Scrapbooking: How Much Is Enough?

by Lain Ehmann on March 7, 2013

Americans take over 80 Billion photos per year!


According to National Geographic, Americans took over 80 BILLION photos in 2011.

So how many of those 80 billion photos are you going to scrapbook?

Yeah, I’m being a little facetious. But I’m also serious.

If we’re taking about 250 photos PER PERSON in your household per year, that means you’ve probably got somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000 photos per year to deal with.

Imagine the piles of photos already printed and stored in shoeboxes and Iris bins and three-up photo albums… think of the gigabytes of photos on your hard drive and camera, still waiting to be printed…

Are you really going to get them all in a scrapbook album?

I didn’t think so.

If you’ve got a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach right about now, you’re not alone. I hear over and over again how people are swamped with photos and they don’t know where to start. Then we start feeling guilty as the “Bad Mom!” or “Bad Grandma!” gremlins set in. And the next step is to give up on scrapbooking altogether since we’re NEVER going to make a dent in that mountain of unscrapped photos… Maybe we should just take up crochet instead. ACK!

But I don’t want you to give up! The world has enough crocheters, but we need more storytellers. So let me help you.

First, let’s just get a handle on the idea that you AREN’T going to be able to scrapbook every single one of the photos that you take, inherit, get forwarded by well-meaning friends and relatives, and find in old trunks in the attic of your grandmother’s house. It’s just not going to happen.

That may be hard to accept, particularly if you are a perfectionist/”I wanna do everything right” kind of mom like I am. But it’s just reality. We don’t have unlimited time, energy, supplies, or storage space, so we’re going to have to make some choices. Get out a piece of paper and jot down the answers to these questions:

The first question I want you to answer is:

“Why do I scrapbook?”

Is it to document every breath your family takes? Is it to hit the high points like holidays and special vacations? Is it to record the little moments? Is it to showcase photographs? Do you do it as therapy, as a creative outlet, as a way to record your own thoughts/ There is no wrong answer here; there’s only YOUR answer. Take a second and write it down (seriously, do this! I’ll wait.).

I’m not sure exactly what you wrote, but I bet you don’t scrapbook just to put pretty paper behind every photo you’ve ever taken. I bet there’s some element to meaning or story behind your desire to scrapbook. Am I right? (Humor me and say “Yes!”)

Now, the next question is:

“Who am I scrapbooking for?”

(I know it should say “WHOM am I scrapbooking for” or “FOR WHOM am I scrapbooking” but that sounds awkward to me. Change it if you want but I’m going with “Who.” Sue me.)

Again, no wrong or right answer. You can scrapbook for yourself, for your kids, for generations to come, for the Smithsonian because you know they’re going to want to memorialize your amazing life… it’s all good! Just write it down.

Finally, we get to the nitty-gritty:

How much time do I have to spend scrapbooking?

This is tough. Right now it might only be an hour a week, or a weekend a month, or even 15 minutes a day. But getting real about the time you have to put towards this hobby can and will help you create a realistic idea of what “enough” is for you. NOTE: This amount will change over time! If you are in med school or you have seven kids at home like my friend Crescendo, you’re going to have a harder time carving out space and energy to work on your albums.

There are ways to scrapbook more quickly (I can help you with that!), and to reallocate time you’re spending elsewhere. But there is indeed a finite limit on how many pages you can create in any given time period. So if you typically take an hour on a page, and you have three hours a week on average, you’re going to be able to create about 150 pages per year. Is it “enough?” Well, I can’t tell you. What is “enough” is self-defined. 150 may seem like a huge amount to some people and just a drop in the bucket to others.

But hear me on this: THE NUMBER OF PAGES YOU CREATE IS LESS IMPORTANT THAN THE MEANING IN THOSE PAGES. The pages that fit your “Why” and “For Who” (okay, okay, “For Whom!”) are going to do more to helping you feel that feeling of “enoughness” than those that don’t.


After scrapbooking for over a decade, I can testify that the pages I’ve created to capture one of my kid’s personality quirks with a simple scrapbooking design and meaningful journaling is worth 100 that were created just because I had pictures lying around and I figured I’d better get ’em on a page and into an album.

You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again: QUANTITY is secondary to QUALITY. It goes for shoes and it goes for scrapbook layouts.

So while I cannot give you a certain number like a doctor writing a prescription and say, “Create 100 layouts and call me next year,” I can say that if you take a few minutes to answer these questions, you’ll have a much better chance of reaching that ever-elusive state of “I’ve done enough.”

Let me know in the comments… do you feel like you scrapbook “enough?” Which pages tend to make you feel like you’ve achieved your scrapbooking goals?



P.S. Come back next week when I’ll be talking about scrapbooking triage to help figure out which photos to scrapbook first!


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