Learn How to Let Your Photos Tell Stories

A beginners guide to scrapbooking.

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As the days go by, it’s easy for moments to slip away if you don’t take the time to document them. Fortunately, with some supplies and a few tips and tricks, scrapbooking can help make sure your most cherished memories are treasured forever. Scrapbooking is a fun hobby. It allows designers to express their creativity. And, it ensures that memories and photographs are preserved and celebrated. Curious about how to get started with scrapbooking? Here’s a quick beginner’s guide to turning your photos into stories.

Start with a theme
Begin by selecting a theme, suggests the Everything About Scrapbooking website. Decide what you want the focus of your scrapbook to be. Do you want to make a memory book of your grandson’s first birthday, a special vacation abroad, or as a Valentine’s Day gift for your spouse? There are no wrong answers. Actually, you can also decide to make your album more general, with less of a theme, if you prefer.

Once you select the focus of the entire scrapbooking album, break down your idea into the little stories that you want to tell. For example, if you are scrapbooking about your vacation, you can make pages dedicated to different highlights of the trip: a page or two about the natural sights you saw, a page featuring your favorite museum or a few pages showcasing the places you ate out at. It’s up to you how you want to organize the book. If you don’t have a theme in mind, planning out each page can help you mentally organize your photos and the stories you want them to tell.

Choose your photos
If you are like most 21st century netizens, you have a smartphone packed with hundreds of photos, computer files overflowing with digital images, and maybe even boxes with hard copies of photos sitting on your bookshelves at home. How do you decide which of your thousands of pictures will make it in the book?

When it comes to stand-out photos, there are usually two kinds: photos that are “pretty,” and photos that evoke your memories and emotions. The blog Simple Scrapper advises you to save the beautiful portraits and landscapes for picture frames and wall canvases. Meanwhile, the goal of a scrapbook is to turn photos into a story, so you should select the most evocative and unique photos.

How many photos should you pick? It depends on your design ideas, your theme, and your story. Consider sketching out a rough design before getting started, to give yourself a general idea of how many photos you will need.

Cutting or cropping the pictures
Another good reason for pre-planning is that it allows you to size your photos correctly. If you are using digital images, now is the time to crop and size them the way you want them to appear in the final production, before printing them.

If you are using hard copies of photos, Everything About Scrapbooking suggests making pencil markings on the back of the pictures to help you cut them to size. Then, pick a sharp pair of scissors or a paper trimmer, and get going. 

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Spice up the page with text
A picture is worth a hundred words. But words are also important when telling your stories and documenting your memories. A creative or descriptive title supports your theme. In addition to the page title, journaling is a key scrapbooking element. Journaling includes photo captions, names, dates, stories, memories, quotes, or even song lyrics; anything that helps you capture your theme and your memories on the page.

When it comes to adding text, you have a few options. You can print out fonts from the computer. You can handwrite your thoughts, feelings, and memories, according to Parade.You can even use letter stickers, word stamps, or cut out fabric letters that stand out. A scrapbook is multi-modal, and three dimensional, so you can even use something like Scrabble tiles to label your page or tell your story. 

Add the elements
Every step in the scrapbook process is open-ended and lets you express the full extent of your creativity. When it comes to designing the page, there is no limit to how you can organize your memories, and what elements you can include.

This open-ended choice begins with the background design. You can choose the background paper to match a color theme or a narrative theme, for example using holiday scrapbooking paper to tell the story of your son’s first Christmas. You can use a map as the background when sharing about your trip abroad. Vintage scrapbook paper may match your old family photos well. Or, go with a single-toned background, and paint it yourself. 

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Classic scrapbooking elements include things like frames or paper mounts for your photos, colorful washi tape, cut-out shapes and designs, stickers, lace, and hand illustrations. But, the sky’s the limit when it comes to what you can add to your book. For example, Oprah Daily suggests gluing envelopes into your scrapbook as a three dimensional way to house important stories and documents. You can make interactive pages with tabs that open and close, or use an accordion fold to design pop-out features. 

A scrapbook doesn’t even have to be a book
The goal of a scrapbook is to tell your stories, share your memories, and celebrate the good times. If you don’t have all the scrapbooking supplies on hand, According to Oprah Daily, you can make a scrapbooking jar full of photos, quotes, and memorabilia, instead of a book. Or, use your scrapbooking supplies to decorate a box housing the photos that tell the story of your life and love. Another creative and vintage idea is to turn a rolodex into an interactive, decorated album. 

If you have photos that are gathering dust on a shelf, or in the cloud, scrapbooking is a great way to feature these memories and pictures. So dive in and don't be afraid to make mistakes; they're part of the process!

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