Monday, January 15, 2007

Coping with the Christmas Pictures

I have just been invited to be a regular blogger at Catholic Exchange as part of a new blog "CE on Time" dealing with productivity. I am thrilled with the opportunity to be a part of this new project. To prepare for this new venture, I took out a bunch of books on that topic out of the library this week which readers of this blog will no doubt be hearing about. I was actually pleasantly surprised that I do make use of many of the techniques that these experts suggest. So, this is my first post to the new blog which I am sharing with you as well:

My Christmas pictures came in by UPS truck today - nearly 300 of them! Granted, many are doubles, but still, that is quite a few pictures to wade through. I love to take pictures. Even making diligant use of the "delete" button on my digital camera, I end up with an overabundance.

I patted myself on the back last week when I finally got all the pictures uploaded from the camera to the computer. I then went through and got rid of red-eye on several of them as well as attempted to lighten up many that had been taken in low-light situations (somehow photographs taken in my Church always come out way too dark even with a flash.) Then I sent them off to my favorite photo-processor to be printed. I breathed a sigh of relief that I could cross "send out the pictures" off of my to-do list.

I knew my relief would be short-lived, however, because the pictures were going to come back! Now, I have an even bigger job to add to the to-do list: Sort and scrapbook the pictures.

I have two young children (ages 5 1/2 and 4) and I work part-time from home. Saturday night I have dedicated as my evening off. After the children are in bed, my husband and I will usually watch a movie and I work on something creative. My first choices are quilting or watercolor painting. I consider scrapbooking an activity I have to do to insure that our photo memories are kept in order. I have the feeling the next few Saturday nights will be dedicated to this.

There are people who love to scrapbook and that is wonderful. If that is a creative outlet that you enjoy, then by all means put your heart and soul into your creations. If, like me, you are simply looking for a way to organize your memories in an attractive manner, I offer you my system.

First, I sort the photos into three piles. One pile is for my husband and I. Each child has his own pile. Any picture that is truly bad goes in the trash. Others which are good go into an "extras" box. I find that these photos come in handy for projects. I then go through the "keep" piles putting them in chronological order.

The pictures for my husband and I go into an album that has room on the side for comments. That way all I have to do is slip in the pictures and write what the event was and who is in the picture. This gives me the informational benefit of scrapbooking without much added work.

My children have actual scrapbooks. They enjoy looking at "their" books and I think that they will appreciate being able to take their memories with them when they move out someday. I like the 12" x 12" scrapbooks because you can fit more on one page. There are very few events that require more than two pages in their scrapbooks.

My scrapbooking supplies are minimal. I have a small paper-cutter and corner-rounder that I purchased at a scrapbooking party several years ago. I have a collection of colored card stock that I use for both the background of the scrapbook page and to mat the pictures. Add scissors, scrapbooking tape, and a pen and I am ready to go. I keep it all in one bag so that it is handy whenever I am ready to work.

I go through each boy's pile of pictures and crop the photos for maximum emphasis using my paper-cutter. I then do a final weeding of the photos to decide which ones are the best and will make the most appealing composition on the page. The others go into the "extras" box. Next, I mat the photos on colored card-stock, usually using two different colors per page to add some contrast. I arrange the photos on the background piece of cardstock, add some captions, and the page is done! Each page usually takes about 1/2 an hour.

If I can't finish the whole project in one sitting, which is most often the case, I put the separated photos into envelopes labeled with the child's name. That way, the following Saturday I can just pull out my materials and I am ready to go!

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