The Art of Storytelling

As scrapbookers, we work hard to combine photos, elements and papers to make lovely, artistic pages. However, sometimes we forget to showcase another type of art – the art of storytelling. It has been said a picture is worth a thousand words, but I think those pictures still need a few words added in order to be completely understood by the viewers. Here are some easy ways to add the story to your layouts.

The Bare Minimum

Since one of the goals of digital scrapbooking is to preserve memories, every page should contain at least the date and location of the photos and the names of those in the photos. You may remember all the details, but in the future, those reading your pages may not, so don’t let these important parts of the story be lost. Write the information small, turn it sideways, put it along an edge, write it inside an element, but by all means, add dates, locations, and names to your layouts. My current page was set up to look like a book, so I listed the boys who are in the pictures as the “authors,” the date as the card catalog number, and the location as the publisher.


Word Art

Look through your materials for special words or phrases that help convey the ideas behind your page.  For example, a picture of a baby girl might be “Sweet Granddaughter” or “My Special Niece” or “Daddy’s Girl.” A group of women could be “Cousins” or “Girls’ Night Out.” All convey more information than the photo alone. Here’s the word art I used  on my page.


Little Tidbits

Just a few words or phrases can tantalize the viewer and give them more clues about the story behind the photos. You can use single words or phrases written either separately or in bullet points. The idea is to add to your viewers’ understanding using a few words. This is what I added to my page.


Photo Labels

Sometimes the best way to clearly explain something in a photo is to add a caption to it. What did she say? Add a talk bubble. What was that thing in the background? Label it with an arrow pointing to it. Here is what I added to one of my photos.

The Short Story

It often takes only one to three sentences to convey the story behind your photos. Be choosy and edit your words until the story is clearly told. This may take a bit more time than the other suggestions above, but your readers will better understand what is really happening in the pictures. Here is the journaling on my page:

While watching a kayak race, the boys decided to create a big “Hi” out of driftwood to greet the racers. David thought their first effort was too small, so the boys searched for longer logs to build a bigger structure. The race was over before the boys finished, but that didn’t matter. It was still a big “Hi”!

A Page of Prose

Some stories are worth telling completely and in great detail. If you have a special family story to pass down, you may want to devote the majority of a single page or a two-page layout to tell it fully, adding one or two photos for interest’s sake. I’ve done this a few times, and my family has really appreciated learning the whole story.

I hope this article gave you some ideas on how to add more stories to your layouts. Your family and friends will thank you for capturing details that might otherwise be lost. How about sharing your stories with us, too? Post your pages in the Scrap Girls Gallery so we can all enjoy them!


Layout by Sue Maravelas

Scrap Girls Digital Scrapbooking supplies used: 

Article written by Sue Maravelas



  1. Sue – this is great. Love your boys’ creation and their ambition. Your description of the process is so well organized & the steps so detailed! Great job.

  2. amy kivimagi says:

    Good information! Love the page. I’m always looking for good ways to add the story to my layouts.

  3. Sherry_Lynn says:

    Wonderful layout Sue AND thanks for the tutorial!

  4. Karen (butterfly kisses) says:

    Loved the tutorial Sue. Great ideas and layout

  5. What a fun layout! I’m going to remember these tips next time I have a story to tell! Thanks, Sue!!

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