Scrap Those Old Photos

They're lurking in my scraproom. Tucked away in their boxes, they haunt me. Their little voices nag me: “It's not our fault we're old, ugly, discolored. We're still important. Aren't we?"    

materials Photoshop CS2 (Adobe) • Autumn Chic kit by the Shabby Princess, Kristie David ( • Drop Shadow Action Set by Katie Pertiet ( • Duality font 

They're my old pictures. Thirty years have taken their toll on their tiny little bodies. They’ve faded to strange tones of orange and yellow, and they are all strangely out of focus. I'm not exaggerating when I say that these old photos intimidate me.

But how can I make these photos look good? Advice on that subject is plentiful: Enlarge them. Convert them to black and white. Recrop to shift the focus. But, making those changes alters the original photos. I want to use them in actual size, without much editing. I want to keep that vintage flavor and preserve every detail. Ugly couches bring back fond memories, after all.

I scoured my favorite digital scrapbook stores for kits and elements that looked great with my family’s old photos, then downloaded my new goodies and got to work. As I scrapped, I knocked out the following set of guidelines you can follow too:

  • Scan the photos at high resolution--600 dpi--to maximize detail. Take this opportunity to archive the original photos responsibly. I put mine into a basic, acid free photo album, with penciled notes.
  • Work on an 8.5 x 11 or 8 x 8 page size. These small photos look either cluttered or lonely on 12 x 12.
  • Perform a few quick corrections. Adjust the color a little, clean up any damage to the photo, perhaps adjust brightness and contrast. But, keep the vintage look.    
  • If the photos have faded to orange or yellow and you can’t correct the color, choose papers and accents with yellow, orange, and green tones. These sallow colors offset the yellowing photos and make the color fading less noticeable.
  • Use products with design features that evoke the era of the photos themselves. But you don’t have to be perfectly literal. Use color and pattern to set the mood of the era.
  • Journal with whatever information you have. You can leave blank spaces and fill them in later. I love the look of real handwriting on a digi page!
  • Identify what you love about each photo. What’s special about it? Focus on that. This will also help you prioritize and find a place to start when you're staring at boxes of disorganized photos. Dive in and play!

If you’re still overwhelmed, remember this: There’s no law that says you have to scrapbook everything. It's ok to just place the photo on background paper and journal next to it on a simple journaling block. You don't have to scrapbook every photo to the nines. But, if you have a plan of action, you can get a lot of those daunting old photos scrapbooked in a way that's fun and brings meaning and joy to your life! 


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