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Essential Guide to Scrapbooking Your Summer Trips and Vacations

Vacation scrapbooking offers a unique creative challenge, primarily due to the volume of photos taken on a trip. The transition to digital, and then mobile, photography has only accelerated the pace of amateur pic-snapping.

In this post I’m sharing a set of guideposts for planning (and successfully finishing) a vacation scrapbook along with a range of options to help you personalize your vacation scrapbooking plan.

Plus, I’m including a few tips and suggestions on staying creative away from home, including whether you should bring your supplies along for the ride.

Last week’s episode of Simple Scrapper Live kicked off our discussion on the topic. Here’s that recording:

Guideposts for Vacation Scrapbooking

In the episode I outlined three guideposts to simplify the process of scrapbooking a vacation. By keeping these points in mind you’ll set yourself up for project success:

1. Cherry-pick Your Photos – You can’t scrapbook every photo. Choose images from multiple scales, from small details to the broader landscape, that add context to the relationships represented.

2. Find Your Perfect Fit – Vacations can be incorporated into your ongoing scrapbooks or documented with a separate project. You get to choose which works best for you right now.

3. Know Your Priorities – Starting a new project might mean that another project is put on hold or stopped. Make sure to consider how scrapbooking your vacation fits into your overall plans.

Vacation Scrapbooking Project Ideas

The best approach for your project fills you will creative excitement and fits your needs in this season of life. The large range of options today means that finding a fun and practical project is nearly certain.


Layouts are of course the traditional format in scrapbooking. A vacation can be documented with a single layout, an entire album, or something in between.

Read more about this page at Deep in the Heart | Simple Scrapbook Layout.

idea for vacation scrapbook layout

Pocket Page Insert

Pocket pages, including Project Life products, offer an alternative to layouts that can be quicker to design. From a special insert to an entire album of pages, the pocket format also offers a natural solution for memorabilia-rich projects.

Read more about this page at What Happens in Vegas | Simple Scrapbook Layout.

idea for vacation pocket page

Photo Book

Photo books make an excellent choice for photo-intensive projects by further simplifying the creative experience. They make it easier to include more photos on a single page and the repetition can add substantial ease to the process.

Get step-by-step instructions for this photo book inside of The Finishing Project, one of the classes exclusively available with Simple Scrapper membership.

idea for vacation photo book

Ongoing Album

Independent of the chosen format, an ongoing album for your vacations (or a specific type of vacation) is worth considering. It creates an opportunity to deeply explore a style or format beyond your typical routine.

idea for ongoing vacation album

Mixed Paper Mini Book

Smaller mini albums are a portable solution that’s perfect for scrapbooking during a trip or vacation, or back at home if that’s your preference. The more petite size means it’s also easier to finish.

Watch a video about this project at In My Office | Vacation Album.

idea for vacation mini book

Photo Collage

Photo collages and even individual photos on social media are just as much “memory keeping” as any other format. A photo collage can sometimes capture an adventure in just the right way.

Read more about this page at Our Boston Adventure in Photos | Simple Scrapbook Layout.

idea for vacation photo collage

How to Plan Your Vacation Project

This week’s episode of Simple Scrapper Live continued the conversation about vacation scrapbooking, focusing on how to stay in the creative zone while away from home.

In the recording I share my tips for what to do before, during, and after your trip to streamline the scrapbooking process.

1. What to Focus On – It’s helpful to have a sense of your creative direction (even if it’s quite minimal) in advance of a trip. Above all though, I recommend intentionally staying in the present moment in order to best absorb details and begin to mentally identify the themes of this journey. We all sometimes need the reminder to stay part of the story instead of just a witness to it.

2. Which Supplies to Bring – The items you bring along on a trip will vary by your mode of travel and how much you intent to create while away from home. Think through each idea that sounds fun and test it for practicality. I often lean towards packing lighter to make a trip easier, relying on technology and minimalist supplies while I’m away.

3. How to Get Ready – Thinking through, planning out, and setting aside time for a project will make it easier for you to finish, but there’s one critical first step: photo management. The quantity of photos taken on a vacation is what governs the complexity and challenges of scrapbooking them. Thus, the most important step in the creative process is importing your photos and beginning to sort them.

Scrapbooking your trips and vacations doesn’t have to feel overwhelming when you choose the best project approach for your needs and make a conscious effort to focus on what matters most.

How have you scrapbooked a big adventure? Share your favorite approaches in the comments.

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Minimalist Scrapbooking with a Photo Book Series

Once a year I wonder whether I should only make photo books. They are beautiful, compact, and easy to share with others. Then I hear about a new collection from Crate Paper and that thought floats away for another 12 months.

I love my scrapbook supplies and the tactile experience of combining them with my photos and words. But some of the time, I turn to photo books to solve particular challenges in traditional scrapbooking.

Most notably, I rely on photo books when the quantity of photos feels overwhelming. This could be a vacation or a lengthier span of time. It is then when a minimalist approach to design and construction helps me feel like the project is feasible.

In this post I’m sharing how I’m using a series of 5.5″x5.5″ photo books as part of my overall memory keeping plan.

For an off-the-cuff discussion, plus Q&A, this was also my featured topic on Simple Scrapper Live. I’m embedding the recording here for you, or you can watch the full replay on Crowdcast.

After my daughter’s second birthday I recognized that my less-than-chronological approach to scrapbooking was causing a small photo backlog. It generally doesn’t bother me, because I enjoy being able to jump around and fill albums one layout or pocket page spread at a time. But, I’m not the only person who cares about these pictures.

To get more of these images into the hands of doting grandparents, I started an annual series of 5.5″x5.5″ photo books using Artifact Uprising. Each book runs from birthday to birthday and since she was born August, the timing works well for holiday gift-giving.

Photo books make big scrapbooking projects more feasible. In this post I'm sharing how an ongoing series fits into my memory keeping plans.

I primarily use photos that I’ve posted to Instagram, because Artifact Uprising can ‘slurp’ these in easily. I will supplement with photos from my DSLR or my phone as needed, but I don’t stress about making sure everything is included. I look on these books as a highlights reel, not an encyclopedia.

I’ve also made the personal choice not to include any words, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. Journaling can be added through your photo book software or even by hand directly in the book.

My favorite feature of this book series are the covers. I use a photo of my daughter’s feet on each cover, as I love the symbolism and the changes you can see through them. I imagine one day there will be a pair of heels on the cover.

Photo books make big scrapbooking projects more feasible. In this post I'm sharing how an ongoing series fits into my memory keeping plans.

Artifact Uprising is my favorite source for minimalist photo books, but I also recommend these providers: Blurb, Chatbooks, and Shutterfly.

Are photo books part of your scrapbooking repertoire? Leave a comment sharing how you have used or plan to use photo books.

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Hybrid Project Life Album Process

At the end of last year I was feeling burnt out on scrapbooking.

Don’t get me wrong, I love our community and this hobby. I’m in it for the long haul and am excited to see how our industry evolves in the decades to come. But after 8 years of creating (much of it on display for the world), I was tired of the anxiety I continued to feel.

I’m planning on digging into this further at the next Simple Scrapper Live, but I have some serious handwriting hang-ups.

While I do wholeheartedly believe in embracing imperfection, I have to be having what I call “a good handwriting day” to complete a scrapbook page. If I’m not, my brain and hands don’t work well enough together to make the letters.

This challenge has led to me creating less consistently than I really wanted. I have stories to tell and time keeps on passing.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

In this new post I’m sharing more about my decision to do hybrid Project Life pages in 2017 and the process I’m using to make spreads. I’m even including a peek at my first pages with this approach.

Why I Switched to Hybrid Project Life for 2017

In last week’s Simple Scrapper Live I shared the three reasons why hybrid scrapbooking makes sense for me in 2017. Hopefully my story above explains a little bit more about the anxiety I feel about handwriting and scrapbooking.

I’ve embedded the video here, in case you haven’t already watched the 15-minute segment.

Beyond that stress was also a need to switch things up for variety’s sake. I’d been doing pocket pages consistently since 2011, but only used my computer for the journaling a few times.

While I certainly don’t lack for Project Life supplies, when the idea for hybrid popped into my head I instantly felt relief. It just made sense in my current season of life.

How I Use Lightroom for Project Life

You don’t need to use Lightroom (or any photo management software) to do Project Life the hybrid way, but it is a key part of my process.

Step #1: Organize Assets
I started by creating a collection set for Project Life 2017 and another collection set for each month (02_February, for example). Then within that collection set I have three collections: Plan, Cards, 3×4 Photos. The Plan collection is my working folder of candidate images and supplies. Final choices get dragged to the appropriate collection for ease of printing (see Step #3).

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

Step #2: Plan Spread Design
I set up a Lightroom print template that matched Project Life Design A so that I could visually plan out my spread.

Download Project Life Design A Lightroom print template.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

(click to enlarge)

I love being able to drag photos and supplies into each cell until I get a composition I’m happy with.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

Step #3: Print Photos
With all of my assets selected, I started the process of printing. My 4×6 images were printed directly from Lightroom. My 3×4 images were collaged 2-up using a Lightroom print template and then printed from Photoshop.

Download 2-up 3×4 on 4×6 Lightroom print template.

Step #4: Export, Journal, and Print Cards
Printing of the journaling cards is similar, but requires one extra step. I started with a print template where I could collage my supplies onto an 8.5×11 canvas. These pages were exported as JPG and brought into Photoshop. I journaled directly on the large images before sending them to my printer.

Download Lightroom print template for 4×6 and 3×4 cards.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

(click to enlarge)

Tool Tip: The photos were printed on Canon 4×6 Semi-Gloss Photo Paper Plus with my Canon PIXMA Pro-100. The journaling cards were printed on Epson Double-sided Premium Presentation Paper Matte and cut apart with my Rotatrim Paper Cutter.

My 2017 Project Life Pages (So Far)

We were well into 2017 when this approach finally clicked for me. I didn’t want to get started with a new album just because the calendar turned over to January, so I waited it out.

After seeing some beautiful hybrid pages on Instagram and thinking “I wish I could have that clean look.”, I took the plunge. This spread took about 90 minutes in total.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

(click to enlarge)

I used five 4×6 photos and three 3×4 photos, along with three 4×6 cards and five 3×4 cards. All photos were from my phone and edited with Lightroom. The black and white images were also processed with RadLab using Milk and Cookies.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

My biggest surprise with this new process was how much more I typed than I would write by hand. It took me back to my days of digital scrapbooking, where I admit, I told more involved stories.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

My Ali Edwards Story Kit embellishments are some of my favorites, so being a scrapbooker, I had to add just a few to complete the page.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

It was fun to be reminded that I only need my printer in order create “patterned paper” for scrapbooking. While doing that on a large scale is not efficient, for these small pocket it makes a ton of sense.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

I see Project Life as a snapshot of our life through my eyes. My layouts will often include different perspectives, but these pages are more “mine” than the others. I’m thinking of including a selfie each month.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

I’m just as guilty as anyone about making scrapbooking more complicated than it needs to me. The simplicity of this card in particular reminded me of what I value most in this hobby.

Questions to Ask about Hybrid Project Life

My approach to creating hybrid Project Life pages in 2017 won’t be for everyone. If you’re intrigued, however, it is my hope that you pause to ask yourself why. What might need to change so that you can feel even more excited to create? Here are some good questions:

  • What reasons do you have to make a change?
  • Do you have the technical skills or are you willing to learn?
  • Is there an even-better option?

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

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How to Start Digital Scrapbooking

I recently hosted two live broadcasts on Facebook about digital scrapbooking. The first focused on the “state of the craft” and how digital fits into the larger industry. The second connected my new rules of scrapbooking to digital crafting, focusing on how the choices you make can lead to feeling unmotivated.

Both were geared more towards women who have some experience with digital scrapbooking, so I wanted to take a moment to step back and focus on how to get started with this approach. Here are some of the basics to help you start digital scrapbooking:

How to Start Digital Scrapbooking

What is digital scrapbooking?

Digital scrapbooking is the creative process of uniting photos, words, and supplies using your computer. The end result can look much like a traditional scrapbook page or quite different, depending on the scrapbooker’s tastes and preferences.

Where can I buy digital supplies?

My favorite 100% digital shops are The Lilypad and Sweet Shoppe Designs. If you like Ali Edwards, she has a variety of digital supplies as well. (If you have a favorite, leave it in the comments below.)

What software should I use for digital scrapbooking?

Most digital scrapbookers user Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Elements to create scrapbook pages. Photoshop is more sophisticated and can be purchased for as little as $9.99/month. Photoshop Elements (commonly referred to as PSE) is more user-friendly and does not require a subscription payment.

How do you use layered templates?

Layered templates are one of the best ways to get started with digital scrapbooking. The key to using digital scrapbooking templates is understanding layers and clipping masks. This video tutorial from our archives can help you get started:

Are there apps for digital scrapbooking?

Your computer is best suited for creating digital layouts, but the Project Life app is a popular solution for creating pocket-style pages.

How do you print digital pages?

Completed digital pages are generally saved as a JPG file and then printed with a mail order service like Persnickety Prints. Many digital scrapbookers prefer to print individual pages rather than waiting to print an entire bound book.

Where do you store digital items?

Digital scrapbook supplies are files, generally JPGs (digital paper) and transparent PNGs (embellishments). Thus you would store them like any other files on your computer, in folders. I prefer to store my photos, digital supplies, and digital pages separately.

What is hybrid scrapbooking?

Hybrid has always been a catch-all to mean a lot of different ways of using your computer for scrapbooking. Printing a word art overlay on a photo is technically hybrid. Today I’m seeing the most hybrid work being done with printing Project Life cards.

How does Lightroom fit into this?

Adobe Lightroom is photo management and editing software. While you can use this software to organize digital scrapbooking supplies, and even create photo books, you can’t create layered scrapbook pages with Lightroom.

How do you start digital scrapbooking?

The best way to begin is by practicing and finding additional answers as you need them. If you would like to take a class, I recommend Digital Scrapbooking for Beginners at Scrapaneers. It’s free!

Have a question about how to start digital scrapbooking? Leave a comment below.

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How I Plan to Scrapbook 2017

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.

How I Plan to Scrapbook 2017

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:

  1. What products/styles are you most excited to scrapbook with?
  2. What size/format has been most successful for you in the past?
  3. 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.

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