to scrapbook that way and I got behind. At the end of 2008, I took a digital scrapbooking class which I thought I would just do until I caught up but I never went back to paper scrapping except for an occasional mini album for trips and special occasions. When I started taking Tracey Clark's Picture classes, I spent more time focusing on my photography and less on scrapbooking but I wanted a place to put my favorite photos besides just keeping them on my computer. Enter Project Life. I did a PL album for 2010 and 2011 and started one in 2012 but didn't finish. I began to miss the feel of paper and ribbon in my hands and so I signed up for an Ali Edwards class that I just finished. Enjoyed it but now I'm back to digital scrapping again. But I'm also thinking about starting another Project Life in 2014.

Well, I'm sure that was more than any of you wanted to hear about my scrapbooking history! But my final word on the subject is do SOMETHING with all those beautiful photos you are taking, be it printing them and hanging them on the wall, making books like Dotti does, doing Project Life or full-fledged scrapbooking. And this is for you, Stephanie: I would give anything if I had known about scrapbooking when my kids were growing up so that I could have done a better job of recording their lives. I didn't work like you do but I think Project Life would be a perfect way for you to create albums of photos and stories for them that wouldn't be as time-consuming as traditional scrapbooking. My kids are in their late 20s and 30s and still pull out albums when they're here. I will be looking forward to hearing what you decide about Project Life and to reading everyone else's responses here. For those of you who have read this far, whew! This is the end!

Rosie Grey said...

Oh, I can't wait to hear what you'll tell about the digital Project Life! I haven't scrapbooked before, but also think I should do something with those thousands of photos on my hard drive...

Cathy said...

I was a huge scrapbooker, two book for each of my boys and one of a wedding. But it became so difficult, all the fun embellishments, took me hours to do one page. So this year I am doing a 365 project, which I blog about and plan on making it into a book at the end of the year. My boys, who are now men, however look at their scrapbooks almost every time they come home.

Sarah Huizenga said...

Thanks for this post Stephanie. I have walked a very similar path as yours. I have LOTS of scrapbooks that are done, and I do love to go back and look at them every once in a while. But now it is so overwhelming, so many pictures, where to start, I really just want to keep taking photos and getting better at that. I feel guilty about all the supplies (paper) that I have and it is going to waste. I always say I will work on these projects in the winter, but 5 other projects always seem to be there instead. I do want to learn digital scrapbooking, but again there is the guilt over the supplies I already have. So who knows what the answer is...maybe this winter I will figure it out.

Barb said...

Kids really love their own albums/scrapbooks. All mine are grown with kids of their own, but they still pull out the albums I made for each of their graduations from high school with photos and mementos from their growing to that point. It was a lot of work, and I didn't even get into the fad of scrapbooking! I do make digital books of our travels and often make a digital photo book for a grandchild, sometimes with a story that I write myself. I find digital to be time-consuming but easier than buying the supplies and cutting/pasting. Also, I think digital books will hold up better over time.

Katie said...

it's so ironic that i read this particular post this particular day.

i have photo albums jam packed with photos from my college years up to when our son turned 4 (he's now almost 14). when he turned 4, my husband and i bought our first DSLR and I became lazy about keeping the albums up to date. i still printed out the shots that i wanted to to hang on the wall, but the every day, normal life shots, are on hard drives to this day.

lately, i've been thinking that i wanted to start up my photo albums again, because just like everyone said above, my kids still love looking through The Early Years Before Momma Got Lazy when they get the chance. On my To-Do list for today is to begin wading back through the past and selecting the photos i want to have printed and go from there. thanks for giving me the shove that i needed. ; )

Karen Main said...

I make slideshows. Often by event and then I create a family year on the one DVD with chapters for all those special days and holidays.
Photobook as well are a passion. Such a shame to leave all those photos on the hard drive.

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