If your family photo collection isn’t organized in a picture-perfect way, it may be time to beautify your precious memories. With our easy, expert tips to organize photos, you can create a tidy scrapbook to pull out for family dinners, holiday celebrations, or just because.
Organizing images makes them easier to enjoy and share, and it brings the added benefit of clearing clutter and boxes from your garage or attic.
Gather and Organize Photos to Start Your Scrapbook
When you are ready to start creating a scrapbook, you’ll need to first organize and categorize photos, said Joanne Miller, who owns Once Upon a Page, a scrapbook and craft store in the Los Angeles area. There is no right approach, just the one that makes sense to you.
“Some people put all the holiday photos together. Some people put all of child number one in a pile, then all of child number two in another,” she said. “Other people do it by date.”
Pam Larmore, writes about DIY projects, including scrapbooking, on her blog P.S. I Love You Crafts. She has created more than 20 scrapbooks so far and offers tips to newbies in her article how to start a scrapbook. Starting with the most recent photos is usually easiest for her.
After that “sort by decade if you have photos going back 40 or 50 years,” she said. “Then go into each decade and put them into some sort of order from there.”
Make sure you choose the best photos for your scrapbook, and consider shredding outtakes.
“The biggest mistake is thinking you’re going to use every single photo on every single page,” Miller said. “You’re going to run out of time, patience, money and space.”
Decorate Your Scrapbook Pages
It’s important to crop the photos you plan to scrapbook so you can maximize space and have room to spare for decorations.
“You don’t need every bit of that picture,” Miller said. “You don’t need the light post, the fence, the person at Disneyland with their back turned to you.”
Miller also encourages you to save brochures, tickets and other souvenirs to decorate the page, but not too many.
“Just a little bit of color suffices,” Miller said. “The photos should be the focal point.”
There are many options at scrapbook and craft stores to decorate the pages of your book, including: rubber and acrylic stamps, an array of stickers for nearly any occasion or event and pre-colored pages to glue your pictures to.
It’s also important to handwrite at least a date and small description of what is happening in the photos – what the pros call “journaling” – in your scrapbook, Miller and Larmore said.
“You can journal by just putting the title or bullet points, or you can write a whole paragraph,” Miller said.
“A lot of people don’t like their handwriting, but your handwriting is important because future generations are going to want to see that,” Larmore said.
Both Larmore and Miller said when you finish your scrapbooks, you should keep them away from the floor – where they could be damaged by accidental flooding or other mishaps – and store them vertically in a moderate temperature, to avoid damage to the photos over time.
To further avoid damage, you must use products – paper, glue, pens – that are labeled “acid-free” and “lignin-free” otherwise your photos will eventually become stuck to the paper, yellow and/or decompose, Miller said.
If all this sounds like too much work, many professional scrapbookers will do the work for you. Miller has created dozens of books over her nearly two decades in the craft business.
If you are interested in making your own scrapbook and just need some further help getting started, check if any local craft stores offer scrapbooking workshops. Miller hosts monthly workshops at her Burbank craft store.
“When you scrapbook you preserve the past, enrich the present and future,” Miller said. “You also get more organized.”