Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How Do You Scrap?

How do you scrap? Are you an event scrapper, or a concept scrapper? Do you work chronologically, or do you just pick random pictures? Are you working on the past or the present? One scrapbook at a time, or many? Traditional or digital? What comes first, the picture or the idea?

I'm mostly an event scrapper, but I'm really a combination of a lot of things. My earliest scrapbooks were construction paper and magnetic photo albums where I stuck all my precious keepsakes from my high school years. Those eventually evolved into baby books for my children, and collections of memorabilia from the various rock bands my husband and I played in. Even my genealogy research was more akin to a scrapbook than files! So rather than pages filled with philosophical wanderings, mine have always been about who, what, when, where, and how.

As a pack rat and wannabe photographer, it was only natural that I turned to scrapbooking. I think I got it from my mother. She had this wonderful trunk full of treasures like my first lock of hair, macaroni artwork that my sister had made, and even her own construction paper scrapbook that she had filled with newspaper and magazine clippings of her favorite bands. So when I started amassing things like Gene Simmon's guitar pick and the 1st Place ribbon I won at the VICA convention, I wanted to put them somewhere that I could look at them frequently, and maybe even show them off.

Fast forward to the present day and the digital age, where Photoshop reigns supreme, and the Megapixel is the queen. I still scrap events. Mainly because I have so many pictures, and I am so far behind that I still have years and years of old photographs to stick down on paper. And the stack just keeps getting worse! With a very busy son in high school (you know, one of those kids who thinks they have to do EVERYTHING!), I don't even have time to do this week's events, much less all the other events from the past 15 years!

I look at all the magazines with all the lovely concept pages about favorite things, love, and nature, and I wonder, do these ladies get to spend so much more time scrapbooking that they've already finished all the Christmases, birthdays, and high school graduations? Or did they just give up trying to document all the Easters, dance recitals, and garden parties? I have pictures from family vacations that could fill a single book! There's no way I could ditch 20 great pictures of the orchestra concert in favor of just one close-up of my son in his tux! And how will I ever remember my daughter's first birthday with out a picture of the cake before and after she stuck her whole hand down into it?

I get bored easily, too. So I hate just working on one album at a time. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids. But if I have to look at one more picture from the Boy Scout National Jamboree, I'll puke! I wound up with over 40 pages from that single two-week event, and by the time it was finished, I was dying for something new to work on. Something that had nothing to do with Boy Scouts! So for that reason, I'm always working on several things all at once. I have a neat file system where I keep proposed pages. I have several pages all planned out in various categories: Boy Scouts, my son's school days, my daughter's school days, my own childhood, current family events, old family events, etc. That way I always have something interesting to work on. Some of it I do chronologically, like the Boy Scout pages, simply because they have to go in the album in a certain order, and I don't want any blank pages that I wouldn't be able to fill. Others, like my children's and family events, I do in whatever order pleases me, however inspiration strikes. For these albums, a blank page here and there just means that I'll have to make one of those wonderfully inspired philosophical pages one of these days when I'm done with all the events. I can't wait!

Of course, I have to thank my lucky stars for all the technology that's made it easy for me to stay organized enough to scrap all my cherished memories. A good flatbed scanner and Photoshop have enabled me to completely archive not only my photos, but my mother's as well. And on more than one occasion, it's saved a photographic disaster from the waste bin. I use my computer to find pictures of random things I never thought to take a picture of when I was younger, like the house of my best friend or my favorite Barbie doll. It's also great for printing out titles and doing special effects. I've even done at least one purely digital page (see the Reader Gallery!). So for me, digital storage is a total lifesaver. That way, when I am inspired by a beautiful layout in a magazine, I can go straight to the photos and do up an amazing page. Or better yet, maybe I'll just finish this big pile of Cub Scout pictures first....