The Stories Behind Your Photos

While it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, you still need to say something about it.

In the scrapbook world, we call it journaling, and it’s really important. I know that this is a daunting task for some.  Journaling and storytelling do not come easily to everyone.  I’m a writer, so it’s very natural for me, but even I am sometimes afraid to write too much in my albums.  I kind of figure that no one’s going to read it all, and I’m nervous about messing it up, ruining my perfect page! Journaling is the hardest thing to correct on a scrapbook page – you can’t usually cover it with a sticker. (Although, I did once cover a spelling mistake with sequins.)

The fact that you put photos in a safe album is terrific, but without journaling, generations to come will not know what they’re looking at.  My parents used to have boxes of old photos, and very few were labeled.  They were fun to look at, but we were constantly trying to figure out who is who, and where, and mostly, when!  And have you ever seen old photos in an antique store?  How sad that those are not in the hands of their ancestors.

IMG_1461.jpgJournaling is an ancient tradition, and you, dear scrapbookers, are part of that tradition.   As soon as people could write things down with whatever material they had, they started recording day-to-day life.  The only reason we know anything about history is because people journaled – they kept diaries, wrote letters, made ledgers and lists and published books.

The vast majority of our journaling these days is online, through email and social media. There’s nothing wrong with that – things change.  But keeping the tradition of actually writing things down is important: baby’s first words, details of a vacation, gifts you received, ideas for your home, future plans, personal notes of thanks or love.

Journaling is even good for you!  You don’t need to keep a diary like you did when you were 12, and you don’t need to write epic novels.  Just journaling in your albums is relaxing, and helps you realize where you’ve been, how you have changed, and what you’re thankful for.

Here are a few thoughts about journaling in your albums:

  • Don’t like your handwriting?  Most people share that feeling. But your handwriting is….you.  When your family and friends look at something you wrote down, they know right away whose handwriting it is. That’s fascinating!  At least include some of your own writing in the album,  even if you type and print the longer stories.  And if you are a fan of typing out your journaling, make sure you’re using photo-safe paper or vellum to print it on.
  • Not every photo needs a caption.  You have my permission on this.
  • Not feeling it today?  Just think like a journalist and write down the Who-What-When-Where-Why. Or, put a journaling box there and come back to it later.  Many people find it best to wait until they are alone, in a quiet room, to do the journaling.
  • Keep your calendars and planners!  That wall calendar from 2004 or even last year’s day planner will come in handy when you’re trying to remember some date or detail for your album.
  • Afraid to ruin the 2-page masterpiece layout you just created?  Instead of journaling on the page, use a Creative Memories Slide-In card for journaling, and add to the page. Or, make your own custom-size journaling box with cardstock.
  •  Ask your kids, grandkids or friends to look at the pictures and share their memories of that day or event.  You may get some silly answers, but you could also hear some sweet sentiment to add to the page.
  • If you cannot come up with words to express your feelings, borrow someone else’s.  You can find perfect quotes on just about every topic online.
  • If you want to write a little more and dig deeper, type “journaling prompts” into your search engine, and you will find lots of ideas to get you started. This is especially helpful when you have a difficult memory to record, or a story that may not have any photos at all.  Remember that we make albums for ourselves to enjoy now, but also for our families – and words are just as powerful as pictures.
  • Everything that you write in your album today that you think is ordinary and dull will be interesting to someone, someday.
  • Buy yourself some quality journaling pens – Creative Memories Pens are photo safe, fade-resistant, made in the USA and easy to write with!


A Slide-In Card makes a perfect journaling box, and if you don’t get the wording just right, you can use another one!


Some of the best things to put in a scrapbook album are handwritten notes from family & friends (no need to journal – they’ve done it for you!)


Cardstock is ideal for making journaling boxes of all shapes and sizes



 Record all those baby “firsts” in your own handwriting – your child will enjoy reading this some day!

How do you plan to beef up the journaling on your scrapbook pages going forward?

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