My Thoughts on Scrapbooks: The Big Picture

by jessicaturner on January 4, 2012

Today Becky Higgins blogged about how the heck do you document your family’s story.

Do you do a Project Life for each kid? Just for your family? What about your baby’s first year? What about when they start school?

There are SO many options aren’t there? Rather than being overwhelmed, just pick something!

I am a huge advocate for doing what works for you.

Everyone’s life looks different and what works for me, may not work for you. Five years ago, I scrapbooked all the time. I have tons of scrapbooks.

Now, two kids later, my documenting style has changed.

But I am still documenting. And I think that is what is most important.

Here is what works for me currently:

Annual Project Life album – this is a family album that captures bits of everything for ALL of us. I expect that these albums will stay with me.

Annual photo book for each child – These books are around 100 pages a year and capture photos of each child’s year. Some photos will be the same in both books, some will be different. I make these books in Picaboo and order 2 copies (one for me and one for the child). So, when Elias and Adeline move out, they will take 18 books with them. I will also have all 36 books at home.

Special event photo books – I also like to create photo books for special photo shoots, vacations, etc. These stay with me.

Scrapbooks – I use Stacy Julian’s Big Picture Scrapbooking methodology for scrapbooking (scrapbooks for each kid, family, friends, etc.). Though I haven’t scrapbooked in a while, I do hoep to get back into it. These may stay with me or go with the kids… we’ll see!

Again, don’t be overwhelmed. Simply take a step to do something to record your family’s story. You won’t regret it.

For more on memory keeping, check out my 31 Days of Memory Keeping series.

What is your memory keeping style?

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Alissa H. January 4, 2012 at 10:48 am

I can only keep up with one annual family album. Occasionally, I’ll do a side theme album but mostly, our one family album is all I can commit to. I figure I will make one “reference book” and when my children go out on their own, I will make each of them three albums that will sum up their childhood with us.

Here is my reasoning – I look at the walls of albums that Ali Edwards and Becky Higgins have at their house. I think it’s great – as long as they are doing those for themselves. However, if we are truthful, they are not. They have that many albums because they are in the business of scrapbooking. They have to produce albums to share when they wrote for Creating Keepsakes and now that they have their own companies. You and I don’t have to do that. And – let’s be honest – if my mom had that many scrapbooks, would I really want to find a place for them all in my house? No. I have three children of my own now and although I want to remember my own childhood and show them pictures, I really want to remember THEIR childhood when I’m old and grey.

That is my personal philosophy. I think enough is enough for the average Jane and we need to stop the madness that is preventing so many women from even starting. They feel guilty and overwhelmed before they even develop a single picture!


jessicaturner January 4, 2012 at 3:40 pm

I do agree that it is a business for the ladies you mentioned. That said, I have 18 large photo albums from my childhood that my mom gave to me which I am thrilled to have. I hope my kids would be too…


Katie D. January 4, 2012 at 11:08 am

I sort of agree, Alissa. As much as I would love to send my kids on their way with everything scrapped for them, there is just no way I can keep up with more than one book a year. I figure it’s still way better than what my mom had – boxes of loose photos completely disorganized, which I started scrapbooking when I was 16 (I guess I should thank her since that’s what got me started). When I die, the kids will just have to fight over who gets the albums! 😉


Heidi of Operation Organization January 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm

The way I document our family photos has evolved and changed over the years as well. I really like the approach you’ve taken currently! Thank goodness for digital albums so it’s easy to have a copy for mom AND kiddos!! :)



jessicaturner January 4, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I agree!


Jessica January 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Wow, I never would have articulated it the way Alissa did but I agree with her completely with how memory keeping applies to my life. I do one album a year and a few special books but that is all I can (barely) keep up with. I love photography and documenting life, but I also have to keep my sanity and set realistic expectations for what I can accomplish. Jessica – your books are amazing! I really don’t know how you keep up with it all, and work, and blog!! Super mommy!


Jessica January 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I do traditional scrapbooking throughout the year (bits of everybody, not different albums for each kid or anything) and an annual photo book for each child. That’s a good idea to order two copies of each photo book. My annual books are only about 30 pages, though, so I’m curious what all you cover in 100 pages. Full spreads for each event and mini-shoot? I do love how it looks to have multiple shots from the same shoot, so I’m trying to incorporate more of those.


jessicaturner January 4, 2012 at 3:39 pm

yes, lots of spreads and just a lot of pics in general. we shoot about 1,000 pics a month, so there is just a lot to include!


Christie January 4, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Hi Jessica,

Thanks for keeping me inspired with Project Life throughout 2011. When you posted about Operation Project Life I was “in” and I did end up finishing!

I just wrote a detailed post on my blog about my “Big Picture” with my two boys and their School Album/School of Life book. I hope it inspires someone!



Cara January 4, 2012 at 6:38 pm

I do Project Life — I use it to document a year in my daughter’s life. I can barely afford that, so I can’t do 2, but I hope someday to go back and do that so she can have one too — I’m not going to want to part with them!
(Cute sidenote: She asked today if she could make a photo album like I do, so I got out some old scrapbook stuff, and she went to town. Then we sat together and started working on the Project Life album I received for Christmas that I’m using to document our summer trip to Italy — we had fun remembering all the fun things we did there. And since she’s only 3, I look forward to many more scrapbooking times together:)

Also, have you seen the Paper Coterie year in review book? I am in love with it — such a great idea, and definitely something I plan to do every year. I made one for myself and one to send to my parents and one for the in-laws. So excited about it:)


Jody January 4, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I usually do a chronological scrapbook for each year for myself (still single/no kids). This year I’m doing Project Life after wanting to try it for about 3 years. That will be my main book for the year.

I document our Ohio State-Michigan game parties in their own Shutterfly album. The first has years 1-3 and the second will have 4-7 after I finish up last year’s game. (Bummer on Wisconsin’s loss btw.) So my plan is to have a photo or two from the ’12 game in the Project Life and then ’12 will start the 3rd OSU-UM book at Shutterfly (it will be printed in a couple years after it fills up).

I have another Shutterfly book about our cousins’ last trip to the Outer Banks. If we go on vacation this year like we have discussed, it will get it’s own book and only be highlighted during the week it occurs in Project Life. I love my OBX album.

I haven’t decided how I will document Christmas yet. I wanted to try doing the Daily December but I got too busy with grad school. Maybe I will do it this year and include all the Christmas stuff in there (extra pages for Christmas Eve/Day).

I also do a book for my niece every year. We all live together so I really get to document everything. She got two for her first year and I’m still finishing up her 2nd year. I will make her a book like I always do. I usually make myself a small book of my favorite layouts for her. I may still do that for ’12, but haven’t decided yet.

Hope that all makes sense!


Shelbie January 4, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Like you, traditional scrapbooking is taking a back seat while I have two young children at home. I wasn’t doing much of any memory keeping until recently and I hated that I wasn’t printing out any of our photos for us to enjoy. After reading your blog for a while I decided to try a year in review book for our family. I’ve made mine through MyPublisher since they tend to run the traditional book for $35 with free extra pages. My YIR books are always the full 100 pages and I just love them. I take so many photos each month that this is a great way to get the memories saved. I figure that I can always go back and make another book with more in depth stories if I want to at a later date. If not then that’s ok too. I’m also using Picaboo (I’ve been buying Groupons mostly) to make individual books for the kid’s birthday parties or for our yearly vacation since we have so many photos from each occasion and I really want to be able to tell the whole story for those times. I’m sure I’ll get back to traditional scrapbooking at some point but until that happens I love my photo books. I may go ahead and order extra copies of the books I’ve done for each kiddo so that at some point they will each have a YIR to keep. I would also love to try the Project Life this year. We’ll see if it happens since the page protectors I want to use are out of stock at the moment. I’m one of those who has to have everything set to keep the momentum of the project going. It may just have to wait until 2013. We’ll see. :)


Melissa January 5, 2012 at 1:55 pm

This is fantastic. I started Project Life in 2011, along with a first year traditional scrapbook for my new baby, which I immediately fell behind on. I really want to finish that scrapbook, but after that, I’m going to go with your method of annual photo books for my son and then photo books for special occasions. I’ll stick with Project Life as a regular, family scrapbook.

Brilliant post, you really laid it out clearly for me and helped me make a decision, finally, on what I want to do. :)


Theadora January 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm

I am going to Project Life for the first time this year. I don’t even have the supplies yet, but for now, I bought a new planner at B&N and have documented everyday with a list format. I have also marked my photos in their own folder on my computer ready to print. I “was ” a traditional scrapbooker… a book for each kid, a family album and a vacation album. That is going to change!!! Hopefully, when we get a few bills paid off, I can purchase PL or maybe I will get one for my birthday??? in 5 days..LOL!


Kirsten January 8, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Ok I need to just start doing something. I love the photo book idea, do you just do pictures or text too. I get so overwhelmed by the amount of photos I take, and worry that my oldest is 6 but you’re so right, just need to start and I know I won’t regret it. Thanks for always sharing and inspiring.


jessicaturner January 9, 2012 at 9:42 am

I do mostly photos, with some text… I think recording the story through words is important, but I don’t get very verbose. :)


Jen January 12, 2012 at 4:23 pm

I am still working to finish my baby girl’s first year scrapbook. I use Creative Memories 12 x 12 traditional book and am in my 2nd volume…I’ll probably have 3 books when it’s finished. Moving forward, she’s now 14 months old, I am big fan of Snapfish books (or whatever online photo storage system you use). It’s just faster and less expensive. I love the look of scrapbooks, but the ones I do moving forward will probably be more like Picfolios from Creative Memories or 3-ring binder type “slide in” pages like Project Life, etc.

Preserving memories is the most important thing, no matter what your style or process. However, it will be hard for me to “let go” of Morgan’s baby book. Maybe I’ll wait until she’s 30 and “asks” for it ; )


Jessica January 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I just found your site through (in)courage, and this is a topic I’ve wrestled with a lot! I was a traditional scrapbooker too…then I had my son and there was NO way I could keep up with the number of pictures I take! the thing I finally landed on that works for me now is blogging our activities and pictures with simple descriptions, then having a blog book made every 6 months through a site called blog2print. They aren’t the highest quality photos, but I make 4×6 prints to keep in an album too, and larger prints of special photos. The blog is nice for out of town family to keep up with us, too!


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