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Scrapbooking is the art of preserving your photo memories as a unique heirloom for generations to come. Most everyone keeps family photo albums to store photos, so this is not an entirely new concept. The unfortunate part is that most of the photo albums used to preserve our precious photos are not acid free, and in time, will ruin them. Even just a few years in these albums and the pictures will turn yellow, fade, and even become impossible to safely remove from the albums. Don't despair though, there are several acid free photo albums to choose from these days. Picking a photo-safe album is not the only precaution though, you need to make sure that you have acid free glues, inks, and papers for your album. This will make sure that not only your photos last, but the journaling you include.

The first thing you must do is choose the photos you will use for the page. Try to get photos of the same thing, like "A day at the park." You can set up your book any way you want, but I have found that chronologically is the best and most enjoyable to look at. It gives you a starting point that leads up to the present. For Holidays, like Christmas, you may choose to do a whole book as just Christmas. I have baby books and the first is birth to 6 months. These are wonderful accounts of your child's life!

Another thing to think about when setting up a page is a central theme. For example: take pictures of your child in a garden full of sunflowers. Then use sunflower cutouts to fill up empty spaces on the page. Other ideas are to use templates to crop your photo in the shape of a flower. You can buy these templates and die-cuts at most craft stores. Or you can try taking photos of one flower up-close, and cutting just the shape out. I have done this with several floral pages for Japanese Botanical Gardens and it really makes the layout beautiful.

Scrapbooking creates a whole page of visual artistry, which means there is a lot more to think about than just photos. Each photo should have background pages to serve as frames. The color should correspond with the colors of the photo. I personally like to place the photo on top of two layers. Usually one to fit the shape of the picture with a normal scissor-cut edging and then one with a specialty border scissor finish. You will be amazed how this makes your photos stand out. Something else that makes the photo stand out is to crop the photo, removing unnecessary background. This helps to zoom in on what you want to be the main focus of the page.

There are all sorts of tools you can use to enhance the quality of your books. For instance, there are acid free stickers for those of you who don't like to cut and paste. There are circle cutters, oval cutters, edging scissors, templates, photo edgers, scrapbooking kits with background papers and matching stickers, glitter, rubber stamp frames, theme kits, and much more. There really is only one thing standing in your way when it comes to scrapbooking, and that is your imagination. If you use it, your ideas will be endless.

Last but definitely not least, you need to do some journaling. If you are not a writer, no problem, just write the dates and general info about the photo. If you are into writing, you can create wonderful memories. Write what you were feeling at the time, what happened, even include any poems you may have written about the occasion. Journaling is the essence of a scrapbook. It answers questions and details your family's history. Other forms of journaling include adding little mementos, such as brochures from the hotel you stayed at on your honeymoon, a concert ticket stub, your 9 year olds first attempt at poetry, a copy of your 16 year olds driving permit, or a lock of hair from your child's first haircut in a tiny cellophane bag. These are wonderful keepsakes that will make you feel like you are there all over again. They also tell a history of the time that the photo was taken. For example, you can write down a list of important events happening at that time, or your favorite TV shows, actors, and candy bars. You can write down how much you paid for your first car. These all are reminders of what life was like when the photo was taken. These memories will serve as important family documents for later generations. Your family will know so much about their ancestry and love looking at the creative way you preserved it.