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I'm a branding photographer living in Charleston, South Carolina, a lover of eating strawberries, and my obsession is teaching others how to live a life they love.

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How I Document My Life with Scrapbooking

Oct 13

Was the last time you made a scrapbook in 4th grade? If your answer is yes (or you’ve never tried it!), you’re not alone! Scrapbooking can be totally intimidating. You might not know where to start, believe you’re not creative enough, think it’s too expensive, or fear the mountain of photos you need to “catch up” on. I have felt all of these fears at one point or another too, but I’m here to tell you that it is possible to scrapbook in an attainable, affordable, and sustainable way. In this post, I’m sharing my simple process for how I document my life with scrapbooking, and a few tips on how you can get started, too. There are so many ways to scrapbook that fit your preferences and lifestyle. You can combine any of these methods to document your life your way! 

P.S. If you’re still not convinced you can scrapbook, read my post with 6 reasons to start!

How I Document My Life with Scrapbooking

Scrapbooking Structure

Every year, I create one album that highlights the things I want to remember about that year. I use printed photos from my professional cameras and my iPhone. Most of my personal photos end up being iPhone shots, so don’t feel like you need to own a fancy camera in order to scrapbook! I accompany some photos with short captions or journaling. I also love to include memorabilia like ticket stubs or postcards to further tell the story of the event or memory. Memorabilia also adds interesting textures and designs to my pages.

Supplies I Use

I create my scrapbooks with only three main supplies: a 3-ring album, clear pocket pages, and pre-cut decorative filler cards. These three simple products take all of the guesswork out of creating your own layouts. The pocket pages come in various layouts with slots for standard size photos. By using pre-cut decorative cards, you won’t have to buy, cut, and coordinate expensive scrapbooking papers and embellishments (unless of course that’s your style!). I use Becky Higgins’s Project Life scrapbooking products, along with albums from Studio Calico and various page protectors from Simple Stories. Here are my favorite products I use to create my scrapbooks:

Organizing Process

When I first started scrapbooking using this system, I would organize my photos and order prints once every 2-3 months so I could work on my scrapbook as the year progressed. I still sometimes wish I would keep up like that, but I’ve found it just doesn’t happen most of the time. Now I order my photos at the end of the year, and create that year’s scrapbook in the first few months of the following year. For example, at the end of 2020, I’ll order my photos from the year and finish the scrapbook by springtime in 2021. If you already have prints of photos you want to scrapbook, head to this post to learn my entire system for organizing family photos.

I try to stay on top of organizing my photos into folders about once a month so it doesn’t become too overwhelming. I plug my phone into my computer and use Image Capture app to drag them into a folder. I’ll also grab any personal photos I took on my professional cameras and put those into their dated folders. From here, I’ll open them up in Adobe Bridge (the Photos app on your computer works great too!) and mark the photos I want to use in my album. I’ll delete any that I don’t want to save.

Editing & Sizing Photos

I don’t do much fancy editing of my photos besides increasing the brightness, contrast, and adjusting the color temperature if the photo is too warm or cool. I might do a quick crop if it needs adjusting as well. If you already edit your photos on your iPhone, you’re golden!

When saving your photos, you’ll want to make sure they fit your pocket pages. The pocket pages I use have 4×6” horizontal spaces as well as 3×4” vertical spaces. Don’t worry too much planning your page layouts ahead of time when sizing your images. I never know exactly where my photos will go when I size them. I typically save my favorite or most important photos in the 4×6” size and all other photos as 3×4″. To make the ordering process easier, I place two 3×4″ photos onto one 4×6″ image area. When I receive the photos back, I simply cut them apart.

The frequency in which you organize and order your photos is totally up to you. Be honest with yourself and think about what you can realistically commit to. Don’t be hard on yourself if you “get behind.” I’ve felt behind many times. If you break up your albums into baby steps and simplify, you can get caught up quite easily. I know from experience that it’s possible to do without getting completely overwhelmed.

Ordering Prints

I keep my scrapbook prints really easy and cheap! I don’t mind that the prints aren’t top quality since I’m not framing them meticulously. My scrapbooking albums aren’t too “precious.” I’d never suggest this if you’re ordering your family or wedding photos, but for scrapbooking basic prints totally work. I typically order from either Shutterfly or Snapfish, depending on who’s having a sale.

When I receive my printed photos, I go through them and organize chronologically. Sometimes they’ll arrive in order from the printer, but other times they’re a bit mixed up. I also will use a small paper cutter to separate the two 3×4” prints I’ve printed on one 4×6”.

Scrapbooking

Now for the fun part! Placing your images and filler cards together is the most exciting and creative part of the process for me. Since I organize my photos chronologically, it’s super easy to start at the beginning of the year and go from there. I’ll spend some time playing around with different cards and thinking about if I’ll want to write a lot on a specific layout, or maybe just a caption. I’ll also keep my mementos nearby to see if I can layer those in.

I’m often surprised how simple it is to create cohesive layouts in minutes. If you’ve bought a kit in a color scheme you love, everything will look put together without much effort. Even if you just do one spread a week, you’ll soon have a full completed album! It’s the best feeling to have a collection of memories all in one precious spot.

Photo album and scrapbooking supplies for documenting your life

Any Scrapbooking Questions?

I plan to write more posts in the near future detailing my photo editing and ordering process, how I organize, and more of my layouts! If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out this post in which I outlined 5 creative and easy ways to document your life. In the meantime, if you have any questions for me, leave me a note in the comments below or email me at abbymurphyphoto@gmail.com.

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