Scrapbooking is a method of preserving special mementos such as photographs, newspaper clippings, letters, certifications and other awards, and even things like locks of hair. The concept of scrapbooking can be traced back to 15th century England, where “commonplace books” were popular. These books provided a means to compile information like recipes and poems.
In an article for the Ventura County Star in California, correspondent Alicia Doyle quotes Karen Kalsman, the recreation coordinator at the Rancho Simi Recreation and Parks District and facilitator of the scrapbooking club at Simi Valley Senior Center:
An engaging, calm, thoughtful activity like scrapbooking can also benefit a person’s mental health, she said. ‘I have one woman who’s 92 and one who’s 88 — these women have boundless energy — and this enhances their creativity and keeps them young and active just trying to think of ideas to make these beautiful, creative pages that leave a legacy behind for their families once they’ve passed on,’ Kalsman said.
In its very simplest form, scrapbooking is essentially compiling photographs into an album. In recent years, however, scrapbooking has been elevated to an art form all its own. The process can involve handmade artwork, stickers, acid-free papers, metal and plastic embellishments, fabrics, and more. The specialty tools can also get quite expensive with paper punches, rivet guns, rubber stamps and ink pads, the endless embellishments available for purchase, etc.
One alternative is to pursue digital scrapbooking as a hobby as a means to both save money and forego the need to store so many craft supplies. Your creations also won’t be subjected to the inevitable deterioration that time brings, or face loss thanks to a natural disaster or other unforeseen circumstances. Sharing multiple copies of the same scrapbook with your loved ones is also much easier with digital versions.
There are computer programs developed specifially for scrapbooking. One such service is Evernote. The program is free, and can be installed on your computer, smartphone, tablet, or used via the Web. Your creations are stored in the “cloud,” which means you can access it from computers and handheld devices other than your own as long as you have an Internet connection.
Jennifer Fulwiler, a professional writer and mother to of five children, has no affiliation with the company that makes Evernote, but is “just a huge fan of their product.” Fulwiler notes,
Evernote files can accept pictures, so you can add photos to go with your notes, or even scan in papers like diplomas, awards, or artwork.
Once you have this system down, the possibilities are endless. You can reference the data you capture to create scrapbooks the old fashioned way, or use services like Shutterfly or Snapfish to create professional-quality photo books in minutes. With the easy search and sorting capabilities, it takes only seconds to access the information you need to create custom collections of memories. With the no-hassle, straightforward interface, you won’t need to worry about letting treasured family moments slip by, even when you’re so busy living those moments that you don’t have much time to record them.
You can also take advantage of a variety of free websites available to create an informal digital scrapbook. Flickr allows you to publish digital photographs grouped into sets, and YouTube allows you to upload videos up to 15 minutes in length. A website like Facebook will allow you to combine photographs, videos, and written notes. Because of the social media structure of these websites, your family and friends can also comment on your memorabilia and share it with others.
Even with digital scrapbooking, you can still print your pages after creation to have a hard copy that you can hold in your hands. Of course, there are still those who prefer the tactile experience of working on a good, old-fashioned paper scrapbook.
“Scrapbooking is a wonderful way to share and preserve memories. Unlike a computer flash drive you can sit with your grandchildren and page through a photo album,” says Laurie Dickinson, senior services manager at the Simi Valley Senior Center. “The participants socialize and talk about their lives. It builds friendships, challenges memories, and works on fine motor skills.”
Whatever method you choose to preserve your memories, firstSTREET has tools that can help you. The Simple High-Def Camcorder allows you to shoot high-definition video using just one hand. It’s easy to use — press one button to turn it on and another button to start recording. The Leather Retro Digital Camera has leather accents that make it easy to hold and an anti-shake feature. Like the camcorder, it also features an efficient, two-button operation.
If you want to go a more traditional route, the Classic Instant Camera allows you to print photographs on the spot with no need to connect to a computer. The printer is self-contained within the camera, and will print 3.5″ x 4.25″ photos in about a minute. The 35mm Slide Scanner will convert negatives and slides to a digital format, all without needing a computer attached. It also has a built-in 2.4″ color display screen so you can view and share your own slideshow. Connect it to a television and watch the slideshow on the big screen!