A few days I mentioned my scrapbooks and received a number of comments. I like comments. So, because I have had limited human interaction for the past couple of days and am highly desirous of more comments, I'm putting a few thoughts out here. I realize that a certain segment of the reading population couldn't care less about this, but just read on. I can't promise it will be interesting...but maybe it will be interesting to someone in your life. If not, well, my apologies in advance.
I am a fan of Creative Memories scrapbooks. This is primarily because it is what I started with, is something that I've used for fourteen years and can vouch for, and I now have so much of it that to go to something else at this point in time is a colossal waste of time and money. But there are a lot of products out there and on eBay. What you want to make sure of is that whatever you are using is both acid free and lignin free. The acid will damage your photos, and the lignin in the paper will make it brittle and non-archival. Think about an old newspaper article or a piece of construction paper that your child made something out of over a decade ago. Lignin-loaded paper...both.
So where to begin?
Well, the first step is figuring out what it is that you want to do. A vacation? Senior year? A chronological family history? A memory album for someone who is showing early signs of dementia? A Christmas album? This choice alone will dictate how long your project will take and how much angst you are likely to experience.
The first piece of advice that I would give you is to either locate the photos of the particular event that you want to chronicle, or get your photos in chronological order. The easiest way to do the latter is with photo boxes. Creative Memories sells a big one that holds 2,500 photos; which is surprisingly not as many as you'd think.
After getting them in order, you go through each packet and remove the ones that are duplicates (securing them in a separate place in order) and throw away the fuzzy ones. If you want to give some photos away to someone who might enjoy them more than you (photos of the ex-boyfriends of your daughter would fall into this category)...by all means...mail them on...set fire to them...whatever.
Anyway, you'll then look at the photos and can make a decision as to whether or not you want to put them on a page. Back in the day...before digital photography...we often took six pictures of the same thing to make sure that we got a good one. That overkill is obviously not going to work on an album page. You really just want to pick the best ones...and even if you leave the second best one in the box...no worries. You might recapture it later in another project. Or not. I'm just trying to keep you from stressing over it.
For a 12 x 12 inch album, you can get anywhere from four to six photos on a page. You might want to cut some of them down (crop) and use decorative items such as paper behind the photos and stickers. The ideas in this arena are endless and are available online. I would caution you to not go all spend-crazy and buy up things because they are "cute." I speak from experience. What you want to do is plan your page and THEN go shopping for things to enhance the pages. It is a lot more cost effective and keeps you from getting overwhelmed.
Just layout the pages and think about what it is you are trying to do. The correct answer is "preserve your memories" not "put every photograph ever made into this album or die trying." If you take the latter approach, you will find yourself facedown in your album at 3 a.m. wondering why you ever thought that documenting your baby girl's senior year was even remotely a good idea. Especially on those days when you don't particularly like her.
If you have a lot of your photos in digital form, you can just drop various photos into templates to make books using such photo websites like Snapfish and Shutterfly. Costco and Kodak also have this type of book available for a reasonable price. If you have a combination...do some of both. There are no hard and fast rules. I have not converted to digital because I just cannot deal with learning that right now. I tend to jump in whole hog and I don't have time for any more obsessions right now. I have decided to ease into it after my son leaves home. In the meantime, I'll just look at it so that I can figure it out somewhat.
Good luck with your project! I welcome any specific questions and I'll give you my opinion. Shoot, someone who is more qualified than I am might even jump on in there and help you out. Just remember that whatever you do will be treasured and enjoyed by people who will not be able to believe that you took the time to do this for them. Or not. But you'll feel good about it anyway.
Scrapbooks are a visual history of our lives. They make us laugh and cry and remember. When life is moving at the speed of light...it is nice to have a place where time stands still...and then can be neatly returned to the shelf. Enjoy!