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Capturing Summer Fun
Scrap-booking has exploded as a past-time for good reason. What better time to create an heirloom of memories from CDs filled with summer family photos?

The art and hobby of scrap-booking is one of the fastest-growing and most popular hobbies around. It appeals to all age groups from primary to grandparents. Preserving photographs with their stories makes them meaningful for years to come. Which of us hasn't been baffled and frustrated by a beautiful sepia family portrait because we don't know who is in the picture, or when or why it was taken? I have a photo of my great-grandmother, posing gracefully beside a Victorian chair, and although I know who she is, and what her married name was, I have no idea of her first name or maiden name! Further research is needed, but now I wish someone had pencilled her name and the date on the back!

Capturing Summer Fun

Many people feel they don't have the time or money to put their photos into scrapbooks or albums. Consider for a moment what you have already invested in preserving your memories: the cost of the camera, the films and the developing and printing charges. Why spend all that money and leave the result in a shoebox at the back of a closet? Summer is a great time to get those pictures organized and into albums that you and your family can enjoy. You can also involve them in the process, as it makes a great family project.

The first step is to get all your photos into one location. Then start the sorting process. You can opt for a chronological system, or choose to sort by subject for a particular project such as a yearbook or wedding album. Creative Memories, the company that I work with, has a great tool for this called a Power Sort Box. It's a sturdy black plastic "photo-safe" box divided into easy-to-label sections and holds 2,400 four by six photos, with room in the lid for larger pictures and other memorabilia. This item alone has revolutionized my album making! Since getting and keeping my photos organized this way, I can easily select and retrieve those I want to work with for a particular project.

A word about the term "photo-safe." This means that the material will not adversely affect the quality of your pictures, causing them to fade, discolour, or deteriorate. Light and humidity, as well as acid and lignin found in many paper products are the enemies of photos. It is vitally important to keep your photos in acid and lignin-free boxes or albums. I cannot stress this enough. Lignin is what causes paper to turn brown over time. Maybe you have photos in those self-adhesive albums with sheets of clear plastic over the pages? If so, take a good look at them. Notice any colour change? Then get your photos ou and into an album or box that will not cause any further damage. Anything that comes into contact with a photograph should be acid and lignin free and preferably buffered as well.

The beginning of the school year is a great time to take stock of your life and start planning ahead. When you go to or host family get-togethers, enjoy outdoor living or go on beach trips, be sure to take your camera. Just like for me, family get-togethers, outdoor living, beach trips—all these situations have offered you a myriad of unique opportunities to capture memories in pictures. However, over the years, as I have become more experienced at album making, my photography has changed. Now when I have my camera in my hand I am already thinking of the pages I will be putting together in my album. I try to take accent shots, for example, such as the entrance to an amusement park or recreational facility—the name or wording makes a good title for a page. I also take close-up shots of foliage or water reflections, along with the hikers on a camping trip. Wildlife, including butterflies and insects, also add interest to album pages. Now that digital photography is growing so fast, disaster stories are also beginning to emerge. Hard drives have been known to fail and computers crash. It's all too easy to leave the images rather than actually downloading and printing them. Don't let your precious pictures be lost in this way. I read recently that it is estimated that more than two billion digital images a year are never printed! What a waste! If you take digital pictures, take the next step too, and get them printed.

Capturing Summer Fun

Of course pictures are only half of the scrapbook or album. It is the words that you put with them that make them meaningful for the people who look at them in the future. You can only get so much information from a picture, and what seems obvious to you now may not be so in years to come, so be sure to include the basic information on every page of who, when and where, as well as why the picture was taken. Another dimension to this is to include mention of your faith and family values in your albums. One good way of doing this is to include Scripture verses, and particular incidents or occasions or occasions that illustrate them. You may have heard of this technique being referred to as "faith-booking." It is especially good to include in an album that you are making for a child's life story, or wedding or other family occasion. However it can and should be woven into your every day life pictures and stories as well. If a non-believer looked at your album, would they know from them what you believed?

Another aspect to telling the story of your summer fun is to collect items such as maps, brochures and tickets from places you visit. You can also mail yourself a postcard, or just buy some to include. On a longer vacation, keeping a journal to jot down events is a good way to remembering what happened. Try recording your favourite moment, new foods tried, something that surprised you, or what your four-year-old said, as well as how you coped when things went wrong.

I use fall's rainy days as an opportunity for scrap-booking. Seeing my children crowd round eager to see the latest finished page is a great reward, but so is knowing that I can show the book to my mother far away in England when I go for a visit, and she will have a glimpse of our lives through its pages.

Jo Wright has been home schooling her four children since 1996. She teaches "Creative Memories" scrap-booking skills and is available in the Woodstock/London, Ontario area.

Originally published in Ontario Christian Home Educator's Connection, Summer 2005.




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