Scrapping Your “Bad” Photos

When I first started scrapbooking, I was so excited to get my stories down on paper. I started with traditional paper pages and then transitioned into digital. The joy of finding that perfect photo, cutting it or cropping it on the computer, and then printing everything. Ah, the good ole days. My little camera and printer had never seen such activity! Fast forward some 10+ years, and my original point and shoot camera has been replaced by a dSLR and my cell phone.  A lot has changed, including my feelings about what pictures I choose to include on my [now] digital layouts. For a long time I became a … a … a photo snob. If the photo wasn’t perfect, I wouldn’t use it. I know some of you reading this post have probably been down that road, too, right? Not anymore!  Those not-so-perfect pictures do have a place on my scrapbook pages, and they can on yours, too.  Let’s talk about scrapping your “bad” photos.


Throughout this month, the Peers will be here on the blog, chatting about photography-related topics. There will be tips and tricks on how to improve your photography, which is great! However, no matter how much we practice our craft, we all still take those “meh” photos, right? The ones that we just want to delete right after we take them.  Yes, you know the ones I’m talking about. Even professional photographers have off days, too, and can take hundreds of photos in a shoot just to get those awesome one or two that scream perfection. So what is a “bad” photo?  This could be different for everyone, but here’s a quick comparison on some of my own pictures on what I consider a good photo vs. a not-so-good one.


Scrapping Your Bad Photos


This is one of my better photos, straight out of the camera – and yes, I couldn’t wait to scrap it! Things are in focus, the color is good, and my great-niece is actually looking at me. Composure and framing of the subject is nicely balanced and leaves me plenty of room to get a good crop. This was taken outdoors, so the lighting was pretty decent, even for being taken in a covered area; photo clarity is also good with no graininess. This is – in my books – a good photo.




Now we move onto the meh picture, like this one of my dog. It’s out of focus and blurry. The lighting leaves much to be desired, too. My dog is black and tan, so having her sit on a dark colored floor rug probably wasn’t the best decision – little contrast and parts of her just disappear into the background. I was trying to capture the incessant “talking” that she does, but even with a faster shutter speed and sport mode on the camera, I really didn’t get a very good photo.  She was just moving so fast, throwing her head back and barking at me. Oh well, wait for another opportunity, I guess (this happens several times a day!) … no!  Scrap them!


Our “bad” photos are an opportunity to put our digital scrapbooking skills to task. Here’s a few tricks:


  1. Filters and actions can be your best friend! An artistic filter can sometimes mask a grainy photo, while others have the ability to soften images, blurring them ever so slightly.
  2. Convert the photo to black and white and then bump up the exposure a bit to give more contrast. This doesn’t always work, but it’s a quick, simple fix when it does!
  3. Be creative with cropping. If the composition of your picture isn’t exactly what you’d like it to be, look for some creative cropping options, like moving the subject all the way to one side of your frame, or zooming in to crop out unwanted objects in the background.
  4. Use your journaling to offer an explanation to go with the picture. Did you spend your weekend on the sideline at your child’s sporting event and walk away with not a single good photo? Great! No, seriously. If your photos are out of focus, journal about how fast your child is, how they enjoy their sport and don’t keep still for a moment. How about a group photo and not everyone is looking right at you? Did you just try to get photos of your children with Santa over the holidays? Maybe you can journal about how there’s “always that one” in the family that goofs around or can’t sit still.


We all take so many photos, some of us on a daily basis, to incorporate into our scrapbook pages. It seems a shame to filter out what is real life in favor of perfection, doesn’t it? Remember that picture of my dog, Haddie? I had a series of pretty awful photos, mostly blurry ones, but I turned that around and created a layout that showed a sequence of pictures. None are really great, by any means, but they are my dog, through and through.


Scrapping Your Bad Photos


The photo I shared earlier is the second from the right on this layout. However, some creative cropping and keeping the image small helps disguise what would otherwise be a photo that I might, in the past, have ignored or deleted altogether. I added a little humor to the journaling with references to “Mom, Mom, Mom …” because that’s what this feels like each time the dog gets talkative (if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, check this out). It is frantic. It is noisy. It’s even borderline annoying, in a cute way. Sure, these photos are not technically great, but they are perfect for this snapshot in time.


Here’s another example of a how I scrapped some blurry, out of focus photos of my dog:


Scrapping Your Bad Photos


These were truly awful, from a technical standpoint. However, once again, a little humor with a simple journaling tag, “Bad Photos. Good times.” was enough to explain what was going on.


Combining the tricks I mentioned earlier, is also a great way to go – like here, on this page:

Scrapping Your Bad Photos


Unless you looked closely, you might not see that the photo is pretty grainy. However, converting it to black and white, combined with a really close crop, and voila! Not too bad, if I do say so myself (and this was a moment between cousins that I didn’t want to lose).


When it comes to memory keeping, I’m sure we’d all love for our scrapbook pages to be technically perfect in even detail, especially with the pictures. However, don’t dismiss a “meh” photo simply because it doesn’t meet your usual standards. Photographs represent a moment in time, a mere fraction of a second when you were present and clicked on that camera button. They are moments that may never happen again. Embrace scrapping your “bad” photos. Ten, fifteen, or even twenty years from now when another generation looks at your scrapbook albums, do you think they will be concerned with the quality of the pictures? Probably not. They will simply be excited to read about their family and explore their heritage through words and pictures. Scrapping your “bad” photos can have a place in your scrapbook layouts.

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  • Yobeth Puckett January 9, 2017   Reply →

    Oh how I love this!! I delete A LOT of photos that are less than perfect. I’ll have to rethink that in the future. Thanks for the ideas. Your layouts are so cute. If they’re a bit fuzzy or “imperfect”, I cannot tell it. Great article.

    • Katherine January 10, 2017   Reply →

      Yobeth, it took me a long time to stop being my own worst critic and scrap those not-so-technically-great photos. Now, I don’t really give them a second thought.

  • Karen Eyrich January 9, 2017   Reply →

    There have been times that I only have one photo to memorialize an important event. Of course that one photo turns out to be less that perfect. My favorite thing, like you mention, is to turn it into black and white, or blend it. The most important thing for me then is to make sure I have a lot of journaling. I want my future grandchildren 25 years from now to be able to understand that important event.

    • Katherine January 10, 2017   Reply →

      Karen, I couldn’t agree more! When my father passed away, I reached out to his brother, my uncle, for pictures and what I received were scanned images of old B&W photos from the 1930’s and 1940’s. They were grainy, full of scratches … but you know what? There were perfect! I was able to piece together a bunch of stories from my Dad’s childhood that I knew nothing about, and the photos were a great addition.

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