Guest Post: Why You Need a Scrapbooking “Why”

This is a guest post from sassy scrapbooker and 2011 4Experts instructor Lain Ehmann.


When asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, British climber George Mallory responded, “Because it’s there.”

Now that might be good enough reason to spend months preparing and weeks journeying up a death-ridden path to 29,000 feet. But it’s not a good enough reason to scrapbook your photos.

If you’re only spending time scrapbooking because you have photographs that need a home, you’re missing a big part of the process. You could just as easily put your pictures in a digital frame, in photo albums, or leave them in shoe boxes under your bed, next to the dog’s half-chewed bone. I strongly believe (can you tell??) that you need to know why you’re investing yourself in this hobby. Because it is, indeed, an investment.

Scrapbooking takes time.
We need to take photos, select which ones to print, create designs, adhere elements to the page, and then spend hours admiring what we’ve done and talking about the best way to get letter stickers to actually stick.

Scrapbooking takes money.
We have to buy supplies, buy a camera, develop prints, buy albums… the list goes on.

Scrapbooking takes energy.
If you really fall in love with this hobby, it becomes more than a nice way to spend time; it becomes a calling, a lifestyle of sorts.

So if you don’t know WHY you’re spending all that time, money, and effort, you aren’t going to hang with it for very long. When the photos aren’t coming out of the printer the same way you pictured them in your mind, when your five-year-old pulls all the letter stickers off your latest creation, when your pages look like your five-year-old designed them, when the words don’t come… you need something to keep you going.

Just as with all human pursuits, scrapbooking has its ups and downs. Some days I’m in love with it; some days I don’t want to see another tape runner until I die. It’s just the way life — and hormones! — rolls. We can give up the first time the inspiration fails to flow, or we can dig deep and realize it isn’t really about the pictures.

Seriously. It’s not about the pictures. It’s not about the brads, the buttons, the glitter, the bling, or the super-cute owls that everyone seems to be using these days. It’s about… well, you get to decide that.

For you, is scrapbooking about the very act of creating?
Or is it about documenting your story?
Or about spending time on yourself?
Or is it about the love you feel for your family that overflows so much that it HAS to come out of your eyes and hands and heart and go SOMEWHERE, so you collect it in a little basket and sprinkle it on your scrapbook pages?

You get to decide.
So ask yourself “WHY.” Is it for your kids, your mom, your grandma, your God, yourself?

Once you have that answer, hold it tight in your heart.
Tuck it away for the harder times.
Trust me, someday you will need it.
But knowing that it’s there makes all the difference.

For more creative scrapbooking ideas and inspiration, visit Lain Ehmann’s scrapbook blog. Through scrapbooking videos, tutorials, projects and inspiration, Lain helps her readers make their scrapbooking fun, fast and fabulous!


  1. For me, it’s about telling the story!
    I don’t want to forget anything—and if I don’t scrap it—I will
    Plus I enjoy it!

  2. Christy Miller says:

    I have lots of “because”…I scrap because…I want to look at the pictures and read about them down the road and remember that moment and what I thought about it. I want other people, my kids, grandkids, family, to look at my books someday and know the stories and know they were important. I like being creative and since I love my pictures anyways, I get to be creative with them. It gives me something that is ME time and I enjoy it.

  3. So many reasons why I scrapbook- to tell my stories, to leave a legacy, to remember details, and as a creative outlet. And, of course, because I love playing with paper.

  4. Great post – for me its a just in case. A security blanket. A place where I know those memories will always be regardless of whether I’m here or not; or if I can no longer remember.

    • It also helps me remember now . . . I can still remember, but I often forget until I have that visual reminder of a scrapbook page or even a photo. Especially on a down day, it’s like pulling up a comfy blanket and being wrapped around in good memories.

  5. So many stories to tell! Too many mystery people in the boxes of photos inherited from mom and then dad when they died – too many MISSED stories, and stories no one would talk about because of shame or unforgiveness.
    If there is any way I can keep it from happening on MY watch, we are going to have stories about us! How else will my grandkids know how God has moved and worked His sovereign plans in our lives? How will they know that Grammy, Aunty Jen and Uncle Chad ALL used the same type of strategy to have an interest to share with the object of their desire? How will they know how important our family recipe for gingersnaps are, even if they don’t LIKE them?
    So my why is:Stories; connections with people who are gone now; connections with each other; explaining and enjoying our quirks and traditions;celebrating who we are.

  6. So important the why. It is part of the big picture. It helps put things in perspective. Once you figure out why you can move scrapbooking to the proper ranking on your priority list. For me it’s nearer the top than I used to think.

  7. Love this post. Sometimes, for me, scrapbooking *is* a lot about the pictures, especially when it comes to travel. I take lots of travel photos. I want documentation of what I saw and did. There are some stories too, but with travel photos a photo album scrapbook is often sufficient.

    But for every day life, for me scrapbooking is all about the stories. If the photo turned out nice, that’s a bonus.

    • Well said — I like how you bring up the idea that your purpose can change depending on what you’re scrapbooking and giving yourself the permission and freedom to lean on different motivations is key (for me) to sustaining myself in this hobby!!

  8. A great reminder post! I have lots of whys. I started SBing because it gave me a way to use all the stickers, papers, and coloured writing utensils I had collected. I have always loved stationary and pens and photos. It was great to find a way to put them all together. As each of my children have come along I have had the desire to capture them so I can always remember who they were as they grew up. I keep telling them to stop growing, but like with everything else, they aren’t really listening. I know I only have these precious gifts in my home for a short while and I want to hold on to it. Unfortunately this also keeps me from getting much done. When I have a bit of quiet time in the afternoon and my DS wants to play I have to choose between building a memory and capturing one gone by. I may be the only one that remembers, but I know playing with him will be a part of who he becomes and then I can capture the memory.

  9. Capturing the story so that it can forever live in our hearts (once our minds have failed or we become too busy to remember those little details in life that once made us so happy).

    Beautiful post!

  10. too many answers…depends on the day. Since I do have so many reasons, I don’t think I’ll be giving it up soon. The returns are well worth the investment.

  11. I scrapbook for me. I scrapbook because it is a way to preserve memories and at the same time give me a moment away from the utter craziness that is being a working, multi-tasking, constantly volunteering mom. I scrapbook becuase I love being able to look back and see what we have accomplished as a family. But most of all I scrapbook because it is an opportunity for me to be creative without any criticism.

  12. You do have a way with words Lain! Well said!

  13. I scrapbook as a way to escape my hectic life, tell my story and be creative. I wish I had more time to devote to it. I sometimes get jealous of women who don’t work full time. I know they have families and that life gets in the way for them too but if they want to leave the dishes in the sink for a day, they can. My boss gets a little upset if I don’t get everything done at the right time. {Sigh} maybe some day……

  14. My scrapbooking is a love letter to my family.

  15. Great post, Lain! It’s not really about the photos for me, either. It’s about having a space for putting words with the photos. Yeah…for me, it’s about the words.

  16. Barb in AK says:

    Perfect article! Yet when we try to explain our passion and reasons to someone who doesn’t scrap, they just don’t get it! I’m so sorry for them ;-)

  17. Lain is so right! Without a reason, a purpose, there’s really no need to scrapbook. We need a motivating force. I’ll have to send her the link to the book I did about my reasons…

    I hope a lot of people sign up for her 4experts class. Doing LOAD is so much FUN! And it is doable. I’ve done it four times now, and loved it every time.

  18. For me, it’s totally about the love I feel for my family. It overflows so much that it HAS to come out of your eyes and hands and heart and go SOMEWHERE, so you collect it in a little basket and sprinkle it on my scrapbook pages, mini books and digi pages! Its a great reminder of all the fun we’ve had together as a family b/c the moments go by so fast.

  19. I think there are many reasons for my desire to scrapbook, but they all jumble around making meaning and putting context into our family’s everyday life. I like the creativity, pictures, stories, etc., but scrapbooking helps me process and make meaning of life as I capture the important moments through a scrapper’s lens.

  20. I just finished watching the final game of the World Series with my boys tonight before reading this post. We moved back home to KS last summer after living in central California for the past few years where we fell in love with the SF Giants. For me, it’s about telling our story of this World Series w/o a single photograph from a game, but wanting to remember the cheers, smack-talking with our TX friends, the tears of happiness, the FB status updates, and on and on about the past few weeks. It’s about my new-found love of the game of baseball and the excitement it has brought to my regular SAHM life. These are the moments that I never want to forget, but I know I will if I don’t somehow record them. And these are the moments that make me smile when life gets tough and when I need something to keep going. Thanks for the good thoughts tonight!

  21. Lain and Stacy-what a winning combination! Thanks to both of you for always letting us share just how we feel! I started scrapbooking 13 years ago when I made a gift for a friend. I never new how much I would fall in love with this hobby. It’s an expression of who I am. It lets me hold those moments close inside! Thank you so much ladies for the inspiration. You are awesome!!

  22. OH, how beautifully said! I have to tell the story so everyone can remember. It is definately a passion! Thanks to both of you!

  23. All of the above! :) Thanx for the affirmation, ladies.

  24. Oh Wow! This is fabulous! Thanks for sharing this, Stacy.

  25. I love family stories. But they are so fragile, so easily lost when family members pass away. Thus far, no one in my family has recorded the stories of our family. So for me, it’s not only about recording the stories of my children so that their children will know their stories, but it’s also about recording what I can about those who have gone before me. I want my grandchildren to know what wonderful grandparents I had. I have very few photographs of my ancestors, but I have many family stories! For me, it is empowering to know that I share some of the same traits as my grandmother and great-grandmother. I want to honor them by keeping this heritage alive both in the way I live my life and by documenting what I know of their lives.

    Thank you Lain for inspiring me to truly stop and think about the ‘why’. I’m thinking that I should probably document my “mission” statement and display it to help when my motivation wanes. :)

  26. This post is why I read your blog every day. You are like a warm rain…thank you. See my blog entry for today and you will see how as Scrapbookers; we are all sisters from other misters. Only we get us. Others think we are “wasting time.” So sad for them. So rich for us.


  1. [...] Guest post for Stacy Julian: Why You Need a Scrapbooking “Why” [...]

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