Digital Scrapbooking with Printed Photos: Tips & Tricks

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Click here to read Part 1 of this Blog Series

I started this little adventure in digital scrapbooking with printed photos half way through this past summer while we were busy making the most of the warm weather. Finding time to scan, fix and scrap was limited to a couple of rainy days and late evenings long after everyone in my household was tucked away for the night.

The whole album came together faster than I had expected, even factoring in the time I used to design the Still Life Collection: First Draft 12×12 Album too. What helped move this process along was some tips and tricks I gathered along the way.  While I still have so much more to learn (disclaimer: I have no expertise in any the programs and technologies discussed in this blog post haha) for now I can share with you what I do know to help inspire you to get your printed photos scrapped!

A Little About My Photos

The quality of my photos ranged from very good (photos taken by my guests with their own cameras) to downright terrible (many of the photos taken at night with the disposable flash cameras). I tossed handfuls of photos into the no way pile at the start, ending up with a small, but motivating pile of good enough photos to get me on my way.

A Little About My Tools

For scanning – HP Scanjet G3110 Flatbed Scanner (purchased some years ago)

For photo editing – Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 & Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.4

The Tips & Tricks

#1: Start with the Best of the Best

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Some of the best.

During the selection process, I picked the photos that had the brightest colour, strongest contrast and the least amount of blur, scratches or damage.  Naturally, the scans of these photos were the easiest to work with in my photo editing programs. But here’s the real bonus of starting out with the best photos – the more photos I edited, the more confident I became. Eventually, I was editing photos from the no way pile and, thanks to a little experience, these initial throwaways quickly became an integral part of my album.

#2: Scan Big (but not too big)

The majority of my photos were 4×6 and my goal was to scrap all of these on a 12×12 @ 300 dpi page. I initially set my scanner’s settings at the maximum output resolution (ppi) of 1200 and selected scan with higher bit depths, then saved the scan as a .tif file. These files were HUGE. As I started resizing my photos, I realized I didn’t need to scan so large. I reduced the ppi setting to 600 and was just as happy with the resulting photo scan. At 600 ppi, the photos scanned faster and the files loaded into Photoshop Elements 9 more easily. Most importantly, clean up, cropping and resizing at this size produced just as great results.

#3: Use Special Effects

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Before and After Special Effects Overlays

As digital scrappers we have the advantage of having access to really cool designer created tools. Overlays, light leaks, sun flares, textures – all of these can be easily applied to a photo or page and will take your scanned photo from meh to awesome.

Two special effect/overlay packs I used for this album 🙂

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#4: Size Small

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Small photos making a big statement

Scanned photos can often have texture, dust, marks and noise. The larger the photo scan, the more these will show. For some of your noisier photos, reducing the size will help to hide many of these quirks and will make the final photo editing process move along much faster.

#5: Convert Colour to Black & White

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L= Colour Option R= Black & White

Some of my colour photos were natural stunners, but many had too much colour noise or distracting backgrounds. I ended up converting over half of my colour photos to black & white for this album. Not only did this trick add visual unity and a polished look to the overall album, it also helped reduce the noise from those busy backgrounds. The black of my husband’s suit and the white of my dress then created an instant focal point (further helped along by the burn & dodge tool in Photoshop Elements 9 – but we’ll talk more about that in my next post).

#6: Photos Don’t Always Tell the Whole (or Best) Story

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White space layout.

One of the biggest challenges of working with scanned photos is accepting that many of these photos look their best when sized small. White space layouts are perfect for showcasing small photos, leaving you plenty of room for meaningful journaling, quotes and titles.

At our wedding reception, our closing song was Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World. Our guests had formed a circle around us while my new husband and I had our last dance for that evening. It was such a sweet moment and one that I will never forget. When I sorted through my reception photos I realized I didn’t have a photo from that dance, but I still wanted to capture that memory in my album. So in place of a photo, I wrote out the song lyrics. What a Wonderful World had given us the perfect ending to that incredible day, so I honoured that song by giving it the closing page in my album.

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No photo required.

#7: Don’t be Shy about Using Designed Quick Pages and Albums 

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This looks like a shameless promotion (haha), however, after getting several dozen photos scanned, fixed and ready to be scrapped, the thought of coming up with an innovative way to scrap each of these photos was overwhelming.  Once the Still Life Collection: First Draft 12×12 Album was designed, I was thrilled with how quickly I could select a quick page, place my photos behind the windows and then finish off the pages with carefully selected quotes, titles and special effects.

A Little About the Album

Still Life Collection: First Draft 12×12 Album – this album comes with 1 versatile blank page + 15 windowed .png quick pages (with attached drop shadows) ready to showcase all of your favourite photos! Lightly inked and doodled, this album is especially ideal for showing off smaller sized photos and offers plenty of white space for journaling.

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Click here to be taken to the first blog post in this series where I also have a special $2 coupon that can be used on anything in my shoppe!

I’ll be back later this week with the final post in this blog series! In this post I’ll show you how I used Photoshop Elements 9 and Lightroom 4.4 to turn a couple of just okay printed photos into my two favourite layouts in this album (one I used as the cover).

See you soon!

xox

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