Beginner Scrapbooking

*This post may contain affiliate links for which I earn commissions.*

9 Simple Steps

This is the minimal barebones of it all. Absorb it all in if you’re into beginner scrapbooking.

1) Select a set of photos to work on. For a start, select your photos based on a theme or occasion. It’s much easier to digest rather than a family heritage project based on chronological order.


2) Decide on a central photo. Make this the main focus of your set of photos. Having a central focus helps to set the tone for the rest of the layout.


3) Have an overall layout image in your mind. Where to place your photos? Where to write? Where to add little extras? This initial layout image is not a fixture. Feel free to change it as you deem fit. Whatever that pleases you works. Most beginners will usually draw a blank when it comes to this part, it’s natural. Look to other scrapbookers’ layouts for inspiration.

If find yourself spending way too much time to come up with an eye-pleasing arrangement, check out these single or double-page scrapbook sketches to save you time and take out the guesswork, and let you create attractive pages in quick time.


4) Choose 3 to 4 pieces of acid-free papers. These papers can be solid-colored cardstock or patterned papers. One of these papers, usually a cardstock will become your background paper or canvas to hold your layout. The rest of the papers can be used for layering, as journaling text boxes, for matting your photos or titles, etc. Choose colors that complement your photos.


5) Crop your photos if needed. Though not always necessary. It’s a good idea to leave in as many details as you can. But crop away those distracting background. For more tips on cropping, scroll down to the bottom of this page to look for “Cropping of Photos”.


6) Mat your photos. A photo mat makes a picture stands out. Best of all, it’s so easy to mat a photo. Some have advised that neutral colors like black, white, beige are great to mat your photos with, as it won’t clash with your patterned paper or colors of your photos.

But it’s really up to your own preference. Occasionally, I do mat my photos with bright, bold colors. And that worked out well too. And it’s not necessary to mat every photo. You can choose to mat only the main photo. Sometimes, you don’t even have to mat a single one if you prefer to go for a more casual look.


7) Write something. Page title tells a viewer what’s the page is about right away. But you don’t need to title all your scrapbook layouts.

I know it’s easy to let photos take center stage. But journaling is what help you to tell good stories while your photos help to support your story. Journaling brings meaning to your pages. Your written words would bring out the emotions of the photos and let a story unfold. Spend some time to write out your journaling. It doesn’t even need to be lengthy.

For beginning efforts, first choose a set of photos to work with. But after you’ve been scrapping for a while, you might find yourself coming up with a story in your mind first, then find the photos to support your story.


8) Add a few little extras. Like rubber stamping, paper punches, stickers or other embellishments can help to dress up your layout or highlight a certain part of your layout. Have fun here but try not to overload your page. Focus on telling good stories and saving your memories.


9) Then start laying everything down on your page. Does it appeal to you visually? Shift your elements here and there. Everything looks in place? Cut, glue them to your page, and you’re done with your beginner scrapbooking page!


That doesn’t sound too tough, does it?

If you just dive in, and not be “paralyzed by analysis”, your beginner scrapbooking pages can be completed quickly. They may not be perfect pages. But hey, it’s your beginner’s efforts.

Okay, if you want step-by-step articles and videos to show you how to create your first scrapbooking page, be sure to check out this how-to-guide.


Methods of Sorting Photos

1) Sorting Chronologically

Ahem… Sorting your photos chronologically, starting from year 1925 can be an extremely daunting process! This can be a nightmare and it’s one of the fastest ways to kill off your enthusiasm for beginner scrapbooking.

For chronological sorting, you can sort by decade first, follows by year.

Unless you’ve carefully dated all the photos faithfully throughout the years, you’re likely to have a headache trying to remember the dates, names of persons, locations, etc.

And you are likely to find yourself calling one relative to another for the missing details.

To wither down the high mountain pile of photos, you might like to consider setting aside certain time slots dedicated solely to just sorting through the photos. Be prepared to set aside two whole days or more if you have more boxes of photos to work with.

On the other hand, at such times, you may find yourself transported back to another time passage. Reliving those long-forgotten memories… or getting acquainted with your ascendants in ways you never thought possible.

Gentle warning: For those ancient photos, besides dates and names (if you’re lucky), more questions will baffle you as you wonder what’s the story behind those precious photos.

Why did your great-grandfather take the career path he took? Did your great-grandparents enjoy a great, romantic love story? What’s their lives like in those olden days?

Ah, those so long ago days…

Frankly, unless you’ve decided to take upon the burden of becoming the family historian and family heritage albums are your cup of tea. Or you’re so taken with the idea of sorting your photos on a chronological order before things make sense to you… If not, there’s other easier sorting methods.

Scrapbooking for beginners needs not be that tedious, really.


2) Sorting Current Photos

If you’re not ready to shift through all those boxes of very old photos taken decades ago, don’t despair!

Beginner scrapbooking is supposed easy and fun so that it can get you hooked on for more. So how about getting started with other easier sorting methods?

One way is really to start with your latest batch of photos. Start with your most current photos. Sort backwards.

Here’s where your memory of details serves you the best. You can safely recall so much more without a hiccup. Moreover, it’s much easier to jot others’ memories too should you need verifications from them.

And it’s not as frightening as starting from the very beginning and digging out from that towering pile of photos. It’s a breeze starting with 2012 rather than 1958.

No countless frustrating hours in playing detective in tracing the history of photos for your beginner scrapbooking… yet.

Actually you might never have to go searching for any clues if you have no intention of doing family heritage scrapbooking in the first place.

Or perhaps you’re a more of those living in the present type who prefer scrapbooking about your current generation?

You can always choose to start everything afresh from your own generation onwards. Or maybe even your parents’ generation so that your children will get to know their grandparents more intimately.

Now, let’s jump ahead to other ways that you can sort your photos for beginner scrapbooking, other than sorting based on long timelines.


3) Sorting by Occasions

Let’s take it the easy way with your first scrapbooking project. Shall we?

You can sort by special occasions like New Year 2012. Robbie’s high school graduation ceremony, Grand mama’s 76th birthday or Janice’s bridal shower.

This method is a great way to organize your photos for beginner scrapbooking. It also spurs you on to your next scrapbooking idea.

Personally, I find sorting by occasions get me started swiftly. It’s smaller-scale, easier and tends to inspire me to create something better, though not necessarily bigger, the next time. And there’s always enough occasions to go around throughout the year. Scrapbooking for beginners should be fun, shouldn’t it?


4) Sorting by Themes

Here’s another easy way to getting started in scrapbooking. Themes need not only evolved around important stuff. Themes can as simple as highlighting the daily occurrences, or everyday lives of an individual. People tend to forget to scrapbook about their daily lives which make up majority of their time.

An all-time favorite is scrapbooking baby’s “firsts”. It could also be around events that stretch a timeline like Marcus’s 1st to 21st birthdays, Lily’s and Susie’s changing fashion sense and hairstyles, Genie’s favorite toys, etc.

The possibilities can be endless as anyone or any event can be a potential theme, if you just let your imagination run loose!

Of course, themes don’t have to take up a big chunk of your time as you can decide on a timeline. But themes spreading across different timelines also offer interesting ideas for beginner scrapbooking.

For my very first scrapbook before the birth of my baby niece, I created a Favorite Photos scrapbook for my best friend’s birthday. To set the theme, I asked her for ten pieces of her favorite photos. Without breaking into anxiety, I churned out my very first scrapbook within two days.

If you find shopping for supplies a little challenging, try checking out these suggestions on scrapbook supplies based on themes.


5) Sorting by Individuals

This can be a little more challenging as it’s likely to involve a longer timeline, especially if the person is in his advanced years. Or to make things a lot easier, you can choose to cover a more crucial period of that person’s life instead. It’s actually a scale-down version as compared to chronological sorting for the whole family.

Talking about individuals, after you’ve been scrapping for awhile, try to create an album for yourself. Yes, don’t miss out on scrapbooking about yourself!

Scrapbookers tend to focus so much on others especially their kids that they neglect about themselves. It’s important to scrapbook about you because who else is going to do it for you? Be sure to browse through my collection of 50 simple scrapbooking ideas about you!


After discussing about photo sorting, let’s move on to some tips on cropping photos. Ideally, you’ve taken some great shots that don’t need any cropping. But if you do need to crop a photo, check out the tips below.


Cropping of Photos

For beginner scrapbooking, just a few things to take note of whenever you are about to crop a photo:

  • Cropping away clutter or unnecessary background details will clean up a photo and focus on say, the subject’s close-up expression. In this sense, cropping create emphasis.
  • Do keep details that identify historical references, people, dates, locations, occasions, etc. These little details could mean a lot in years to come.
  • Please leave your Polaroid alone. Cutting them will release chemicals, possibly ruining the photos and damaging your pages! If you really can’t stand certain portions, create a frame around the Polaroid to conceal those annoying bits.
  • For each layout, limit the number of photo shapes. You don’t have to apply square, oval, round, rectangle photo shapes all on one page. Rectangle or square photos are always popular as they give a clean, contemporary look to your pages.


Armed with the 9 simple steps to beginner scrapbooking, the types of sorting methods and tips on photo cropping, you might be wondering what are the basic supplies to get you started on scrapping. Let’s talk about the basic scrapbook supplies next.


Supplies to Get You Started

Without a clue of what to buy for beginner scrapbooking, stepping into a local scrapbook store or ordering from an online scrapbook store can be overwhelming. It can make you feel like a lost child crying out for mommy in a huge departmental store. Or you may be so thrilled to go on a shopping spree and ended up buying loads of supplies not really knowing what to do with them.

So exactly what basic supplies do you need? For a start, not many. To begin, select one or two sets of photos you want to work with, so you know what you’ll be working with.

You may want to have these items ready on hand before you start.

The essentials are:

Acid-free printed papers or cardstock – What colors will complement your set of photos? Look at the prints, feel the texture, and see in your mind eye if the paper will blend well with your photo.

Archival-safe adhesive/glue – Choose one that can be used for both papers and photos. You have to have adhesive to adhere your elements to your background page.

Straight-cut scissors – Check that it trims neatly and save this pair just for your scrapbooking needs only. Those that’s designed for detailed cutting is recommended. I have a pair of Cutter Bees Scissors and I love it.

Black pens – For journaling purposes. Preferably pigment-based, permanent ink.

Extras– There’s tons of tempting embellishments such as brads, ribbons, stickers, die-cuts, border punches, etc to boggle your mind! For a start, pick out some common accents such as brads and ribbons that you can use on different layouts.

Acid-free album – What size do you want to work with? Popular sizes are 12″x12″ and 8..5″x11″. What colored-album will go with your theme? This is not a must if you’re just starting out. You might want to wait till you scrapbook a few layouts to get one, to make sure you like scrapbooking enough to wanna create more pages. But if you are one who must have a proper “house” for your completed layouts, go for it!

Album refills/protectors – If you are getting some non-standard sizes, maybe consider getting a few packs of refills at the same time. Just in case the manufacturer stops producing that size. As a precaution. Also if you decide not to get an album so quickly, try buying some page protectors to protect your completed layouts from damage, dirt and dust.


You might want actual product recommendations so you know what are some of the best buys out there. Check out these highest-rated scrapbook supplies recommendations at

As you get more involved with scrapbooking, you’ll find that you’ll naturally expand your collection of supplies.Then as your scrapbook supplies grow, you might want to look into organizing your supplies.


Other Beginner Articles

You might like these articles::


Tip: Are you thinking of creating a scrapbook as a gift for someone else but aren’t too sure about it? Want other creative and crafty gift ideas? Then do visit this website for many unique and unforgettable gift ideas. You’ll find ideas for various occasions such as adoption, birthday, get well, graduation, kids and more. Check out

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.