For the past five years I’ve been using an approach to scrapbooking that combines layouts and pocket pages in one album. This unconventional take on organizing album content was a huge creative lightbulb moment for me. Ultimately, it is a semi-chronological strategy that leans on organization within the album to give more context to each story.
In that time I’ve used several 12×12 albums, as well as tried other dimensions on for size. In this post I want to share what I’ve learned, as well as my plans for the upcoming year. While I’m always still adding to older albums, I love starting fresh with clarity on how the new stories will be scrapbooked.
What I’ve Learned from Divided Albums
By using Stacy Julian’s Library of Memories categories as sub-divisions within my albums, I’ve found a freedom to follow my creative intuition. Some stories are so tiny they are captured with a cookie’s fortune stapled to a filler card. Other stories are so grand they deserve multiple pages of attention. But by creating these jewel-box collections of stories within a single album, each woven together by a theme, I’m able to listen to my muse without fear that it won’t “go”.
My albums since 2014 have featured monthly Project Life spreads (under “Things We Do”) along with layouts in the other categories, each using a different size of album. I found 8.5×11 to be so awkward that I switched back to 12×12 mid-year (2015). I’ve enjoyed the pocket pages of 9×12 (in 2016), but not odd-sized layouts. For me 12×12 is best, but your mileage may vary. I deeply believe that this approach (no matter what size or format you choose) can facilitate the creative shift you’ve been craving.
I love how my albums have come together with ease, but I need to admit that I feel restless and ready for a change.
My Album Approach for the 2017 Year
As I’ve considered what to change and what to keep the same for next year, here’s what’s been on my mind:
- I want to limit my purchases and make a huge dent in my stash. I feel like we’re in a trend plateau at the moment, where color palettes are being refreshed but the overall style aesthetic is not shifting rapidly.
- At the same time, I’m also feeling pulled to more minimalist designs with even fewer supplies. I’m thinking about photo books, the Project Life app, white borders, and typewritten journaling.
- Layouts continue to come easier for me than pocket pages, though that doesn’t seem to diminish the deep satisfaction I have from the pocket pages I have completed. I still feel compelled to do both.
Ease is perennially a top priority for me. As much as I love creating, I can all-too-easily get in my own way with mental roadblocks and procrastination. Thus, I’m all about finding the most simple solution that will offer a satisfying experience. I’m always trying to find that intersection between what fills me up and fits my life.
With that in mind, in 2017 I will return to a 12×12 album. I love both 12×12 layouts and lots of 4×6 photos, making this album size (and Project Life Design A) more natural for my creative preferences. I’m also planning to adjust my content strategy, revisiting an approach I tried in 2013: including pocket pages within each category, focusing on the small stories.
My emphasis on small stories within just one category left my album feeling unbalanced in depth. In tandem, dividing my attention between telling stories of a single month and across time left me unfocused. I am eager to capture a broader suite of little details about life right now, while more actively pursuing deeper stories.
To do this, I need to fully shift my pre-album photo organization (collections in Lightroom) and my album planning to consider the four categories. Here’s what this looks like in theory:
- Each week I will sort photos into Lightroom collections for Things We Do, People We Love, Places We Go, and All About Us. The original image files will remain organized by year and month folders.
- Every two weeks I will rotate which category is my focus. I will create pocket pages and layouts for the current year, while also leveraging this thematic focus to create something for a previous year’s album.
Honestly, it’s taken writing this post to flesh out the approach in my own mind. I know it’s time to do something different, yet I feel pulled between what I know and some of the stylistic directions I admire. All that said, I feel a sense of contentment about this foundational structure, making it that much easier to trust my creative path will unfold before me.
Questions to Craft Your Own Plan
If you’re not 100% happy with your current process, here are some questions to help you customize your own approach for 2017:
- What products/styles are you most excited to scrapbook with?
- What size/format has been most successful for you in the past?
- What is the simplest approach that would feel satisfying?
Plus, if you would like to learn more about my divided album approach, make sure to follow the link below to download a free PDF guide that explains all the details.