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Scrapbooking Your Family’s Story: Eight Ideas for Journaling about your Photos

Whether your scrapbooking style is simple or elaborate, you invest considerable time and care into selecting and displaying your photographs on the page. While you might think you’ll always remember the who, what, when, where, and why of your photos, our internal memories do fade. What’s more, a friend or family member perusing your album may admire your handiwork but won’t grasp the significance of your photos without accompanying text.

If the thought of writing paragraphs of text overwhelms you, try this: Don’t wait until you’re laying out your pages to begin journaling. The following tips will help you gather your stories as they’re happening so you’ll have them on hand as you plan and create your albums.

  1. Jot notes in your day planner – special dinners, gathering with friends, kids’ events, milestones. In addition to the date and place, add a few personal observations about the significance of the event.
  2. Does keeping a travel journal feel too much like working on vacation? On trips, purchase postcards and record your impressions on the back. You’ll not only be able to identify the places that show up in your photos, but you can document your personal experience quickly and painlessly.
  3. When you send e-mail messages to relatives and friends, save copies for yourself. For many people, e-mail is the medium in which we most commonly share stories from our daily lives. For example, your intentions might have been better than your follow-through in keeping a journal for your child. But the e-mail messages you send your parents are filled with updates on the latest things their grandchild is doing. You can refer to these messages, or even cut and paste text directly from them, as you work on your child’s scrapbook.
  4. Keep small pieces of lined scrapbooking paper and a photo-safe pen in your purse. Anytime you have a few minutes – in a waiting room, waiting for a lunch order – you can journal about the subject of your current scrapbook. You’ll also be prepared to journal about experiences as they happen. Use neutral paper and ink colors; later you can mount your journal blocks on paper that coordinates with your page layouts.
  5. Post photo-safe calendar pages on your refrigerator and document everyday happenings as they occur. Your calendar will serve as a prompt for more detailed journaling and can be decorated for inclusion in your albums.
  6. Write letters to your child on special days or whenever you get the notion. Portions of these letters can find their way into your scrapbooks, either as direct quotes or as memory aids for journaling after the fact. Even if you do this just once or twice a year, your child will treasure your letters and the scrapbook pages they inspire for years to come.
  7. Picture a specific audience for each of your albums. Journaling flows more easily when you think of it as a conversation with an important person of the present or future.
  8. It’s not too late to add storytelling to your existing albums. You might add a page of journaling to the end of your album summarizing the overall story. If particular pages or photos prompt questions from those who view your album, consider adding journaling blocks to white space or using mounting sleeves to insert the stories you find yourself telling again and again. Mounting sleeves secured to the inside border of your finished pages become like miniature pages of their own.

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