Photo Freedom Q&A (day four-ish)

Let's get back on track here with some insight from Brandi, who took Library of Memories in 2007 and joined in again this year, as a review …

… I accomplished so much the first time around, but I decided to follow along again this year to see if there was anything I missed the first time. I have had so much fun and it has helped me to fill in the gaps (some I didn't even know were there!) I am in LOVE with this whole system. I wasn't a big chronological scrapper to begin with but I was obsessed with keeping the pages I completed in chronological order. It made me crazy and I ended up with stacks and stacks of finished pages that no one could look at! Now I have a home for all my pages, as I finish them. I have also been able to make connections and have completed some truly special pages that I would never have done before. I love having a supply of little "this and that" photos to mix together on layouts. I love how my pages turn out and showcase so much more of my family's lives. You helped me rediscover my passion and enthusiasm for scrapbooking and showed me a way to sustain it!

So, clearly I've highlighted what stands out for me. First of all, as you adapt and customize this system to you, be patient. If something doesn't feel right as you begin to implement it, don't worry too much. There is much that you learn in living with and using the system and sometimes you just need to move forward with some faith around uncertainty. There is nothing that you do that can't be "undone" and most of the time, you will see things you didn't expect to see as you trust my experience and let time show you important patterns in your life and scrapbooking habits. I think Brandi articulated so well, one of my favorite things about category drawers, which is the thrill of both knowing where to put and find the odds and ends. The first several times that you come across, or are given a random photo and the light bulb goes on and you know where to store it, you feel incredibly powerful and some of that former confusion and frustration around photo organization melts away. Case in point, not long ago, I came across a photo of me and a college roommate. I could have put this photo in the People We Love drawer behind the Stacy Friends tab, but as I looked at it, I noticed that we were leaning against her little VW beetle bug that was such a part of our comings and goings. I decided to place it in the Things We Do drawer behind the Cars tab and when I pulled out the other photos I was amazed at the variety and range of photos I have accumulated without even realizing it. I suddenly imagined a little mini album, titled "Car Talk" wherein I could share memories and stories with cars as a jumping off point. Geof and I traveled to New Zealand last fall and stopped at a very cool car museum where I did that thing (and I know I'm not the only one) where I take LOTS (printed 20+) good pictures of cars and detail shots of cars and then I get home and think "why did I do this?" Well …. I'm now going to thumb through the Fall 2007 storage binder and triage several of those photos into the Cars category, knowing that when I get around to creating this little project I will have some fun photos to use almost as decorative elements.

Wait, wait .. it gets better. Clark started driver's ed yesterday afternoon. How cool would it be to give him the album, or at least dedicate it to him with some "rules of the road" (life lessons) recorded inside.

All this brings me to Brandi's last sentence about rediscovering and sustaining your enthusiasm for scrapbooking. All the inspiration you ever need for pages and projects is in your photographs. Photographs are pure magic — you can just have to know how to magnify and capture the magic. And when you do, you will have an endless stream of ideas to sustain you in telling cool stories. We have, in our industry adopted the notion that new product and new technique are the only way of sustaining us in our ongoing quest, but this is simply not true. In fact, over time, this notion can create expectations around the outward appeal of a page and even shift the focus to the design or decorative elements, which is not what matters in the end. To truly sustain your  passion, you've got to engage in life, learn to capture what you see and establish rituals of work and play that will generate the content/stories you most want to share. New product is most exciting when it is employed in the process of telling a great story!

And now, questions from Stephanie:
I have two questions…since American Crafts
no longer carries the 3-ring binders you started with, can you
recommend a good quality substitute? My second question is about
putting photos into storage binders when you have decades of photos to
triage. You mention that your storage binders go back five years or so,
but what is your suggestion for storing the to-be-scrapped photos that
go back way more than five years?

My original albums (as shown in the book, The Big Picture) were not American Crafts albums. I purchased them from a catalog and was not able to find them again, when I outgrew my original purchase. I now use and LOVE the Modern albums, by American Crafts. I love the bright colors, the quality and the versatility of the binding that allows you to store and display a variety of layout sizes. In other words, you could create a library of 12×12 albums showcasing 6×6, 8 1/2 x 11 and 12 x 12 pages. This is what Ali does and it's just way cool.
I also recommend the classic leather albums from We R Memory Keepers — they are kid-proof and come in an amazing array of rich, decor-enhancing colors. If you haven't seen these albums, they are worth some  investigating. Both of these albums can be special ordered through your local scrapbook store or purchased online at

Corralling and storing years of photos can be an utterly overwhelming task. As storage binders go, my advice is to purchase a limited number of binders. It is very easy to get caught in the trap of "I've got to completely finish this step before I can move on!" Pretty please, don't do this. Again, the beauty of this system lies in the fact that you can begin organizing (start with the last five years) and also begin scrapbooking. In fact, it is in the 'scrapbooking' that you will learn best how to customize and fine tune the parts and pieces of the system to your situation. So, get the last five years of pictures you REALLY want to scrapbook in storage binders, practice triaging a small percentage of those into category drawers AND start scrapbooking event-based pages. As you remove and use pictures from your binders, you will create space in them. You can before too long, combine the contents of two storage binders (so what was originally two binders for Spring 2006 and Summer 2006, becomes one binder labeled Spring/Summer 2006) and  you can now go back and slip more photos (perhaps snapshots from 2002) into the binder you freed up. Does that make sense? In the meantime, your collection of triaged photos in your category drawers is growing and aging beautifully. If you have pictures from your childhood or other pictures you know you are not going to get to, anytime soon, by all means do a quick sort and triage some into your drawers, but remember since the finished pages are not displayed in annual albums, you can easily go back in time and add pages anywhere you like!

But, seriously, you need to trust me and avoid filling up too many binders, b/c the joy in all of this is how you can move pictures through your system and grow a library of completed layouts. Key words being completed layouts. Let yourself scrapbook. In so doing you will find the right "flow" for you and you will get better at selecting highlights to print and better at knowing the kinds of layouts you most want to create and better at allowing yourself to pass over pictures and eventually move them into cold storage (knowing that you can go back) and better at triaging out key pictures that will inspire you in magical ways.

If you've made it this far.
thank you.

here's a little eye candy and some links that will help you find something similar.

I've been asked, Where can I find these or something similar? Thanks to Susan chiming in, I now have the actual link!

Montgomery Ward

And this is the cutest "something similar" I could find:

Ballard Design Bathing Beauties


  1. Tess Davis says:

    Dear Stacy,
    I’m currently in LOM and must say I’ve been on board since the beginning (actually since I read Big Picture). And yet I still love reading anything you write about your system. I’m so inspired by your confidence, your understanding, and your enthusiasm. The Big Picture helped mold me as a relatively new “modern” scrapbooker (post-magnetic albums full of tidbits from high school, college, and whatnot) and LOM has continued to create excitement in me beyond my expectations. I love my hobby, I’m passionate about telling my stories, about playing, and about having fun. And I honestly and truly have you to thank for helping me bring all of this into a system that works for me and works amazingly well! Thank you times a million! :) Tess

  2. LOVE those swimming ladies! The similar ones are cute…but I’m pretty sure this is a link to the exact one. (The pink and green gal being my personal favorite!!)

  3. Stacy,
    Just have to chime in here and say thank you for your thoughts about PICTURES being what sustains us in our scrapbooking.
    It’s just so easy to be caught up in the product trap . . . the thought that you must have the latest and greatest. But it is just that – a trap. Not only will our enthusiasm fade for products, but if your budget doesn’t allow for more and bigger and better, you could easily get discouraged by your apparent “lack.”
    But we don’t ever lack memories . . . and if we are going to invest time and money into scrapbooking “product,” then let it be time taking pictures and money printing them out. Like you’ve said . . . you can only scrapbook in the way you are organized, and you can only scrapbook what is printed out!
    So, thanks again for the information and inspiration. I’m inspired again this morning to go look through more pictures, find some simple paper and adhesive, and put my memories down for all to see!

  4. Tracy Wallace says:

    Hi Stacy,
    I’m an alumni but regrettably didn’t get much done last year and this year is looking just as busy so I just keep plugging away with my categories and triaging :)
    Anyhow the other day I went to file my new photos in the category files and under my daughter’s “life friends” category put a photo of her best bud having a sleepover and cuddled under our special rainbow blanket (she’s 11).
    Low and behold what did I find but an identical photo of the 2 of them in exactly the same position when they were 2 years old, same rainbow blanket even!
    I went running off to tell my husband and in-laws who were visiting at the time about your course (they appeased me and listened to my enthusiasm) and how I would never have found these 2 photos together without taking your LOM course!
    I now need to make a quick layout before I lose the magic. Maybe I’ll do the layout about the wonders of your class and strategy since that meant as much to me as the memory!
    Even though I plod along at an incredibly slow pace, thank you so very much and I look forward to being alumni next year too if you offer it again!

  5. I feel like I am coming in during the movie…I love the information on photo organization, but I think I am missing a lot. Where can I get the whole picture on this system?

  6. Stacy,
    I am just loving this Q&A that you have had. I am just now organizing years of photos. I heard about your book when it came out and was interested, but the chronological part of my brain just wasn’t sure yet about not doing the chronological thing. But over the months, reading your blog, I am more and more convinced that this really is the way that is closer to the way I think and scrapbook. Now I don’t have the book yet and can’t wait to find it and get my hands on it. Please keep answering those questions! I can’t get enough information! THANK YOU!

  7. Stacy Bassett says:

    I love the question and answers you are posting on your blog…I have both your Big Picture Book and Photo Freedom but did not make it into your LOM class this year. I am an organizational “Freak” but the chronological method of scrapbooking never made sense to me nor did it work with the numbers of pictures that I have. While I enjoyed The Big Picture, it was not enough for me to fully understand the “system” you use for photos. With Photo Freedom, I now understand better how to organize and manage my photos and can’t wait until next year to “fine-tune” this system through LOM. I have tackled most of my older printed pictures and my summer project will be to work on the digital pics that have “piled” up. Thanks for your inspiration and sharing with us.
    Stacy B.

  8. Kristin says:

    I’m loving reading your Q&A every day – thank you so much.
    For the first time all year, I did not feel guilty as I was uploading and tagging pics while my preschooler was at school at my baby was asleep … because I knew that “counted” as scrapbooking. Instead of looking guiltily at the pile of pics, I printed one that I do want to scrapbook today just because I do! And I had never tagged a pic until today – how I missed out on that before, I do not know. Thank you thank you thank you!!!

  9. Hi Stacy- Just wanted to tell you that as a second year LOMer- I am loving the system as well. I recently tok a new pt job & people were asking to see pics of my kids. So, one night at some ungodly hour, I was able to pull together an adorable 8 page chipboard album of my girls. All I did was go to my drawers under personality-go to sisterly love & my album was on its way & 1 hour later I had a great album! So, thanks for a great system that has made my scraplife that much easier!!

  10. tchrtiff says:

    Great post and great books! I’m learning so much. I have questions about photos on the computer as I have iPhoto, like you.
    1. Do you name each iPhoto “event”?
    2. Do you name each individual photo?
    3. When assigning keywords do you include your categories as keywords? (“Place We Go”, “People We Love”)
    I don’t know how detailed I should get with each of these. I would think that assigning keywords would be most helpful for the future.
    Thanks for your time writing the books, creating the class and posting on your blog.

  11. sherry d says:

    Thanks SO much for posting questions and answers. It’s helping me a lot as i will soon begin implementing your ideas with mine. I just read Photo Freedom and have ordered The Big Picture to read, hopefully while flying to and from our Alaskan cruise!! But if not, during the summer i’ll be devouring it. You’re ideas and enthusiasm are contagious!
    sherryd in TX

  12. These Q&A posts are very interesting and helpful. Thanks.

  13. Sue Althouse says:

    I love this Q&A and hope it continues on for a while…..
    I made an important discovery this past weekend. I have been triaging too many photos too quickly into categories and not letting them live and flow through the storage binders first. So last Saturday and Sunday I spent time untriaging (is that a word? – it is now!) and putting photos into storage binders, a step I had skipped with many pictures, particularly older ones. Big mistake.
    So now I can see my pictures and am so filled with ideas! The moral of the story for me – just do what Stacy says!

  14. Stephanie says:

    Stacy–thanks so much for responding to my questions about 3-ring albums and storage binder limits (feels like I just got a note from a celebrity!)
    To Everyone–I have found the best price on the storage binders that Stacy uses at–and I got free shipping.

  15. Stacy, I have been reading your book a lot and more then once. I really love it and all your ideas. Working on getting my pictures set up like you teach. Wish you could come spend a week with me and help out. I’m sure a lot of ladies wish that. I have 7 kids, the 2 girls are only left at home now and the 5 boys are off on their own now. Two of my sons are in Iraq right now, Air Force, Army. So I try to keep my days busy so I don’t worry about them. This is helping me. Thanks for all your help.

  16. Michele says:

    Can you tell us more about your upcoming “Get Fun” class at BPS? The class info is a little vague. Thanks!

  17. Robin Robbins says:

    Summer Fun??
    What are we doing for structure and fun this summer????
    I have 5 kids, and I loved your Summer Fun post it calendar idea last year, and the clip board idea for structure and chores, and the popsicle sticks jobs. I was just brainstorming my plan for the summer and wondered what you were thinking about… tomorrow is the last day of school! Yikes!!!
    Thanks for sharing so much…you are a constant source of ideas and inspiration!!
    Robin Robbins

  18. Have the Photo Freedom book…want to take the LOM class.
    Will you be offering the online class again soon?

  19. christina says:

    Stacy, Saw you speak at TM last night. Just wanted to let you know you are even cuter and more inspiring in person! Thanks!

  20. Stacy- I love the Q&A – I have learned a lot. Can you go into how you weed out your pictures that you use? I may take 30 or more pictures of a single event – Do you save all those pictures or do you pick some and delete the rest?
    Thank you

  21. Stacy,
    I’m “delurking” thanks to your generous Q & A session! :) Your book, Photo Freedom, as completely revelutionalized my scrapbooking. THANK YOU just doesn’t seem like enough!
    My question: Where did you find the frames you use on your kids’ bedroom doors to display the PHOTOS I LOVE pages before putting them into albums? (They are on page 92 in P.F.) I lovelovelove living with art out in the open like this.
    Thanks again for all of the life-changing (really!) ideas.

  22. Ruth those acrylic frames are from Picture It Page Frames

  23. Stacy,
    read both your books… can you clear this up for me-
    are your books, all about clark, all about taft, etc- separate from your “all about us” book? or are they included in your all about us book?
    does this mean you have 3 books for each child: all about album, photos i love, and school of life?

  24. Isabel de Sousa roberts says:

    I’d love to hear more details about your Iphoto system. I’ve been trying to create a method that works for the LOM system but feel like I’m trying to reinvent the wheel. Someone above asked about tagging, events etc. Help!

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