I confess.  For a very (very) long time in my scrapbooking, I put off tackling the *cue scary music* Photo-Less Page.  I love photos.  I have tons of them.  I like to scrap them.  For some reason I was intimidated by scrapping a page that dared to have no photos.  How do these really fit in to my story anyway, right?  Wrong.  Wrong-o.  When I finally kept a scrapping resolution to myself and scrapped my first photo-less page I found it to be….creatively empowering.

My photo-less pages have become some of my most favorite pages.  They have been, at times, really challenging to scrap but always ALWAYS…really {full} of emotion and story.  I love the emphasis I can place on mood and tone and words when I scrap without a photo.  I love how I can visually tell a story in ways that are different from capturing it with photos.  I love that my boundaries for telling my story have expanded because I start to think outside my box a little bit and venture in to scrapping the little details that haven’t been caught on camera.  They have facilitated telling my *own* story more vs. just focusing on the stories of my children and family.

And so now I have myself thinking “what took me so long?”.  Because really photo-less pages have the potential to be a storyteller’s dream.   And since it probably goes without saying that I (a.k.a. Wordy McGee) love journaling and I pretty much think that journaling is the Cat’s Meow, this has become THE huge appeal for me in a photo-less scrapbook page.  Because a photo-less page has the potential to be a journaling-FULL page *contented sigh*.  But even if journaling is not your forte or gives you hives, photo-less scrapbooking can be a valuable tool in documenting your days.

And so today I would like to shine the light on some ways photo-less scrapping can enhance the telling of your story.  And why photo-less pages deserve a place in your scrapbooking and albums.

Here are 5 Reasons to Scrap Photo-less a.k.a. 5 Reasons why Photo-Less Scrapping is Made of Awesome:

1.  Photo-less pages put the focus on storytelling. I suppose you’re thinking “DUH”.  But here’s what I mean:  photo-less pages encourage you — simply by virtue of the space on the page waiting to be filled with your story — to take your journaling to the next level.

When you allow a photo-less page to become a journaling-centric page the focal point is the story.  Your words.  Your voice.  Your Story.  And when there is no photo to act as your focal point, it often compels you to share more details and more of your thoughts and feelings; it allows the narrative to grow beyond the images.  It often compels you to let your journaling become something MORE than the Who, What, When and Where.  There is potential for more of the Why.  And that is journaling and storytelling at a different level.

Not all pages have to be missives or full of heart-gushing, weighty thoughts.  Journaling centric pages can easily be lighthearted and fun or tongue-in-cheek and silly.  But I would contend that when the journaling is the focus, as it often is in photo-less pages, there is a different kind of voice shining through that really contributes to the authenticity of the whole story.  Because the truth is, there is so much we *think* and want others to know but we don’t *say* it.  Journaling-centric photo-less pages give us the freedom to explore all of that.

All of these pages could easily have been pages scrapped with photographs.  In choosing to focus on my words which are, in large part, words written for and to my husband, they became MORE meaningful to me and I was encouraged to really express myself in a deeper and richer way.  And they were scrapped in more of a “for all time” kind of context becoming something classic and lasting and transcendent of a specific moment in time captured in camera.

2. Photo-less pages help you tell YOUR story. One of the reasons I haven’t scrapped All About Me pages as much as I want to is because I don’t have many usable photos to scrap.  Photos of me are scarce because I’m always behind the camera (note to self: make future post about why it’s important to get out from behind the camera).  And the photographs of my childhood are certainly fewer and farther between.  But lack of photos is no excuse for excluding myself from my own story.  Enter, Photo-less Scrapping.

Scrapping sans photos allows you to scrap about yourself (and you’re doing that right?) without the limitation of a photo to tell your story.  You can scrap light-hearted pages, listy pages, moment-in-time pages; you can scrap biography and history pages; you can scrap emotional and cathartic pages.  You can scrap all the little details of your story and nothing needs be left behind because you don’t have a photo for that memory or moment.

3. Photo-less scrapping really lends itself well to conveying mood and tone through the use of color. We make use of color all the time in our scrapbooking and photography but when when you scrap color without photos it becomes a focal point in and of itself and guides the story in a fresh way.

By being deliberate in your color choice and letting it be a dominant feature of your page design, a beautiful emotiveness can emerge.  There is something that is striking — in an emotional way — about color.  And when color is the “star” of a design, there are endless options for scrapping stories without photos.

Color can be used to subtly convey emotion.  I decided to go photo-less when scrapping my “One Little Word” of 2010.  I wanted this page to serve as a graphic reminder to myself of the word I had chosen to frame my year.  “Wellness” for me carried with it a certain kind of peacefulness and calm and balance and so I chose a soft palette of blues to convey this mood.  And every time I looked at this page I was struck with just that feeling.

In this page I used the darkness and the deepness of black to convey emotion of this day and memory I was scrapping.  The weight of the fear and the dread and worry of the story is almost tangible simply through the power of color.

There is a lot of power and a lot of room for creativity when letting color become a focal point in your photo-less scrapping.

4. Photo-less scrapping affords the opportunity to get “theme-y”. When you take photos out of the design, or if you simply don’t have photos to scrap for a particular page you want to scrap, you have room to really explore different “themes” in scrapping.  Which means you can also really have fun scrapping theme specific products you may have LOVED but not been sure how to incorporate into your page.

I have had enormous fun scrapping some amazing AMAZING products that were either: theme-centric in a way that didn’t seem to “fit” any of my photos naturally or were so unique and so full of whimsy that I found myself struggling to use them in a cohesive way for my photo-founded page.  When I ventured outside of my scrapbooking comfort zone a little bit I found there was tremendous freedom in using these products for my pages.

And I found photo-less really encouraged me to create pages with a strong theme and coordinating lots of fabulous products from within my scrapping stash.

5. Photo-less pages  let you play with journaling design. One area some scrappers have expressed challenges with is where to place the journaling on their page.  One of my most favorite remedies for this obstacle is something I call “journaling design” . That is to say, the incorporation of journaling into page design so that it becomes an aspect of your design in and of itself.  And photo-less pages really give you the chance to explore journaling design.

When you have a page that does not include photos, you are free to experiment with different orientations and methods for your journaling. And this, in turn, makes it SO much easier to find placement for your journaling in your photo-full scrapbooking pages too.  You can play with journaling in blocks, journaling in lists, journaling in scatters, journaling on papers and paint, journaling on journal tabs and journalers.

And making good use of journalers and journal tabs, papers and frames is one of my most favorite ways to scrap and journal a photo-less page.

There are many other reasons why I think photo-less pages can be Made of Awesome including…they give room to play with and let title work take center stage, they make for AWESOME list pages and they let you explore the amazingness that is Art Journaling, but most of all I think photo-less scrapping really lets your creativity soar and it can result in some of your most fun to create and most fulfilling pages.

So next time you find yourself unsure how to scrap a story that you have in mind, or the next time you feel like you’re in a “rut” creatively or you need a boost in your journaling,  I encourage you to dive in and tackle (and fall in love with) photo-less scrapping.

6 Comments on To Photo or Not To Photo?

  1. Alice
    May 5, 2011 at 4:43 pm (7 years ago)

    Love love love this! And I agree 100%. 🙂

  2. jessica
    May 5, 2011 at 4:57 pm (7 years ago)

    I <3 photoless layouts. I do not have pictures of me as a kid/teenager so if I want to scrap those time periods I kinda have to go photoless. These are some awesome layouts too!!

  3. Teresa
    May 5, 2011 at 8:05 pm (7 years ago)

    I think this is one of my favorite design blog posts of all time. LOVE photoless pages, but for some reason, I’ve always felt like I *must* include the photo to make it meaningful. Thank you for spelling out the reasons they are so amazing that I couldn’t put into perspective myself!

  4. Alli
    July 11, 2011 at 7:42 am (7 years ago)

    Your photo-less layouts are amazing! Thanks for sharing your process and all this inspiration!!!

  5. Suzanne
    August 5, 2011 at 4:50 am (6 years ago)

    I am very much enlightened by this post that I am planning to go photo-less one of these days. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Rebekah {honeyandcheese}
    April 29, 2013 at 3:29 pm (5 years ago)

    I’m a writer and journal-er, so this post was incredibly inspiration for me. I’ve just started into the world of digital scrapbooking, and I’m SO glad I came across this early on. Your pages are beautiful!

    I linked to this from my most recent blog post, I enjoyed it so much. 🙂


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