Digital Scrapbooking For Yourself Or The People You Love
Welcome to episode 21 of The Photo Flunky Show.
We explore Lee's love of scrapbooking and how you can get started with your own creations. Use them for photo books, gift cards and more. We also share some resources to help you get some free and low cost templates for your own projects. Check out the Related Links below.
Get tutorials, software, print services and more help to get started with digital scrapbooking.
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PHOTO FLUNKY: Episode 21
Welcome to the Photo Flunky Show, Episode number twenty-one.
On today’s episode we’re going to be talking about preserving your memories with digital scrapbooking.
Hi, welcome to the Photo Flunky Show. I’m William Beem.
Lee: Hi, I’m Lee.
William: Today you can find show notes available at williambeem.com/episode21. You can also get a transcript of the show there for free. I also want to mention that the show is available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio. If you want links to those, go to photoflunky.com. You’ll see some links right there. While you’re on the link for iTunes, it wouldn’t hurt you to subscribe. We would really appreciate it and also we would love to get your honest rating and review.
One more thing. We’re expecting that Google Play Music Podcast (now there’s a mouthful!) … Google Play Store has been advertising or trying to request podcasts for people since October of last year. Rumor has it that they are going to go live on April 18th. This show is going to come out two days later and I’ve already submitted and I’ve got my notice back that we’re going to be accepted. So if you’ve got an Android device and you’re going to be looking for podcasts on Google Play or you know someone who has an Android device and is going to be looking for podcasts, that may be the place to go. So by all means try and look for the Photo Flunky Show on Google Play Music Podcast.
Alright, that’s just a mouthful. I can’t spit all of that out all at once, but I am limited in certain ways!
OK, today we’re going to be talking about digital scrapbooking and one of the things I was really curious about is, if you’re going to get started with it, a lot of people talk about creating a photo book; particularly when they have been traveling or there has been some kind of an event you want to get maybe a series of photos. You want to share them with people or you want to keep them as memories. I use a website. Some people use a site called exposure.co. That’s a really popular photo story telling site.
I use my own theme, it’s at wbeem.com and I’ve got a couple of my travel things up there. I need to update it and do some more, but a lot of people like to have something printed in their hand to keep their memories.
So Lee, let me get started off asking you this. How is digital scrapbooking different for you, rather than creating a photo book? You’ve got memories that you want to keep. Why did you decide to go this route?
Lee: I’ve always loved scrapbooking. I kind of like the 3D feel to it. I liked doing it in its traditional paper form with all the bits and pieces and I fell in love with photo books once they became available and I started making them. So I wanted to bring some of that into the digital photo books.
Now the difference between digital scrapbooking and a photo book is that you always print a photo book. You don’t necessarily have to print your digital scrapbook. You can actually have it as an online digital scrapbook that never gets printed and you can share it online.
William: So when you way online, you’re talking out on a web page someplace or just something that’s on your computer that you can go and review there, or both?
Lee: Both really, because a lot of these digital scrapbook creation sites – if you’re going to do it through a site that lets you build it – they’ll give you a link where you can share it and you can share it publicly or you can share it with friends, share it on Facebook, via email or whatever it may be and your friends can go in and view the digital scrapbooks.
So it’s actually quite a big thing for those people who are in it. There is a lot to offer and it caters for pretty much every taste.
William: Well, visually I’ve seen and worked with creating a book both in Aperture and Lightroom, so I kind of know how the layouts work there. If you’re looking at this, whether you are going through the layout process or you’re just looking at someone else’s digital scrapbook, visually, what’s kind of the difference between the two?
Lee: I think digital scrapbooks have more layered things on. You’re getting that three dimensional feel to it. For example, if you were making a photo book you might take a traditional layout or put your own layout there and for example choose to put three photos on the page. So you’ve got two little square ones and then you’ve got one portrait orientation one; you might put a bit of text underneath it and you could choose a color or a texture for a background. It just depends what is offered in the photo building tool that you’re using.
With a digital scrapbook, to me scrapbooking is all about building up the layers. So you’d be putting on frames, you’d be putting on embellishments, like some bows and buttons and maybe some little bits and pieces and trinkets, torn up paper around the edges and it kind of gives that very three dimensional feel to it.
William: So it’s more of a crafted experience, I guess, when you’re looking at it, than what you would see in a photo book?
Lee: It really is. I think you know scrapbooking – I was into scrapbooking in its traditional form and I like to sit with my scissors and my glue, cutting things out and making things to stick in the big 3D chunky format. The problem with that is – it’s not so much a problem – but it’s more time consuming.
It’s also very untidy and very messy. It takes up a lot of space. There are advantages to being able to build a digital scrapbook and you can actually incorporate your digital creations into a traditional scrapbook and still add the little 3D things on and the embellishments in there. So maybe we’ll discuss that a little bit later as well.
William: Alright, so is this the kind of thing that you know in advance of an event or a trip or something like that, that I’m going to create a scrapbook? Do you prepare for it while you’re taking your shots or do you just go and take the shots that you’re normally going to take and then come home and say, “Hmm, that could work in a scrapbook”?
I mean what’s the workflow and process? I always kind of think in those kind of terms like, how do I get from A to B and I’m probably taking all the creativity out of it and putting too much logic into it.
Lee: It’s a bit of both because I came from a scrapbook background for so long, by the time I got into photography, scrapbooking had long since been part of my life.
So when I discovered that I could do this digitally I wasn’t just taking photos to stick into a scrapbook. I was actually taking photos to use as backgrounds, things that I could maybe cut out in some sort of software and use them as little embellishments and elements.
William: OK, so when you say you’re looking for backgrounds, are you going on a trip and then you see something and think this will be a good background that I can composite other things on top of it? Or give me an example of something that was a background that you liked for one of your scrapbooks.
Lee: OK, for example, I think it was a summer time vacation trip and I had my daughter running around playing and I turned and looked and there were these beautiful – it was beautiful lush vegetation with these big red flowers and I thought, you know what? Take a few photos of these. And I just messed around with it. I took some close up shots, I took some wider shots and sometimes you want to fade them out, you want to have them very, what do you call it? Transparent!
Other times you might want to cut something out, like maybe take one of the flowers and stick it into the corner of a photo frame on top of it and I don’t necessarily use everything. I take a lot of photos that I never use, but I like to have them and I’ve got a portable hard drive that’s dedicated to scrapbook bits and pieces.
William: So even if you didn’t use it for the scrapbook that you were planning, you may be able to use it for something else?
Lee: I may be able to use it for something else. So the idea is to have things collected and sorted so you can find them.
William: So you’re keeping kind of a library of things that you can use in either a current scrapbook that you’re planning or on something in the future?
Lee: I am, yes.
William: So what are you looking for? Are you looking for things that evoke a memory? Are you looking for colors or textures?
Lee: I look for all of that because they all have a place. I like to have a variety of colors because I’m not one to choose one color theme to go consistently throughout a book. Every double page spread of mine has a completely different theme and often I’ll have the left and right page with complementary colors or vastly contrasting colors. So I tend to go a little bit on the gaudy side. That’s just my personal style.
I know some people prefer the more stylish look of having things a bit cleaner and if you were doing that, then yes, you would pick your color palette and maybe look for things to fit within that. I do plan to use things for a scrapbook. As far as the shots that I’m taking of the scene or the place where I’m visiting or the people there, the events – whatever the case may be – I just take those pictures as usual because those are going to kind of fit into their frame or into their page as they would anywhere.
William: OK, so let’s say that this is something you’ve done on a vacation and later on you’re going to create a scrapbook. You know that you’re going to take photos of your daughter or something you’ve experienced along the way. Those are things that can stand alone by themselves.
Lee: They can, yes. And that would be great in a photo book.
William: But then on top of that you’re going to be looking for things that will be elements, as you call them. So give me an example of what are elements that you are going to put into a scrapbook?
Lee: For example, 4th of July we were in one of the Disney parks a couple of years ago and they had these beautiful little, like rosettes with all the red, white and blue and little – I don’t even remember what they had – but they had bows and the details were so beautiful. And I took a lot of close up shots of those.
Some of them were to feature as photos within the scrapbook and others I thought, you know if I ever wanted to do a 4th of July theme and cut them out as elements or embellishments I could do that.
William: And that’s the part I’m trying to drive into. We’re talking about when you’re making the pages and you’re saying you’re adding elements. So you’ve got the photo that’s going to be the feature.
William: And then you’ve got a frame around that so when you say elements, is it like a photo that you’ve cut out of those flowers for example as an element that’s going to be like an embellishment somewhere on the page?
Lee: Yeah, it might just be a flower. You’ve cut out the flower and you’ve got it saved as a png file so you’ve got the transparent background. It’s literally like you’ve pulled a flower out and stuck it on top of the frame or the page, or wherever you wanted to put it.
William: OK, so you’ve gotten down to the part where you’ve taken your photos, you’ve gotten back from either the event or the travel or whatever you’re going to do. What’s next? Are you looking at your software choices you’re going to put this together with or are you going to start looking at photos thinking what can I pull out? Like is it like you’re looking through them almost in a lightbox? What’s your next step once you get home?
Lee: I tend to first of all try and make a separate folder for the photos which I’d like to have featured in the scrapbook or the photo book or whatever I’m doing. So I’ll pick out my favorite pictures. After that I’ll lay them out on various pages and I might do it chronologically if it was for example a vacation or a trip. I might do it according to themes or a beach day or whatever it is. It could be a birthday and I sort of sort them and just really plan how I’m going to feature them through the book. Then I pick my colors and usually the colors in the photos themselves are going to have some affect on the background colors and the detail colors that I’m going to put in there.
William: OK, so you mentioned that sometimes it’s chronological, which means that other times it’s not. Are you looking at these are the memories of my trip and then saying here’s the day that was travel, here’s a day that was at the beach? Basically, you know what photos you want. Now you’ve got to build something. Are you doing some kind of story telling with the order that you lay it out in? What’s the though process that’s going through your head?
Lee: Sometimes there’s not one! I think that’s the beauty of being creative because I was there. I know what order things happened and unless there’s a logical order where things should feature to flow, it really doesn’t matter. You put it in the way you want to have it in. So I might have day six as the first page because it looks like a great start to the book and then have day five and choose to rip up scraps of paper and take a photo of them and cut them out where I’ve hand written the dates and just stick that somewhere on the page.
William: Well there are certain things that you do every day. For example, if you’re going on vacation you’re going to have food every day. You may not necessarily want to say OK this day is everything I went through chronologically. You may have a section, I’m guessing, like here’s some of the food that we had on our trip.
Lee: Yep. And there’s usually a food feature!
William: Yeah, if I were doing this there would be a food feature, I’m sure. I guess that’s what I’m kind of trying to picture in my mind is when you’re putting this together, it isn’t necessarily about “this is the order in which we experienced it”, it’s “these are the memories that we have.”
So if you’re talking about a trip to Disney, you might be thinking these are the fireworks we saw on this section, these are the rides that we were one, here’s the food that we had.
Lee: That’s it. And I’ve done a lot of Disney scrapbook style photo books which I’ve printed.
I’ve also done some traditional photo books where I’ve printed some things and put photos in and used the purchased hard bound scrapbooks, but sometimes I’ve done it by park; sometimes I’ve had a travel and transportation page and it might be – you know, Disney’s got their own wide network of transportation; we took a flight to get there many times in the past – so it might have had something to do with our travel day on the way and on the way home. We tend to strike some adventures on our journeys with all kinds of weird things and it sometimes makes a good story in a scrapbook.
William: I guess that’s the other nice part about it. You can include what you want and you can exclude the things that you maybe don’t add something to the story or maybe it’s just that we went here from there; it doesn’t really sound exciting.
Lee: Absolutely. And another thing that I do with photo scrap books is they make wonderful gifts. So for example, I know that we had a birthday celebration in advance of somebody’s milestone birthday once and I put together photos from the event and their birthday was a few weeks later and I was able to make (it was a lot of pressure because these things are time consuming!) but I actually made a scrapbook and that was their birthday gift from me.
William: I think that is a good point because it’s not just necessarily about your own experiences, your own travels. This is something where if you’re documenting somebody else or at least they think you’re just in there taking pictures and then one day you show up and say, “By the way, here’s a book. This is your life experience. At least as I saw it.”
Lee: That’s it.
William: And that sounds like a lovely gift.
Lee: I think what I love about scrapbooking – and I don’t want to say instead of photo booking, because with photo books you can get the best of both worlds with both – I like that it has such a personal touch. You know, in a scrapbook, you’re going to put something in there that’s yours. You’re going to put your own take on it.
You can actually use an auto builder and put your photos in and have a software tool build your photo book for you and some of them do a really good job. I mean they are absolutely beautiful. But you don’t have to put a personal touch in aside from the photos that you’ve taken.
William: So if you’re someone who’s just starting off, you’ve never created a scrapbook before, what would you recommend for someone to get started? I mean, would they use like a template or something that was an auto builder and then as they grow and experience things, start moving things on their own? Or do you recommend they start off saying “Here’s a blank page. Go to town and see what you make”?
Lee: I think I would suggest using some auto layouts or some auto builders. My absolute favorite website is called mymemories.com. Maybe you can put a note in the show notes. I’ll give you the link for that. I just like it because they’ve got so much stuff on there and they’ve got anything from background papers to embellishments, alphabets as well. Just be warned with alphabets, when you’re writing something out, each letter is a separate element so you are going to be dropping and dragging and aligning everything yourself.
William: Oh, so it’s like an image for each letter?
Lee: Each letter is its own image. But you know what? That’s part of the beauty of it because someone like me – I’ve got a very haphazard style – I’m not going to write them in a straight line. I’ve got them kind of all jumbled and kind of falling over each other when I’m putting in there “Summer 2016”. It’s going to be everywhere!
William: So sort of like Tom Sawyer’s Island then?
Lee: Yeah. But that website has little sections where you can get things for 99c. They’ve got packages, they’ve got a freebie section where you can download some freebies, which is actually a great place to start. I’ve done both. I have a lot of freebies from that site. They don’t stay there forever. They stay there for a while, you download them and they go away and new things come up. It’s kind of like Netflix.
And they’ve also got the full priced things, none of which I think cost more than $10-$12 and you’re getting a full kit. And these are very talented people there. They [the designs] are absolutely beautiful. So you do not have to go into the trouble of learning and making your own. That’s something that sometimes follows as you get into it and you start wanting to create things that are very unique or to suit yourself.
William: OK, so you’ve got resources that you can get from a site like mymemories.com, you’ve got the photos that you’ve taken and you maybe are cutting some of those out. How are you building this? What software are you using? Is this something that you’re going to be doing in Photoshop or have you got other tools?
Lee: There are various tools you can use to do them. Now I would suggest that Photoshop is going to be a great tool to do this if you know how to use it. I have been terribly lazy and I’ve never used Photoshop for it. It just looked like a whole lot of hard work and that’s just because I’ve got comfortable using something else before I had Photoshop.
My go-to is software called PhotoScape, which is I guess a very simple knock off of the early Photoshop or Photoshop elements, but it really lets me do anything that I want to do. It’s quick. There’s no lag, you can save your photos as jpegs and you can get on with it. It gives you quite a lot of versatility.
You can also add on or put in png images without losing the background. There are some pieces of software where you’re working with them and you actually lose that and you get like a black square around it. So that’s the beauty of that one.
For making elements I haven’t really done my own for a long time. I sort of made some and I’ve got a little collection of them. I used to use Photoshop Elements. And I think that was the only thing I ever used it for and that’s why I bought it. I used it to do my cut-outs so that I had the transparent background and I was able to save it as a png. But there are various tools. I would suggest if you are proficient with Photoshop or if you want to learn, that is probably the smartest way to do it. But it’s not the only way. I mean you can probably cheaply get your hands on an old copy of Elements.
William: Well that’s kind of good to know. If you’ve got Photoshop, obviously it has a lot of powerful tools that can do cut-outs and things that you need to do in assembly. You don’t necessarily have to go off and buy Photoshop in order to get to do this.
Lee: Absolutely now. And you know what? You don’t have to make your own stuff. It doesn’t make you a lesser scrapbook creator by doing that. It’s just that you find something that suits you and that suits the time that you have or the level of detail that you want to go into and you use that. These things are created there and they are there for your convenience. If you want to spend a little bit of money or download the freebies just to get some practice, you can make some beautiful stuff without spending a dime.
William: You mentioned that there are templates that are available out there. Are those things that will load into Photoshop or Elements or you said PhotoScape? How do the templates works?
Lee: Well the templates are really a background page. For example, if you had a background paper, a lot of these are square. Typically scrapbookers work on a square, usually a 12”x12” – they tend to be large books. So you’re getting some pretty good resolution. You would drag that into your book.
Now if you were doing a landscape or a portrait orientation book for whatever reason, there’s nothing stopping you from just putting that in there and having it overlapping the edges. It would just cut it off if it’s a textured background. If it’s an image, you might want to drag it around or crop it to get it to the size that you want it.
William: So you’ve taken your photos, you’ve got your elements, you’ve put everything down on the page. Now you need to put it on something. You either need to print it off so you’re printing off a book or you said you’re putting it online. What’s the next step to get some output?
Lee: OK, now as well as mymemories.com, if you just do a search on digital scrapbooking there are some scrapbook websites where they have their own scrapbook creator in there and you can send it to print from the site. I’ve never used any of those so I can’t speak to the quality of it. My personal preference, because I’ve done so many photo books is to actually make the pages in PhotoScape, save them as jpegs and then print them as a photo book. What I do is I like a square photo book so I’ll go and find a photo book where I can do a square sized print, I’ll choose whether it’s a hard or soft cover. I like hard covers. And all I do is I just remove all the preset layouts and I drag and drop the image onto the page. When I save them as a file I’ll have them numbered as Page 1, Page 2, Page3 and so on. And then I’ll drag and drop them straight into the photo book. So when it comes to printing them I can just send it to print in whatever photo book print software it is.
William: OK so services like Shutterfly and Blurb, are you using those as photo books even though you’ve already created a scrapbook in something and then print it off as a photo book.
Lee: Yes, absolutely. So the scrapbook, you’ve really made separate pages. Now you need to put it together into something if you want to print it.
And you don’t have to print it. I just like to pick up a book. That’s why I print mine.
William: There’s something about having something tangible in your hand or something that you can hand to somebody else.
William: It’s like we go back to what we said if this is a gift for somebody. You don’t want to walk up and say, “I made a web page for you. Go to this url ….” Where instead you can just hand them something that they can unwrap, they can look at it and then they can take it and show it to whoever they want to.
Lee: Absolutely and I mean I’ve made – and probably overdone it a bit – but my friends and family have, for years, been receiving scrapbooks and photo books from me. It’s a nice thing to give to somebody. You can’t really put a price on it, so you’re not putting a value on something. It’s your time, and that really is a gift from the heart. If you can put something together for somebody and you really don’t know what to get for them, you can make that really special.
William: One of the things I like about this is that we look at our photography and what are we going to do with our photos? Ninety percent of them at least probably are just going up on the web; maybe on Facebook or Flickr or sites like that. Some of us are trying to sell some things. This is not just something that we’re going to use for business or to say, “Hey, look at me and my art!” This is something completely different that you can do with your photography in that you can kind of make something that’s an emotional connection with somebody, even for your own memories or for the sake of a gift.
Lee: Absolutely and I mean as I say, if you wanted to go and print out your pages at home or if you had a service where you could physically print out the pages you’d made and you wanted to insert them into the sleeves of a pre-purchased scrapbook and then physically add on elements, you could do that as well. So you can have the best of both worlds. You can put this together or take it apart as it suits you.
William: You can do anything from like a little paper folder to a leather padded cover.
Lee: Oh there are some beautiful and some very pricey things out there, but there are some gorgeous books.
William: Alright, so there are some pricey things out there, but are there any free resources that people can use?
Lee: Are you talking about for information?
William: Either for information or elements or things that they can use. When you’re getting started you don’t really know if this is for you or not; you don’t want to sink too much money in there.
Lee: Oh for sure! Yeah. I would still go back to mymemories.com. There is another one, I think it’s called digitalscrapbooking.com? [it’s called freedigitalscrapbooking.com]. Many of these sites actually do offer some freebies. They’re not going to be the best things, but it gives you an opportunity to play around because it’s not for everybody. It takes a while to get into it. It’s fiddly; you have to move everything precisely. Sometimes I’ve moved something out of the way to layer it on top of something and I’ve forgotten to move it back and it’s gone to print! Oh, and that drives me nuts!
William: I can imagine so!
Well, it’s like anything else creative. You’re not going to start off – most of us aren’t anyways – going to start off with something grand. So it takes a bit of practice and you’ve got to learn also not only what works with scrapbooking, but what works for you. What is your creativity going to look like? So it’s another way to take your photography to another level of creativity.
Lee: It is and you know you don’t even have to make an entire book. Something else that I’ve done is I’ve actually made birthday cards and cards for people like that where I’ve printed something out and then mounted it and put my own little embellishments on a homemade card, so you really can just do a single page if you wanted to play around like that or do invitations for your little kid’s birthday party. Make of it what you will. This is yours.
William: That sounds perfect.
Alright everybody, there you go. Digital scrapbooking: not just a way to preserve your memories, but also a way that you can share the gift of your time and photography with others.
Lee: And it’s addictive!
William: That’s right, it’s addictive. So while you’re getting addicted to that, check out the resources we’re going to put out for you on our show notes, available at williambeem.com/episode21
As I mentioned before, there’s going to be a free transcript there and of course there are also links at photoflunky.com for you to subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher Radio. We would love your honest rating and review.
Thanks very much! We’ll talk to you again next week.