Choosing & Using Photos

LeNae’s Scrapbooking 101: Choosing & Using Photos

One of the trickiest parts of putting together a scrapbook page often involves the most important part: The photos! How many photos should you put on a page? How many photos is too many? And is it ever okay to use just one photo on a layout—or no photos at all? Ultimately the answers are up to you, but I have a few tips and ideas that might make it easier to plan your page.

How many photos should you put on a page?
Some people like to use one photo on a page (even a 12”x12” page) while others like to get as many photos as possible on a page. I generally put 3-4 pictures on a 12”x12” page. That way, I’m getting my photos scrapbooked yet I still have room for journaling and embellishments.

How many photos is too many?
It’s a matter of personal taste, and much will depend on the size of your photos. For small heritage photos, you could fit 9-10 on a 12”x12” layout—which wouldn’t leave much room for journaling. If you have a large portrait (say 5”x7”), I’d add only one smaller photo (maybe a 1 1/2” square) overlapping a corner of the portrait shot.

Keep in mind why you’re scrapbooking. If you just want to place photos onto a cardstock background paper and write small captions beneath the photo, then you can fit more photos per page than the person who wants to include patterned papers, embellishments and journaling.

If you’re thinking the layout looks too crowded, remove one photo and see if it makes a difference.

Is it ever okay to use just one photo on a layout?
Yes, you can—even with a 12”x12” page! I generally make single-photo layouts whenever I want to “present” the photo. It might be a portrait picture, the one photo I have of an ancestor, or maybe it’s just a really great shot I took of my daughter. Although I generally try to get more photos per page, the single-photo layout is a nice way to create a special page for a special photo. It also allows me the extra room for journaling or embellishments.

What about using multiple photos on a page?
If I want to scrapbook an event like a birthday, Christmas or sports event, I’ll use one photo as my focal photo, then use a 1 1/2” square punch to punch out mini photos. I’ll mat these and place them along the bottom or the side of the page. This technique allows me to get several photos on a page without it looking busy or crowded.

Is it okay to make pages without photos?
Absolutely. Sometimes you just won’t have photos that represent a specific time, place or event. Once my friend Shauna forgot her camera when traveling out of town for a family Thanksgiving get-together. Instead of scrapbooking photos that year, she instead made pages with the traditional family Thanksgiving dinner menu, a list of who attended and other “non-photo” memories.

In the end, where you put your photos and how many you use is up to you. You’ll find that each layout calls for a different design, and each photo requires a different approach. The best advice I can give is to trust your instincts: if the page looks too crowded or bare, make a few adjustments, step away from the page and see what it looks like a few minutes later.

LeNae Gerig is the author of LeNae’s Scrapbooking Basics. She’s known in scrapbook circles as a “realistic” scrapper because she wants to create great pages quickly and easily. She is the host of and contributes regular monthly columns and layouts. Her most recent idea book is Making Designer Scrapbook Pages, which features LeNae’s signature realistic style alongside the designs of four other scrapbookers.

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