Album Progress + More Observations


Going through my entire collection of scrapbook layouts a couple weeks back (read here for details) was quite an experience. Now that things have settled a bit from the initial craziness of pulling all the pages out I have moved on to actually putting them in yearly order (with a couple theme-based albums mixed in for good measure).

As you can see from the photos above I have made some progress: those albums are 2002-2006.

Not sure about whether this location will be their permanent home (especially since there will be more), but I like the idea of having some sitting there with a small basket of minibooks. I could rotate the large albums in and out seasonally. Lots of options.

And as you can see in the second photo, I still have more to do.

One of the things I am being mindful of as I put the pages into the albums is this: what's missing from my work?

I am taking this opportunity to take stock in what I have created so far and where I want to go next.

Whether you scrapbook once a month, weekly, or daily (or whatever your creative endeavor entails), taking a step back to look at the entirety of your work is so worth the effort to refocus and figure out what you are missing.

Ever take a look at a layout and think (or literally know) that there is something is missing? I definitely had many of those thoughts come over me as I was looking through my piles. How about taking that one step farther and seeing what is missing from the overall "body" of your work? Maybe the words are absent. Maybe it is a particular person or topic (maybe it is you). Maybe all your photos are up close or maybe they are all far away. Maybe what is missing is real content rather than just a bunch of pretty embellishments. Maybe it is a sense of experimentation and fun and playfulness.

This is what I know: I want to continue to strive for balance. Balance between in-depth stories + fun embellishments. Balance between close-up + far away photos. Balance between stories about Chris, stories about Simon, and stories about me. Balance between creative experimentation + pages that are purely words and photos.

I believe, as you may know, that there is no right or wrong way to document your life or the lives of people in your family. We will all be missing something in our pages according to someone. Every one of us should have our own way of scrapbooking – for some that will be detailed and precise while for others it will be more organic. The key is to not be afraid of finding your own way and embracing it and taking some time to evaluate yourself as you go along.

In looking back on my own work I can see (and remember) periods of time where I was being influenced by other designers and/or concepts and/or products, or where other things were happening in my life that seemed to have a direct effect on my personal creativity. I have found that sometimes finding your own way means trying out lots of different options along the road.

I can also see when I was doing a layout more for the sake of showcasing a product or technique rather than telling a story (a potential occupational hazard when your job and your hobby become one and the same). This is my personal reality and something that is on my mind especially now after looking through all those pages. I want the photos and the story to always be first on the list. I want the products and the fun stuff to enhance and support my stories rather than take center-stage.

Will I go back and adjust any of those layouts where I feel something is missing? Probably not. My first thought is that they are what they are. They represent a time and a space and piece of my life not only in what they show on the page but also in what they say to me without speaking. In so many ways they are the perfect reminders of what I don’t want to be doing – and direction for what I want to see on my future pages. Here's my current thinking: if I feel like the design is horrible but the story is there then I will leave it; if the story is completely missing and is not told elsewhere in the albums (such as a "looking back" sort of page) than I will probably do a new layout at some point that more completely tells the story.

Today I invite you to reflect a bit on what is missing from your layouts, from your creative life, from your photography, from your everyday life? Are the words missing from your scrapbook pages? Are the everyday photos missing? Is a particular person missing? Are the pages themselves missing because there is always something else that needs to be done before you can get to your creative time? After reflecting a bit (or literally going through and looking at all your pages – which I completely recommend to everyone), write down your observations. These are invaluable as you move forward.

61 thoughts

  1. Kim Bolyard

    2008-02-20 23:48:44 -0500

    I am so jealous...I so need to get organized. I am taking Stacy Julians Class for the second time...maybe I can see it all the way through this time and get completely organized. You inspire me to take every layout I have out and regroup. Thanks again for the inspiration.

  2. ylva

    2008-02-21 00:59:20 -0500

    well, a lot of them are missing. i love creating layouts (every part of it), but it really is the last priority on my list... eh, many lists. and that wouldn't change even if i decided to put it higher, because when everything else isn't finished/clean/organized/taken care of i simply can't relax enough to enjoy the really fun things. also, i never scrapbook while my kids are home unless they're sleeping. other than that i suppose that i'm missing from a photo point-of-view. i take all pictures and i simply cannot bring myself to take self-portraits. but does that really matter? i mean, all the words are mine. what i write on a layout are my words about what happened and it's my version of the events. when i write about my children, it's what i see in them. how i see them. my love for them. all that is me, right?

  3. suetreiber

    2008-02-21 02:08:10 -0500

    Part of me is afraid that if I do this reorganization thing, I'm gonna want to ditch all the old layouts because A) They are dated! and B) all on hinged pages, often with no background. They would be hard if not impossible to move.

  4. Rislang

    2008-02-21 02:27:08 -0500

    Love what you have written! Just what I needed to hear. Thank You!

  5. Sandi

    2008-02-21 02:29:12 -0500

    The question I needed to hear was "what is missing". I have not been putting enough of the stories in my album - my journaling is too factual and not enough story, anecdote and the meat of who we are as a family. That changes immediately. Thank you!

  6. candice Summers

    2008-02-21 02:36:44 -0500

    I bring out my kids albums at each of their birthdays... it is a good way to take stock of what is missing and the technical journey I have taken in the last few years... and I have whole years missing on some of them and it reminds me to fill them in!!

  7. Christina

    2008-02-21 02:56:20 -0500

    Such true words! I sit staring at my photos at times and I just get overwhelmed. I try to be careful of what I buy to adorn my pages with, I don't want them to be filled with- just because I got caught up in that moment stuff. I SO long to have my pages neat and reflect the voice I want my children to hear on days they need to "search" the most. Ahhhhh balance it is inside of us all:+)

  8. Evelinne Lopes

    2008-02-21 03:00:12 -0500

    Hi Ali!
    I am just very curious, which albums did you buy? Those are 3 ring? Where did you get those? Wich color? Can we have the website for those? So many questions because I am willing to do the same with mine!
    I am a huuuuuuuuge fan of yours! I have all your books!!!!!
    Thanks, you inspire me a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. iowajewel

    2008-02-21 03:49:18 -0500

    just thought i'd let you know what i've been doing with old albums and pages i'm not happy with. when i fist started scrapbooking in 1997 my first album was 10 years of photos (my life life in Boston) cut around with a decorative scissor and glued onto white pages with a few stickers and maybe a title. fast forward to now. Since discovering you Ali, my life has changed, i am all about telling my story! so i have decided to create albums with the goal of telling about my life during those ten years. i am about half way through now and it has been a wonderful journey. with the help of my mom who has a lot of the photos i cut up, old letters she had saved from me during those years i am telling my wonderful story through a lot of good times and bad.
    as for newer albums that i have done but are still b.a. (before Ali!) i am not redoing the pages but adding my story either to the pages or creating another page telling whats missing. Ali you have done 2 great and wonderful things for me:
    1)given me a direction & goal in my life: to tell my story!
    2) given me the freedom to tell it with or without photos, in my own style, and not to worry about how bad a photo is or if my page is not perfect.
    thanks you Ali! God bless you!

  10. Kristine

    2008-02-21 04:52:21 -0500

    I look back at my early "work" and really am disappointed with them. Sort of the slap and stick with no stories. I have grown so much as a scrapper and like you love the everyday stories that my pages tell with my 4 year old son and husband. What's missing?? my parents, my childhood, my siblings--thanks for reminding me that there are other stories in my life. Also really really curious if you totalled up your pages. Would love to know the final count. Do you have that to share????

  11. Melanie aka ScrapMel

    2008-02-21 05:09:17 -0500

    You writing this today is so ... well, odd. I posted the other day about my feelings toward scrapping and one conclusion I have come to is this: You can't create a 'real' page if you start with the goal of a 'beautiful piece of artwork'. Not to say a 'real' page can't BE gorgeous, but heading into it with the thought of if being for other people, you aren't going to do your family justice. Your words won't be your words - if you actually include journaling. Or this is true for me anyway. When I am showcasing a designer's kit, I am scrappiing the kit not the photo. When I scrap the photo, it might not be the 'best' art work - hey, I am no Ali Edwards! I can't be real AND beautiful!!! LOL.
    Also, I started out paper scrapping over 3 years ago (then digi, now hybrid/mixed media). Whenever my son gets out his album, I am amazed that I LOVE what I did - and I didn't even 'know' what I 'should' be doing. For me, THAT is a work of art!
    Thanks, Ali for sharing your thoughts... you are one creative lady who is also so very 'real'.

  12. Keely

    2008-02-21 05:22:10 -0500

    Ali, I love your insights and urging us to do more and to think about what we do. Thank you!!!

  13. Lisa Davolt

    2008-02-21 06:18:25 -0500

    I keep my albums organized in chronological order. My 2 little ones make up most of the layouts focuses. Pictures of DH are thrown in with pics of the kids. I can count on one hand the layouts that contain a picture of myself. However, almost all of the journaling is mine, so in that way I am represented in the books. But I'd love to have more friends and extended family in our books as well (maybe when I get more time).
    To Emily who posted above "(mine {layouts} is usually 2 page) but, I do do 1 page layouts sometimes - it just throws the page order out - I find myself having to "find" something to scrapbook that transition between the single page layout and the double page-Any suggestions?? Anyone?" I find I get this dilema as well. Since I keep chronological but do not scrap chronological. If I have one page layouts from the same month or a close timeframe, I will group those together. If there is some amazing photo(s) that are inbetween the gap, I will check to see if it will be one page or two page layout to fit in. I've also been known to turn a 2 page layout into a 3 page layout to fill in a gap (but it has to be worthy of the attention - lol).

  14. Julie

    2008-02-21 06:31:40 -0500

    Thanks, Ali, for some awesome inspiration! I keep asking myself lately, "What do I want scrapbooking to be to me?" I think that is part of what we must figure out before we can really embrace a system or design one that is unique to keep track of all the stories and photos. I love the Library of Memories idea, and yet for me, it feels better to have my photos (not scrapbooked) in chronological order. I am trying to make some sort of hybrid plan that works for me and my family. What do I want scrapbooking to be to me? So far, I know I want to capture more stories, memories and photos in some kind of simple, easy-to-maintain system. I want my kids to have photos that are accessible, not just mountains of boxes. What's missing in my "body of work"? Actual pages, because like others posting before, my time to creatively engage is something I allow to get bumped. I am determining to change that in 2008. It matters to me. It matters! Thanks for the encouragement to keep on with the process.

  15. Conchi

    2008-02-21 07:48:23 -0500

    Thank you for make me thinking. I am still looking for my style, but I was very fun to scrap. For me, it is very important the history. And I saw that my pictures are very near, and perhaps, the environment is lost in history. I will continue looking. (excuse me for my english)

  16. Giulia

    2008-02-21 22:49:49 -0500

    Hi Ali! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
    Bye from Italy.

  17. Emily

    2008-02-22 02:32:19 -0500

    Between your blog post & Cathy Z.'s blog post about scrapping things that are "meaty;" so much to think about today. I have pages that tell a story, and then pages where I don't that just showcase a cute picture or even just a product that I like, and I'm okay with that. I don't put a lot of journaling on those because it's usually so contrived. I was going through some childhood photos this weekend, and even without any stories at all, they were still so interesting, and my son was so captivated by them. This makes me feel less guilty about not devoting every page to a story--sometimes, just seeing a cute picture of yourself as a child can be fun.

  18. Paula

    2008-02-22 08:05:14 -0500

    Hi Ali,
    So inspired by your work. I have a question about your albums you are placing your layouts in. They look like American Crafts albums, but did you paint them? Or are these some I haven't seen?

  19. Melanie

    2008-02-23 18:32:54 -0500

    Thanks again, Ali, for the reminder of what is really important on our pages--the stories and photos!!

  20. mariah # 2457

    2008-02-24 15:54:12 -0500

    Tfs .. for letting us know what is missing on our LO's .. I haven't done that many yet.. I'm still learning

  21. Sandra

    2008-02-25 20:05:28 -0500

    Yes, the pages are missing because I don't prioritize the creative side of me. I've also always been nervous that I'd want to go back and re-scrap the old pages because my design would change. This post is very insightful for me. much thanks.

  22. Dawn

    2008-02-26 01:12:58 -0500

    Although you advocate looking for "holes," I also read into your wonderful post the importance of acknowledging the uniqueness of your own work. Also, I would never have seen my scrapbooking as constituting a "body" of work, but just last night, I was looking through my albums...just because. There's something empowering about thinking that it's art -- something I struggle with, as many others have more eloquently expressed.

  23. Bianca Alonso

    2008-02-27 09:54:00 -0500

    Ali, i always thought that your way to scrapbooking is really sincere! You realy tell your story, and this have always inspired me. And now, reading this post I fell happy to see that you, a super famous scrapper, feel the same way that I feel, about looking to your old albuns! :) I started scrapbooking at 2005 and I have my albuns already organized in chronological order. And when I take a seat to look at them some pages makes me think that I could have made a better job, but at the same time a thinkg that my story is there and it also shows the way that I liked to scrapbook at that time. So it feels that my albuns tell the story of my life and the evolution of my scrapbooking style.
    And for me, this is what scrapbooking really means, it's my personal story :)
    Thanks for your great words!!
    xoxo from Brasil.

  24. Scrappyjen

    2008-03-01 12:01:08 -0500

    Just had a thought. You said that you had alot of single page spreads in your albums. If some of those are the ones missing your stories you could just do another page with the story on it. That way your not just redoing it again but extending it by turning it into a double page layout if you wanted to. Anyway love your work. Thanks for all the inspiration Ali.

  25. Christine

    2009-08-14 11:38:53 -0400

    Hi Emily, This may be too late for you to get anything out of it, but what I do if I have the back of a one page layout showing is to put a really nice piece of scrapbook paper on the reverse side, so you see that when you turn the page. Some papers are so gorgeous themselves that I just showcase those! Hope this helps. Christine - Vancouver, BC, 14 August 2009

Login or Register to comment.