Power Scrapbooking: Narrow the Options

How many photos do you take for various events throughout the year? Sometimes I take a few pictures (20 or less) while other times I can take 1,000 photos (or more). It’s easy to feel incredibly overwhelmed with the idea of scrapbooking this many pictures. Never fear! I will show you the next steps in being a power scrapbooker.

The first steps, as discussed in my book Power Scrapbooking apply to all methods of memory keeping. The steps of labeling photos, organization, and digitizing photos, documents, and memorabilia have been discussed on this blog as well.


Power Scrapbooking Using Photo Shop Elements
Folder with photos from our beach trip

My preferred method of scrapbooking is digital, and my favorite tool is Photoshop Elements. For the next power scrapbooking steps you’ll see how I apply efficiency principles using this program. However, you can review these tips and implement them to any other software or paper scrapbooking system. (Note: This blog is a continuation of the post Organizing Photos in Photoshop Elements. Be sure to read that post to know how I arrived at this step). 

Before this stage, I have created potential scrapbook page topics and created folders (called Albums) using Photoshop Elements. Once I have sorted through all the photos for a possible project (such as Cinco 2012) have been sorted into categories, I can fine tune that sorting.

Limit the Photos: 

My goal is to have between 7 and 16 photos for a two-page layout. The ‘photos’ could include documents, artwork, memorabilia photos, and other ‘non-photo’ images. Sometimes I have 25 photos for an event with a lot of great details to capture. But I strive to have this situation occur less often.

The more images to include on one layout, the more time-consuming and challenging it is to scrapbook the event or topic. Topics with less than 7 images are better served in a one-page layout (or not at all).

In order to narrow my options to 7-16 photos, I recommend these principles:

Break Up Large Topics

Sometimes I can not limit myself to less than 20 images for a topic. Christmas is the ‘event’ that happens every year resulting in at least 50 photos that I really want to preserve in a scrapbook.

Instead of agonizing over how to reduce 50 photos to the 15 best, I split up the Christmas category further. Notice how the screen shot from Photoshop Elements Organizer has the Album Category Cinco?  Beneath that category, there are the Albums 12 Christ Present, 12 Christmas, and 12 Gingerbread. Once the photos are sorted into sub-categories, determine if the 20, 20, and 10 photos are need further paring.

– In case your wondering on the folder naming system, the digits before the Album name are the months of the year the event occur in. I’m a chronological scrapbooker and this helps keeps the categories logically arranged. 

–  Next, the “C” after the file name is a ‘hack’ for PhotoShop Elements. I will have three folders called 12 Christmas, one for each family member’s album (Cinco, Quatro, and Family). PhotoShop does not like if you name two Albums the same thing, even if they are in different Album Categories. So, I add a C for Cinco’s album, and a Q for Quatro’s album to trick the program into doing what I want.  

Narrow the Series: 

I often take a number of photos to ‘get the best one.’ When I scrapbook, I pick the best one from these series. Occasionally a series of photos shows actions and makes for an exciting page. However, you don’t need 30 photos of a series to show movement. Sometimes, all you need is 3 – 5 photos.

I love rearranging my photos in Photoshop Elements albums to see the sub-cateogires within a topic. For instance, birthday parties often have subcategories: blowing out the candles, opening presents, and playing with guests. I will group the possible photos into these sub-categories and select the photos that really convey the right message or mood. There will be additional photos from a birthday party that are a category unto themselves. Once I have narrowed down the subcategories, I can usually fall within the 7-16 range for the overall topic.

Select the Best

In most cases, a mediocre photos is not worth scrapbooking. Sometimes, it is the only photo of that particular scene but a strong story is told on my scrapbook pages even without that image. Including it would be a distraction to the overall page.

Strive to only scrapbook the best photos that you have rather than a lot of mediocre images. You and your scrapbook reader will thank you when it’s all said and done. On occasion, you need to include a sub-par image, but treat this as an exception rather than the rule.

With these three guiding principles, I was able to narrow the beach category to these. These are the photos that I feel are the best of my little man exploring the beach, along with one photo of him with his siblings. One mediocre image was included to show perspective. His older siblings went out into the ocean, but he loved playing on the beach and throwing the wet sand.

Power Scrapbooking with Photo Shop Elements
Narrowed the best photos from the beach

Before I move on to journaling or picking out decorative beach elements for this topic, I sort all of the pictures in each layout folder. If I switched from narrowing down the options to creating a page, my speed would be thrown off. My memories keeping is more about recording stories than being an artist. Speed is essential to me to reduce the guilt and stress of memories piling up and not ‘doing anything’ with them.

Fair warning, somethings this step becomes tedious, frustrating, and perhaps boring. If it does, stop and come back later. The great thing about this step is that it can be done fairly easy while you’re at swim practice or waiting outside dance class for your kiddos. You can still visit with your friends and accomplish this task. Or, you can take this task with you to a scrap crop or other crafty social hour. You can visit while sorting through photos!

Take time to narrow down your options, focusing on only scrapping the photos and memorabilia that matters most. You’ll thank yourself later.

For more Power Scrapbooking tips, purchase Power Scrapbooking at Amazon today.

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.

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