How to Decide Which Photos to Print for Your Scrapbooking

by | Digital Photography Tips | 15 comments

A version of this post was originally published January 10, 2012.

Printing photos is one of those sticky spots in memory keeping. It is a place where scrapbookers can get stuck if you don’t have a game plan.

In this post I want to give you a work-backwards approach that will help you more easily and quickly decide which photos to print.

Selecting Photos to Print for Scrapbooking

1. Don’t print everything. In this day and age, there is little need to print all of your photos. Even if you’re not a scrapbooker at all, your photo album should include carefully chosen images that represent your life. The rest can be stored digitally. So before you try to make it ‘easy’ on yourself by just printing all your photos, I beg you to not to do that.

2. Consider the final medium first. Because printing is something we can do again and again, I find it helps to select several use cases for your photos first. Then, work from there. Have specific end-locations for your images in mind when determining which stories will be told and thus, which photos will be printed. Will they go in frames, in divided page protectors, in a mini album, on a multi-photo page or a single photo page?

3. Look for the juicy stories. If you’re like me, you have a lot of ‘pretty’ photos. Those are the ones that should go in frames, rotating in and out, if needed. It is often the images that are less technically correct, less perfect that are more meaningful. Select images for your scrapbooking based on the emotions they invoke and the stories that pop to mind.

4. Decide on a rough design. For each use case, which is essentially a project, determine how many photos you will need. Use this number to narrow down your favorite images. If you get stuck, remember #3 to help you pick between choice A or choice B. Select a few more than you think you need, in case you change your mind later.

4b. If your photos are not already edited to your preferred degree (which could be none at all), now is the time to do that. If your images were already edited, you can skip this step.

5. Outline the sizing. Not every project will need 4×6 images nor will cropping down always work. If your project will need particular sizes, now is the time to do some cropping on the computer. Often, I find it easiest and more cost effective to print a selection of smaller images on one 8×10 print, which is a standard size.

6. Print. Whether you print at home or send them out, working systematically through each needed use of photos will make sure you print the right number and sizes without getting overwhelmed or stuck with too many photos!

Do you have a different system for deciding which photos to print? Share it in the comments.

Before you can print photos, you need to know where they are and what you have. In Photo Crush, a new free event at Simple Scrapper, you’ll start to take control of your photo library in just 7 days.

Did you find this post helpful?

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  1. Amalia

    Hi! I have a folder on my year album (eg. 2011 ) that reads “For printing – 2011. Then a folder for each month of the year, and I’ve impossed myself a 20 picture limit per month. This way, I get the most beautiful and important pictures of each month, unless there is a special date (eg. birthday, mothers and fathers day, xmas).

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Having a rough limit helps, so you are forced to focus on which photos really speak to you.

  2. Luisa

    I used to print all the pictures, even without editing… Now my process is:
    1) Rename them before anything. I always put the date first the name: 2012-01-10 Aunt Hilda BD Party.
    2) Upload them to picasa, delete the ones I don’t like at this time.
    3) Edit and crop them.
    4) Decide which one will go into:
    – Project 12 layouts
    – Project Life Albums
    – Individual Layouts (I normally enlarge this ones or add effects, like a border, convert to black & white or sephia, etc.)
    – Save the others in External Drive
    The first 3 categories are then exported to my USB in their particular order.
    My goal is to print them (at costo) every week or at least every other week.

  3. Nat

    It took me so long to get through my last boxes of 35mm prints and I had to throw away so many extra copies that it cured me of ever overprinting again. I never print photos until I have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to use them for and only print what I need.

  4. Honoré

    I generally select photos for repro – print or use in a blog post – based on purpose…and then edit/go from there. Probably not very efficient use of my time …

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Being purpose-based is totally a good use of your time, but it does help to consider other factors to make the narrowing-down part easier.

  5. Kate aka stinkydudette

    I don’t print my photos unless I want to scrap or use them for PL. I delete multiples of the same theme, cos no one wants to look at a dog eating in all 17 frames. I also delete blurry ones, cos it just adds clutter. I edit my photos when I’m ready to use them.

    ETA: What photo printer is featured there?

    • Jennifer

      I believe its an Epson Picturemate. (The photo is a stock image, not one I took personally.)

      These compact printers are becoming more and more capable. I just bought my parents one of the new Canon Selphy machines and hope to provide a review of it sometime this year.

      • JoyceB

        I was going to ask about the printer myself…looking forward to more information about it! Thanks, Jennifer…..

  6. Trish S.

    Thank you for this article! My next issue is deciding the best way
    to print out the pictures (home printer or printing service). Also,
    which home printers & printing services are the best &I most cost effective? Thank you!

    • Jennifer

      Printing at home is always more expensive, you pay for the convenience of ‘right now’. I’ve been really satisfied printing photos for scrapbooking at my local Sam’s Club. I have digital layouts printed with Persnickety, because I don’t mind waiting for those (though they are super quick).

      • Vivian Kendall

        I am wondering what program you use to make digital layouts? I really like Persnickity too and was excited to read your review of them, I too have found them to be quick and so helpful by phone!!
        I have really benefited from my Simple Scrapper membership!! Thank you!!

        • Jennifer Wilson

          I use Photoshop or Photoshop Elements to create digital layouts. Elements can be purchased for < $100 and Photoshop is available along with the photo management software Lightroom for $9.99/month.

    • Nat

      I print all of mine at home because I like having the on-demand control, I print lots of crazy sizes, and I tend to change my mind. I try to keep the price down by comparison shopping for cartridges and paper. Re printers, I’ve had a lot of luck with HP Photo Printers. I had one for 10 years but it finally died and I’m testing a new one.

  7. Michelle Gentry

    I save all my pictures in a folder and labeled with the date. When it’s time to use them, I pick which ones will go with whatever theme I am going to use that week. The rest stay in that dated folder.

    I save them all and them burn a monthly CD and place it in my scrapbook/journal to show those were the pictures taken for that month. That way you never lose a picture even if it wasn’t placed onto your pages.



  1. CraftCrave | Blog | Scrapbooking Tutorials (large): Wednesday, 11 Jan 2012 - [...] How to Decide Which Photos to Print – 1 freebie(s)? [...]
  2. How to Decide Which Photos to Print for Your Scrapbooking – Scrap Booking - […] Source: How to Decide Which Photos to Print for Your Scrapbooking – Simple Scrapper […]

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