Within the online community of scrapbookers we talk a lot about stories and the value of recording them. We even often emphasize the importance of telling your own story.

The thing is, it’s easier to tell the story of your daughter’s first Christmas than it is of the one where you were really disappointed. Easier in so many ways.

So we often don’t focus on scrapbooking our own pasts. It’s not because we don’t want to or that we don’t value our own story, but because it can feel… well, harder.

Since the vast majority of us didn’t grow up in the digital age, lack of photos can feel like an enormous barrier to telling stories from your younger years.

In this post I want to break down this barrier and demonstrate how you do have enough photos. I’ll share some of my best solutions to the most common photo-related roadblocks to scrapbooking your own growing up story.

Your Problems, Solved

I only have a few photos or none at all.
Solution | Lack of photos should not deter you from telling stories. There are are two simple ways in which you can cope with not enough or no childhood photos.

  1. Use surrogate images. In place of the photo you wish you had, use memorabilia, a stock photo, or a related photo from today.
  2. Use journaling. While you may not have a photo, you still have your memories. Describe in detail the photo you wish you had.

My photos are in complete disarray.
Solution | It isn’t necessary to have a perfectly-organized photo library, with everything digitized, in order to start scrapbooking your childhood. While the process can help you identify future photo management needs, a rapid run-through to select key images can help you get started scrapbooking sooner rather than later.

My photos are somewhere else.
Solution | If permanent relocation of your photos to your home is not an option, a visit to their location might be. I was able to scan almost 200 childhood photos in a day at my parents’ house. I wasn’t trying to be exhaustive, but simply select the highlights from across multiple decades so I would have some photos.

My photos are on magnetic pages.
Solution | I’ve heard of people successfully using dental floss, fishing line, or the spatula for a die cut machine to successfully remove photos from magnetic pages. I prefer to scan the entire page on a flatbed scanner and crop the photos on the computer. While removing them may be the best long-term solution, scanning is a better short-term solution.

My photos are discolored.
Solution | Free (PicMonkey, Picasa) and low-cost (Photoshop Elements) software exists to help you restore the color and quality of older photos. However, I don’t think that’s always necessary. I want to get my photos scrapbooked, so I embrace their vintage coloring.

I don’t have a scanner.
Solution | While scanners are inexpensive these days (or bundled with your all-in-one printer), you can alternately take images to a local photo center, have them scanned by mail order, or even use an app on your phone to “scan” them.

When there’s a will, there’s a way. Almost every challenge related to older photos has at least one workable solution to help you get your stories scrapbooked.

If you’d like a step-by-step process for creating an album about your childhood, I’d like to invite you to join me for the Before Your Story workshop.

During class I’ll directly help with any challenges you face, so don’t let lack of photos deter you from telling the most important story of all: yours.