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.

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61 thoughts

  1. Conchi says…

    Thank you for make me thinking. I am still looking for my style, but I was very fun to scrap. For me, it is very important the history. And I saw that my pictures are very near, and perhaps, the environment is lost in history. I will continue looking. (excuse me for my english)

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  2. Giulia says…

    Hi Ali! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
    Bye from Italy.

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  3. Emily says…

    Between your blog post & Cathy Z.'s blog post about scrapping things that are "meaty;" so much to think about today. I have pages that tell a story, and then pages where I don't that just showcase a cute picture or even just a product that I like, and I'm okay with that. I don't put a lot of journaling on those because it's usually so contrived. I was going through some childhood photos this weekend, and even without any stories at all, they were still so interesting, and my son was so captivated by them. This makes me feel less guilty about not devoting every page to a story--sometimes, just seeing a cute picture of yourself as a child can be fun.

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  4. Paula says…

    Hi Ali,
    So inspired by your work. I have a question about your albums you are placing your layouts in. They look like American Crafts albums, but did you paint them? Or are these some I haven't seen?

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  5. Melanie says…

    Thanks again, Ali, for the reminder of what is really important on our pages--the stories and photos!!

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  6. mariah # 2457 says…

    Tfs .. for letting us know what is missing on our LO's .. I haven't done that many yet.. I'm still learning

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  7. Sandra says…

    Yes, the pages are missing because I don't prioritize the creative side of me. I've also always been nervous that I'd want to go back and re-scrap the old pages because my design would change. This post is very insightful for me. much thanks.

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  8. Dawn says…

    Although you advocate looking for "holes," I also read into your wonderful post the importance of acknowledging the uniqueness of your own work. Also, I would never have seen my scrapbooking as constituting a "body" of work, but just last night, I was looking through my albums...just because. There's something empowering about thinking that it's art -- something I struggle with, as many others have more eloquently expressed.

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  9. Bianca Alonso says…

    Ali, i always thought that your way to scrapbooking is really sincere! You realy tell your story, and this have always inspired me. And now, reading this post I fell happy to see that you, a super famous scrapper, feel the same way that I feel, about looking to your old albuns! :) I started scrapbooking at 2005 and I have my albuns already organized in chronological order. And when I take a seat to look at them some pages makes me think that I could have made a better job, but at the same time a thinkg that my story is there and it also shows the way that I liked to scrapbook at that time. So it feels that my albuns tell the story of my life and the evolution of my scrapbooking style.
    And for me, this is what scrapbooking really means, it's my personal story :)
    Thanks for your great words!!
    xoxo from Brasil.

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  10. Scrappyjen says…

    Just had a thought. You said that you had alot of single page spreads in your albums. If some of those are the ones missing your stories you could just do another page with the story on it. That way your not just redoing it again but extending it by turning it into a double page layout if you wanted to. Anyway love your work. Thanks for all the inspiration Ali.

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  11. Christine says…

    Hi Emily, This may be too late for you to get anything out of it, but what I do if I have the back of a one page layout showing is to put a really nice piece of scrapbook paper on the reverse side, so you see that when you turn the page. Some papers are so gorgeous themselves that I just showcase those! Hope this helps. Christine - Vancouver, BC, 14 August 2009

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