Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My organization method for pictures

I’m mainly writing it to clarify my process about organizing my photos and preparing them to scrapbook.
Two facts that drive my process:
1. I scrapbook chronologically.
2. I function best when I am organized and efficient. For some reason, this creates an environment where I can be highly creative.
Photo Organization
Film Camera
Pre-digital camera days I had a film camera. I printed doubles and organized the photos chronologically in photo books. I saved my negatives chronologically in a box. I dated and labeled the negatives so I can easily retrieve them if needed.
Digital Camera
Organizing Photos on my computer:
I first make a folder on my computer labeled with the year.
I have folders on my computer labeled: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.
Within each year, I label 12 sub folders labeled: 1-January, 2-February and so forth.
Within in the month sub-folders, I organize my photos by date and activity or person. So for example: 1-1 Jan 2011 Ringing in the New Year, 2-3 Jan 2011 The baby plays with his toys, etc.
Downloading photos:
I try and download my pictures once a week, usually on Sunday. I use my Microsoft program because it keeps the folders organized the way I like it. I usually write an update and include pictures from the week.
I’ve started to edit my photos on Sunday. I use Picasa, Google’s free photo-editing software. I usually run a batch edit and then crop individual photos as needed. Picasa has a text feature that I’ve started to use. I usually just write a few words about the picture.
I use Picasa because it is free and easy to use. I know that Adobe Photoshop Elements is probably a much better product, but it requires more time than I am willing to give it to learn the program. Picasa is just at my level and still allows me to quite a bit. It’s also very easy to uploads pictures to email, blog or buy.
Organizing Photos to Scrapbook
This part takes two steps.
First, I go through the photos I want to print and make copies of them in a separate folder. I group them in groups of 50 or 100 so I can take advantage of photo printing specials I receive.
Then I make an Excel Spreadsheet. I give a title or them for a group of pictures, date of the pictures, number of pictures, and how many pages I think I will make. I also include a box for marking the page done. This way I can quickly see what I’ve done and what I have left to do.
Why the spreadsheet? Well, I am extremely frugal and often use double-sided cardstock. I hate not using the other side of the paper. So I have to plan spacing and themes. Doing this helps me make the maximum use of my supplies. I also have found that it keeps me focused and on task.
Case in point: I’ve been working on my 2006 album for a few years now. I made random pages and had created quite a few. But I didn’t have a cohesive plan or structure for the album. When I finally sat down, analyzed what I had and what I needed, I was able to print the pictures I needed and pull the album together very quickly. In fact, I was able to make almost 50 pages in a month.
I also find that this process helps me take pictures and supplies to a crop. I can easily pull out enough pictures to do a few pages and not bring everything I have.
If you scrapbook, what is your organization process? Do you work best with a free-form style or are you highly organized? Do you use a similar process that I do?
I suppose the whole process seems a little bit rigid, but it works for me. I function best with organization and purpose. It’s hard to make goals and meet them when you don’t know where you stand or how much you have to do. I’ve floated along for too long and now feel like I need to maximize my time. Ironically, all this organization and structure has opened the floodgates for ideas and creativity. I will streamline the process as I see fit.

Scrapbooks vs. Photobooks: The Smackdown

I’ve made quite a few scrapbooks and photobooks. I find the process for creating both enjoyable. Both have pros and cons that I would like to discuss.
1. Reasonably-priced: Traditional scrapbooks can be a hefty investment. You have to pay for the album, picture printing, page protectors (if the album is larger than the 20 pages included with the album), scrapbook paper, adhesive, and embellishments. When you make a photobook, the cost is significantly reduced. I recently made a 12 x12 photobook of a vacation we took. I did have a coupon, so it was $36.00 total for the book. I could not have printed the photos in the varying sizes used in the book or the album for that price. Both Snapfish and Shutterfly seem to have frequent sales on photobooks.
2. Efficient to make: It took me a few hours to create my vacation book with 28 pages. My text was already written as I just copied posts from my blog. A similar traditional scrapbook would have taken me at least a month to make, if not longer.
3. Less bulky: Traditional scrapbooks are just plain bulky and heavy. It is difficult haul around the big books. Photobooks are sleek and compact. Yet you still get a high quality product.
4. Easy to make copies: I love that you can print several copies of one book. That is efficient. I recently made a photobook compiling some family heritage photos I had digital copies of. It was so easy to share the digital version of the book with my family and they could order copies easily. I have made books in the past for my parents and in-laws for Christmas presents. It really saves a lot of time. Eventually I want to scan my traditional scrapbooks and print them as photobooks for my children.
Good for people who don’t scrapbook but want to compile their pictures in a meaningful way: If you aren’t super crafty or have a hard time creating pages, I think photobooks are a really excellent option. The designs are nice, simple and easy to use.
Limited designs: I have frequently felt frustrated by the templates or the inability to manipulate the page I want. When you choose a pattern, that is what you get for the entire book. While I appreciate a cohesive design, I want more variety within that design. Photo sites could really benefit from some good paper designers.
Text: I’ve used both Snapfish and Shutterfly and I find both text features slow, laborious, and difficult to use. In fact, entering the text in the books takes the most time for me, even when I’ve already got it written. I find the spellcheck feature to be faulty, highlighting words that aren’t misspelled. When you are editing, you can’t see the entire body of the text so you can’t really check for grammar mistakes or problems in the text. If your text doesn’t fit in the space provided, its hard to see how to cut the text down. The text feature has often shut my computer down.
Project versus page focus: While I love being able to complete an entire project in a few hours, I also really enjoy the process of creating individual pages. I miss that joy when I create an entire book.
Lack of embellishments: While you can put your own extra embellishments in the book after it is printed, I never do this, but sometimes I would like a digital feature added.
I feel hampered in my creativity by the templates and designs because I’ve scrapbooked so much.
Pros: I guess I’ve already covered some of these in my discussion about photobooks.
Variety of design and theme: I’m only hampered by imagination in what I create. There are endless designs available from the internet and stores. I have a large stash and feel like I have a multitude of designs at my disposal.
Ability to manipulate to my liking: I’m in control of the creative process, not a computer template or program.
Creative process: I love taking the time to slow down and create something meaningful. As I work with pictures about my experiences and family, I process those experiences, adding meaning and richness to my life. Much of my life involves endless mundane tasks. It is rejuvenating to sit down and make a page that will never be undone or tracked with mud or splashed with juice.
Fun to shop for: I love paper and pens. I love being able to shop for pretty things that I can use to create. I’m not a shopper, but I do enjoy shopping for scrapbook supplies and books.
Scrapbooking is a serious hobby for people who want to create meaningful books about their lives and experiences. If you enjoy the creative process, beautiful papers, pens and embellishments, then traditional scrapbooking is for you.
Cost: While I shop sales and stretch my supplies, it is an expensive hobby. Printing photos costs money, whether you print at home where you pay for ink and paper or buy it online where you pay for shipping costs as well as printing costs. I tend to print 4 x6 photos online because the larger sizes costs more. I have a small photo printer where I can print up to four photos on one 4 x6 sheet.
Bulky books: I don’t do 3D embellishments and tend to avoid metal embellishments as well, but my books are still heavy and large. They take up a lot of space and are hard for my kids to look at because of the size. I worry that I would lose my precious books in a fire.
Time: It takes a lot of time to create my scrapbooks. I don’t begrudge that time, but I know that many people simply don’t have the same amount of time at their disposal.
While the cons of traditional scrapbooking are prohibitive, I think it is important to point out that many hobbies cost money. It’s just up to you and what you value.
I tend to make traditional scrapbooks because I enjoy the creative process. It makes me happy. But I am not above making photobooks to help me save time, money or energy. I think the bottom line is using what works best for your life and needs.


I scraplifted this idea from Creating Keepsakes Jan. 2009, pg. 42. I was drawn to the original layout because of the colors, well-ordered grid-design, and the structure of the page. I also liked the attractive journal/title circle spot. I don't usually follow every design so closely, but I chose to do so with this sketch.

The background paper is Bazzil Basics cardstock. I used patterned paper scraps I had from stuff I bought at Michaels a few years ago. I think the series was a Monkey theme. I used random stickers that I happened to find. I also like the way the stripes tie all the colors together and keep the eye moving over the page.

This layout tells the story of my son, at 3 1/2, getting tubes in his ears when we lived in Sweden. I took WAY too many photos of the event and actually completed a second page on the back of this one that completes the story.

The second page is a modified version of the previous layout. I had more pictures and utilized the paper scraps in a different way, not using such large sections. I repeated the stripe strips and flowers and the circle/journal element.

Because I have to get it out

I think about scrapbooking a lot. But I don't want to bore my husband and kids with my thoughts about the process. So I am creating this blog with the intention of being able to write about my thoughts.

Here is a post I wrote on my other blog about why I scrapbook.

As a kid and then teenager, I filled journals with my thoughts and experiences. Writing was theraputic and meaningful to me. Then I went to BYU. There was a contingent of scrapbookers in one of my wards. And immediately my streak of perversity struck. How were scrapbooks better than my journals, filled with my words and a few photos?
Then I got married and a year and half later found myself expecting my first baby. Suddenly, the camera I never used became important. And my journals–occasionally written in. Life was so busy for me. So when my first son was born, I began to scrapbook, somewhat haphazardly. I enjoyed the process of finding pretty paper, writing and adding my bad photos.
Then we moved to Sweden. And suddenly, I felt very pressed to scrapbook. I wanted to document every single detail about our experiences. I snapped photos at the supermarket, took pictures of the bus we rode and our bikes, snapped endless pictures of Lund with all its amazing and varied architecture. My children were little and I knew that memories are fleeting. So I wanted to create a body of memories that my family could refer to and trigger their own memories.
And so I began to scrapbook in earnest. Somehow in the process of documenting those details I began to process and assign meaning to our experiences. When I felt discouraged about parenting or frustrated with my kids, I could turn to cute pictures of them and feel better about what I was doing. When I felt the wanderlust bug bite me, I could turn to pictures about our adventures and relive those experiences.
When we moved to New York and embarked on a quieter phase of our lives, I found the process of creating rejuvenating and uplifting. I could create something that would be finished and never undone.
And finally, I scrapbook so that the pictures I take don’t become meaningless piles for my kids to wade through. My mother has boxes of photos. Sometimes we can place the photos and other times we can’t. It makes me sad that those photos aren’t arranged and organized. I met my great-aunt this summer and spent a day with her going through her scrapbooks and family heritage photos. She had given her photos context and meaning with her words. She had included bits from her mother’s notebooks and recipes written in her mother’s own hand. It was a veritable treasure trove for me. As she shared her stories and experiences I felt linked to my great-grandparents and past in a tangible and powerful way.
My great-aunt told me that her parents had stacks of photos that they loved going through and looking at. Sadly, they hadn’t written dates or names on the back. After their deaths, there were some people and places in photos that couldn’t be identified by any living descendent of my great-grandparents. I don’t want to do that to my children or grandchildren. I want them to feel connected to our family history and heritage.
And so I scrapbook. When my daughter asks me to tell her a story about when she was little, we pull out the 2006 scrapbook and I show her pictures of her birth and the many pictures of her, looking like a tiny porcelain doll dressed in pink. When we start wonder when an event happened, we pull out the scrapbooks and find details that we had forgotten.
I may never be a famous scrapbook designer. My pages will never be published in a national scrapbook magazine. But my family loves and treasures the scrapbooks I’ve made. I’ve given my experiences and life meaning and context in books that will last a lifetime.
I realize that not everyone has the same drive I have to scrapbook. But if you take pictures, please at least put names and dates on the backs of the photos or tag them digitally, so that your families will have context and meaning when they inherit boxes of photos or disks.