January 20, 2013

How Do I Get Started? (Part One)

One of the most frequent questions in the store is how to get started in scrapbooking.  Unfortunately, many beginners come in to the store a week before they'd like to be finished with their project to ask this question, which makes for a long and frustrating week for them.  By the end of the week they're convinced they don't like scrapbooking, but the truth is that with just a little bit of preplanning to process is really enjoyable and satisfying.  I thought I'd put together some tips on how to break down the process of preparing to scrapbook so that it's not so intimidating.  This week we're going to talk about getting your pictures together. 

Choosing your pictures

The best place to start is with your pictures.  Why are you going to scrapbook?  Is it a special project, or are you beginning the journey of scrapbooking your family history?  Either way, you have to start with the pictures.

If you have older pictures in albums or boxes, you need to first make sure that however they are being stored is photo safe.  Older albums were typically made from papers containing harmful chemicals, acid and lignin, that cause photo fading and damage.  Older adhesives can actually change photo colors until the subjects are unrecognizable.  If the paper in your album looks cracked, faded, and discolored that's a great indication that it's unsafe for your photos:

You need to remove all the photos from those kinds of albums as quickly as possible.  You can protect photos and newspaper articles with PYM II spray:

Here's a quick video on the benefits of PYM II spray and how to use it:

If your photos are in an order that makes sense to you, you can put the pictures in acid-free envelopes so that they stay grouped the same way.  If they are in the albums in a disorganized way, this would be a good time to try to organize them.  Put them in photo safe storage boxes and begin to separate them into groupings that make sense to you.  We offer two great options to help you organize your photos:

Now, if all your pictures are on your computer you need to get them printed.  The thing to remember is this - you don't have to print EVERY picture.  Most layouts incorporate between four and eight photos, so as you're looking at your pictures think about how many pages you're going to make.  Do you want six pages devoted to one topic?  If not, you need to pare down your pictures.  Pick the ones that are the best - the ones that really tell the story.  There are techniques to add lots of pictures to a layout, but those you need only if you really can't get rid of any the pictures.  Most of the time, though, especially with digital cameras we find that there are a multitude of pictures that look very similar and have the same people or subject in them.  So start there - start thinking about the topics you will scrapbook, how many layouts will be devoted to each topic, and how many pictures will be on each layout. 

A great example of this concept is pictures of the zoo.  What happens when we go to the zoo?  We tend to take 900 photos, at least one of every animal there (and usually more than one!).  Some of the pictures have the people that were there, but most of the pictures are of animals that you don't even remember the names of.  First you have to decide, how important was this trip to the zoo?  Do you want to devote nine pages of your album to it, or will one or two layouts suffice?

Next, pick out the best pictures - the ones that are really clear and interesting.  Some pictures might look good enlarged - you can start making a list so when they are printed you'll remember what you want.  What do you really want to remember about your trip to the zoo - the way the anteater looked in it's enclosure or the expression on your child's face when they saw an elephant for the first time?  Which pictures best represent your happy memories?  Pick out the important pictures, and give yourself permission to let some of the others go.  Look at this layout from Sea World:

Admittedly, the pictures of the sea lions performing their tricks are fun - but clearly for me the star of the show, and of my layout, is my son's reaction.  My little guy has difficulty paying attention to things a lot of the time, but the sea lions really excited him and held his attention,so that was the story for me.  Even though I had about 50 pictures of the sea lion show (yes, really!), I chose to highlight the picture of my son - that's what I wanted to remember.  As you start printing and organizing your photos you can start thinking about possible layouts and, most importantly, what's your story???

Sometimes as I'm organizing my photos a page title will pop into my head, or I'll remember something really important about that day.  I make little notes on photo safe paper and include my notes right with the stack of photos it goes with - that way, when I want to gather supplies to start a layout, I already have my ideas right with the pictures.  Then all I have to do is decide on my papers and embellishments and I'm ready to go!

We'll talk a little more about this next time, for now just start by thinking about your pictures, organizing them so they are easy for you to access, and some method of including notes or important reminders with the photos.  If you can do that, you're already half way done with your layout, and you didn't even know it!

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