How to Scrapbook Your Memories with Not-So-Good Photos

How to scrapbook your memories with not-so-good photosThis week I want to talk about a subject that's pretty dear to me. How to still make a special scrapbook even when your photos are bad (or non-existent even!). It's not always easy to get good photos during celebrations with friends and family. And you know what, that's a good thing. It's not cool to spend your whole life glued to your camera or worried about how to get a nice photo at a super dark party. With the sun setting earlier, it's not the easiest time of year to get awesome photos of all your fun events. Many times I realize after a party that I have zero photos, or maybe a few grainy selfies with my friends. It's not ideal, but that doesn't have to keep you from scrapbooking your happy memories. 

So if you've struggled with photo guilt, you're not alone! Today I'm here to share a few simple methods for compensating for less-than-perfect photos. 

How to scrapbook your memories with not-so-good photos So our holiday party was this past week. It was an incredibly fun night full of great conversations, amazing food, drinks, and… bad photos. Above you see most of the photos that exist from the whole evening. Not ideal, but I'll show you how I made up for it and still scrapbooked our fun night! 

How to scrapbook your memories with not-so-good photos    Idea 1. Stamp your favorite moments. 

Above are many of the memories that I wish I would have captured photos of. But since I didn't, I stamped them, cut them out, and used them on this cute card. Now our happy memories are present in a cute way, and it really fills out the page with my awesome grainy photos. Try this—it's easy! 

How to scrapbook your memories with not-so-good photos      Idea 2. Use found paper. 

Do you have receipts, menus, or handwritten notes from your night? Above are my toast notes from the party, just cut down. It's a personal detail that may not mean anything to anyone else, but I'll always remember what it is when I look through my book. 

How to scrapbook your memories with not-so-good photos        Idea 3. Journal on your photos.

You can use Messy Pens to do this. They're photo safe. This photo is kinda awful, but the little journaled sentiment helps—I think! 

How to scrapbook your memories with not-so-good photos  Idea 4. Doodle the details.

Last weekend we had a brunch date with the Gummermans. We got a few cute photos, but definitely not enough to share a complete story. So I doodled some of the sweet things from our morning on a card to round out the page. This is an especially good idea when you have an event (like brunch) that doesn't necessarily need any heartfelt journaling, but you'd still like to capture some details about the experience. :) 

I hope these ideas are helpful and encouraging! It's fun to have amazing photos, but when you don't, it doesn't have to stop you from creating a special scrapbook! xx. Elsie

  • Hi! Thanks for sharing these tips. Great ideas! I was wondering which Alphabet Roller Stamp would you recommend (Pebbles, Studio Calico…etc) for custom phrases. I´ve read many reviews and was wondering if you had any preference. I would be very thankful for any tips! Happy holidays!

  • This is so cute! I always end up sad about having too little pictures or just blurry ones but this is a nice way to actually still do something with them!

    Thanks for sharing.

  • You guys are so great!

    And we can never dispense a pic just because is a little blurry.
    Life is a little blurry sometimes. 😉


  • Thanks for the Scrapbook ideas! I was inspired to do the ‘Week in the life’ project you mentioned a while back and when I went to make the book I realized I had no ideas and my photos were so boring! I love seeing what you come up with. You make it look so easy!

  • Thanks so much for sharing Elsie! I always look forward to your Sscrapbook Sunday posts and this was a really useful topic to talk about. I went through a phase where I just couldn’t get motivated to use my real camera or take pictures for quite a while so the only photos I have are phone pics. I’m not in the process of back-tracking and putting these memories into albums but it’s proved challenging. I really appreciate these tips!

    Something else that I’ve found useful is to compile a bunch of mediocre quality phone pics into a collage online and print that and combibe with journalling and other stuff. Often the quality looks fine with tinier prints and it can be a neat effect!

    xx Kathryn

  • Thanks for this post! We just moved and my daughter has a bundle of great and not so great photos of the friends she left behind. She wanted to put them in a scrapbook but wasn’t sure about some of the blurry ones, even though she was really torn about not including all of her besties. This post is perfect!

  • I really love this idea of scrapbooking! I have SO many photos that need sorting out and this would be perfect! I’m looking forward to getting my new ABM planner do I can make a goal to start doing these from next year 🙂

    Lulu xx

  • Elsie!! Love this post so much. It’s perfect for evenings/weekend events (e.g., an intimate dinner!) when I wouldn’t be so inclined to bring my camera, but will totally use my iPhone for a quick shot of my whiskey sour and my man looking handsome as he glances at the menu 😉

    Thanks so much for sharing!! Can’t wait to order some messy pens 🙂

  • This is great. My mama guilt and memory making took a big leap forward when I just accepted that my kids will have a few, and maybe not the best shots of their birthdays. With three little boys and orchestrating a party, plus bad lighting, it’s just not worth agonizing over. I try to get the candle blowing and a couple happy face shots when they are opening their gifts. Everything else is icing on the cake. Living by Lake Michigan we have tons of gorgeous beach photos in their scrapbooks. A few blurry candles won’t hurt anyone. 😉 Thanks for the added encouragement.

  • Thanks so much for these tips, Elsie! I’ve been wondering what to do with my not so good photos and this is a much better (and fun!) alternative to not using them at all.
    Thanks again 🙂

  • This is SO helpful and super encouraging! Great advice on how to make up for lack of photos. Also, can’t wait to see your finished results! 🙂

  • This is such an interesting post. Elsie, we love how you are always thinking of new ideas and new approaches to the things you love. It’s truly the mark of someone who is following (and living) their dreams and sharing authentic art. Thank you! -Sara, from The Inspired Living

  • I love these tips! I’ve gone to so many parties this month, and every time I kick myself afterward for not getting more/better photos. These are great tips. I also change a lot of the photos with terrible lighting to a low contrast black and white photo. It helps with the graininess and gives it kind of a dreamy look.

  • They came out looking great! Definitely going to have to try it because my family are the experts of bad photos!

  • Really? They work perfectly for me on semi-gloss paper. Was your photo paper super glossy? That might have been the cause (which will still work, but requires more drying time).
    Hope that helps! -Elsie

  • I made a scrapbook in middle school in my scrapbooking elective course. I made one for my best friend and photocopied a copy for me. When I was packing for my freshman year of college this summer I rediscovered that scrapbook. It was laughably amateur, but the memories it held were so great! I don’t think scrapbooks are meant to be perfect. I love this idea! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  • I enjoyed this post. Thanks for writing it. I’m always disappointed when there isn’t at least one decent photo. I’ll include the dodgy ones now!

  • I kind of like the texture of the grainy action shots. It has a lot of character and a little glam! 🙂 I love this post because this is pretty much the only type of shot I manage to get at events, and I never know what to do with them, so thanks for sharing! You make them look soooo artsy!

  • I kind of like the texture of a grainy action shot. Lots of character and a little glam, actually. 🙂 I love this post because this is pretty much the only type of picture I manage to get at events, and I never know how to use them. You make it so artsy. Thanks for sharing!!!

  • I have to find the balance between printing photos to use for traditional scrapbooking or to put them into a photo book. I like the craftiness of it all, but sometimes it is nice just to get them all into a book really quickly.

  • Great advice! I’d really like to get better at doodling and finding ways to capture my memories that exist outside of photos/long writing posts. Thanks for the ideas!

  • Like I said in one comment a view posts before: I really really love all your posts which deal with scrap booking. I`m a big fan of scrapbooking and Enjoy each one of your ideas.

    Have a nice day!

  • Great ideas! I have a question about using Messy Pens on photos, I tried this recently and the writing kept smudging and/or rubbing off completely- is it the paper I’m using for the photos or are they meant to be non-permanent?

  • If you ever come out with a scrapbook type kit, I would just need to buy it. The Instagram photo album is among my wish list in the shop!

  • My guy & I went to a friends-mas yesterday & I literally took 3 photos, all awesomely bad, which I was annoyed at myself for this morning…but these are fabulous tips to help me remedy that!

    Becky ::

  • I really like you post because it’s quite original!
    I am going to make a scrapbook of the year 2014 ( wonderfull year with lots of not-so-good photo’s hihi) So I could use some tips tnx!

  • Great tips, Elsie… the stamped words…..they’ll trigger so many memories when you look back at your albums. Loving your Scrapbooking Sunday posts!

  • YES I love this post, thank you!!!! As a full-time photographer for my job and as some one who is also obsessed with taking photos when I’m NOT working, I get teased a lot about my constant photo-taking. And some times, I just want to NOT worry about taking photos and to just be in the moment. So I’ve definitely been getting some of those grainy photos and/or not hardly any photos and haven’t been motivated to scrapbook them … until NOW that is! 🙂



  • hi elsie

    this is super encouraging! i recently fractured my collarbone and am bummed because i may not be able to take any photos with my dslr and my camera photos may be kind of wonky so the hope of being able to make something awesome and fun out of not so perfect photos makes me pretty happy 🙂


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