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Layouts v Albums - Should Our Scrapbook Albums Be More Than Just A Filing System?

I've been thinking a lot about my scrapbook albums.

Should I make them chronological or theme based? Should I stick with one size or mix it up? Should I even worry about it?

Are albums just somewhere to store our pages or do I want them to be something more? And what even does that mean?

Right now I'm not sure but it's something that's been on my mind.

I am a super organised person by nature so of course I take album organisation seriously.

When I started scrapbooking, my daughter was almost two and I dutifully went back and filled in the gaps in a 12x12 album - her birth story, first day home, first bath, first birthday. Even though I was in love with this new hobby from the start, I still turned it into a chore, making a list and checking those obligation pages off until I had a finished 12x12 album with pages from her birth to first birthday.

I loved having a completed album that followed a theme (her first year) even if I didn't love the process of making every page that I thought belonged in such an album.

I soon discovered the concept of scrapbooking about yourself and your everyday (through Ali Edwards and Cathy Zielske) and I realised that I didn't have to scrapbook the way it was presented to me in magazines - which was documenting events and milestones (mostly child-related) using a voice that was nothing like how I talked in real life.

I started to make pages that were about me, my life and my likes. And these pages sounded like me. This is when I really found my groove. This is when I realised there were no rules here - it's just paper, glue, words and photos put together anyway you like about anything that interests you.

Stacy Julian's Library of Memories/Photo Freedom concept was huge during my early scrapbooking years (HERE). She divided her photos and her albums into themes - People We Love, Places We Go, Things We Do and All About Us.

That made a lot of sense to me, so I made up my own themes, bought a bunch of albums and started storing my pages by that way - an album each for Zara and Elijah, one each for my husband and I (plus a S+B section for our stories together), Family & Friends, Celebrations, Travel and Everyday (this one had the most pages). Each with a title page and spine label.

I loved having a place for my pages to live where I didn't have to worry about mixing old and new stories or slotting pages in correct date order. I also mixed in my 12x12 and 8.5x11 layouts.

Then in 2017 I bought a few of Ali's Storybook Albums and switched to only making 6x8 pages. I wasn't sure if 6x8 would stick for me (it did) so I just started putting my layouts in the album in the order I made them - no theme, not even chronological. And I quite liked that. Everything mixed in together.

For this year, I decided to give up on unreliable albums and page protectors (the ones I loved were always being discontinued or out of stock) and have my layouts printed as an annual photobook (I ended up needing to split it into two).

I set myself a monthly goal of 20-30 5x8 pages (some double, some single, some crafty, some really simple) and just added pages to the Blurb book software in the order I made them, with a monthly divider page. This book follows a rough chronology because I'm usually making pages about current events and photos, but I also throw in older stories here and there.

Next year I've decided to go back to basics and work in an 8.5x11 album (I talk about why in a previous post HERE but it's mainly because I want to do more hybrid pages and I miss printing from home as I go). I'll also continue on with some themed Travelers Notebooks I started this year - I think most of us are dabbling in different sizes and styles of scrapbooking - trying things out.

So I come back to the topic of albums - what do I want them to be? A random home for my layouts? Organised binders by topic or by year like an office filing system? Or something more? How do I (or the people that look through my albums) make any sense of this mixed-up body of work? Does it matter?

I really love my theme projects that have a definite beginning and end because they tell a story. But I also love scrapbooking our everyday and the mundane which is not so clean cut.

I'm also trying to pinpoint what I want when I look back through my work. Do I like picking up the Zara albums and seeing only her pages or do I prefer grabbing one of my 6x8 books where everything is mixed in together, like life?

What I think I'm getting at in this post is that I want my albums to make sense to me and to anyone who might look through them. I want to think about the best way to organise my work and for that to add to the story aspect of scrapbooking rather than just be a filing system.

I don't have an answer but it seems that I really need to think about what I want my albums to be and then make pages that fit that. Put the album first perhaps. Thoughts?

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