Power Scrapbooking

Becky Higgins

People always ask how I can complete high-quality scrapbook pages under such tight deadlines. For example, I had four months to create 340 scrapbook pages for my book Scrapbooking Secrets. I wasn't always so quick. In fact, I experienced my first scrapbooking "power" weekend in February 1997 while vacationing with my husband and friends at a cabin in Colorado.

Power Scrapbooking
The cabin was cozy, with the sweet smell of cocoa drifting through the air. After a day of snowshoeing, tubing and playing games, my girlfriends and I sat at a log table and scrapbooked. I completed an amazing 84 scrapbook pages that weekend!

I've had several weekends like that since. My friends shake their heads and ask how it's even possible. My answer? "Organization is the key." All it takes is commitment to a set process. Here are the steps I follow.


My scrapbook process includes eight basic steps. They're simple, but they'll save you valuable time.

1 I pick up my prints. You should see me open the package—I'm like a hungry kid on Halloween who just got a bag of candy! I visually devour every picture. By the way, I'd recommend quickly reviewing your prints before you pay for them. On occasion they'll be too dark or contain spots from lint on the negatives. The cashier may act amused at your interest, but it's always worth checking so you can save a potential trip later.

Power Scrapbooking
2 I organize my negatives. I put them in negative sheet protectors I've purchased at photo-developing or scrapbook stores, then I place the sheet protectors in a binder with my other negatives.

After I slide each negative strip into its slot (one negative sheet protector can generally hold 24 frames), I label my contents at the top of the sheet. I attach any index prints to a separate sheet of paper and place it in the binder, right next to the corresponding negatives.

Power Scrapbooking
3 I sort my photos. Generally, I organize them by theme for a theme album or event for a chronological album. Recently, for instance, I picked up several rolls of film. They contained Halloween pictures, "hanging out with family" pictures, vacation shots from a Disney cruise, and Thanksgiving pictures. I separated my photos by theme or event, then placed the pictures and associated memorabilia in distinct piles.

Power Scrapbooking
4 I put my photos in their place. I take a pile at a time and put them in my album. While I used to file my photos in a photo tote or file before I scrapbooked them, I've changed my personal approach. I want my pictures to be enjoyed even if they're not on completed layouts. I take so many pictures, if I'm not careful they might be hidden away for months at a time!

First, I take a pile of photos with a particular theme and determine which will go together. I decide the order they'll likely appear on my scrapbook pages. Then I place the photos in sheet protectors until they can be scrapbooked. To keep the pictures separate and easily visible, I place an extra sheet of cardstock behind my pictures in the sheet protector. This is a good use for cardstock in colors that I'm not likely to use.

While my photos sit in sheet protectors, I generally come up with layout or journaling ideas for them. I simply jot my notes and sketches on Post-It Notes, then stick them on the outside of the corresponding sheet protector. (The adhesive on Post-It Notes is acidic.) If I come across page accents that would work well with that group of photos, I put the accents in the sheet protector as well.

Power Scrapbooking
5 I find time to scrapbook. Thankfully, I'm not under a lot of pressure since people can already view my photos. When I do find time, I simply flip through my albums and find a layout that's not done (believe me, I have plenty of those). I can tell which layouts still need work because I've put tabs on them so I can find them quickly. Next, I start scrapbooking!

Whether I'm scrapbooking with friends or just on my own, I always play music to get me "pumped" and in the mood. I decide which layout to create, remove its contents from the sheet protector I've stored them in, then choose the page accents and tools needed to complete the layout. I spread all the page elements out so I can see the "big picture" before I begin.

Power Scrapbooking
7 I keep my albums in order. Each completed layout goes back in the album where it belongs, whether it be a chronological or a theme album. Because I've created thousands of scrapbook pages in the past decade, I have many albums. I like to keep my chronological albums consistent; they all sport black, three-ring binders and are lined up on bookshelves. I label each album with its contents so I can quickly find any picture or event.

Power Scrapbooking
8 I enjoy the scrapbook pages. They're personal expressions of my memories, and I love looking at them on my own or with loved ones.

Power Scrapbooking
As I mentioned earlier, organization is the key. I'd feel overwhelmed without this system to keep my photos, negatives and ideas in order. It's a creative lifesaver, especially when I'd rather spend my time creating than worrying about what I have or don't have for my pages. Give my process a try!

Organizing Extra Photos

I don't scrapbook every picture, so those "extras" are filed away in photo bins. I simply put the picture in its proper category. For example, I have sections for each member of the family, a section for childhood friends, a section for my scenic pictures, and so on. This system really comes in handy when I need pictures for a card or a theme album.

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