Saturday, March 27, 2010

Scrap-book Alternatives

Scrap-book: “A blank book in which pictures, newspaper cuttings, and the like are pasted for preservation.” – Oxford English Dictionary
Whenever a scrap-book evangelist asks you if you are scrap-booking your family photos, if you have anything that meets the OED’s definition, you can say, ‘yes.’ A photo album is a scrap-book. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. Who are they that their definition outweighs the OED?

But please…don’t use what The Practical Archivist refers to as a Chemical Sandwich of Doom. There are now photo albums that don’t destroy the photos.

That said, as someone without much artistic ability, I’d like to provide some ideas of other things you can do with photographs. Things that don’t involve designing cute or fancy backgrounds, or cropping the photographs into weird shapes.

1) Photo-travelogues

Using a 4*6 photo album with the sleeves that fit one photograph, alternate between photograph and a written (or typed) description of the people, places, and events. This works great for creating a gift to give children or grandchildren to commemorate family trips. (Inspiration: My mother has done this for her grandchildren.)

2) Poetry

Perhaps you don’t consider yourself an artist, but you do enjoy writing poetry. You can write poems to accompany photographs.

I composed the below prior to composing the Tombstone Tuesday entry earlier this week.


I look at the hands
On the tombstone
Of my great grandfather
And wonder
If he was descended
From Vulcans
Or Aaron, brother of Moses.

I suspect the latter,
Keeping one foot in reality
At all times, but either
Would be new information,

And both descents
Equally difficult
To trace.

3) Collage

This alternative comes closest to the traditional idea of scrap-booking, though it doesn’t involve background art. Combining photographs and document clippings that complement one another. My example below illustrates my initial reaction upon seeing my paternal grandparents’ honeymoon photo. (There are other photographs from the honeymoon that don't elicit the same response.)

(In creating this collage, I went to my grandmother's scrapbook, looking for a saved matchbook cover to scan; she saved several. I was 'gobsmacked' by what I discovered - a 79 year-old cigarette, preserved. I believe she received it for her 17th birthday.)

4) A blog

Every blog entry begins as a blank page. They contain pictures and text. If you want, you could print them out, and bind them. If you are a family history blogger, you are creating a digital scrapbook with every blog entry you compose.

1 comment:

TK said...

Excellent collage, John. One look is worth a thousand words, if you'll pardon the cliche, and I think it's a good representative of the original idea of scrapbooking, as opposed to the more commercialized type that's become so popular in the last decade.