Scrapbooking Today versus Yesterday

Are Today’s Scrapbook Layouts as Meaningful as those of the Past?

I read an interesting article on Scrapping by Design last week.

June discussed the proposition of whether today’s scrapbook layouts are as meaningful as the scrapbook layouts created by our grandmothers, given all the commercial elements that we use to make them.

“Early scrapbookers had no modern day supplies. Instead, they made do with what they had, producing layouts that today’s scrapbookers would sniff at, but nevertheless, layouts that were meaningful and significant…” Read the full article here…

It’s a good article and worth the read. And I agree with the points that June made.

And it got me thinking. So I thought I’d put my five cents into the pot too.

Two Types of Scrapbookers

I think that scrapbookers fall into two broad categories.

Scrapbooker Category 1

There are those who are only interested in the final result.

The end product of their photo, presented on an attractive and interesting looking background. These scrapbookers are more likely to be attracted to the Quick Page style of scrapbooking.

Nothing wrong with that. Life is hectic and we all use short-cuts from time to time. But I wouldn’t think they can consider to have a great deal of their personality in the layout.

Scrapbooker Category 2

In the second category are those who scrapbook for the fun of the journey as well as the thrill of the destination.

It is the enjoyment we get from creating that layout that is unique to ourselves because no one else has chosen exactly the same elements and put them together in the same way that we have. And no one else has designed the layout exactly the same way.

And when the layout is complete, we don’t just say “There, that looks good.” Our enjoyment of it is so much greater because of how much of ourselves we have put into the creation process. I know I like to keep coming back and looking at my layouts many times. It’s almost like they’re a little part of me.

For the scrapbookers who fall into this category, I believe there is as much of themselves in their scrapbooks as there ever was in ‘days gone by’.

The Scrapbooking Middle Ground

And for those who want to be in the second category but don’t have the time or space to manage it, there’s Digital Scrapbooking. By the way, Digital Scrapbooking falls into the first and second category too.

Just like with paper scrapbooking, you can choose the Quick Page or On-Line Scrapbook option which just requires you to drag your photo on and you have an instant scrapbook layout.

But it also offers you the option of real creativity in creating unique scrapbook layouts where you can even change the colour and shape of elements to suit your layout design. Not to mention creating your own elements. It doesn’t get much more personal than that!

And of course Digital Scrapbooking comes with the safety net of the Undo button or the Ctrl+Z command to reverse out of anything that doesn’t work out as you had expected. That’s enormously liberating and really lets you experiment and try new things.

Then when you’re done for the day, you just save your file and shut down the program. No clearing away supplies or half finished projects on the dining room table. The perfect craft for the New Millennia that still allows you to put your own personality into your creations.

Question: Has the ‘commercialness’ of the scrapbooking industry de-personalised our scrapbooking?

So now I’d like to ask you for your thoughts.

Scrapbooking has become a hugely commercial industry. Do you think that it has removed or reduced the ‘personalness’ of our albums? And how do you keep your own personality and identity in the scrapbook layouts you create?

I’d love to hear your views in the comments below.

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20 Responses to Scrapbooking Today versus Yesterday

  1. KylieM July 17, 2008 at 10:21 pm #

    oh I so agree .. I have often thought that scrapbooking, both digital and paper has become so commerical. Even looking at the requirements for submissions, they ask for a close photo, of just one person .. and I think each time, how does this tell a story .. isnt it about those series of funny photos, the story that happened, tickets, scenery photos whatever .. embellishments that mean something. I often save bits of fabric, ribbons from presents etc to use when scrapbooking. In digital scrapbooking I do the same, I scan my children’s artwork, I use less than perfect photos … yes there are times that I scrap for the art of it, but mostly i scrap for the memories.

    KylieMs last blog post..Layout with Vintage Floral

  2. Carol July 17, 2008 at 10:55 pm #

    Oh how insightful you are. Pictures are more than a moment. They are the hours building up to that moment and the moments that follow. You capture that in a series of pictures – but we mostly need to take the time to write about our photos.
    I too, save lots of peripheral things to an event so I can scan them. I even have envelopes labeled and files with the pictures and the “stuff”. We just came back from 25 years of living overseas. My sister would send me little packages from time to time – and the only way I could show her how much it meant to me was to make a page using the packing material, the cards, the bows, and pictures of me and my reactions. She LOVED them.

    NOW: Scrapbooking Today:

    Sadly, I see the (digital) scrapbooking world as one event after another, one challenge, tons of little ‘freebies’ to get us to buy more. And we get caught up in it running for this event or that Download. In the end our HD’s and EHD’s are full to capacity – but with stuff we will never use. And all the while, it has taken our time and our photos sit getting older and buried by others. I think we need balance – and each of us needs to STOP – look at what we are doing and ask ourselves a lot of questions about what we are trying to do. What is our goal. If it is to just have fun – then bring on the challenges and freebies. But if our heart’s desire is to have those precious memories cataloged and saved, then we need to set goals – and start aiming a little higher. How do I reach that goal? What do I have to do this week, this month…today (even if it is only 10 minutes). It doesn’t mean that the “fun” has to stop – but it now becomes more directed. Thank you for helping us think.

  3. June from Scrapping by Design July 17, 2008 at 11:51 pm #

    Good points you make, Karen. And as Kylie M. said, how does using just one photo in a layout tell a story? A few days ago, a woman (a rubber stamp demonstrator) told me she would not take up scrapbooking because she had hundreds of photos and it was too daunting a task to make a page for every one. There is little in today’s scrapbook promotions to suggest to the newcomer that other layouts are options. That is rather a shame. I wonder how many other people avoid the hobby for that exact reason. Sure, the one photo shots are nice, but as an option, not a requirement. When I went to the Antarctica a few years ago, I came back with a stack of photos a mile high. Some of my double page spreads contain eight pictures — but I got everything I wanted to include in two albums. They aren’t likely to win any contests, though! LOL

  4. DreamScrapper July 18, 2008 at 8:03 am #

    Karen, I have read the article you referenced as well as your own. I understand what you are saying about commercialism but not sure that I agree that because the scrapbooking industry is so big now that the personalness of the scrapbook layout has been diminished. I will explain this further below.

    As I read through your categories of scrappers I immediately identified with Category 2 because for me, both the journey and the destination are important. I love the creative process and I, like you, often return to look at layouts I have created at an earlier time. The first statement of the category – Middle Ground kind of offended me, even though your next statement tried to soften its impact by saying that digital scrapbooking could also be in categories 1 and 2. I do not agree that digital scrapbooking is always FASTER than traditional scrapbooking. I know that some of my layouts have taken me HOURS to create as I try first one paper and then another, trying to get a special look for the page. Similarly, I will initially pick out some elements I want to use on the page only to discover that they didn’t work and remove them and look for others better suited to the “feel” of the page. Heck, one of my layouts I worked on for a whole WEEK because I wanted to apply a certain technique and I first had to figure out how to best achieve that digitally to make it look realistic.

    The article you reference also mentions that it is easy to create a pleasing layout using kits. “Additionally, they are usually aesthetically appealing, with little to no skill required from the scrapbooker to make them that way.” Just because everything in a kit usually matches does not necessarily guarantee a pleasing result. I teach digital scrapbooking and I see that design sense is not necessarily an innate quality! It can be taught but some people will always have more ability in this area than others just like some people have no sense of color or fashion sense!

    Now back to the commercialism issue . . . how many things in our world today are not commercialized? Think about photography . . . an industry closely associated with scrapbooking since scrapbookers use pictures to produce layouts . . . just because we are inundated by ads featuring bigger and better cameras doesn’t negate the personal touch we bring to taking those photos! Similarly, the wealth of papers and elements available today add to the appeal because we can shop to get just the “right” paper or embellishment to adorn our pages. Maybe it’s because I am also a designer that I find myself pulling papers and elements from several different kits in creating a layout, as well as modifiying or even creating my own elements and papers to best illustrate my photos.

    Well, this has turned into quite a rant, hasn’t it? :) Can you tell I feel strongly about digital scrapbooking?

  5. karooch July 18, 2008 at 10:47 pm #

    Kylie, Carol, June and Dreamscrapper thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here. I love hearing your view and opinions. Great stuff.

  6. KylieM July 19, 2008 at 12:53 pm #

    Thanks Karen, I really did find this article great. Well all of yours are, I am so slack with commenting, but rest assured I visit everyday!

    Dreamscrapper, I totally agree with you in how long Digital Layouts take to do, I scrap both ways and sometimes the Digital ones take way longer than the paper ones. Sometimes I just use on kit, and other times I mix it up!

    I have just posted on my blog in response to this article (hmm I am not sure why I had not linked to you before karen .. but it is fixed now in my favourite blogs .. lol), and I have put up a few Traditional Scrapbook Pages, as you will notice I do not follow the single, close photos .. I have many, some not as good as the others, but all tell the story!

    Thanks again Karen!

  7. DreamScrapper July 20, 2008 at 1:27 am #

    Me again . . . an apology this time. I guess “offense” was too strong a word to use in my above comment but it was what popped into my mind when I read the third category. I get what you are saying . . . guess I should have waited longer to comment so I didn’t come off like a raving lunatic!

  8. Tink July 20, 2008 at 1:33 am #

    I can see where some might think it has de-personalized scrapbooking, and maybe it has. But I wonder how many more people are trying to get their photos in line and tell a story for future generations? Did your mother or grandmother do a scrapbook? Mine didn’t and I have to wade through stacks of photos and hope that I can find someone still alive who knows who the people are. If the commercial items available help us tell a story for our grandchildren and theirs, isn’t it just as personal? Okay, that’s my two-cents worth. :)

  9. Antoinette July 20, 2008 at 7:51 am #

    I agree with Tink, no one in my family ever made a scrapbook and I’m frantically trying to get the ‘story behind the pic’ from family members who are still alive. I think you can call a layout personal (whether it’s a quickpage or not) when someone adds a picture and some journaling. The words and the picture tell the story, and that’s what makes it personal (IMHO). Of course adding momentos as embellishments is even more personal, but that’s just a bonus.

    Antoinettes last blog post..A Flickr Meme

  10. karooch July 20, 2008 at 9:22 am #

    Hey Linda, You don’t come off like a raving lunatic.

    I am rapt when people like yourself take the time and trouble to write a comment of that calibre. I am totally buzzed by this post because there are so many like you who wrote a long and thoughtful comment. I love that.

    In fact the comments from this post (including yours) have inspired two future articles.

    I’m glad that my choice of words didn’t really offend you. It was obviously my clunky way of expressing what I was trying to say. For me Digital encompasses everything I most enjoy in scrapbooking and I can still get a tactile fix by doing Hybrid. Although I mostly get that from card making.

  11. karooch July 20, 2008 at 9:26 am #

    You make good points Tink and Antoinette. My Mum didn’t scrapbook and that’s part of my frustration today. As i have boxes of old photos and I don’t know who a lot of the people were or what their connection to my family they had. Plus I don’t know the story behind many of the photos of my parents and myself when I was very young. Finding a way to preserve the story is the most important thing of all.

  12. KylieM July 20, 2008 at 9:40 am #

    haha .. well here I am commenting for a 3rd time .. I just thought with your talk about not knowing what all these photos we have in boxes are from .. I have just moved to Canberra and was showing my Aunt & Uncle some of the photos I had .. and YAY they were able to tell be places, and dates and stories … I am so happy, finally rather than plonking photos on a page for my heritage pages, I can tell a story. They also have many older photos and stories, so I am looking forward to exploring through the boxes!
    And it just shows you, we cannot judge how or why people scrap, it is personal, and if people scrap with the intention of being published, or use QP’s for speed, or total create unique elements for every layout, they are all just as valid!
    Thankyou Karen for an awesome discussion starter!

    KylieMs last blog post..Have you checked this out?

  13. karooch July 20, 2008 at 9:45 am #

    Hey you must have been commenting here at the same time I was commenting on your blog Kylie. I’m having a Twilight Zone moment.

    What a huge bonus having your Aunt and Uncle handy to fill in the gaps. I wish i could say the same.

    And you are right. People should and do scrapbook for many and varied reasons. And it doesn’t matter how they choose to do it, it’s all good and valid.

  14. KylieM July 20, 2008 at 10:02 am #

    hehe thats funny Karen ..

    Just thought I would return again .. thankyou for the lovely comments with Jordans scrapbooking .. yep the blue page was his, and actually I believe he did that when he was 8 1/2 .. he has an extremely good eye for colour and composition. He was published when he was 6 years old (in Scrapbooking Memories), I have never been published. We also do beading and jewellery making together, he designs and lays out the beads, and I put them together, he uses combinations that I would not have thought of, that look brilliant!

    KylieMs last blog post..Have you checked this out?

  15. DreamScrapper July 21, 2008 at 2:06 am #

    Hi Karen!

    Glad to know I don’t come off as a total idiot when I respond to something!

    Just wanted to add that my mother didn’t “scrapbook” as we know it, but she did put all the old photos into albums which I now store at my house since she does not have room for them at her nursing home. Of course, I want to scrap some of these photos so last year sometime, I started on one of “her” albums and took my laptop and a photo safe pen and I carefully removed the photos, one by one, from the album and numbered them so we would know where they went back into the album and also so I could record them and her comments about them on my laptop for future scrapping. We didn’t make it thru the entire album but it gave me a lot of photos to work with but I am coming near to the end of that group and must get back with her to do some more. I also want to go thru my father’s album with her since he is already deceased and she is the only one with info about those photos. Her album is hard going because she did not really have a happy childhood. Most of her other albums have dates or names written beside the photos so I should be able to scrap those albums more easily. My mother is now 82 and not in the best of health so I know it is important to get the documentation on the photos now before it is too late.

  16. karooch July 21, 2008 at 8:40 am #

    You sound wonderfully organized Dreamscrapper. I am in total admiration. Sadly i lost my mother nine years ago and my father many years earlier. When she was alive we never gave matters like this a thought. i guess we both assumed she had many years left to live. Now she is gone there is no one I can get these stories from. It’s sad to think that this family history will be lost. I think that’s why it’s important for me to preserve my own memories for my daughter.


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