Tag Archives: photos

Unusual Photo Sizes: What and How I Typically Print

After my post on printing in unusual sizes, someone asked me how you can print the smaller sizes at a place like Costco. If you invest in Photoshop Elements (I think it’s around $70), you can actually recoup your expenses in the long run if you print lots and lots of small pictures.

Why is that?

Because after you re-size your pictures, you can drag those smaller pictures onto one canvas and print them on a single 4×6.

For example, you can crop six photos into 2×2, create a 4×6 canvas, and drag the six photos onto the canvas. You’ll print all six photos as one 4×6 print. Six photos for the price of one 4×6 print!

Pretty awesome.

Printing Multiple Photos Onto a 4×6 Print

Sometimes I want a very unusual size, like I might digitally crop a photo to 3×6.5. When I do this I’m not looking for that specific size, necessarily. It’s just that when I’m working on the cropping, that’s the size that I happen to think looks cool for that photo.

Here’s a 4×6 print I developed most recently. The white gap in the middle is the extra space on the print. The photos on the left are 3×2. The photo on the right is 2×4.


The other two photos for the layout fit on one other 4×6 print. I cropped them into individual photos and put my layout together:

Lots of Drama

It’s most economical to print on 4×6’s, because they cost significantly less than the enlarged sizes.

But I’ve also found I use much less product when I have enlarged photos, since they take up so much space. So that extra cost for enlarging may end up a wash when when you factor savings in scrapbook supplies.

Here are some of the more typical sizes I tend to print in…

Unusual Sizes I typically Print



You can fit six 2×2’s onto a 4×6 print using Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.



You can fit four 2×3 photos onto a 4×6 print.

3×3 or 4×4


Place two 3×3’s, or one 2×3 + one 3×3 on a 4×6 print.

6×6, 6×8, or 8×8


I place one picture of these sizes onto an 8×8 print.


Or I like to do grid collages like the one above in the 8×8 size.

9×9 or 8×12


These sizes would both go on an 8×12 print. If I’m doing a 9×9 photo, that still leaves me room for quite a few 3×3 photos all around the edges of the print, so I often add photos of that size to the print, whether they’re for the same layout or a different one.


I would not have been able to showcase the beauty of our desert to the same degree, nor the fun of being out there that morning with 4×6 photos. Both the focal point photo and the collage on the right are 8×12’s.

Costco prints in all of these sizes, plus larger ones. Non-local printers, such as Persnickety also prints and even more.

How to Drag Cropped Photos onto a 4×6 or Other Size Print

I have a tutorial that I made for Paperclipping Members a while back that shows how to drag photos onto one canvas as a collage, and then make the digital round-corner frame on top of it that you see in the Tea Time layout above.

Here’s another one:


Member’s can find this tutorial in the Member’s Area or on iTunes. It’s Paperclipping 108.

Or, if you’re not a member, you can hop over here and sign up! What have you been waiting for?

Other related tutorials in the archives that Paperclipping Members can watch are:

You can learn about a Paperclipping Membership by visiting our Membership Information Page.

Printing Unusual Photo Sizes: How do You Choose?


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.

Watching The Monkeys

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!

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I thought this single photo looked better as a square than as a rectangle, so that’s how I printed it.

Anime Trin

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.


If you are a Paperclipping Member, you can watch Paperclipping 100 – for a scrapbooking grid collage formula to see how to do this.

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?

The Cricket

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…

First Timer

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.

The One Thing That Will Make the Biggest Impact on Your Scrapbook Layouts

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Is there really just one thing you can do that will have massive impact on your pages and get people to look every time? I’m happy to tell you there is, and any scrapbooker with any budget can do it.

I love finding ways to get massive results with less time, effort, and resources. When I was young I figured out the one simple thing I could do to make my room feel and look relatively clean (and keep my mother off my back)!

My bed took up a large percentage of my floor space, even though it was only a twin. I figured out that all I had to do was make the bed and suddenly my room felt clean, even with the same amount of stuff all over my floor and desk. The bed is one big flat surface and even with my messy floor, a made bed alone would make the difference between a room that looked decent and a room that looked like a disaster.

Is there an equivalent power in scrapbooking? One simple improvement that will make enormous impact overall? Absolutely! And I can’t wait to share it with you!

The One Small Change that will Yield Massive Results

No matter what your scrapbooking style, the one thing we can improve that will make the biggest impact is our photos! We could add all kinds of new scrapbooking skills or buy all kinds of awesome gadgets or beautiful supplies, and while those improvements will be great, they won’t make the same impact as two basic improvements in the photos we take.

As I’ve worked with scrapbookers, I’ve found two common areas that amateur photo hobbyists can improve, even without buying a new camera:

  • Exposure
  • Composition

Brighten Your Photos

During my Holiday Photography Tips course that I’ve given to the Paperclipping Members in the past, I found myself saying one thing over and over again to those who had requested feedback: Bump up your exposure! This is such an easy improvement to make!

Whether you learn to get perfect exposure straight out of the camera, or you boost the exposure in your post processing (which is what I usually do), this one thing will take a dull photo and transform it into one that will draw people in and make them want to look. I boost the exposure of a huge percentage of my photos when I process them on my computer.

izzy's camera  3638 - Version 2

izzy's camera  3638

Learn Good Composition

If you don’t get lots of compliments on your photo by lots of different people (and I don’t mean from the same two people, but from a variety who don’t know and love your children as much as your mother does), then you could probably benefit from learning to frame your shots differently.

There is a difference between a person who takes pictures and a person who captures emotion, beauty, movement, and life. Good composition will make people fall in love with mere strangers in photos. Photographers who compose well are showing us a view of the world that is different from how we normally look at it.

When you see great photos from others, pay attention to how the photographer composed the shot compared with how you typically compose.

  • How high or low was the photographer in relation to the subject?
  • At what angle did they take it? And don’t be fooled! To an untrained eye, many shots that appear to be straight-on are actually at slight angles.
  • How did they use the lines of the surroundings?

Trinity Dances at a School Fair

Aiden's Paper-folding Party

Aiden's Paper-folding Party

2010-06-02 at 19-01-11

To take great photos, we must learn to see differently than everybody else. It’s not hard to make a few improvements in this area. It just takes a bit of practice and learning.

Those two improvements — exposure (easy!), and composition (a little harder, but doable!) — will have a massive impact on your photography. And this, in turn, will have a massive impact on your scrapbook layouts. You don’t need a new camera to get this (although the camera and lenses do make a difference). You don’t have to buy new scrapbooking tools and updated supplies. Just take the camera that you have, brighten your photos with better exposure, and learn to frame your shots in a way that makes even the most everyday subjects look beautiful and intriguing.

Want to get started? Here are some photography-related video tutorials available in the Paperclipping Membership right now. Sign up here to get access or head over to the Member’s Area or iTunes if you’re already a Member.

Paperclipping 112 – Summer Photography Tips
Paperclipping 82 – Fix Bad Photo Lighting
Paperclipping 34 – Working With Levels

This Week At Paperclipping

Don’t Miss It!

  • Paperclipping Video Tutorial – Next week’s video tutorial will be all about embellishment gathering and layering! Get your membership before we release it!
  • The Digi Show – Look for it to release soon!

How to Inspire Thanks Through Your Photos

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Family Time: 2010 Photo Review

Last night I gathered my kids around me to look through our 2010 photos. We laughed. We remembered things we’d forgotten. We had a good relationship-building time. You can remind yourself and your family of all that you’ve had to be grateful for this past year by reviewing 2010 through your photos.


  • You’ll find out what your family’s favorite memories are, along with your own. You can prioritize the favorite memories as your upcoming scrapbooking projects.
  • It’s a great way to collect information and details that you yourself forgot or didn’t know. Your family members will naturally offer many of the details without you even having to ask!
  • You, yourself, will remember details that you can add into the metadata of the photos.
  • You might realize a different perspective on events by listening to their observations, reactions, and stories.
  • It’s fun! And it’s a great reminder of all the good in your life.

Set Yourself Up for a Great Viewing Experience

We do this activity right from my laptop. I LOVE viewing photos from my computer, and so do my kids. I usually hear people talk about viewing photos on computers as a negative experience — quite the opposite of my own. Maybe it has to do with the way you manage your photos?

To make your computer-viewing experience pleasurable, make your favorite photos viewable in a spot that is separate from your less-than-favorite photos. Here’s how . . .

Create Quarterly Digital Files or Albums for Fave’d Photos

Every photo manager is different. I’ll explain how mine works and you can look at your photo manager to see how to do the same thing. I’ll share two other options, as well. Hopefully your computer or your manager will have at least one of the three options.

Option 1: Photo Manager with Sub-folders
Here’s how I do it . . .

  1. Yearly Projects or Folders – Within my library of photos, I create Projects for each year of family photos. I keep all of my family photos for the year — the great as well as the not-so-great — within that one project.
  2. Albums or Sub-folders –I then create albums within my yearly projects. I make four quarterly albums, plus an additional December album, since there are so many photos from December. I want to be able to easily see December photos on their own.

    My photo manager allows me to place pictures from my yearly projects (or folders) into my albums (or sub-folders) without actually moving them. This means I can see my favorite photos in both places, whether I’m looking in the first quarter album for 2010 or the Project for all of 2010.

    This way, you can enjoy all of the best photos without having to weed through the clutter of all the bad ones. It’s an entirely different experience to view photos on your computer when you only see your favorite photos. These are also the photos I choose from when I am scrapbooking.

Option 2: Smart Albums or Smart Folders
Another option for placing favorite photos in their own sub-folders while still keeping them in their main fodlers: Smart Albums. If your computer has the ability to create smart albums, you can give your favorite photos a specific rating of your choice. Then you create a smart album with the following criteria:

  • the date (ie. 2010; or January February March 2010)
  • the ratings you assign your favorite photos.

Option 3: Completely Separate Favorite Photos from the Rest
I don’t like this option as well. I only recommend doing this if there is no way to view a photo file in two different place like I explained in the two options above. But if your computer or software does not offer those functions, it’s still worth it to do option 3 and be able to view your favorite photos on their own.

Just make a folder for the year (or the quarter/year) with your favorite photos, plus a separate folder for the year and call it, “Non-Favorite Photos 2010.”

Hyman Family Favorite Memories from 2010

I was surprised to find out what my kids’ favorite memories were so far. Most were not the ones I would have expected. Now that I know what made them most happy, I want to make sure I scrapbook them over the coming year . . .

Gatsby’s Crazy Tongue
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2010-03-12 at 22-02-59

4th of July
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July 725

A Newly Painted + Decluttered Bedroom
2010-03-13 at 10-42-17
I’ll admit it. This last one may have been one of my own favorite memories.

Weekly Roundup

How To Choose Your Best Vacation Photos

Big Pinwheels
Hi, again!

How many photos did you shoot on your last vacation? I asked this on Twitter and answers ranged from 93 to 500, and all the way up to 1,800!

With all those photos as options, what is the maximum amount of pictures you’ll feel comfortable using in one scrapbook project for that vacation?

Will you do one scrapbook page? A vacation album? A mini book? Basic photo pocket pages?

Here are a few things you can do right now to help you with that often overwhelming decision:

  • Pick out your favorite must-use photos before you decide on your scrapbooking format. Count the number of photos.
  • Of those favorites, identify the photos that would make great focal point photos and need to stand alone on their own page
  • Decide which ones you would feel comfortable cropping into smaller sizes. How small could they be and still look good?

You should now have a solid idea of which of those format options will work best for your needs (scrapbook page, mini book, etc). Of those remaining options, you can just choose the one that sounds like the most fun! The hard part is that first step of whittling a large group of photos down to a manageable, usable amount. Instead of asking, “Which ones can I do without,” I usually ask . . .

Which are the ones that best tell the story?

There is something about that question that helps me identify photos I most want to work with, and still feel okay about not including the others in my scrapbooks. Of the 114 photos I took on our recent trip to San Diego, I chose fourteen pictures in one quick sitting, thirteen of which I shared on my personal blog here and here.

What makes one photo stand out over another? Here are some of the characteristics you can look for when choosing which to print for your next scrapbook project:

Makes you pause

It doesn’t matter if the picture is technically great or not — if it catches my attention in a different way from the others, if I get a little feeling in my heart, if I catch my breath when I see it, even for just a second, or find myself wanting to gaze at the picture longer than the others, then it’s usually going to land on my scrapbook project.
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Shows emotion

You might say that any picture of someone smiling is showing an emotion. But a posed smile is not the same as a genuine belly-laugh smile — genuine emotion prompted, not by a camera, but by life itself.
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Captures a quirk or demonstrates a personality

Aiden’s shorts kept falling down and he spent most of the beach time with his hand trying to hold them up. I love having this subtle but humorous capture . . .
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Has energy and movement

There’s just something about those legs, mid-walk to the water, along with the excited faces, that made me love this photo.
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Makes a statement

Posed shots are not my favorite but there’s no denying, my daughter Trinity is photogenic. Her confidence, the boogie board, plus the lines of her body intersecting with the ocean line all add up to one strong, confident statement. It makes you stop and look. And that just feels good.
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Shows a relationship

In this picture, Izzy is showing the kids how to catch a wave with their boards. I love pictures of two people doing something together.
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Gives a different perspective

It makes for great variety when you have one good shot that either comes in close or zooms way out to show the setting.
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Captures the action that is happening

Again, these types of shots are great for genuine, un-posed story-telling. They’re also more interesting because of their energy.
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Tells the missing parts

Let’s face it: if we only use our favorite photos, much of the story will be missing. Sometimes the only shot I have of a person that was present at the event is not a great one. Once I’ve chosen the photos I love, I sometimes add one or two that are lower on my love-list, because I need them to complete the story. I don’t have an example of that kind from this particular trip, but you know what I’m talking about, right?

Putting Your Finger On It

While you’re getting used to assessing WHY certain photos grab your heart, another more general guideline is to pay attention when you find yourself saying, “There’s something about the way she . . .” or “There’s just something about his . . . “ In other words, learn to notice the feeling that signals a photo is better than most, and with some analysis and learned skills, you may eventually learn to identify the reasons and get those great shots more often!