Lens-Artists Challenge #133– My Photography Journey

My parents bought me my first camera, a Canon Powershot A500 series, when I was a college student spending a semester in Spain. We paid a ridiculous amount of money for a 512 MB SD card, which helped me take a lot of photos and not worry about film. This was the start of my photography journey! I have no formal training whatsoever, I just like to have fun and record memories.

Next I got a crash course in wildlife photography with a week long trip to Ecuador and the Galápagos. It was a great place to learn because the animals on the islands have no natural predators and will just stand there next to you while you photograph them. During this trip, I started to think more about channeling my grandfather, who was an avid amateur nature photographer.

I really got into photography because I am a scrapbooker. I came back from the week-long Galápagos trip with hundreds of images, which I then made into a beautiful scrapbook.

We were gifted a Canon Powershot SD870 for our wedding, which I used to take pictures on our vacations for many years. Returning to Europe was particularly fun because I could practice what I’d learned since Spain, with slightly nicer equipment.

Starting in 2015, I’ve stopped using digital cameras entirely and just use my phone to take photos. The convenience is worth the relatively low quality (funny considering that my phone has a better camera than that first Powershot did). Since I’m not traveling anywhere at the moment, I’m trying to find inspiration around my home (not hard with two kids to photograph!)

So, here I am, meandering along on my photography journey, learning more from my fellow Lens-Artist participants every week. I have grown a lot as a photographer since that first camera and trip to Spain; someday I hope to find time to make scrapbooks for all these photos I am taking!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #96: Cropping the Shot

As a scrapbooker, cropping my photos comes naturally to me.  “Cropping” is actually a frequently used slang term for the act of scrapbooking, as in “I spent my Saturday at a crop,” meaning a get-together for scrapbooking (not possible right now ☹).

I edit nearly all my photos, either simply with Google Photos or with Forever Historian, a photo editing software intended for scrapbookers.  When you have limited space in a scrapbook, cropping helps you focus on essentials for the sake of aesthetics, as well as fit more photos on a page.

On our trip to Europe, we took a lot of bus tours, which don’t give you a lot of time to frame the perfect shot.  Luckily, that’s where cropping comes in!

This one goes from a typical “yeah, I took this out a bus window” photo to a perfectly decent shot St. Peter’s Basilica.  I personally think square photos are underrated and use them a lot.

On Skellig Michael in Ireland, sometime the cliffs made it impossible to get exactly the shot I would have liked, and I had an older camera with me because I didn’t want to chance my phone getting wet on the boat ride.  I have cropped nearly every picture I took there.

This one even went from vertical to horizontal.  I was able to get rid of some unnecessary rocks and waves and zoom in on the adorable puffins.  It may also have been a better fit for the layout of my scrapbooking page.  I probably could have cropped even further to focus on just one or two puffins, but I had to consider the resolution of the photo, too.

You can find more cropping at the original Lens-Artist challenge.

 

 

Step-by-step scrapbook page design

Last weekend I attended a scrapbooking retreat, which is exactly like it sounds.  I made a quick album of my photos from last year’s trip to Disney World and Harry Potter World at Universal (using this pre-designed album from Creative Memories).

I love making scrapbooks, and I’ve done all kinds.  Besides obvious ones for vacations and my wedding, I also made one of pictures of my cat when she passed away, and I made one of favorite places in my Florida hometown when I moved to Ohio.  For me it’s always been a great way to relive meaningful memories while using some artistic creativity.

I use pre-designed pages and digital software a lot, but I also just enjoy starting with some printed 4×6 pictures and a blank page and decorating from there.  Here’s my step-by-step process for scrapbook page design that gives me something a little different every time.

1.Sort photos and group them onto pages.

I’m a planner, so I like to set out which pictures are going on which pages; otherwise I would run out of pages!  This often results in my putting up to 10 pictures on one page, which is fine, I just have to get creative about placement.  I usually work in double page spreads for coordination, even if the two pages are about different events.

2. Crop photos.

Unless I already had a specific layout in mind for the page, I usually just crop each photo for content and focus in the best way I can.  Sometimes I do all squares or something, but usually it’s a mix of shapes.

3. Lay out photos, etc. on the page.

This is the fun part where I actually have to fit all the photos on the page, while ideally leaving some room somewhere for writing, and any other memorabilia that go on the page.  These pages of 6 and 8 photos are pretty typical for me (that’s why cropping is so important!).  I am not a fast scrapbooker (or “scrapper”); this step can take me a while.  There’s always that one photo that just doesn’t want to fit.

I often take a picture of the page at this point so I can remember how I had everything arranged, because I’ll have to move the photos to add any paper behind them.

4. Add decoration.

Now I’ll select background paper, borders, or stickers based on the colors or theme of the photos.  I rarely “wallpaper,” or put a whole sheet of paper covering the white page behind the photos; I typically just add some photo mats and pieces and parts here and there.  I’m always saving scraps from previous pages because you never know when they’ll come in handy.

Sometimes I’ll use coordinating papers/embellishments I purchased as a set, but more often I just go through my whole stash and find things I like together (I don’t think any of the embellishments above are from the same “set”).

I’ll also do some journaling on the page; writing is an extremely important part of scrapbooking.  Looking at photos is cool, but it’s even better if you know who exactly is in the photos and why you were taking them.

Do you guys like to scrapbook? Do you prefer digital or “traditional” scrapbooking?  Do you prefer pre-designed pages or designing your own?  

Galapagos PicFolio album

Well, guys, today was the last day to buy supplies from the Creative Memories site; you can still print digital stuff until September 23.

So here’s a look at one more wonderful album that Creative Memories helped me complete.  My junior year in college, I took a week-long trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands as part of a zoology class.  I am no great photographer, but I did get many beautiful shots of scenery, flora and fauna.  The PicFolio album (no longer available) has pockets to just slide in 4×6 photos, so it’s very quick and simple and lets the photos be the main attraction.  Of course, I still added my own touches.

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Life in scrapbooks

Well, Creative Memories’ “last chance ordering” has been extended until noon on Friday, so now’s the time if you want to stock up on high-quality basics.

Today, let’s look at some more personal albums.

My cat, Popcorn, passed away 2 years ago, and I still miss her terribly.  As part of my grieving process, it was really helpful to make a small album with lots of pictures of her and all the good times we had.  She lived with us for almost 15 years.  This album was a pre-designed “kit” where all the pages were already partly decorated and all I had to do was add pictures and stickers and journaling.  This is the kind of product that Creative Memories will be continuing in the future.

I recently celebrated my 5th wedding anniversary with my husband; we took the day off work and played board games and TOR all day.  I completed a “traditional” album with my wedding photos within a few years of the wedding (practically a record for me).  Here are some of my favorite pages (all original layouts).  (Maybe someday I’ll post the wedding pic of us in front of the giant X-Wing)