One of my favorite sayings is, “A Picture Paints A Thousand Words.” That’s a wonderful way to describe how photo books tell our story and take us back to a special time in our lives that we want to remember.
But are pictures enough? In my opinion, most of the time they aren’t—unless you simply want someone to enjoy your photography. However, if you want the viewer to know about the photos and the people in them, if you want the viewer to feel what you felt when you took the pictures and created the book, you’ll need to tell them with your titles and journaling.
Herein lies the problem: Not everyone is a born writer! When you’re faced with a page designed for large amounts of journaling do you procrastinate and suddenly find something more important to do?
I recently asked my sister to provide the journaling for a baby book I was creating for her two-year-old daughter. My plan was to accompany each photo with only one or two words, but I soon realized she had trouble coming up with even a few words.
So how do we solve the problem of what to write?
One way is to coax the information from ourselves or someone else by asking lots of obvious questions. Where? When? Who? What? Once the questions are answered, it’s fairly easy to write the journaling.
Another way is to use fewer words and journal in photos. Here’s a technique I use when I want to set a scene: I place one large photo in the background that identifies the location. It might be a landscape photo or a scene that has plenty of room for other photos to be placed on top.
In one of my photo books, Scrapper’s Guide Team Retreat, I’ve used large location shots on several of the pages to set the scene for my story. When you look at the page, the photo in the background answers the first question of “where.”
Although you don’t need to do this for a background photo, I chose to blend my photos with digital scrapbook papers. This is a photo editing technique we teach at Scrapper’s Guide, so if you are feeling a little adventurous and have the time, you can visit our website to find out more about how to use digital scrapbook papers with your background photos.
The templates for the Seaside Vacation book are also available at ScrappersGuide.com.
You can also set the scene for your story using Shutterfly photo book templates. The below example shows our 5-picture layout. Identify the place (San Francisco Bay) with the background shot and add the details with the 4 smaller shots in the foreground.
And if you want to add a few words, this 5-picture layout works well too.
So the next time you’re stuck for words, try one or both of these tips to help you communicate what you experienced!