I'm a serious person and I deal with serious things every day, however, once in a while I get the pleasure of laying it all aside for a little while for a little shopping pleasure. So it was today. It's been a few months since I had the time to visit my favorite vendor mall in Richardson, Texas...so today was especially fun.
In a Facebook group that I'm a member of, someone posed this question:
Ok quick question. If you were just wanting to learn about scrapbooking, what are some of the things you wish someone had told you before you got started?
With 20 years of scrapbooking experience, I have a few ideas and pieces of advice for anyone who is new to scrapbooking.
1. Copy what you like! You have access to so much inspiration via the internet...don't try to reinvent the wheel with every layout. Copy!
2. Do not (under any circumstances) begin scrapbooking with your wedding photos! I'm begging you...do not do this. It will take you a little while to find the techniques you truly love and to learn what you don't enjoy. Don't let your important photos be your guinea pigs. I promise, you will thank me for this advice in a few years.
3. Scrapbooking doesn't have to take over your life or your house, but don't be surprised if it does. Making things with your hands is very good therapy and is something many people enjoy. Scrapbooking is very rewarding and the community of scrapbook enthusiasts is rich with connections.
4. Scrapbooking doesn't have to be expensive but there are a few things that I advise you to never go cheap on--albums, page protectors and adhesive. These are the most important, staple items that you will buy. Choose wisely.
5. Not every photo has to be scrapbooked. Not every photo deserves to be scrapbooked. Choose the pictures that speak to you--the photos with a story you want to telll. Scrap those! Scrap the best, store the rest.
6. When building a page, don't put off the journaling. I see this happen quite a lot and it breaks my heart. Without journaling, a scrapbook page is limited in its lifespan. Unless you write the stories that go along with your pictures, those stories will be lost when you are gone. Don't discount the value of the written story. From the start, make the journaling just as important as every other element in your page.
You can never go wrong including some bling in your cruise scrapbook! I love this pearlised paper from Bazzill. And it diecuts like a dream, too.
Every trip scrapbook should have a page that shows the official itenerary of the trip. I printed this map from google and drew in the ship's route with a pen. Brads mark the stops.
If you take a lot of photos of random things on the ship (that would make you completely normal), a great way to use them together is on a page called "Glimpses of the Ship".
A cruise ship is a very special place...I wanted to summarize some of my feelings about all the many aspects of cruising...the huge variety of things that are all right there on one ship. Again, another way to utilize a large number of random photos.
A cruise is a special kind of adventure--don't forget a moment of it by printing your photos ASAP and giving them a home in a scrapbook.
Recently, I had the most awesome adventure of attending a scrapbooking weekend retreat with some friends--something I haven't done in a while. It was extremely enjoyable and relaxing and I was very productive. Y'all know I don't keep up with the quantity of pages produced but I came home feeling both refreshed from the extra sleep I got in a super comfortable nature-filled atmosphere as well as very happy with the pages that I worked on.
This was one of the products of that work session.
This is the journaling:
I considered covering more of the page in sequins, but that's a little tedious and I got bored.
Using the scraps from a painting session as embellishment on a page is a new thing for me but the scraps from a cut-down painting on watercolor board are too rich to throw out. I'll be using them again for sure as I have a lot leftover.
For me, 2017 is the year of *Start with the Story*. I'm focused. Pictures, contrary to popular scrapbooker idiom, do not always tell all of the story. There's always more to the story. #tellthestory
If you are new to these parts, please understand that I approach scrapbooking a little differently than most people. I don't scrap every photo. I rarely put more than one or two photos on a scrapbook page because I believe in the importance of the story. And stories take up real estate. For me, scrapbooking is about quality of story more than quantity of pages. I rarely scrapbook a birthday or a Christmas--I scrapbook the stories I want to remember and the ones I want my guys to remember.
I preach a monthly sermon to my social media friends about printing photos early and often. It's important that we not buy into the lie that our photos are safely stored for all eternity on our electronic device. The truth is your photos are one "plop in the pottie" or "glitch in the cloud" from being suddenly no longer existent. The only way to permanently preserve is to PRINT! If you need some recommendations on printing, feel free to hit me up.
Today, I would like to discuss the care and handling of printed photos. Once you've had your images printed, what are the best practices for ensuring they live a long and happy life?
I'm glad you asked!
Here are my eight tips for giving your printed photos a long and healthy, happy life:
1 Remember, printed photos are quite similar to people in that they live most comfortably in moderated environments. Photos don't like temperature extremes--not too hot, not too cold, low humidity. Slightly on the cool side is good. Hot is never good. Avoid attics and basements.
2. Photos were not made for water. Keep the water at bay when your photos are around.
3. Photos don't like to be poked with sharp metal objects. Staples, nails, push pins, paperclips and stick pins are not photo-friendly items. Avoid these offenders at all cost.
4. Photos love to be enjoyed by lots of friends and family. Print them, display them in attractive frames where they can easily be enjoyed by everyone!
5. Photos do not love the sunshine. Direct sunshine will take its toll on your photos just like it will on your body if exposure is brilliant and unlimited.
6. When handling your pictures, do so with clean hands. If you really wanna treat them right, wear cotton gloves. If you notice fingerprints on a picture, clean them up gently with a microfiber photo cleaning cloth.
7. Resist the temptation to write all the details on the back of your photos. Most writing instruments will cause an indentation to occur in the surface of the photo paper. Some even use ink that is so heavy that it will halo through from back to front.
8. Photo storage is its own major issue. Suffice it to say that the United States Library of Congress--the leading community of experts on curation and preservation of all kinds of media, including photos--has set forth some guidelines for photo storage safety. Plastic storage bags and containers are acceptable so long as they are made of plastic that has no "plastic smell" and does not stick to itself.
If you would like to read all the US Library of Congress documents on archiving photos, you can do so here. The Library of Congress has a beautiful website that is overflowing with good information on safety and storing collections of all kinds of media.
I realize that in this age of easy access to our images, many people would say that archiving photos no longer really matters. I get it. Sorta.
OK maybe not.
If I expend the effort to have my images printed, why not put forth a little bit more effort to be sure that those printed images last for as long as possible? Life is full of disposable things. I don't want my photos to be on that list. There's something very personal about holding an actual picture in your hand. It's a moment, frozen in time. You can't go back to it any other way. A photo is like a ticket back...
There's a tension that exists between the printed image and the image stored on a digital device. Both have their place--one just needs a little more care to give it a long life.
I'm very grateful that we have made such extravagant forays into the world of personal imaging technology that we can carry thousands of pictures around in our pockets on our phones. This is truly an incredible achievement! Because I have the luxury of carrying my camera around in my pocket everywhere I go, I have been prepared to capture some really beautiful spontaneous moments that I treasure. I admit it: I feel something akin to nakedness when I don't have my phone and camera on my person.
There was a time when scrapbook enthusiasts cared deeply about using products that were photo safe and labeled acid-free. Certain companies made "acid-free" a buzz word in our community. It's unfortunate that any product manufacturer can slap the label "acid-free" on a package of embellishments and call it good and certainly many companies did just that. There is no oversight of any kind associated with the use of photo-quality descriptors, no one has to do any product testing to use it. If you want scrapbookers to buy your product, tell them it's safe. Today, on the rare occasion that someone brings up photo safety in a discussion, most people quickly point out how easy it is to print and declare that they do not pay attention to the overused labels. To a point I agree. We have definitely made great strides in the ease of printing--now we just need to remember to make printing a priority!
With a swish and a swipe and a few other taps, I can take that photo of my 94 year old grandmother holding my three year old nephew and within seconds share it with my entire family. It's a glorious treasure, but I refuse to let it make me complacent about the printed versions of images. If my device suddenly catches on fire or there is a universal cloud failure, I don't want to fall on the floor in disbelief and agony. I want to say "It's OK. I printed my pictures just last week."
And I have to believe that in forty years, when my grandmother is gone on, my (then) 43 year old nephew will be able to hold that printed image in his hand and listen to his father talk about his sassy, red-headed great grandmother and he will know her, even if he doesn't remember her. That's my hope.
Scrapbookers are, of course, known for having lots of photos and I am certainly firmly rooted in that group. Keeping the many photos in an organized fashion is a major task One would think it would be easy to place a high priority on this essential task but I'm here to tell you that--at least for me--it's a chore and not one I can say I have managed to keep up with very well over the past twenty years of scrapbooking.
Over the years photos have been printed out of order. Some have been printed multiple times.
Some have been organized by month, some by topic.
Some have been put into kits in preparation for scrapbooking.
Some are labeled with a date, most are not.
Some are things I want to scrapbook, a few are things I'm trying to forget.
Some are of couples who eventually got divorced and friends who came and went.
Some are in this closet, some in photo boxes.
Some are in albums, some are still in the envelopes that the developer put them in. Drawers, frames, hither and yon.
Yes, this is a big chore.
As the saying goes, there is only one way to eat an elephant...one bite at a time, so I've broken this mountainous task down into steps.
Here is my step-by-step process.
Task One: get all the pictures together in one place. Beware: this can be overwhelming. If you are like me, your photos tend to run and hide all over the place. Keep your eye on the prize.
Task Two: acquire and label your sorting system. I used these awesome plastic photo keepers made by Iris, labeled for each year. You will soon discover that some years will require more than one case. That's ok.
The inner cases fit neatly into the larger, handled case, giving the photos two layers of security. I like that. Each handled case holds 16 small photo cases.
As you can see, I kept the labeling very simple--just Post-it Notes and a Sharpie. When the project is more complete, I will use the printer to generate pretty (and permanent) labels.
I found these Iris Photo Storage units at Joann ($42.99) Michaels ($34.99) and online at the Container Store ($29.99) Link here. Of course, by shopping at the big box craft stores, you could save more by shopping during a sale or using a coupon.
I happened to be shopping during the Christmas season when Joann offers a $5 rebate through Ibotta on any purchase of $30 or more. That was fun! I used a coupon for 40% off and also claimed the $5 rebate through Ibotta, using their smartphone app.
Task Three: sort the many photos
So there is only one way to conquer this--dive right in. I spent about eight hours total sorting photos into years. I just stacked them on top of the cases until they got to be a large stack, then I straightened them up and stuck them inside the case. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Some photos from years gone by have a code on the back, printed by the developer that includes the date. That's nice and all--sometimes very helpful--but don't forget that this feature is only accurate if you had your photos printed in a timely manner. The date indicates when the photo was *printed*...not necessarily when the photo was taken.
I miss the days when these index prints were automatically included in a print order. They are pretty handy, even now for establishing a time line.
I gathered all the index prints, arranged them chronologically and put them on a binder ring. Most of them are dated so this was pretty easy to do.
Task Four: Make lists of what's inside each case.
It's my goal to make lists like the one above for each case, so I can tell at a glance what's inside. That part is going to take more time.
Sorting photos chronologically is not particularly fun but having them organized feels very good. I did notice that even though I sometimes struggle to remember things, I have no problem remembering if I have already scrapbooked a set of photos. It's encouraging to realize that the page does indeed "remember when".
This is what I accomplished in two days time. All the photos from 1999 to 2013, now located in three big cases plus a few extra inner cases. Each is labeled for easy location of each year.
Incidentally, I took a page from the book, Library of Memories and made a few very people-specific collections of pictures. These include:
--All the really good pictures of my husband and me together.
--All the pictures of my boys together.
--All the (far too) many photos of our cat, Sophia.
--All the non-specific photos of my sister and nephew, who live with us.
--All the cruise photos are together, especially because most of those aren't mine.
It will be really nice to have easy access to these, going forward.
1. Start today labeling each new photo with (at least) the year. Yes, it's completely tedious but in a few years you'll be so very glad you did.
2. Small bites.
3. I think it would have saved me some time if I had spent a few days gathering up the photos from their various stashes, *before* I started the big organizing project.
4. This organizing project showed me who has the most photos taken of them and more importantly, who has not enough photos taken of them. This is good information to have, going forward.
5. I will probably still print things randomly but I will be more diligent about keeping up with the organizing. (Fingers crossed.)
6. With technology changing every day, I am concerned about some of my photos that may still be languishing on old media formats. Can you say "floppy discs"? I am going to have to investigate how to update some of what was kept on platforms that are no longer commonly used. I am also going to investigate a common storage facility that is large enough to accommodate *ALL* my thousands of photos in one place. I don't feel secure having multiple styles and places, both online and in closets.
7. I love the uniformity of these cases. The photo below shows is just part of the menagerie of mixed up plastic goods that I cleaned out and moved on to other homes.
One final Note: I stopped this project with the pictures from the end of 2013 because the subsequent years are probably going to require a whole big case for each year and I'm not ready to tackle that. I got an iPhone at the beginning of 2014 and the number of photos taken exploded exponentially. While that's good, (more material to scrapbook!), it's also overwhelming. I will have to come back for another round to tackle 2014, 2015 and 2016.
I hope my Great Photo Organization of 2016 has helped you get inspired to do a little bit of photo organizing if you share my struggle. If you do, I would love to read about your process too.