WPT#4: What Husbands Want You to Scrap (VIDEO)

by | Productivity Advice | 39 comments

The Weekly Pep Talk is a video podcast series designed to help you find more time for scrapbooking and use it well. Learn more in our free guide.


In this week’s episode, I’m turning the camera on my dear husband and asking for his honest opinion about scrapbooking. He really tells it like it is!Β Subscribers may need to visit the website to view the video.

Your Weekly Pep Talk

It’s your turn to talk! Do you agree or disagree with my husband?Β Also, what would your spouse, significant other or best friend say about your scrapbooking?

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  1. Donna Cohrs

    I agree! The pictures should be the focal point! I am not good at journaling but, the LO should provide some history or a story to the photo. I also like making what I call Art, that is just 1 or 2 photos with the embellishments to bring them out. These are the ones I like to print and put in frames. We should keep our stories with the LO’s , as we all know, we ARE the Memory Keepers!

  2. Aimeslee

    Jennifer, tell your hubby I think he is 150% correct. 30-50 years from now, NOBODY looking at our scrapbooks is gonna care squat whether the paper was My Minds Eye or had chevrons on it or that there is no journaling because it would harsh the style trend mellow. WAKE UP, scrappers! Photos and journaling will be what your loved ones want to see. Imagine finding your great-grandmother’s album in the attic from 1899 and there are no names, dates or journaling, only tiny pictures and a lot of artistic decorations. Would YOU feel cheated and frustrated? Thanks for letting me voice my opine, xoxo.

  3. Ingunn

    Love it – the male Stacy Julian! πŸ˜€

    A couple of years after I started scrapbooking, I sat down and looked through all the the pages in my albums. Even though only a year or two had passed since I made them, the “artsy” pages seemed totally meaningless to me. I decided then and there that I didn’t want to end up with 700 albums full of those one-photo, wordless layouts, so now I always focus on the stories and pictures first.

    (The writing and design gives me just as much of a creative/therapy outlet as an artsy page, anyway!)

  4. Jewely

    Spot on! I have to admit I’m guilty of taking a LOT of photos, and then using templates with about 20-30 photos on a 12×12 page!!! I am very good about journaling – in fact, my husband used to complain I did too much journaling (yah, I’ve left him – ha!). I want to point out one other thing – JOURNAL SOME IN YOUR OWN HANDWRITING WHETHER YOU THINK IT’S GOOD OR NOT!!! I read the handwritten diaries my grandma left me of her life from the time she was 18 – I can’t even begin to stress how wonderful it is to see her handwriting – I can almost hear her voice, even 20 years after she’s gone… it will mean something to your descendants if you do some journaling in your own handwriting!

  5. Raquel

    I absolutely agree with Steve! I had so much Scrapbooking stuff and had to have all the latest and greatest goodies from all these great companies, that I became too overwhelmed with all of it. I focused too much on all the embellishments and latest trends that my scrapbooks don’t really tell stories. I have since, gotten rid of so much of my Scrapbooking supplies. Now with my first child on the way, I want to get back into memory keeping, but focus more on the stories behind the images. Finding a good balance between story telling and still being able to get creative with a page is what I will be focusing on. There are some great scrapbookers out here that achieve that well. Thanks for the video. It’s nice to have a male perspective, in a female dominate hobby! πŸ™‚

  6. SWJenn

    Thank you Jen’s hubby for telling it true! It’s the stories that matter, the photos are windows on the story. So photos and journaling are primary, everything else is extra. I’ve started on a “book of me” project recording stories from my childhood so when I’m gone or no longer remember, the story won’t be lost. Thanks for the reminder to pay more attention to the journaling, it’s not my strong point and needs to be!

  7. SusanDR

    Wow! Steve nailed it! I love that he “gets it” and understands what scrapbooking should be all about. My husband and kids feel the same way, yet sometimes I get so caught up in the creating that I loose sight of the real purpose of what I am doing. All the fancy pages in the magazines and on blogs are there for a purpose – to sell product. I am so glad I have given myself permission to do what is really important to me and my family – to record our stories with our photos. Thanks Steve for your candid insight.

  8. Georgia

    First, it is so great to have a husband that supports your scrapbooking. Mine does as well. I totally agree with him. If I use an idea from a “one tiny picture, tons of embellishment” design, I scale it down to add more pictures and larger pictures. Journaling and including imperfect pictures do a better job of telling the story than a cute design. My Dad died 3 years ago tomorrow. I have a photo of him and my daughter that is blurry and reddened. It was a film photo that was somehow damaged in the taking or processing. But it is of him drying her hair to get her ready for her 6th birthday. It is PROUDLY displayed in her birthday album…beautiful memory not lost because of a standard of perfection.

  9. Deborah Patton

    What a great idea from a man’s perspective! You guys are aweome and I am so glad I found two great scrappers~!

  10. Janet

    I agree w/him totally! I don’t like layouts that have a tiny photo surrounded w/gobs of elements in one corner of a mostly plain page. Sometimes they will include a name or a date, but the person in the photograph is barely noticeable. And where’s the story?!?!?! Becuz of the pretty elements, the page may be attractive, but it’s not doing its job.

  11. Pamage

    what a cute and sweet husband to do this. I love this. I think he is soooo right.

  12. melanie

    Thank you Steve! I agree completely. My husband has made the same comment. He has mentioned he prefers my pages where there are bigger photos to go with my journaling. I would even go so far as to say tiny photos in a sea of embellishments is a pet peeve of his. So glad you shared your thoughts!

  13. Vonda

    I agree with Steve – I think family scrapbooking (the type we see most often on-line, etc.) should be about displaying photos and journaling an an artful way – not the other way around. In fact I think a lot of ladies miss the opportunity to scrapbook with their scrapbooking because they are so focused on techniques and even perfectly cropped photos. BUT, I realize tons of people don’t agree with my definition of scrapbooking and really do think of it first and foremost as an art escape. And you know what I bet those “artsy” layouts with small pictures of feet that mom spent all of that time on will have meaning to that family.

  14. HeatherGreenwood

    totally agree!!! This is why I do Project Life, but also do art journaling and other things for the art of scrapping and also for the therapy it is for me as an ADHD mama who needs the creative outlet to help me focus!!! So… I basically do Project Life for the memory keeping and everything else I do is for me, and most of them I don’t even print, I just keep them on the computer to look back at like I would a physical journal

  15. Nancy

    I totally agree that scrapbooking should be about storytelling (Stacy Julian philosophy)…..the main focus should be passing on our stories.

    On the other hand, I love the whole creativity of making a page….. tying together all the elements….working with colors, embellishments, techniques, etc….coming from a graphics perspective. You can get caught up worrying about what things to use on your page but I try to keep it simple…..less is more…..which then lessens our need for perfectism . Again…our page is about telling the story.

    As for having small photos…well I have many from my family’s albums…the ones taken from the 30’s up through the 70’s were smaller back then compared to the 4 X 6 size we use now. I want to use them as is to tell my family stories….maybe grouping them together on a page so they don’t get lost on a page.

  16. Jenn

    Loved this! I feel the same way & my pages have very little embellishing. Partly because trying to “make it pretty” always leaves me feeling overwhelmed (too many choices!), but mostly because in the end, I just don’t care about that stuff! My grandmother left me a couple of scrapbooks and the pages simply have photos with either names or just a sentence underneath. I still adore it, and my only “complaint” is that I wish there was more detail. But I am thankful that I can see her photos and that I have her handwriting to go with them.

    I also really liked what your husband had to say about the photos not needing to be perfect. I am SO guilty of taking 50+ photos within a very short period of time and then sifting through to find the ‘perfect’ image. My one little word this year is “simplify” and one of the things I put under that was simplifying my idea of what the perfect photo really is. I am working on changing my definition from something complex (needing the focus, lighting, framing, etc to be exactly right) to something simple (needing the photo to show a real moment from our lives). I’ve slowed down a bit on taking a ton of photos, and forced myself to put away the camera after a couple and just really be in the moment with my family. Because I have noticed in the past that I will have many beautiful photos from an event, but very few memories of doing anything but taking photos. In trying to document every little thing, I forgot to take part in any of it! That was hard to swallow when I realized it!

    Thanks to your husband for participating, he was exactly right (in my opinion). This week I am taking his advice and filling up some journal cards to put next to some larger photos! πŸ™‚

  17. Edie

    Wow- so true! How do you stay focused on the photos and stories when many blogs, magazines, etc. show the artsy pages with small photos ???

  18. Trish

    I agree with your husband. I have seen some really cute LO with a tiny little picture in it and I too wonder what is the point. We now have a grandchild which has put a whole new joy to digital scrapbooking and I did a couple of LO using a quick page and the pictures are so small my son has commented on it and stated it is so small to really see her. So while I love QPages once in awhile, your husband is spot on. I love that you interviewed him and we got an idea from a male perspective. Is that the Menards in Franklin, Wisconsin? I live in Franklin, WI?

    • Steve

      No, we live in central Illinois.

  19. Kay

    I agree 100%! I have resisted the trend toward globbing embellishments around a single picture on a page. I think it looks messy and doesn’t emphasize the photo or the story that goes with it. Clean and simple is the way I like it!

  20. RobinM

    I use to sell Creative Memories and I’ve said this for 15 years….the pages are cute and all and some people can really WOW you with their design but I’ve always told my customers that it’s about enhancing their photos and making their photos stand out, not about how cute your design is. In my opinion, when I walk away from a scrapbook and all I can tell you is how cute the paper and embellishments are I think that the scrapbooker has completely missed the point of scrapbooking their memories. Enhance, not over power!

  21. Lauren Madsen

    He is so right! I agree with everything he said! I have had moments (especially when I first began digi scrapping) where I wanted to “fit in” with the style I saw others using. And there were times where I felt a tug between “fitting in” and my style (which is using big photos and showcasing them rather than showcasing a product). I am sad when I see a page I created with no story. A title, but nothing explaining what is going on. In addition, because I am a photographer of sorts I like to showcase my best work as a photographer. Not necessarily the photos with a story to be told. So he gave me some things to think about and I thank you both :)!

  22. Donna Penn

    I also agree with your husband. I hate it when I have to “search” for the photo on a layout because it is lost among all the embellishments.

  23. Clutterconqueror

    Agree 100 percent! And I would also say, don’t crop out the backgrounds. I love seeing the old furniture or other houses on the block, an old garden, wallpaper, etc.

  24. Stephanie Medley-Rath

    Awesome! I did a google reader purge a few months ago and unsubscribed to a number of blogs that mostly showcased the one photo and a bunch of embellisment style layouts. It’s a bunch of product on a layout and helps expand the inlinkz at the end of the post–artistic or not (did I say that out loud?). I’m at the point where I am making 2+ albums per year. I don’t want them full of product, but full of stories. Now, that being said, I made a one-photo layout yesterday with some stuff. I tried a couple of new techniques on the layout. I used up some of my stash. I get a lot of satisfaction out of using up the stuff I already own and including multiple photos on a layout. I definitely prefer multiple photos on a layout. I also like them a bit larger, though my favorite size is 4×4.

  25. Molly

    How wonderful of your husband to do this video!! I agree with him. It’s about the photo, not the stuff. I sometimes cringe when I look back at some of my old collages because I put so many magazine cutouts on and around my favorite photos. Who knows what will be on-trend years from now and I’d hate to cringe when I look at my favorite photos because I chose to cover them in geotags and wood veneer!

  26. Lynne Moore

    Oooh, I guess I may be sort of the stand out. At first I was getting really pissed off by Steve’s comments. Maybe because it is so “male” and totally dismisses the beauty of scrapbooking (and I don’t mean the frilly/embellishy beauty), that of it being an expression- not a utilitarian – adventure.

    I calmed down a bit by the end. His opinion is good and valid. For it to hold value, there is always a need for context and that would be in the journal/story. And being able to see the detail or to use the imperfect photo (I use them a lot! i prefer the real to the perfect) is a good practice.

    But I don’t scrapbook to just leave a legacy of family stories (important as it may be). I do it to keep sane and if sanity today means a 3×4 picture today and a 3 page layout with 10 event photos the next. That is the way I will scrapbook and I will not be told it is unworthy.

    The bonus is that it will leave a lasting legacy and history for my family. However I choose do it.

  27. Margaret

    This video was so refreshing and I totally agree. I began with creative memories and the idea was to get as many pictures on the page as you could. with a little journaling. I couldn’t do that so quit and joined stampin up groups. They encouraged journaling and my friends couldn’t believe how much I journaled. I want to remember the pictures and the stories. Love to write and journal. Have even kept journals. Thank you for sharing this Jennifer.

  28. Katherine M

    Right on Steve!! I really love lots of photos and larger photos on my pages and, since I am a total embellishment dork, I don’t get much on the pages beyond the journaling. The funny thing is I am doing this for me (yep, I’m selfish that way) because 1) the family could not care any less about the scrapbooks I’m working on, and 2) I like the messy artsy stuff but fail miserably in the execution of the artsy scrapbook style, and, finally, 3) I really wish I had stories written down for the genealogy albums my Mom was starting to put together with old family photos she discovered in one of my Grandparent’s trunks after cleaning out their house. I don’t want my family wondering who all these people I took photos of were and even though I am not that great at ‘designing’ a page I still plunk those pics down and write as much as I can about them. I feel better for the “creative time” and for the little bit of family history I’ve managed to scrape together.

    Oh and one more thought – Art, sewing, painting, scrapbooking, stitching, crocheting, knitting, etc are all cheaper than therapy and much more fun!
    ; )

  29. Rhonda H

    I loved hearing from Steve! And I agree with him. After years of trying for perfection on my scrapbook pages, I have come to realize several things. Like Steve said, the family won’t care what kind of patterned paper I used. The story is more important than the embellishments. And if you have ALBUMS and ALBUMS of one-photo layouts, that would require A LOT OF SHELF SPACE.

    HOWEVER………. I have a degree in art. Which simultaneously complicates and enriches my scrapbook experience. For me, scrapbooking has a twofold purpose. The first purpose is memory keeping. Photos and stories. Second, it is my creative outlet, and more pointedly, my therapy.

    After taking many classes from Stacy Julian, I have come to a balance. I evaluate each layout and “embellish accordingly”. Most of my layouts have lots of 4×6 photos. It is quicker to use a ready made size, and it is a size in which you can see details. I also create “fun”pages with just a few photos and lots of product. It works for me.

  30. Rhonda H

    After reading Lynne Moore’s comment, I have to ask. Does Steve have a hobby? Is it “practical”?

  31. Fawn Carriker

    As a recovering “naked scrapper” who still prefers 4X6 photos and journaling on black pages, I love what Steve had to say. I use the CTMH papers (and also sell them), but keep my embellishments etc very sparse, and focus on my photos. Right on, Steve! – Fawn

  32. Dani

    I really like the idea of hearing male thoughts of scrapbooking because their minds work so different from ours. I agree about the larger photos, but I think we can have a balance between memory keeping and art creations because we know how much it feels good to just let the criativity flows.

  33. Jen

    I think that’s so interesting! And now I want to go ask the same thing of my husband. But I already have a good idea of what he’d say.

    He’d be totally on board with minimal embellishments. He’s a minimalist in other areas, so that’s just what he likes asthetically. But I do have to say, the only scrapbook that he looks at with any regularity is a tiny 7×7 blurb book. He thinks my 8.5×11 scrapbooks filled with 8×8 digital pages are too big and bulky to look at regularly. (12 x 12 albums are just way beyond either of our aesthetics). I think his ideal scrapbooks would be little phonebooks.

    But I’m not scrapping for him, or to leave a legacy. I’m scrapping because it’s fun and exciting to record our lives. it helps my mental health. And I love pretty pixels πŸ™‚

    Having said that, when I’m scrapping specifically for him, I keep his aesthetic in mind. His favorite page I’ve ever done was a page with one photo and a lot of journaling. No elements at all.

    Thanks Jennifer and Steve for sharing this unique look into the brain of a dude πŸ™‚

    • Jennifer Wilson

      You’re welcome! I think most husbands would agree – whether they’re minimalist or not – that the products really are just for us.

  34. Francisca

    I just wanted to say that I really loved this video! I love his view on scrapbooking and I love the fact that he was willing to do this video with you!

    • Jennifer Wilson

      So glad. You can see him again in WPT #27, The Stories That Husbands Value.

  35. Steffanie S

    Right on! Steve is so right on so many points. I think the one that really hit home with me though is striving for that perfect photo and in the process losing the reality of the moment. I am so guilty of trying to get that perfect photo and then having to wade through hundreds and them on my pc and even then, still editing it before printing. I think I do a good job of using larger photos and using more than one but could put a little more into the story-telling. Thank you, Steve. Great advice and so, so true…everything you said!

    • Jennifer Wilson

      I’ll pass along the kudos!


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