Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



tips for photographing children’s artwork

Many of us are getting back into the routine of back-to-school for our kids. Just a reminder that as we are often flooded with artwork and projects and papers and over-sized, dimensional items that simply don’t fit into a scrapbook … the tip is simply to TAKE PICTURES.

I’m guessing your follow-up question to that is … But then what do you do with the originals? Well that’s certainly a personal preference. Consider your options and do what makes most sense for you and your family. For me, I photograph those larger projects and then toss them. Yes, I toss them. In the trash. Only once in a blue moon do we save a certain poster or piece of art in its original form because it’s extra special to my child. Otherwise, off to the trash it goes because we have a picture of the project and it is now forever preserved in their Project Life album. This is one little way to simplify things in my life.

I’ve been working on catching up in the kids’ albums. I can easily tackle an entire year’s worth of pictures and memories in just a weekend … because I use Project Life in the most simple form ever. I slip the photos, cards, papers, etc. into the Photo Pocket Pages. That’s it. No embellishing. No stressing over chronology. Just getting it done and loving every second of it. And loving how much my kids are loving it.

I will blog more about this later, but for now – I’ll share a glimpse of what I’m talking about with this idea of photographing your kids’ things. And then I have a few tips to help you do the same.

Tips for photographing children's artwork

Tips for photographing children's artwork

Tips for photographing children's artwork

Tips for photographing children's artwork

With each of these quick photos I snapped (and others) … I simply printed them as standard 4×6 prints, just as with all our other photos (I’m pleased with Persnickety Prints for my photo-printing needs).


{ 5 photographing tips }

1. Turn off the flash. Natural, indirect light is best. I usually open my door, place the item on the floor, and snap.

2. Position your self directly above the item, shooting straight down.

3. Choose a simple background. I just used our wood floor, but a white sheet or white board is nice too.

4. Consider having your child actually holding the item, for a more personalized result.

5. When you have several similar items that aren’t too big, you could photograph them together in one picture.

Tips for photographing children's artwork



16 Responses

  1. Katie Elizabeth Harding says:

    I LOVE this idea! I have a huge art file full of my first borns pictures and have got one getting filled for my second child! I will SO be using this idea, photographing them and only keeping the ones that will be hung in the Tate Modern when they become famous artists! ;0)

    I am yet to begin my project life scrapbooking, but I am so looking forward to starting. I have great plans to do a life album this September and also do a childhood albums! I have been stroking scrapbooking paper for years and not doing anything but ‘collect’ supplies!!! So my am I playing catch up! but I am positive I will start… after pay day!

    Thanks Becky! Love Katie Elizabeth H.

  2. What about scanning them & saving as a jpeg on your computer? Do you find you are getting better results when you photograph the artwork?

    • Scanning is fantastic. I scan a LOT of my kids’ stuff. But for items that are larger than 8.5×11 or bulky or dimensional or odd-shaped or whatever … photographing is best. ; )

  3. I’ve been meaning to do this! I usually display them for awhile on a string with clothespins, then take them down and photograph them. Some get recycled, others go into storage.

  4. SO very glad I found you and your system when I did. My little man starts Preschool next week, so, I’m already prepared with a process and plan. And I was SUPER excited when his teacher told us “prepare for a LOT of bring home projects”… YEAH! :)

  5. Alisa says:

    I have been doing this for years and I love it. Every summer I go through all the stuff that came home that year. Sometimes I do even get around to taking the photo of child with artwork right when it comes home but not very often. I am still using the original school kits that Becky put out years ago, works awesome! I have one for each girl, I photograph their artwork then print it out on a 4×6 and throw the item away. I use the pocket included for each grade for a few special items but that is it. Works great for all those certificates that come home too I can showcase 6 to 8 in one page. I have a whole school year saved in 6 scrapbook pages and one pocket. I have already bought the albums and set up all the pages thru senior year and my girls are in 5th and 8th, makes doing their stuff a breeze. Thank you Becky!

  6. CJ says:

    Really great tips, thank you Becky.

  7. Vi says:

    I hate to be THAT LADY, but you mean toss them in the recycling, right? The average print shop can tell you where the paper recycling facility is, if it isn’t taken up at the regular recycling place.

    Not to be all finger-waving. I just cringe at how much paper gets used nationwide in projects that are immediately tossed in a landfill. If there’s anything we all can do to make an impact, it’s that. And that goes for me, too! :)

  8. Bernadette Ramos says:

    Thanks for these tips. I’m glad to know I did something right (did the documentation yesterday before this post. Since the kids also wanted to be involved, I took out camera’s remote and pics of the kids on the floor in between the photo shoot of the artworks. Still have gotten to the (gasp) throwing out the artworks part though

  9. tiffany h says:

    Love your ideas! I do one of the things you mentioned–take a photo of my child holding his/her artwork. It’s fun to see them at the age/time they did the work. I’ve gotten into a good habit when artwork comes home from school I immediately take a photo. I have no guilt in trashing/recycling once I have the photo.

    I’d like to know more about your scanning process. You’ve mentioned it before here on the blog. I’ve tried scanning some of the kids’ awards and other school items but I found it very time consuming and haven’t done it again. I’d love to know your tips on scanning. Thanks.

  10. Shelly says:

    I just had the privilege of sitting with my MIL and sorting through two giant boxes of my husband and SIL’s mixed-up school memories. There were a few things that made me laugh, but mainly I left after two hours covered in glitter and cat hair with one giant box to take home. My husband said, “Why are we taking that? I don’t want that crap. Just throw it away.”

    As a wife, I would have MUCH rather received a binder or scrapbook of pictures and memories! And with reminders of certain things that were super special–like a note about the third grade teacher who finally taught my husband how to read.

    I would caution other moms out there to question who you’re scrapbooking FOR. Who will keep these albums in 15 years? It was evident from my husband’s work even in elementary school that he could have cared less about most of it and wasn’t the kind of kid who wanted to hang on to anything. However, I have special memories carefully stored in little labeled boxes from first grade on (which I did myself–I’m not sure my mom even knew!). Will your child want these books? Will he or she want one book for all twelve years of school (like my husband)? Or one per year (like me)? Are these for you to keep and cry and smile over decades later (like my MIL really should have done)?

    With that said, thanks for all the ideas! I’m excited to make books like these for my own children someday, and hopefully I can do it in a way that doesn’t put their future spouses in that awkward place of “to trash or not to trash!”

  11. Asigurania says:

    I was wondering what camera did you use.(and what exposure time and iso). Thank you for the tips, by the way.

  12. carrie says:

    This might be a really out of date question…but are you guys ever going to come out with another school kit? I bought your old ones for my older kids, but now am sorry I didn’t buy one for my youngest. I am hoping you are going to have a school version of project life…

  13. I do agree with all of the concepts you have introduced for your post.
    They’re very convincing and can definitely work.
    Still, the posts are too short for newbies. May you please prolong them a
    little from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.

  14. […] and I was trying to decide what to keep and what to toss. Then I saw this great idea from Becky Higgins.  Some (most) of the things (especially big things hard to hang on to, or stuff we don’t […]