September 9, 2012

Making Scrapbooking a Priority – Even When You Are Busy

We are all busy.  We spend time working, with our family, with friends, taking care of others (and ourselves hopefully), and we find it difficult to allocate time to our creative pursuits.  For me, recording the everyday life of my family through scrapbooking is really important, and in order to keep it as a priority, among my many other priorities, I have found a few “shortcuts” that really help!

Steven Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind”.  Scrapbooking begins with photos. In the age of digital photography, we all take bazillions of photos, but many of us struggle with the process of saving, organizing, editing, uploading and printing photos. Stacy Julian wrote a great book a few years back, Photo Freedom, and I love her concepts and ideas, but honestly, her process has many more steps than I have have time to manage.  So, here are four tips, steps, concepts, or big ideas to help you make scrapbooking a priority again!

First, if you don’t know about Picasa yet, you can learn more here: .  I have been a faithful Picasa user for about five years and while there are many ways to organize, edit, and access your photos, Picasa is a very easy program with great functionality that anyone can learn to use.

Second, although people dump photos onto their computer, and some even upload them to social media sites, many people infrequently print their photos.  You really should print your photos (a hard copy might be all you have if you experience a crash). In addition, it can be extraordinarily overwhelming and expensive to put off printing and then have hundreds (or thousands) of photos to print, organize and otherwise process. If you set aside time each month to organize, upload and print, trust me, you’ll feel much more on top of your photos than if you wait (i.e. procrastinate).

Because I use Picasa, I often save hours of time by using the collage feature. You can “gather” any number of photos in your “tray” in Picasa and create a photo collage, upload the collage(s) to (more about Costco photo printing coming up), and voilà , you are half-way there. For example, I may take 20 photos at the park one day as I watch my teenager practice riding his unicycle.  I want to record these memories, but honestly, it would be silly to create a 4-page layout of him riding his unicycle on a random Friday afternoon. However, if I create a collage and print it as an 8 x 8 (my favorite size for collages), I can then pull together a really quick and easy layout using the latest and greatest from Paper Pals. Here is an example of using a photo collage on a layout.

In my opinion, Costco photo printing is the best in the area.  With 4 x 6 prints at 13 cents each, they are not necessarily the least expensive photo printing to be found.  However, the collage above is an 8 x 10 and with 13 photos in the collage, printing an 8 x 10 is more economical (in both photo printing cost and number of pages in my scrapbook). In addition, the Costco photo center has more options and capabilities than the other two online printers I’ve used (Shutterfly and Snapfish). As a bit of a photo printing snob, I also believe the overall quality of Costco photo printing is higher (color, finish, paper weight, etc.). While you’re at Costco picking up your photo collages (and other photos), be sure to toss a lasagna or pizza in your cart so when you get home dinner will “make itself” while you follow my next time saving tip. Of course, Costco will ship your photos too.

Third, pair your photos with paper soon after you have them in hand. Think about how fun it is to open up that envelope of photos and fondly peruse through them. Now think about how fun it is to stare down 50 envelopes of photos that aren’t sorted and essentially represent a huge project to you.  Whether you are sorting and pairing one envelope of photos or 50, this method has really saved me hours of time.  Sort the photos into piles representing the day, event, theme, etc.  I use small sticky notes to “paperclip” each small stack of photos and label them for the next step.

Now, take your new pile of photos to Paper Pals, and begin pairing each small stack with the latest and greatest paper, embellishments, and other accessories Karen has in stock (go to the store or visit the store blog often...she is always stocking new items).  Maybe you’re like me and you shop at Paper Pals frequently and therefore you purchase, stash and store products and you can do this pairing at home while your family is watching a movie that doesn’t require much thinking (like an animated “kid movie”). By pairing your photos and paper (like making yourself a “kit”) when you are excited about your photos, rather than months (or even years) later at a retreat or crop, you are always ready to scrapbook.  You can pull out one of your “kits” and get right to it, rather than sifting, sorting, and eventually giving up because you feel overwhelmed. 

Fourth, if you are “catching up” and scrapbooking hundreds of photos going back months and years, here is a suggestion that recently worked for me. Scrapbook the same holiday all at the same time.  Let me explain.

I was not able to scrapbook much for about 2 years while I finished my PhD.  When I finally had time again, I realized the only thing I had kept current on was sorting and printing photos.  My stash of everything was a mess, the photos had piled up, and I had not scrapbooked birthdays or holidays for more than 2 years.  I was overwhelmed!  So, I followed my steps (above), and paired all the Christmas, Easter, Halloween and Birthday photos with paper I had been purchasing at Paper Pals and keeping in my stash.  Then I started with Christmas.  I scrapbooked Christmas 2009, 2010, and 2011 all in one weekend.  I dug out all of my Christmas paper, embellishments, ribbon, and photos and by doing one year after another, I was able to ensure it didn’t look like I had scrapbooked all three years during the same weekend, and this process allowed me to be efficient with my time, supplies, page layouts, and photos.  I’m currently working on birthdays and have followed the same routine.  
Most of these layouts include photo collages.
In the photo collages (above and below), I cut the largest photo out 
of the collage and matted it to provide a focal point for the layout. 

 We all make time for what is important to us.  If scrapbooking the everyday life of your family is important to you, I hope my tips will help you get back to what you love!

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AngMomof3 said...

Preach it, woman! I need to follow your advice. Not fitting it in like I should and likely could. Love your inspiration!

Shelle and Dan said...

Love it! You are so right about how we do make time for what is important. I appreciate the tips on staying on top of projects too. I just printed a TON of pictures and as soon as they arrive, I'll sort them and get my papers together. Thanks for the great article!

Judy said...

GREAT, GREAT, GREAT tips, Anita!!!!! I have really been a "slug" lately when it comes to scrapbooking, and I totally agree with everything you said 100%! And, I second Costco for printing my pictures, they are the BEST!!!!