When a scrapbooker showed me some of her work I was very impressed by the layout and creativity of her pages but there was something missing. Only a few of the photos had brief captions and so it was only when she started telling me more, that I began to appreciate the true significance of the collection of photos she had chosen and the story they told. However, there is a way to add more meaning to a scrapbook and it is called scrapbook journaling.
Scrapbook journaling – the missing element
I am not a scrapbooker myself but I was drawn to this popular and fascinating craft because of the way in which a personal story can be shared through a scrapbook simply by the choice and juxtaposition of photos and pictures and creative page designs. However, I believe there is an element in scrapbook design which is sometimes overlooked – namely the words (scrapbook journaling).
Scrapbookers can also be writers
For some scrapbookers writing or journaling doesn’t come easily – whether it’s coming up with a catchy title for a page or a simple description of a photo. But, with time, effort and practice most people can start to produce words which can bring so much more to a page by revealing the stories that the pictures alone can’t tell.
How to get started
If you are a new or inexperienced writer, you could start with photos which only need a short description. Try the five Ws method (Who?, What?, Where?, When? and Why?) typically used by journalists, to help you get started. For example, who is in the photo, what is happening, where was it taken, when was it taken and why is it significant or interesting? This method, at the very least, provides the basic facts and will make the photos much more meaningful to people who look through your scrapbook without you there to fill in the gaps.
Beyond the five Ws
The five Ws are great for gathering the facts but this method can be a bit limiting so try picking out a photo which you think has more to reveal and scribble down everything you can remember about the photo and any emotions you feel when you take a closer look. If you find this hard, imagine you are showing the photo to a friend. What would you tell them about the photo? Would you simply tell them who is in the photo and when and where it was taken or is there more to tell? For example, why the photo was taken, what happened just before and after it was taken, whether there is anything significant about the setting or event, what the facial expressions and posture of any people in the photo reveal about their relationships, whether it was a happy, sad or particularly memorable occasion etc.?
You are more likely to speak openly, honestly and from the heart to a close friend or family member and so it is these are words you should capture for your scrapbook pages.
Write first, edit later
No one, not even experienced writers, get the words right first time so start by writing on a separate piece of paper or on a computer. You can add the words to your pages later (either hand written or printed). Don’t worry about grammar, spelling and punctuation when you first start scribbling, there will be time for editing later on.
Read it out loud
Reading your words out loud can be revealing and enlightening. Not only will you pick up on any glaring errors but you will also discover whether your writing flows naturally. For example, if you stumble over a sentence it may be because you have phrased something clumsily or your idea lacks clarity. Reading aloud also gives you a sense of whether what you have written sounds like ‘you’. Scrapbook journaling is a very personal thing and so you want your readers to hear your voice when they read your words.
If you are already a scrapbooker I am sure you have great fun selecting the photos you want to include, choosing the paper or cardstock, picking a colour scheme which co-ordinates with your photos, designing the layout of each page and deciding where you are going to position the photos etc.. However, you can have just as much fun with scrapbook journaling. If you feel inspired to give journaling a go, also take a look at my blog post Write the stories behind your photos for some more tips and advice.