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Your 5-Step Photo Workflow, from Smartphone to Scrapbook Page

Free registration for Photo Crush, the photo management challenge, is now open. The next session begins October 25th!

Photos are the foundation of any scrapbook, but the low cost and ease of taking pictures today has introduced new challenges. The hundreds of photo prints that could be filed away in a snap has morphed into thousands of digital files on multiple devices.

Fortunately, there are tools that can help automate and simplify how you handle your pictures. In this post I’m sharing how I use Adobe Lightroom, both on my phone and on my computer, to streamline photo management. However, you don’t have to use this software to adopt a similar workflow*.

* A workflow is the series of steps you take from the beginning to the end of a task, similar to a routine.

Your 5-Step Photo Workflow, from Smartphone to Scrapbook Page

Step 1: Shoot

I recently upgraded my older iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Reviews of the camera were the deciding factor for me, despite feeling nervous about the operating system. I absolutely love it so far.

I’m using the the native camera, almost always entering through the icon on the lock screen (just as I did with the iPhone). Side-button shooting is helpful in certain scenarios and I’ve found the ability to shoot with voice commands helpful.

No matter what camera I’m using, I always pay attention to the light. Are there harsh shadows? Is my subject dark due to backlighting? Do I have enough light to freeze the motion? I certainly take a lot of not-so-great pictures, but awareness of light means more of them are good.

I also make sure to clean my lens often. My favorite tool is a microfiber pad that I use for both my glasses and my phone. Nothing saddens me more than seeing a lovely picture blurred by a smudgy phone lens.

I love my big camera, but let’s be honest here… my phone is the camera I always have on me!

Step 2: Curate

One of the reasons I’m writing this post is a recent change I made to my workflow. I noticed that photos were piling up in a staging area on my computer, a picture purgatory if you will. The automatic systems I set up were working fine, but the human component (i.e. me) wasn’t keeping pace.

So I began to look at exactly what was causing the pile-up: deleting photos. I don’t want my photo library full of random pictures of the brand of cat food we buy and 30 versions of the same selfie, so I delete liberally. But, this takes time.

In this season of life I’m spending more time outside of the home and office, including significant waiting-for-the-kid scenarios. More of my personal “computer” time is actually on my phone. However, because my photos were being automatically uploaded to Dropbox (see box in Step 3 below), there was little I could do from my phone.

Then, I decided to give Lightroom for mobile another try. Using the app (iPhone | iPad | Android), I can spend free moments picking photos with a swipe up and rejecting photos with a swipe down. It’s like Tinder for my pictures, and it has substantially reduced the backlog I face on the computer.

I will often use the filtered view to limit the photos I see to only those which are “unflagged”. These are the images that have not yet been touched and it’s oh-so-gratifying to bring that number down to zero with simple decision-making.

Alternate Method – You can also curate photos from your phone by using the native delete/trash function, and no additional app. In some case you may be able to multi-select images to delete in bulk. This works particularly well if you are manually uploading photos or using a cable to transfer them to your computer.

Step 3: Sync

Lightroom for mobile devices is a useful app on its own, but the automatic sync of images to my computer was the clincher. Now that everything is downloadable from the cloud, I rarely connect my phone to my computer. It’s a manual step that requires time and having the cable on hand at the right time, which I never do.

As you might have heard me mention, I’m a lazy scrapbooker. I don’t want to work any harder than I need to, which is why the Internet is just so magical for photo lovers like us! Lightroom sends each photo, including copies that I’ve edited in A Color Story, VSCO, or Instagram, to my computer. There’s only one small catch.

Lightroom for mobile import photos from your device to the app’s catalog when the app is open. Since I’m doing regular curation (see Step 2 above), that’s not a big deal at all. However, it’s important to understand how it works. If the app hasn’t been opened, new images won’t sync to your computer.

Alternate Method – You can also accomplish this step with Dropbox Camera Upload. By installing Dropbox on your smartphone and turning on this feature, your photos will automatically be copied to your Dropbox account. From there they can be moved (automatically or manually) into your photo library folders or your favorite software.

Step 4: Organize

Lightroom Mobile automatically creates a destination folder for your synced device that appears in Lightroom. I regularly move photos from that default location into my month folders, but the sync connection remains. In other words, any flagging, starring, or editing you perform in Lightroom on your computer will be synced back to Lightroom Mobile on your device.

With photos on my computer, I will complete any reject flagging (see Step 2) and delete all of the rejected images. Between Step 2 and Step 4, selecting the best images and deleting the rest represents the bulk of time I spend on photo management. At this stage I will also add stars to note images that particularly stand out. I tend to use 2 for “to scrapbook” and 4 for “to frame”. These will be changed to 3 and 5 stars, respectively, once edited.

Picking and rejecting photos with flags in Lightroom (on any device or computer) is the easiest way to know which images have been handled and which need to be deleted in bulk. This is the step where you can also add tags to your photos. While I can see the benefit for locating related images, it’s not a step I’ve successfully integrated into my process.

My library has a simple structure with top-level folders for years and then month folders underneath. Any flagging, starring, or additional metadata editing takes place in my month folders, where I’m only looking at a few hundred photos at a time. Lightroom catalogs photo files but does not house copies of your images. This is one reason I love Lightroom: my original files are organized exactly how I see them in the software.

Alternate Method – Well-organized folders on your hard drive or an external drive are the essential foundation of photo management. Software can be used on top of folders to help you find and edit photos more easily, but it’s not required. You can start now with a folder for 2016 and sub-folders for each month. As time allows, work backwards to bring older images into that framework, but don’t let prior disorganization stop you from taking care of new pictures.

Step 5: Edit + Print

Ease of editing, especially in batches, was the original reason I started using Lightroom. A few years ago I attempted to edit every photo I was saving. It quickly became impossible to keep up and I’ve given up on the goal. Instead, I will edit photos with a specific purpose in mind. Usually this is for scrapbooking, but I will also edit batches of photos for framing or sharing with family.

Note: I take a lot of pride in my photography, so it’s worth it to me to add a final polish to images that leave my computer. Your opinion might differ from mine and that’s OK. 

With my photos in Lightroom, I have a couple of different options for printing. Sometimes I will export a batch of photos to a folder and use Persnickety Prints to order my prints. Most often I print at home using my Canon PIXMA Pro-100. If I am printing a single image I will use the Canon Print Studio Pro plug-in directly from Lightroom. If I creating a collage of two or more images, I will save that as a JPG and then print from Photoshop using the Print Studio Pro plug-in.

Printing can be a complicated process, especially when you start talking about printer profiles and color spaces. Most importantly, you should continue using the printing approach you’re most comfortable with as long as you are happy with the results. If you’re not happy, then there is quite the array of options to consider for making improvements. That’s beyond the scope of this post, but a topic we can certainly discuss in the comments or on our Facebook page.

The big takeaway here is that I edit only a fraction of my photos and both editing and printing are as-needed tasks.

This article does not cover photo security, but I didn’t want to overlook the importance. My photos, along with my entire computer and attached external drive, are backed up automatically using Crash Plan and a second external drive. Choosing and implementing solutions for peace of mind are discussed in Photo Crush, my free photo management challenge. See below for details.

Free Photo Management Challenge

Let me guess what you’re thinking. This approach sounds worth a try, perhaps with a few tweaks to personalize, but what about the thousands of photos stranded on multiple devices, disks, and drives? I’ve got a solution for that, too!

Create a centralized photo library, eliminating duplicates in the process, with or without any software in this FREE challenge.

Photo Crush is a free, 7-day photo management challenge where you’ll create a centralized photo library, eliminating duplicates in the process, with or without any software! You’ll lay the groundwork for staying organized and printing more of your favorite photos.

The next session begins October 25th. Register now. (It’s free!)


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Book Review & Giveaway: Crepe Factor by Laura Childs

I’m an avid reader of non-fiction, as evidenced by our Book Club selections. I love gaining new insights on personal growth, business, and wellness that I can apply to my life.

But sometimes I just want to check out, to rest my mind and get lost in another world. Whereas non-fiction stirs me up with ideas and plans, fiction forces me to pause, focus, and finally relax.

Raise your hand if you need to relax, too.

So when Laura Childs asked me if I wanted to check out her latest book with Terrie Farley Moran, Crepe Factor, I didn’t hesitate. I’d read a previous book in her scrapbooking mystery series before, Gilt Trip, and reviewed it for Simple Scrapper.

I knew this cozy mystery would be the perfect romp to celebrate the end of another Refresh retreat.


This morning I found myself in Starbucks after dropping my daughter off at school. I just had to finish and find out who killed Martin Lash, even though I had plenty of work to do.

The book started off with a leisurely energy, but the pace really picked up as the eager and unpredictable heroine got herself into the thick of a murder investigation. She’s the scrapbooking world’s Veronica Mars, sans private investigator license.

“Carmela’s ears were still stinging from the tongue-lashing Babcock had given her last night. Her tummy was in turmoil. Not even a new shipment of handmade paper or the promise of new wax seals could lift her out of her nervous funk.”

The peppering of craft and food details gives the book a “she’s just like me” feel. Plus, having grown up outside of Houston, I was able to read the book with New Orleans accents and understand many of the local traditions mentioned.

Crepe Factor was a casual, fun read that kept me curious until the end.


I’ve got two hardback copies of Crepe Factor, signed by the author, to give away. To enter, leave a comment by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, October 11 sharing a recent fiction book you’ve enjoyed. This post will be updated with the winners, who will also be contacted directly.

The winners are #12 (Cathy) and #26 (Laura Smith).

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Review: Desk Maid Organizers by Totally-Tiffany

When it comes to organizing scrapbook supplies, I’m a minimalist. First, I focus on having a clear area to create, even if other zones are a mess. Then, I place the items I reach for often close at hand. The rest can require thumbing through as I select products for a page because I’d rather take the time to touch my supplies than attempt to remember where I put something.

And because I’m a minimalist, I usually try to put odds and ends to good use as storage. For example, that rectangular box your iPhone came in is a perfect drawer divider. However, there comes a time when you’d love to have solutions that are meant for your supplies. Totally-Tiffany gets that.

As creator of the ScrapRack system, this company understands scrapbookers and their unique storage needs. This week I reorganized my work table with pieces from the Totally-Tiffany Desk Maid line. These are solid wood pieces that will hold up to frequent use.

Review: Desk Maid Organizers by Totally Tiffany

The Tool Tower was perfect for my adhesive, stapler, pens, pencils, and scissors. And since I frequently misplace my scissors, I’m thrilled they finally have a real home. (Now if I could only find that smaller pair!) I can see this item being a workhorse and I might even grab another for my non-scrapbooking tools.

In the photo above, next to the Tool Tower, is the Stadium Arranger. From the very beginning I was eyeing this for my Ali Edwards kits. Since they are so timeless, these are some of my favorite supplies to pair with just about any page or project. The basket I was using had become a jumbled mess, but now I can thumb through my options with ease. I can also see it as the perfect Project Life card organizer.


Review: Desk Maid Organizers by Totally Tiffany

I’m also trying out the Pen & Ink Palace. I don’t have copic markers and none of my ink pads are labeled on the end, but I really like the idea of having easy-access stacked storage. Ink pad storage can be frustrating and messy, especially if they are stacked and the lids are not secure. I may just have to build out my stash.

I’d never used anything from Totally-Tiffany before, but you can call me impressed. The shipping was fast, the packaging protective (styrofoam in cardboard), and the products high quality. And most importantly, I’m excited to have a workspace that makes it even easier to scrapbook!

Disclosure: I was provided with the Desk Maid 4pc Set in exchange for my review. Opinions are my own.

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The New Rules of Scrapbooking

The New Rules of Scrapbooking is now available, only on Amazon! It’s my 5th book and this one feels much different. New Rules represents what I’ve observed and learned about this hobby in the eight years since Simple Scrapper’s launch, offering hope and advice for today’s scrapbooker. Crafting with your photos can be simple.

The New Rules of Scrapbooking

Get the book on Amazon for just $2.99 FREE through September 5th.

I want this book to start a new dialogue about our hobby, so after months of closed-door work on this project, I’m excited to begin connecting with you. This morning, I hosted a Facebook Live session and I’ve embedded the recording for you below. New Rules will also be our Book Club selection for November.

What are the “New Rules” of scrapbooking?In this video, I’m sharing 5 rules every scrapbooker needs to know, the story behind my latest book, and answering the most common questions.

Watch the video, then get the book FREE on Amazon:

Posted by Simple Scrapper on Friday, September 2, 2016

The New Rules of Scrapbooking

Frequent Questions

How long does the free book promotion last?
The New Rules of Scrapbooking will be free on Amazon through Monday, September 5, 2016.

Do I need a Kindle device to read the book?
No. There are Kindle apps available for both iOS and Android as well as the Kindle Cloud Reader, which allows you to read any book you have purchased directly in your web browser.

Is the book available outside of the United States?
Yes. If you have trouble purchasing the book, visit your country’s Amazon site and search for “The New Rules of Scrapbooking.”

Will the book be available in other formats?
Yes, but later. At the end of this year, I will release audio and print options for the book.

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What Modern, Simple Scrapbooking Actually Looks Like

My latest book, The New Rules of Scrapbooking, is now available on Amazon. Get a free copy through September 5th.

What you really want is to get photos off your camera and into the world, to a make your memories real. You take photographs because moments matter—and scrapbook them so you don’t forget why. The creative process elevates that desire to a joyful, fulfilling experience.

But if our needs are ultimately simple, why do we perpetually feel so overwhelmed? I believe it’s because we’re attempting to apply outdated scrapbooking expectations and “rules” to today’s world. Even those who already embrace a slower, more intentional lifestyle have trouble keeping pace with the sheer quantity of photos.

Scrapbooking in the modern era is not one-size-fits-all and when you start writing your own rules, memory keeping can truly be simple.

In Nobody Wants to Be a Rebel I explained why it’s time to rewrite the rules of scrapbooking. But what actually happens when we do that? Today I’d like to paint a picture of possibility for you and illustrate what modern, simple scrapbooking actually looks like.

1. It starts with photos.

Scrapbooking is by default photo-centric, but the rapid influx of photographs today means that we must expect and plan to spend time doing image management. The system for handling photos is no longer simply a stepping stone for getting them into albums, but is instead a cornerstone component of the scrapbooking process.

Because the vast majority of those images will never be “scrapbooked” in the traditional sense, we must look upon our digital photo libraries as the most complete record. Photo management is scrapbooking.

Scrapbooking in the modern era is not one-size-fits-all and when you start writing your own rules, memory keeping can truly be simple.

An extension of this concept is continual attention on the photo library as the best and most meaningful source of inspiration for taking a creative next step. But as a consequence, the photos do not themselves represent a checklist of pages to create. The onus is on the memory keeper to be selective, to curate highlights of their family’s story whether in albums, photo books, or on the walls of a home. Visible evidence of prioritizing photos includes:

  • Reducing creative expectations or taking on fewer projects to preserve time and energy for photo management.
  • Routinely redirecting attention towards learning, maintaining, or improving systems that support the photo library.
  • Celebrating photos in all forms and formats without judgement of whether it “counts”. It all counts.

2. It embraces impressionism.

In The Scrapbooking Rule You Must Break I introduced the idea that, out of necessity, we are 21st century impressionists. Following in the footsteps of renowned 19th century painters, today’s scrapbookers paint pictures of life “with broad strokes” that capture as much emotion and meaning as they do reality. Because there are more photos and stories than we could ever scrapbook, we must value how each glimpse documented adds to the big picture.

Scrapbooking in the modern era is not one-size-fits-all and when you start writing your own rules, memory keeping can truly be simple.

The impressionist mindset goes beyond a rejection of “caught up” though, as it seeks opportunities that purposefully simply the process while retaining a sense of depth. It invites the scrapbooker to look at her hobby more holistically to ensure that it’s really meeting her needs. Visible evidence of impressionist scrapbooking includes:

  • Choosing a project format for each story that maximizes enjoyment and practicality.
  • Balancing attention between everyday details, big milestones, and meaningful stories.
  • Allowing words and visual symbolism to take the place of scrapbooking every photo.

3. It focuses on stories.

A direct consequence of not scrapbooking everything is a natural emphasis on storytelling. But whereas the concept of impressionism broadly calls our project and process decisions to demand balance, a focus on stories counters a more specific unwritten “rule” of the hobby: that our objective is to capture the facts of each life event. Thus a story-first approach to memory keeping doubles down on the impressionist directive of adding meaning to the picture, making it worth it’s own point.

More plainly, using stories rather than events as a basis for scrapbooking makes going deeper more intuitive. By asking “why does this matter?”, examining personalities, or discussing feelings, we invite our brains to do what they’re best at: make connections. And while facts are certainly still important, we must use storytelling to add a deeper level of satisfaction when we can’t possibly capture it all.

Scrapbooking in the modern era is not one-size-fits-all and when you start writing your own rules, memory keeping can truly be simple.

But let’s be clear: focusing on story when creating scrapbook pages and projects don’t necessarily mean more journaling, though of course it can. It’s about looking first to the underlying meaning to guide the visual and written elements of your creative effort, to maximize the effort you’ve invested. Visible evidence of story-first scrapbooking includes:

  • Identifying why a photo (or group of photographs) is significant or meaningful to you.
  • Including more feelings and memories along with the facts in your scrapbook journaling.
  • Finding the through line between photos from different time periods or places.

4. It is personalized.

We have more options than ever for documenting our memories, but instead of focusing on what works best I see too many scrapbookers attempt to do it all. I understand the temptation to try new approaches (and I do recommend testing the waters), but too much dabbling only contributes to feeling unfocused and overwhelmed.

Instead we must leverage the array of choices to intentionally personalize our hobbies. If impressionism means letting go of capturing every detail, personalization is the selective re-addition of what matters most to you. You get to precisely determine both what your finished projects and the process of creating them looks like, down to how much is “enough” for you.

Scrapbooking in the modern era is not one-size-fits-all and when you start writing your own rules, memory keeping can truly be simple.

We all naturally desire personalization and often take steps toward it, but it is here where “the rules” often prompt second-guessing. That’s why I spend so much time writing about, talking about, and leading you through the process of making your hobby a perfect-fit. I want to give you both the tools and the encouragement to genuinely trust that you know what’s best. Visible evidence of personalization includes:

  • Working in continuity from a clear-but-flexible framework in lieu of always seeking the greener grass.
  • Choosing not to use a project format if it doesn’t work for you, even if you think the products are pretty.
  • Listening to yourself (what you know, your gut/intuition) when making each project or purchase decision.

5. It is guided by life.

Each month, season, and year are different. There are ups and downs, ebbs and flows. Your interest in and motivation for scrapbooking will shift along with the tide of your life. We must look at our albums as treasure chests, ready for each gift we are able to add, and stop looking on them as unfulfilled obligations.

Scrapbooking in the modern era is not one-size-fits-all and when you start writing your own rules, memory keeping can truly be simple.

When you let your life gently and intentionally guide your scrapbooking, you’ll find creative flow with less effort. And when projects have that natural, perfect-fit feel you will be more likely to finish them. Instead of paddling against the current much of the time, you can let the current make it easier to move forward.

The reality of this means that sometimes you will scrapbook a lot and at others you won’t create anything at all. During some seasons you will invest your energy into projects that require thought and details and during others you will find solutions that are good enough. Visible evidence of letting your life guide your hobby includes:

  • Accepting that you are no less a scrapbooker if you don’t scrapbook for a period of time.
  • Choosing to scrapbook longer time scales with a smaller or more condensed approach.
  • Taking time each season to align your mindset, plans, and expectations with your life.

Scrapbooking in the modern era is not one-size-fits-all. Your projects can be graphic or fancy, paged or pocketed, fast or thorough, frequent or rare—but it’s when you start writing your own rules that memory keeping can truly be simple.

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