Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

February 20, 2008

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.


  • 1.
    April said…

    You give us lots to think about! Love it!

  • 2.
    Debra Orozco said…

    Did you buy a bunch of the same album for this renovation of your scrapbooks? What happened to all the albums that the pages originally lived in? The uniformity is nice, but I think I would miss the uniqueness and color of a variety of albums. You have made amazing progress if all those albums were empty and are now organized. Wow!

  • 3.
    Leigh said…

    According to my mom, she’s missing from my albums.

  • 4.
    Jenni said…

    I have been thinking about doing this too. My albums are all chronological already, but I just don’t really like the albums that I have them in. The albums seem to not be able to stand up the the rigors of being looked at by an 8 yr old.
    I know you’ve posted it before, but what albums do you use again?

  • 5.
    patty c. said…

    I have a refinished wooden bowl that I have always loved and recently I put it out on my coffee table and filled it with my mini albums – anything from a Halloween one to a Christmas one to a beach album. I noticed immediately that people will pick these up and go through them. And they love them! But they never did this with my old big 12X12 albums that are on a shelf nearby. You talk about this in your post today – putting the minis in a basket – do it, you won’t be sorry.

  • 6.
    Emily J. said…

    I also keep my albums organized in chronological order…It seems your work is mainly 1 page layouts (mine 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 don’t like seeing the back of the double page layout while flipping through the album….Something I wonder if anyone else has a dilemma on…
    TFS your process.

  • 7.
    Alexandra said…

    You mentioned ‘balance’ – seems like so much of life is about BALANCE. I’m trying to find a balance between obligations and creative time. Even trying to find a balance between experimentation and waste – ridiculously reluctant to waste a good product or a good photo. Somehow there’s got to be a way to achieve a happy balance.
    Thanks so much for sharing, Ali – you make it all seem so organic.

  • 8.
    Nicky Anderson said…

    Looks great Ali, and inspiring – I still need to find an ideal spot and have to go back through the albums. I know the main thing missing in my books is pictures and stories of me, I am the picture taker, story teller and have not had a chance yet to add my own story. One thing I know that I need to work on.
    Thanks again for helping the process along.

  • 9.
    Beth said…

    I so had to post a comment today. I have read your blog every day since 2005, since a friend told me about you posting about Simon (she saw some similarities to my son who was younger than Simon at that time and thought reading your blog would help me and it did!).
    I have continued to come back because you inspire me in so many ways. I want to tap into the creative side of myself, but something(s) is/are holding me back.
    Your question:
    Are the pages themselves missing because there is always something else that needs to be done before you can get to your creative time? REALLY HIT HOME!!
    That and perfectionsism, fear… I don’t know what. I have scrapped all of 4 pages in 3 years!!! I can’t get started. I agonize over layouts, products to use, pictures, etc. My camera isn’t good enough, whatever.
    After reading this today I need to take a hard look at what I really want to do. And ask myself what I am waiting for. Thanks. ANy suggestions on getting started?

  • 10.
    tena Sprenger said…

    looks cool ali. I need to get some albums all my art is in ugly boxes presently waiting to be put in albums so we can enjoy it. You have given me a little push to do that. tena

  • 11.
    sue said…

    Awesome work!

  • 12.
    Cel said…

    Something that’s missing on my layouts are heartfelt journaling. Now I’ve learned that journaling may come first prior to actually starting a layout. That way, I can balance the embellishments to be used knowing that I already have a journaling to go with it. Thanks for this inspiration Ali!

  • 13.
    Erin said…

    SUCH a great post, Ali. Thanks for sharing the “big picture”-it’s a great reminder. Erin :)

  • 14.
    Rebecca said…

    thank you! you are awesome!

  • 15.
    Bree said…

    The pages themselves are missing for me right now. Thanks for the reminder to make creativity a part of my life everyday again.

  • 16.
    Marty said…

    Thank you for your inspirational words. I have been having seedlings of those type of ideas swirling around in the back of my head but hadn’t gotten around to actually formulating into a complete concept as well as you did in your blog. I really loved seeing the stacks of all of your layouts lined up on your dining room table. Just thinking about how my stack would compare to yours made me very envious. I am going to take the time to review my “body of work” :) to determine what is missing and continue adding more stories to accompany the pictures. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and ideas.

  • 17.
    jmbmommy said…

    I like that you are constantly “keeping it real”…I try really hard to do that myself… especially like the “behind the curtain” photo…because that is life, isn’t it?

  • 18.
    Jill said…

    So true! I took Stacy’s BPS class last year and it was great to look through all of my pages to see where there were holes. I’ve also discoverd that I don’t like my albums displayed in my office. I’m having shelves and cases built in our living room so the albums are easily accessed from anyone that comes into our home. I can’t wait!!

  • 19.
    Emily Hoadley said…

    After reading your first post about sorting your pages I got inspired to get all my pages out of page protectors and sorting them into basic piles: 06, 07, jack, clara, other. These went into albums and when I was done I really pleased to see that I had really told the story of the almost two years of my twins’ lives. Some of the pages I did I still loved and some not at all but I am not re-doing because I don’t like the style of something. The sad thing I found is that my husband and I were married for 10 years before the kiddies came around, and there are less than a handful of pages that even show our lives. So, my new goal is to start gathering some of those old “film” prints and start telling our story BK: before kids. Thanks for always inspiring me with a fresh perspective.

  • 20.
    Gaby Acosta said…

    I have visited you since last year, but only looked your pics and your layouts. When febrary began i decided to read all your post, my english is not so good (you already know, je) so i read slowly.
    I admire you, your ideas, your proposal to work scrap, your vision about life, art, daily moments.
    In this moment i think a lot of things, for example… which would be my word for the year? what is missing in my work? (i´m beginer) could i count my story in this work?
    You are an amazing woman. Thank you Ali for share those thinks.
    Besos =kisses=

  • 21.
    Brooke said…

    I read “The Scrapbook,” a novel by Peggy B. Baker, last weekend and it totally inspired me to get my values and messages down on paper for my kids. I really feel some urgency to pass on the story of my career choice, motherhood, etc. If (when) something should happen to me, I don’t want all I left behind to be birthday party layouts.

  • 22.
    Artful yogi said…

    “Are the pages themselves missing because there is always something else that needs to be done before you can get to your creative time?” Yes. Perhaps you have an advantage as this has become your job. i love both yoga and photo art. I teach and practice yoga. The art gets done when it is squeezed in. Frankly, I think my husband would rather i spend more time cleaning than creating. It is tough. Deciding where to make/spend time is crucial. I don’t watch any tv and it is so hard to make time to do what i love to do. This year i did vow to spend less time wandering around craft stores and more time using my current supplies. That has worked so far. Thanks for your frank prompts.

  • 23.
    Leah Zahn said…

    You know, I really appreciate that you have kept your 2Peas gallery intact. You are my favorite scrapbooker (since I saw your HOF entry and had never heard of you before) and looking back through your gallery is so inspirational to me. It looks like we started posting around the same time, and our sons are the same age-actually within a few days of each other. Somehow that parallel has kept me drawn to your art, and I love seeing your progression as a scrapbooker. I’m glad you don’t have too much intention to change past pages; I don’t either except, as you’ve said, where you really feel something important is lacking. As always, thanks for the inspiration.

  • 24.
    Molly said…

    I don’t have a “body of work” yet to look back on, and right now am in the mindset of just getting some stuff done; getting some thoughts and pictures down. I’m focused on a strategy of “begin with the end in mind”, as Stephen Coveys says. What do I want my kids to see, read, feel when they look at these pages when they are 18 … 25 … and older? That’s the question that I keep coming back to as I do pages, mini-books and projects. I think about it as I go along. It’s my hope that my efforts in scrapbooking bring understanding to questions, comfort, and love when I am gone.
    Thank you, Ali for bringing these thoughts from the back of my mind to the written word.

  • 25.
    sandee said…

    I love your work – I have also had thoughts about re-doing or adding to previous pages but then I think that that was who I was then – they way I designed, the elements that were available, the style…all that evolves and has evolved so when people look back – Simon when he is older – if you leave things as is, he will see how you evolved, grew as an artist. Thank you for always inspiring!

  • 26.
    Jscrapfreak said…

    This is a great post. Just got my newest Ck in the mail and have been devoring it. Have a question for you about your studio A article, I just love, love, the idea of those divided pocket page protectors. But, I can not seem to find them anywhere. I live in Utah,yeah,sigh,I am lucky, scrapbook capital of the world right? Alas, still no luck. I tried looking up the web-sites of the companies you had listed (ex Crop-in-Style, and C-Line products) with no luck. Where do you buy them? Help me please! Anyone?

  • 27.
    Lindsay said…

    Thanks for your insight–it’s saved me a lot of time already, when starting to think about my own scrapbooks.

  • 28.
    Erica said…

    Hi Ali -
    Great catching up at CHA! What albums are you using? Are they 3 ring? They look like the American Crafts or WeRmemory keepers. I soooooo need to do this!!!!

  • 29.
    Nette said…

    You make a good point. Well, several good points! But mainly, in my scrapbooks, what’s missing is ME. For one, I usually take all the photos. And then, I generally hate pictures of me… :P And THEN, I tend to revolve my scrapbooking around my daughter… I do have one book that’s all about Europe trips my hubby and I took, but that was B.C. — Before Child!!! :)

  • 30.
    Jacoba said…

    “Are the pages themselves missing because there is always something else that needs to be done before you can get to your creative time?” To echo Beth, this comment really hit home! This is me exactly! Thanks for the push in the right (creative) direction, Ali. :)

  • 31.
    Sonda said…

    Holy Cow, Ali! This is awesome and something I had totally planned on doing once we move back. Right now, most of my pages/albums/photos are packed and in safe hands…but I would love to go thru them all just as you have! Don’t be surprised if you get an email from me come this fall b/c I will need help remembering everything you said here.
    hugs! Sonda T

  • 32.
    kari said…

    you INSPIRE ME.
    the way you write
    the way you scrap
    the way you are *real*
    the posts about organizing your pages/albums have been amazing to read and see.
    thanx so much for your amazing ways!
    rock on.

  • 33.
    Karla said…

    I Needed this……..

  • 34.
    Jamie said…

    I have such a difficult time when I look back on old layouts. I feel like I want to rip the pictures off and do something new and fresh because I have learned so much more or want to add, like you said, that missing piece. It is hard for me to enjoy what they stand and try not to be so critical of my work.

  • 35.
    sinead j said…

    Thank you Ali, reading these words and your words in Life Artist has given me permission to make a start. I haven’t touched my scrapbooking stuff since about November. Being busy with Christmassy things and then having sick children in and out of school in January…and coming to the end of a six week work related course online.I really miss it. When I have not done any for a while I get scared to start. I feel really behind and out of practice and that I have a list of things “I should do”. Just this morning my husband said “when does your course finish – you’ll be more available then won’t you!” I told him I can’t wait to get back to making things again! I feel energised now to go through all my supplies, photos and albums and really look at where I am right now and where I want to go from here – it feels like a new start and I can go in whatever direction I want – doing the pages I want not what I feel I need to do to keep up – I’ve decided I’m not even going to do a Christmas 07 page as I have no good or different photos – but I do have some great “in the snow” photos from January instead why should it matter if there is or isn’t a particular page in the album. Thanks for reminding me that this hobby is about my spirit and my art and what I want to record to share with my family and friends.

  • 36.
    jill said…

    I’m in the process of moving layouts to new albums with a new theme org system (think BPS) for the albums. Just as I did when changing my photo org, I have taken “thought” notes. What I want to try, what I want to do again, etc. This process has ended up being more than a re-org/storage. Looking back at my layouts and photos has helped give me direction in where I want to go next with my creativity.

  • 37.
    Kim Bolyard said…

    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.

  • 38.
    ylva said…

    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?

  • 39.
    suetreiber said…

    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.

  • 40.
    Rislang said…

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

  • 41.
    Sandi said…

    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!

  • 42.
    candice Summers said…

    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!!

  • 43.
    Christina said…

    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:+)

  • 44.
    Evelinne Lopes said…

    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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 45.
    iowajewel said…

    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!

  • 46.
    Kristine said…

    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????

  • 47.
    Melanie aka ScrapMel said…

    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’.

  • 48.
    Keely said…

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

  • 49.
    Lisa Davolt said…

    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).

  • 50.
    Julie said…

    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.

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