I don’t print at home. I order my prints from Costco. But I prefer not to print typical 4×6′s very often.
A number of people have asked me to talk about how I choose my photo sizes, especially since I don’t sketch or plan my layouts ahead of time. It’s pretty easy, actually, to print in unusual sizes without planning ahead. Here’s how I do it…
Choosing Print Sizes: Start with Your Focal Point Photo
When I have more than one photo I want to use on a layout, I decide whether or not I have a focal point photo. In most cases I do. I like to make my focal point a different size from the rest of my picturess, and usually that means it will be the biggest one.
Three Levels of Importance
If there are a lot of photos, I will also check whether or not there are some subordinate (secondary) photos that are more important than others. If so, I might also decide to make those bigger than the least important photos of the grouping.
In Watching the Monkeys, I had…
- my favorite photo (largest)
- the photos that made up the punchline of the story (medium-sized )
- and the other random photos help support the overall story by 1) filling in the final details of who was present, and 2) by leading the eye to the punchline of the story (smallest)
No Focal Point
If there is no one focal point, you can be totally free and do whatever you want!
If there are multiple photos but not one single one I want to highlight with size, I often make them all the same size.
Print Photos In Whatever Random Size You Feel Like
Go ahead! Make them extra wide if that’s what you feel like! There is no right or wrong. Logically, we know that. But the false idea that there is a “best’ or “right” way to do something still acts as the hangup for many scrapbookers.
Of course, not knowing whether you’ll be able to make the layout work with unusual sizes can be a fear that stops you, as well. Let me tell you why it’s actually easier to take that leap of faith in yourself than to try to work with multiple 4×6′s.
Scrapbooking is Easier with Non-4×6 Prints
Once you print, it’s just a matter of fitting your pictures around your page as you scrapbook, just like you learned to do with 4×6′s, except that it’s easier with smaller sized photos because you don’t have as many space constraints. You can do so much more!
Choose your print sizes however you’re feeling at the moment you’re preparing them. Once you get the prints and sit down to scrapbook, you’ve made the cropping decision already. Work with what you have. You can always make it work! I never feel like I need to change my size choice and reprint.
In Paperclipping episode 80, which Paperclipping Members can watch from the archives, I share a multi-photo template (one of my Flexible Templates), which relies on you cropping your photos ahead of time to smaller random sizes — without planning ahead. Using my template, you’ll get something similar to the Christmas layout above. After I had done my random croppings at the beginning for this page and then found a place for each picture, I only had to make a small additional cut on two of my photos at the end to get a bit more variation.
The main key for me, which I’ll emphasize again, is choosing the focal point photo before printing (or deciding whether there is one or not) to make it larger than the other pictures. There are a few other factors I often keep in mind, though…
Considerations When Choosing Print Sizes
While I don’t plan the layouts ahead of time, there are a few things you can consider when you’re choosing the print sizes if you have a lot of photos…
- How large can the photos be and still fit on the page?
- Does it matter if a photo is a square or rectangle? Does it look better one way or the other?
- Does the distance of the photo subject require that the print be larger in order for the subject to be visible enough?
Be Sure They’ll Fit
Of course, a 12×12 page won’t hold more than nine 4×4 photos. When I have so many photos that they may not fit, I will sometimes divide the page into square and rectangle spaces. I just make sure I have fewer photos than spaces, since you can fill in the extra spots with paper or embellishments. That is what I did for this Easter layout.
Usually when you have a lot of pictures, a small amount of estimated calculations in your head is enough to be sure the photos won’t end up too big to fit on the page.
Squares or Rectangles?
I often ask myself which photos will look good as squares, and which are better as rectangles. That’s what I did for this page at the lake. Members can watch episode 111 for my Square-Based Template for more explanations of how I made my cropped photos work for this layout below.
Will Size Effect Visibility?
Usually you can print closeups in small sizes because they’re easily visible. I often print distant shots larger so you can see the details. But sometimes there are small details, even in a closeup, that you’ll want to magnify by enlarging them. The closeup of the cricket is an example.
Here’s another one where I wanted to be sure the details of Aiden’s facial expression and the chicken’s pecking were easy to see…
So let yourself free of the 4×6 constraints if you haven’t already and stop worrying about which size you’ll choose! It’s fun to work with random sizes. It’s easier. It’s more interesting. Just pick a size that interests you at the moment and then make it work!
Wish You Could Watch Those Video Tutorials?
I mentioned three episodes in today’s article. There are 170 total episodes in the Paperclipping Archives that our members get free access to. They also get two new ones every month. Episode topics for this month were:
Sound interesting? Find out more by visiting the Membership Information Page.