Need Help Fixing Poorly Cut Photos for Scrapbooks

It’s confession time. Many scrapbookers cringe when they see their first layouts. But honestly, I think I have most people beat. Not only did I not use awesome Creative Memory tools (I am being sarcastic), I free handed my cuts and nearly 10 years worth of photos.

Scrapbooking to cringe about
Someone got a little scissor happy.

So, I’m trying to salvage my photos by lessening the impact of my scissor-happy ways. There is no way to re-cut the above photo into an eye appealing shape. So, I’m going to attempt to make the effort look more intentional. Or at least, I want to cringe less.

Adding a dark background.

My first step was to place the photo on a dark brown background. Then I used my eraser tool to soften the harsh contrast of the photo and the mat. We’re heading in the right direction. But, I’m stuck as to what to do next. I would really like the photo edges to blend more into the background. I’m thinking I need some sort of mask, but I am stumped.

What’s in my head isn’t coming out into the photos. So, dear readers, what PhotoShop Element techniques would you use?

Take home lesson for any future heritage projects: Don’t cut your photos without digitally preserving them first.

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

7 thoughts on “Need Help Fixing Poorly Cut Photos for Scrapbooks

  1. Amber. Glad to know I'm in good company. Sticky tack. Yikes! On one hand I would want to keep the look because it was how I did things. On the other hand, I want to share my photos with generations to come. So… that's why I want to make things look better. So torn.

  2. Oh, I am right there with you! I made my first scrapbook when I was in college. I bought it on a whim and, not knowing anything about scrapbooking at the time, stuck all my photos into the album using sticky tack! (Because college students always have that on hand for posters in the dorms – ha!) And I was scissor happy too.

    I later redid that scrapbook (traditionally, not digitally), removing the sticky tack (though I couldn't remove the oily marks it left on the backs of my photos). And I couldn't fix the crazy cutting either.

    Sometimes I wonder if I should have left that scrapbook intact though. It was such a unique look at me and my college years. Oh, well!

  3. I played with Content-aware Fill and did not like the results, so I switched to the Clone Stamp Tool and it looked decent. I am pretty sure that Elements 11 has both tools. It is Content-Aware that I am not sure of.

  4. I will look into a blur or smudge tools. You've nailed what I want to do. To wash the photo into the background so that it looks intentional. Now… to look for a tutorial.

  5. Isn't there a blur or smudge too that will do what you want? I can't think of it right now. There's one that will smudge up all the background so it kind of washes together like watercolor. Or you could select the people, invert it, and fill in the background with something else. That is harder; it depends on how much time you want to put into it.

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