5.5 Tips For Beginning Memory Keepers

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Every now and then I'll receive an email or a question about how to begin scrapbooking.

I first started scrapbooking in 2002 when Simon was 11 months old. I had been browsing the internet looking for a baby book. After finding one too many that didn't fit my style I somehow ended up at twopeasinabucket.com and first saw what I would describe as "modern" scrapbooking that included a variety of photo sizes, journaling and embellishments on 12x12 or 8.5x11 cardstock foundations.

Fast forward 12 years (!!!) to today and some things are the same and others are very different.

There's definitely more variety these days - more options for page sizes and philosophies albums and projects and one of the biggest changes are the advances in digital photography. When I first started I was using a film camera as were most people at that time. So many different options can be great but it can also be super overwhelming if you are attempting to figure out where to begin.

Here are some 2014 thoughts on getting started with memory keeping:

ONE | Begin with the end in mind. Think about your overall memory keeping purpose: photo storage, storytelling, creative expression, etc. Why are you embarking on this adventure? Do you want to have more words on your pages than photos? Do you want to play with lots of pretty paper or try out lots of different creative techniques? What are you looking to have in the end? Are you looking to this to be your creative outlet or is it more about organization of memorabilia or storytelling or a little bit of all those things? It's totally possible that you won't know in the beginning what you want in the end as you first start - but it's worth thinking about it in advance. You will absolutely learn as you go and will likely go through phases where one or the other or the other aspect is most important for a period of time.

Once you've started thinking about the format for your scrapbook(s) and your overall intentions with memory keeping it will make it a whole lot easier moving forward. If you aren’t sure I’d recommend beginning with something like Project Life® - a simple and straight-forward memory keeping system that uses pockets for photos and journal cards without a ton of embellishments. You can see all my Project Life® archives hereI think Project Life® is a great entry point for people who are interested in bringing their photos and stories together in one location.

Also think about how much time you envision yourself investing in this endeavor. You might have just one project/album to complete or you might be embarking on a new lifestyle of documentation (you might not know it at this point in time and that's okay).

PS | Don't get caught up in the name. Maybe it's traditional scrapbooking or Project Life or art journaling or pocket pages or a single stand-alone album project or digital scrapbooking or whatever. They are all memory keeping and they are all awesome ways to tell the stories of your life and those you care about most.

TWO | Start simple. Don’t go out and buy a bunch of craft supplies or feel like you have to have a whole room set up to document your life. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything that's available. Start with the basics: an album to hold your photos or your layouts (those might be 12x12 or 8.5x11 or 6x8), some pens for writing your story, some paper or journaling cards and something to use to take pictures (I use my iphone probably more than 60% of the time these days). You can see my list of basics and things I recommend here. Also my list of Project Life basics here.

You might want to check out a memory keeping kit club that offers a fun collection of coordinated papers and embellishments. Most offer at least a one-month purchase option so you can see what it's all about before making a longer commitment. A few companies I have worked with and recommend include StudioCalico.com, CocoaDaisy.com and ScrapbookCircle.com. Another benefit of kit clubs is that most of them include galleries for people to share what they made with the kits - makes it easier to get started with specific inspiration and ideas for the stuff that you have right in front of you.

TWO POINT FIVE | You don't have to scrapbook every photo you take. I'll repeat it again in case it's something you need to read again: you don't have to scrapbook every photo you take. People tend to go one way or the other on this and both result in overwhelm (you will likely either have a hard time narrowing it down to one or two or you will want to include all 20 shots you took of your daughter hunting for Easter eggs). When I'm working on a page or a project I ask myself over and over again if one is enough to complement my words (and often it is but sometimes more are needed to tell a more complete story).

THREE | Make a list of the stories you want to get told. What are the important stories you want to include in your scrapbook? Consider going beyond birthdays and holidays to include stories and photos about your everyday life. Where do you call home? What does it look like and feel like and how do you feel about it? What's your daily routine? Check out my Day In The Life or Week In The Life posts for additional inspiration.

Also consider using your scrapbook as a place to write about the things you’re thankful for, letters to your kids that document where they are right now, a list of the most meaningful moments in your life up to this point, etc. Scrapbooks are such an awesome opportunity to celebrate and document more of our lives than just the holidays.

To collect the stories I want to tell in my memory keeping endeavors I've been using Evernote.

FOUR | Look online for inspiration. Check out sites such as Twopeasinabucket.com or Scrapbook.com or StudioCalico.com or Pinterest. Don’t be afraid to copy other layout/album ideas as you begin to get comfortable with your own memory keeping methods.

FIVE | Embrace imperfection. It’s less about making things perfect and more about getting your stories told. People often stop scrapbooking because they're afraid they aren't creating “perfect” pages or telling “perfect” stories or using "perfect" supplies. Let that go. Just start. Start with the story that's on your heart right now. Maybe all you do is type it up on a piece of 8.5x11 paper and stick a photo alongside those words and call it good just to get started. Our lives are full of imperfections and our scrapbooks are an awesome place to reflect that truth. Have fun and don’t take it too seriously.

And PS | Do what you want to do. These are your memories and your time and your words and your life. Memory keeping can be anything you want it to be and doesn't have to fit any particular prescription. You might start out doing one thing and switch to another and that's perfectly okay. No guilt, nothing to apologize for, etc. Keep it real for yourself and your family and your lifestyle.

What are your tips for a new scrapbooker/memory keeper?

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