I spent a long time thinking about my week and finally settled on a week of "making it easy." The biggest worry I hear from all my friends who scrapbook is that they don't have enough time. They'd like to scrap more but they can never find the time to sit and do it. When they have time, their photos aren't ready or they don't know what story to scrap and by the time they have the photo printed and the journaling typed up, they've used up all their free time for the day.
So I thought it would be worthwhile to ask the write.click.scrapbook. team how they streamlined their scrapbooking so that they could find time to scrap more regularly. Throughout the week, we're going to focus on four different areas of time-saving tips.
Today starts with photos and then tomorrow we will talk about journaling. On Wednesday we're going to talk about supplies. How to organize them and where to place them so they can be most efficient. And, finally, on Friday we're going to focus on things you can do in a super-short time or what you can do when you have time but are feeling uninspired to create.
The goal is that when you're feeling super-creative and find yourself with a chunk of time, you can sit at your table and create. You don't have to waste this precious time processing or printing photos. Or figuring out journaling or looking for embellishments, etc. You can just sit and play.
I asked the whole write.click.scrapbook team to pitch in with their tried and tested ideas so that we can have suggestions and ideas for every kind of scrapper. I am hoping that at least some of these will resonate with you and give you ideas on how to make the process a little bit easier for yourself.
So let's get started, shall we?
I wanted to begin with photos for two reasons. One, because I think that's where most people begin their layouts. Most people are photo-driven scrappers and it's the first element we put down on our page. So if you don't have photos, you don't have your initial starting point.
And, two, unfortunately, photos often take a long time to get ready. You have to download them, edit them, print them or upload them somewhere so you can order prints and wait for them to come in. There's a lot of process that goes into getting your photos ready to be scrapped, so I thought it would be a good place to start saving time and streamlining.
I collected ideas from the whole team and grouped them into several areas:
Editing and Preparing Photos
Let's talk about getting the photos ready. Once you take a photo, you have to download it onto your computer and then decide whether you will edit it or not. This could be simple editing like cropping and sizing or it could be a more complicated process that takes several minutes per photo. There's no right or wrong answer here, the idea is to do what works for you. However, if you're taking so much time editing each photo that you now have no time to actually scrap them, you're doing yourself a disservice. So the first step for you is to go through your process and figure out how much time you're spending downloading and editing your photos. Can you speed up the process in any way?
I generally take photos every single day. At the end of the day, I put my card into my computer and download that day's photos. I pick out my favorites (generally about 6-10 photos) and I edit them. Once they look the way I like, I put them in a special folder on my computer. The whole process takes me about 15 minutes a day.
If I downloaded my photos weekly or monthly, there would be too many photos to go through and too many favorites to edit and it would be a several-hour process which would make me feel overwhelmed and I would likely put it off. 15 minutes a day doesn't seem terrible to me but 2-3 hours on a weekend is a lot more work, for me. But if you take photos less frequently, a weekly download and edit time might be more appropriate for you. Another idea is to do what Lisa does, she edits her photos while she's watching TV. So if you're watching an hour-long show, you can get quite a bit of processing done at the same time. However, unless you can do it at the same time as another long activity (like TV) I recommend keeping your process around 15-25 minutes. To most people, that doesn't feel like a large amount of time and we are more inclined to sit and do it instead of putting it off.
You can see in the photo above that my folder is called "2011 photos" and the images all have the date on them. For January 1, 2011, I have 5 favorite images. For January 2, I have 7, etc. I download and save these daily.
One other note on organizing photos. Some people spend time puttting tags and comments in their photos. This is very worthwhile if you find yourself going back and searching for specfic photos. However, if you're not going back to old photos ever, don't spend time doing this extra step. I generally scrap current photos, so when I process my images each night, I put them in one big folder called 2011. If I know a specific story I want to scrap with them, I will create another folder in the 2011 folder and give it the story's name. For example I might say "first day of school" and put all my favorite, already-processed, first-day photos in there. The date is there my default and I don't add any other tags or information. This saves me a lot of time.
Where you save things matters, too, while I save my photos in a folder, Lisa creates photo collages in Picasa or Photoshop so they are completely ready to print when she's ready to print. We will discuss this more down below in the printing section.
So here are some questions for you to think about editing and prepping photos:
1. How often do you download your photos? Do you wait until there's a full card or do you do it each time you take new photos?
2. Do you like to edit while you watch TV or listen to a specific podcast, etc. where you know you can put a large chunk of time aside to edit? Or do you need to do it in 15-20 mintues you find here and there? How can you make it so you have the right amount of photos to edit when you sit to do it (so you're not overwhelmed before you even begin.)
3. Is there any part in your editing process that you can cut down?
4. How and where do you save the photos so they are ready to be printed?
Since I print my photos ahead of time, the most common question I get is how I know what size to print them in. How do I know what size will work best with my layout? The truth is, I don't know. I know that I tend to favor smaller photos. I also know that if I have a series of photos, I like them all to be the same size. So I size each of my photos differently, using small sizes. I make some of them 2x3s and others 3x4.5s etc. When it comes time to scrap, I just work with the size I have. For me, this process works just fine. But here are some ideas from other members of the team:
Donna says: "I always start my scrapbooking process by pairing photos I want to scrapbook with a corresponding sketch from my sketch notebook. Then I size and print my photos according to the sketches I have chosen. Generally I do this in batches and send my photos to be printed at my favorite printer. I number the pages of my sketch notebook so that I can keep track of which photos go with which sketch. When I have time to scrapbook I simply pull out my sketch notebook and my photos and put everything together."
Isn't that super-clever? If you're a sketch-user, I think this is a fantastic idea!
Just in case you're thinking you can't ever be so sure which sketch you want to use or that you won't change your mind, she also says: "To avoid getting stuck, because sometimes I do change my mind about the focus of a layout, I often print photos in a variety of sizes and choose multiple sketches for any given story. Any leftover photos are saved for personality or seasonal pages (I like to make pages such as, "my favorite summer photos" and so on), or I will send those extra photos to the grandparents."
It's a matter of having extras vs flexibility. If you want to be more frugal, you need to be more decisive.
If you're not a huge sketch-user, but my system seems too relaxed for you, here's another clever idea from Amy: "When I'm processing photos, I have what I think of as "primary" and "secondary" photos. The secondary pictures are maybe not as strong as the primary photos, or not as important. I print the primary photos as 4x6s and the secondary photos as 2 3x4s. With photos I really, really love, I get 5x7s printed—they are probably my favorite size to work with for one-photo layouts. I store groupings of photos for layouts in ziplock bags, the sandwich size."
Do you have a favorite size? I've come to learn that knowing what size of photos work best for you is a really important step in having your photos ready to go. It's also important to know how many photos you like to have on a page and whether you prefer single-page layouts or double-pagers. All of these decisions will factor in the size of your photos.
Having pictures on hand before you sit to scrap will save you a lot of time and headache. So spending some time thinking about your preferences is worth the effort. Here are some questions to help you decide how you should size your photos:
1. Do you like to use sketches? Can a sketch help dictate sizes for you?
2. Do you like small or large photos? Do you have a favorite size?
3. Do you tend to scrap many photos per page or just one photo?
4. What's your preferred layout size?
Like most things, deciding the size of your photos ahead of time takes practice but if you put the effort into figuring out how to make it work for you, you will be able to seperate it from the creating time so you can have your photos waiting for you when you sit at your table.
Printing and Storing Photos
Several of the others print at home, like me. Erin said that even though she doesn't deliberately print photos in advance, when she's printing photos for a layout, she likes to fill up her 8.5x11 page so she ends up with a bunch of extra photos that she can put in a stash.
Just so you don't think we all print in advance, Francine says "I only print after I have a general idea of how my page will look, then I decide what size or sizes or if to print in colour or black & white. Any photos that I don't end up using at that time, I place in a storage box, so that I have a source to just pull from without having to go through editing and printing."
So even she ends up with a few extras and a stash to use when the mood strikes. Maybe having all your photos printed ahead of time feels overwhelming so you can just get a few of them ready to use in case you feel motivated to scrap but don't feel like going through the computer and printing photos out.
As I mentioned, I tend to store my pages in a little box, but I loved Alexandra's idea, too. She says, "If I have an idea for the cardstock I'd like to use or the patterned papers, then I'll add them to the picture(s) and slide them in a see-through folder. This way it's easy for me to continue where I left off and my picture+papers are protected." Isn't that fabulous? It makes the process that much easier and faster.
Amy also mentioned storing her photos in groupings. She said she puts them in sandwich-sized ziplock bags. This keeps the connected photos together so you don't have to go digging in your stash each time.
The hardest part of getting the photos printed ahead of time is figuring out the sizing. So if you can commit to a particular size, there are two other questions to answer:
1. How many photos will you use to create this one layout? (so, how many photos do you need to print)
2. Do you want color or black and white or a combination of the two?
One you know the sizes and the answer to these two questions, you can start printing your photos ahead of time and building yourself a stash. A word of caution here, I generally recommend that you have a small stash of photos at any particular time. Maybe enough for 8-10 layouts. Unless you're a super-scrapper and create 20-30 layouts a month, it's nice to be able to have a small stash so you don't feel overwhelmed and can regularly add more recent photos to your pile. At least that's what I prefer. If you're more of a heritage scrapper, you might feel differently. Just pay attention to how different sized-stashes effect your scrapbooking and you'll find what's ideal for you.
And here we are. I know reading all of this might seem overwhelming but the idea is to think about all the steps between taking a photo and having it ready to be scrapped. If you can create a process that works for you so that your photos are ready and waiting for you when you sit at your table, you are much more likely to use the creative to create a layout.
So your homework today is to figure out your own process and how you can make it easier. If you have questions about anything I didn't mention or want further explanations of some of our systems, just leave a message and I'll make sure to respond to comments. If you have other creative ideas please make sure to leave those in the comments, too!
And see you tomorrow when we talk about journaling!