words + photos : monday

Hello words + photos.
For me, this is really the heart of scrapbooking. When I look back through all my layouts the ones I love the most are the simple ones that really focus on just the photos + the words. As so many of us know, it is way too easy to get caught up in the latest & greatest product, the desire for more, and never feeling like you have "just the right thing" to complete your project.

This week I am going to consider the following: What if I used all my creative energy towards the words + the photos and forgot about the rest of the stuff for one week? Imagine if all that creative strength went into my story (or the way I take my photos) rather than worrying about matching patterned paper and choosing embellishments?

What if I just told the darn story?

Is it still scrapbooking if no "extra-stuff" is present? Of course it is.

Now there should be no doubt that I love to play with products. I love to be inspired by new (and old) stuff and enjoy the creative process of working with patterns and embellishments. By taking a week out to focus on the words + photos I am challenging myself to really pay closer attention to the way in which I tell my stories.

Want to play along?

To begin this week I want to introduce you to my favorite layout. What I love most about it is that it completely tells a story from point A to point B. There is a balance between the words + photos and the only other product on the page are some chipboard letters.


[ from my book Life Artist ]

I love this layout for the design and the concept. It is organized and graphic. There is nothing extra distracting from the subject at hand. The photos show a variety of different angles and distances. These photos are not perfect (especially the one of the three of us which was taken while holding my arm out and pointing down) but they capture our routine authentically and accurately. The colors, the chaos, the winding down, the emotion - it's all there in the photos with support coming from the words.

This is a layout I will look back on in ten years and treasure.

Another thing I love about the above layout is that it is a concept that can be repeated. If I was to complete another page on this same theme this week the story would be similar but different. The PJ's are different now (he has outgrown all the matching sets and now wears big boy pants + white t-shirts to bed), he is doing more things on his own, etc. This is an evolving story. A part of our story I want to tell.


Here's another favorite from a few years back:


[ from my book A Designer's Eye for Scrapbooking ]

Again, the focus is on the photos and the words. The photos are the "decoration" as well as the content. They could tell almost as much of the story even without the words. Choosing which photos to take and which to use (and/or enlarge) are a big part of the way in which I tell my stories.

The enlarged photo of the boots was printed on cardstock and the title was added in Photoshop.


And here's a new layout using 4x6 photos:


Each photo was printed using the "white border" option on my small portable Kodak printer. The words for this layout came directly from a blog post back in February 2007. As you may be able to see, I took photos of photos and photos of displays (as well as of the monuments + friends). So many things to capture in DC.

Again the emphasis here is on the photos + the words with just a bit of patterned paper and embellishments - those extras were added mainly because I had left too small of a space for any white bordered photos to fit where the "travel log" embellishment piece was placed.

I created variety with the photos by not lining them all up from one level to another. Also notice that there are no white borders around any of the edges of the layout - any photo that came in contact with the edge had the white border removed along that line.

Over the next couple of days I will go into more detail about the way I choose my photos and the way I choose my words. Come by tomorrow for my philosophy on taking photos and some fun ways to play with printing your photos (and a cool giveaway).


[ The full words + photos series can be found here: monday, tuesday, wednesday, thursday, friday. ]

84 thoughts

  1. Denise Kashyap

    2008-05-05 10:49:33 -0400

    Wow, this is so cool. Love how you explain your philosophy. I get it and love it. Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. Lisa

    2008-05-05 11:01:03 -0400

    Thanks, Ali. I read your posting today and just did a big exhale, then journaled for 15 minutes. Scrapbooking tells a story, and it can also be really cathartic.
    Looking forward to the rest of the week,

  3. Stacey from Two Writing Teachers

    2008-05-05 11:42:01 -0400

    I love this idea. I'll be telling our Two Writing Teachers Readers about it and hopefully some will partake. Thanks, as always, for inspiring this. My first day's worth of words and photos can be found at http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2008/05/05/words-photos-day-1/.
    Thanks for dreaming this up Ali!

  4. Aly B.

    2008-05-05 11:45:02 -0400

    I LOVE this idea! I've been trying to shift the focus of my layouts to the photos and the memories attached to them. Thank you for a starting point and the inspiration just to do it!
    Most sincerely,
    Alyson B.

  5. Kathy

    2008-05-05 11:51:50 -0400

    I have thought this same thing for a very long time, and your Weekend Creative was another reminder to use what you have. I have seriously considered taking a "product sabbatical" for a period of time -- and only buying adhesive. At some point all of the "stuff" just becomes overwhelming and I feel takes away from the true purpose of scrapbooking -- the story and the photos. (Plus the issue of where to store all of this "stuff!")

  6. Michelle Shuman

    2008-05-05 12:04:09 -0400

    Ali, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! This is exactly the idea that's been forming in my head for the past few weeks put down on 'paper'. I'm not a scrapbooker yet (I'm a papercrafter, just haven't made the leap with photos) and have been wanting to start. When I was having a discussion about this with a friend just Saturday, I said "I really want to, but not the chronological, cutesy, over-embellished sort of scrapbooking, more the Ali Edwards sort of scrapbooking" Happily, she knew your work and could understand the sort of graphic design-oriented pages that focus on everyday stories, and no other explanation was needed. But I think I'll be printing parts of this week's posts to put up on my bulletin/inspiration board to keep my focus.
    Thanks again, Ali! You rock!

  7. Marilyn

    2008-05-05 12:47:43 -0400

    Ali you have done it again! Brillant. It takes us back to basics but to a depth that is emotional and satisfying. I appreciate your journaling b/c it teaches that it's ok to lose the pain and pressure to do it one way. I feel pressure with new products, embellishments and patterned papers. When I'm overwhelmed I stumble and find myself blocked. My kids are mid and late 30's so when I scrapbook their childhood's I don't remember what was going on. In these cases I journal how I hoped they were feeling. I took pictures differently before I scrapbooked. So there are millions of shots I have lost which is sad. How do I recapture all of the precious moments that I would have taken had I known?
    Thanks Ali,
    You are a rock star!

  8. Miriam

    2008-05-05 12:55:08 -0400

    Ali, I really love this concept - I can't wait to check in daily :)

  9. Lisa

    2008-05-05 13:15:31 -0400

    Yes, yes, yes! Ever since your post with your grandmother's story of her childhood I have been thinking about this a lot. It is the words that have such power. More words, less stuff. The stuff too often holds me back from just telling the story.

  10. Cherie

    2008-05-05 13:25:51 -0400

    My thing has always been I'm making these scrapbooks and pages for us - for our family, our kids, for all of us to look back and remember - so it's all about the photos and the things we're doing, stages, etc. But, I do need to be better at telling the story. Ready to learn more! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Jenny W

    2008-05-05 14:18:35 -0400

    Love it. I know I spend too much time obsessing over whether a page is good enough... and the only people who see them are my family as I've never posted pages. And what do they like best? The stories and the pictures ("Hey, I remember that dress!") Thanks for helping me focus on what's important-as usual.

  12. lisa sanford

    2008-05-05 15:07:27 -0400

    I've always felt the words and photos were always enough...scrapbooking the "regular" way as my non-scrapbooking sister calls it. I'm looking forward to your challenges & themes.
    Here's a link to one of my favorite layouts, with white background (such a rarity these days) and minimal embellishments...I love how my pen work kinda looks like stitching (from a distance). This was a hearfelt moment in the midst of a crisis, a spur of the minute page using stamped letters from a demo I did years ago and same thing with the TIm Holtz acrylic medallion.

  13. Jac

    2008-05-05 15:30:02 -0400

    Hey Ali
    I love this... brings scrapbooking back to my real perspective. along the way I got distracted with all the embellishments, the products etc.. i got so carried away with that that documenting my life story is no longer the focus, photos takes a back stage, journalling becomes an "embellishment" rather then the central theme.
    I read all your books and esp the Life Artist that reminds me that i should be documenting the everyday, but boy do i need constant reminder about what scrapbooking is all about. Thank you so much for sharing this. Love you for that!
    Can't wait to read about what you gonna share next :)

  14. Bernie Berlin

    2008-05-05 15:55:23 -0400

    Dear Ali,
    As always your words and work are inspiring!!
    I just wanted to let you know, because of you making mention of my rescue, one of your avid readers, just adopted my sweet "Hazel" a beagle/mix, who had heartworms, that we treated and cured.
    They waited 4 months for her.
    She is now living in Vermont and is loved by a sweet family.
    They even decided to adopt a rescued dog, instead of getting a puppy from a breeder. So Thank you!!! Very, Very much!!!
    The little boy, kept asking his mom, why Hazel kept tasting him:)
    Blessings to you..

  15. Lindsay

    2008-05-05 16:12:08 -0400

    So looking forward to this!

  16. Lisa

    2008-05-05 16:32:09 -0400

    This is a very cool concept. It seems so stress free! Thank you for sharing.

  17. Gina Carvallo

    2008-05-05 16:32:11 -0400

    I think I will enjoyed this very much, I like your concept a lot! Forget all embellishments could be a real challenge to me. I will be here everyday.
    Thank you, you really inspire me.
    Regards from México!

  18. Camille

    2008-05-05 16:35:28 -0400

    yeah so i just had to read this blogpost again... to really absorb it. again.
    so refreshing.

  19. rani Shah

    2008-05-05 17:18:23 -0400

    Thank you for doing this; I am in such strong need of wordage for my layouts, I long to tell the story, but then when I do it, I get frustrated because of my handwriting or lazy about getting on the computer. I think I just need to realize different perspectives on this and really think about why I am doing this and what story do I have to tell,m share, leave for the legacy. Thanks Ali-looking forward to all you can impart and all I can take in!

  20. Annette

    2008-05-05 17:20:27 -0400

    you are always such an inspiration. Love this idea. Comes at a perfect time since I', starting a photography class tomorrow. Hope to learn some stuff to take good photos. Thanks again for sharing.

  21. Janet Ang

    2008-05-05 19:34:33 -0400

    Thank you so much for stressing the importance of how less "material things" can really be more, especially when it comes to documenting the really important things in life; Family, through words and pictures! I, too, have easily been trapped to buying more "scrap goodies" because they are fun and addicting... love it, want it, buy it, done.
    I'm looking forward to more suggestions from you regarding journaling.
    Pax et Bonum,

  22. Mieke Duyck

    2008-05-05 21:16:07 -0400

    Once again, you teach me a valuable lesson: I totally agree that we need to go back to the essence of scrapbooking: capturing special memories and creating pages we will cherish over the years, without all those "trendy" (and therefore quickly dated!) embellishments!
    Thank you!

  23. Amy Dow

    2008-05-06 01:11:53 -0400

    After a weekend of celebrating NSD with too much shopping...it's nice to rethink the purpose and just use the words and photos to get back to the "guts" of scrapbooking! I am not an artist AT ALL! I was an English major turned Teacher turned Mom and my purpose is simply that...to put words with photos for memory's sake. Thanks you for the time you put into your blog. There are many of us who really take in what you teach and appreciate your time and effort (especially when your time is so precious!)
    Thanks Ali, I will do my best to be a good student this week, and hopefully I will have some great layouts at the end of the week as my reward!
    Amy Dow

  24. Bianca Alonso

    2008-05-06 15:23:34 -0400

    I'm LOVING this week! Thank you very much for sharing your ideas :)))

  25. Water meters

    2009-05-13 18:44:02 -0400

    thanks so much for sharing this concept.

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