Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



project photo rescue – toni’s story

We hope you continue to enjoy — and benefit from — our Project Photo Rescue “episodes” so far! They can all be found in one tidy little place on the world wide web at any time — the Project Photo Rescue playlist on our YouTube channel. This most recent adventure was extra-special because it was my first time helping out one of our “own” — Toni, our shop manager! She has been a part of our team for a while now and incidentally feeling increasingly overwhelmed about what to do / not do with scrapbooking.

Toni really felt like her memory-keeping situation was a hot mess, but I have to tell you … she has done some awesome things and wasn’t giving herself enough credit! She has a few albums completed from high school and from when her babies were … actual babies. She even has a few trip albums in the mix. Nevertheless, she was struggling with what to do with her boxes of photos. You might remember that we already covered the digital aspect of her “photo chaos.” If you missed that video with tech expert Kevin lending his advice … it’s worth watching.

So back to the bigger picture … and the boxes of photos … and the not-yet-preserved memories for the Chase family … keep reading and you’ll see how I asked Toni all the questions so she could best identify her struggles and priorities, which led to both of us coming up with a solid game plan. My hope in sharing any + all photo rescues is that you gain some insight for yourself along the way.

Toni, why are you feeling ready to get a grip on memory keeping? Why now?

Toni has been married for almost 22 years and has three kids. Two of whom just graduated from high school and one who is a senior this year. Her son is leaving on a 2-year church service mission to Colombia (in fact, he leaves this week!) … and she is feeling like time is running out! At the top of her list is the desire to create a slide show of pictures of Connor growing up … to play at his mission farewell that was coming up very quickly.

WHY does this matter to you? What’s the point of all this?

The kids are leaving the nest and she wants those memories preserved to be able to look at. She wants to have the albums to be able to show to her kids’ friends and future spouses as they start bringing new friends home.

What are your current (and past) hold ups in memory keeping? 

She has so many duplicate photos or photos that are blurry. She knows it is okay to eliminate some of those photos, but she can’t quite wrap her brain around actually doing that. Plus, there are just so many photos. Where does she start? What’s the best way to organize?

Who are these scrapbooks for? Yourself? Family? Future generations?

For her kids and family members.

Where will be your place to work on your scrapbooks?

In bed! No really … Toni strongly prefers to exclusively use the Project Life® App exclusively to do all of her scrapbooking. This came across to me as a non-negotiable point for her. She really doesn’t want to make any physical albums. This comes as a result of having already made many app pages and falling head-over-heels for that method. As for the physical space, she’ll need to gather and organize the physical prints she has, that will take place in the family room, and she fully intends to involve her family.

What physical stuff do you have? And what have you already done?

We brought every box of photos into one place. We checked out what she’s facing between prints and even VHS tapes … and of course we had already assessed her digital situation. We reviewed her completed and not-completed scrapbooks. I was able to learn + see what Toni has already accomplished, and she honestly had forgotten about some of the scrapbooks she had. We made a list of all of Toni’s scrapbooks and determined that she has 15 albums! This is about 8 more albums than she thought she had. It’s funny, that every rescue I’ve done … the person always has more than they thought. Oh, and those VHS video tapes? We discussed having those transferred to DVDs through a service that Costco offers. I haven’t personally done that myself, but Molly has had a great experience with that.

As you look through your scrapbooks … be honest about the feelings that are stirred up — positive, negative, all of it.

Toni would love to have all of her albums look the same. She still enjoys looking at them all but would eventually love to have completed photo books moving forward. She doesn’t regret the albums she has done in the past or the fact that they are a different style than she would do now. The style is very indicative of the time and how most people scrapbooked. I’m so glad she feels this way!

What matters the most right now, in this moment? 

Toni’s first priority in all of this is getting the photos out of boxes and organized.

What style of scrapbooking (or approach) is feeling like a good fit for you?

Toni would like to scan and digitize all of her physical photos to enable her to do 100% of her scrapbooking in the Project Life App. She wants to print her completed scrapbooks as 10×10 photo books. (Yes, we are offering the photo book option very soon — this fall! — and yes, 10×10 will be one of the size options.)

How many scrapbooks do you WANT? Does that matter? Does that not matter?

Toni’s twins, Connor and Courtney, actually made a surprise and very candid appearance in the 3rd video, and with their honest input, it was decided that Toni would like to send each of her kids with probably 2 albums when they are off and living elsewhere. Album one would be a summary of birth through 8th grade and the second album would be their high school years. She would also like to have one family yearbook per year, plus an album for Connor’s two-year mission.

Where will be your grand central station for all things memory keeping (storage and work)?

She will store her in-progress projects in the hall closet and will work on the sorting in the family living room.

In order to decide what you do first, let’s talk about what you are the MOST excited about NOW? And then what?

Right now Toni is already working on what she is the most excited about — her current family yearbook! She does a layout every week (completely in the Project Life App) and is keeping up with that. She plans to keep up with documenting Connor’s mission while he’s away — a project that will begin THIS WEEK. Beyond that she will catch up on years past and make 2 albums for each of the kids.

Album size and color?

Toni will keep her 12×12 albums she has already done. Because she really wants consistent album sizes, I suggested she take her smaller photo books (she has a few, mostly travel photos) … and transfer those into 12×12 Project Life pages / albums. With all of the scrapbooking she does from now on, she will print those 10×10 photo books.

Let’s think about your journaling. Which voice will you use?

We talked about the fact that journaling doesn’t have to include a ton of detail. It can, if that is what you like, but Toni prefers to keep her journaling to a minimum. Toni will do the journaling in her own voice in both her kids’ albums and the family album. This is what I do, and while I would never insist that others do this, it does feel like the right fit for Toni.

To round out the game plan, how will you organize?

I always recommend sorting according to the game plan and specific projects that are part of that plan. In Toni’s case, she can sort into larger piles that are: Family, Connor, Courtney, Caitlin. Pretty simple. When she goes to work on each person’s album, she can sub-categorize from there. For example, when she works on Caitlin’s album, she can sort into sub piles for each year or grade in Caitlin’s life.

I’ll share a quick formula with you that will work well with Toni’s goals and parameters that she has set for herself … which is two albums per child. It goes like this: To summarize birth through 8th grade, that’s about 14 years in a photo book. We are still working on the maximum number of pages that we’ll be able to have printed in a photo book, but let’s say that number is 30 two-page layouts. If you divide that number of pages by 14 years, that = 2 layouts (4 single pages) per year. Knowing this will enable Toni to seriously scale back and trim down the number of pictures she will scan and ultimately scrapbook. Likewise, the 2nd album will be the child’s 4 years of high school. Again… simple math. 30 divided by 4 = 7 or 8 layouts per year. So helpful!

This is why I recommend beginning with the end in mind, friends.

Toni isn’t worried about the sorting of the physical photos; this feels very manageable — especially with the family’s help. Attacking the digital photos has felt like the more overwhelming task, but thankfully she has gotten a good start with Kevin’s help … and she is well on her way there. She’s excited to check that off her list!

The biggest surprise to me was Toni’s desire to digitize all of her physical photos. She really doesn’t want to use the physical product to scrapbook these and feels so much better about using the app exclusively. My biggest advice to her in tackling this project is to use the Fujitsu Scan Snap ix 500, which will scan at a high resolution and it is SO fast! We have this at the office and David and I have been using this at home for years as well.

For more inspiration, be sure to check out the other Project Photo Rescue videos.


5 Responses

  1. Tina St. Peter says:

    Thank you so much for these Project Photo Rescue shares! I have found each and every one wicked inspiring. I have been a traditional scrapbooker since 2008, when my kids were already in their teens, so I have a HUGE backlog of pre-digital photos. I pretty early on gave up on the concept of every really “catching up” and figured I would just have plenty of photos to scrap later, an endless supply of inspiration. And that was fine. Until I realized that my family cannot enjoy those old photos while they are sitting in photo boxes. It could literally be years before I get to some of those older photos. I never considered pocket scrapbooking as an option, because everything I was seeing online was a weekly documentation approach and I just didn’t think that was for me.

    Then, Becky was on Paperclipping Roundtable in Jan 2013 and I was immediately inspired to use Project Life to get those old photos out of boxes and into albums that my family could enjoy. I bought product. I searched online for inspiration. And was completely overwhelmed. I was still feeling the pull to scrapbook those old photos traditionally. I still LOVE creating layouts. So I did nothing.

    This year, I started to reconsider my approach with the impending arrival of my first grand child. I knew I wanted to capture her first year, especially, in a way I hadn’t captured my two daughters first years back in the 90’s. I am using the Emily Lei Baby edition and have enjoyed it so much that I am re-inspired to get my old photos into pocket pages and albums and with my other scrapbooks. I have decided that if I ever want to go back and do some traditional layouts from those old photos, I totally can! I am trying to remember that I am not “locked in”. If I scrapbook them now in pocket pages, at least the stories and photos are together. I worry that I don’t remember so many details from those early years, but what memories I do recall with be down on paper before I forget even more details.

    Thank you again for posting these rescues, they have inspired me to start my own Photo Rescue!


  2. Christine says:

    Do you use your ScanSnap for scanning photos? Is the quality as good as a flatbed scanner? I love my ScanSnap, but didn’t think Fujitsu recommended it for photos.

  3. Amy says:

    Like Toni, I prefer to work digitally or in the app, so I don’t think I’ll ever do anything with my printed pictures after they’re scanned. What do you recommend doing with photos after scanning them? Throw them away (assuming you have a solid backup plan for digital files)?

  4. Sherry says:

    What is the answer to the question about scansnap being good for photos? I am looking for a scanner and don’t know which scanner to buy.

  5. Beth Fisher says:

    I too would like to know about the scansnap being good for photos. Not sure I will get a answer since the last comment was six months ago and didn’t receive a answer.