A Complete Guide to Pocket-page Memory-keeping: How to create a pocket-page layout from start to finish


Welcome back to The Complete Guide to Pocket-page Memory-keeping Series, code name #PocketPageBasics! In this three-part series, I'm taking your hand and guiding you through the basics of pocket-page memory-keeping. Today, we're going to get our hands messy (in a beautiful and creative way) because I'm going to teach you, step-by-step, the process of actually creating a pocket-page layout. This is the part where you take your Memory-keeping Trifecta of photos, stories and ephemera and turn them into a beautiful and cohesive pocket-page layout that you can add into your albums. A lot of memory-keepers are overwhelmed by all the moving parts of taking their stories and creating a layout out of it because they're overcomplicating the entire process.

For the second part of the series, I will show you the simple + straightforward way of crafting a pocket-page layout that is both beautiful and intentional.

A Complete Guide to Pocket-page Memory-keeping: How to create a pocket-page layout from start to finish

If you're just tuning in, then you might've missed the first installment of this series. I definitely recommend reading that first: The Tools and Materials That You Really Need to Get Started.

Okay, let's get this party started!

The very first step to cut through the overwhelm is to pick a specific story OR short + recent time frame that you want to document right now.

I know you're excited to create an entire album on that Disney trip you took last week or you want to do the entire baby album for your little kiddo. But if you're just starting out, those projects are ENORMOUS and totally OVERWHELMING. You'll burn yourself out easily in Step 1.

So, I want you to work on something like:

  • what you got up to last week (as in a seven-day period),
  • eating at a new restaurant with your boyfriend
  • watching a play on Broadway
  • a girls' day out at the mall, shopping and eating
  • Day 1 of your home renovation project

Again: short + recent time frames or a super specific story. If you've got a bunch of ideas, just list those down and pick your favorite! And while you're at it, go ahead and download the free workbook that I designed to complement the steps on this guide. It has all the worksheets that you will need to make the process simple!

A Complete Guide to Pocket-page Memory-keeping: How to create a pocket-page layout from start to finish

Step 1: Gather the photos and ephemera that are relevant to the story that you're telling.

Estimated amount of time for this step: 5 minutes

A lot of first-time memory-keepers are overwhelmed by the first step because they're trying to gather photos and ephemera for their one-month vacation in Europe or the first year of their baby or catching up with three years worth of high school memories. But because I've already primed you to just pick a specific story or a short time frame, this step should not take you more than five minutes.

Gathering photos

Most of the photos that you include in your albums are taken from either your digital camera or your smartphone camera. Occasionally, you might grab screenshots from your computer or photos from Facebook that your friends uploaded. What you should do is to go through each location and copy the photos that fit the story/time frame that you are working on into a separate folder. Here's what that looks like:

  • Camera photos: It's best to update your camera settings so that you'll have the date from when the photo was taken included in file names. This way, you can just go through my memory card and copy the photos from the relevant dates into the special folder you created specifically for this layout.
  • Smartphone photos: The photos I take from my camera (along with any screenshots I made) are all synced into my Google Photos account so I can just go to the web application for Google Photos and type in the dates that I'm working on and Google will find those photos for me. If you don't want to sync to Google Photos, then go through your smartphone's camera folder and handpick the photos for this project. Copy those to the special folder you created.
  • Other (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.)Grab the photos that you need and copy those to the special folder that you created.

At the end of this short exercise, you should have all your photos collected into a single folder. You don't necessarily need to use every single photo but every photo that you could possibly use is already there.

Gathering ephemera

The best way to simplify this process is to have a dedicated box / drawer for any ephemera that you might collect day to day. Just keep it on your desk all the time and let the ephemera accumulate until you're ready to use 'em. If you already have that, then dive into it and pick out all the relevant ephemera. Don't start thinking of whether or not you'll use it in the layout. Just gather it for now.

If you don't have this kind of system yet, START ONE NOW. Just grab an empty shoebox and scour your wallet, bags and desk drawers for any ephemera that you might use.


Step 2: Choose a page protector and sketch a rough idea of the layout you'll be making.

Estimated amount of time for this step: 3 minutes

I mentioned in the previous blogpost on this series that there are several page protector configurations. So based on the images and ephemera that you've gathered in Step 1, choose the page protector configuration that you think would work best. For example, if you have lots of portrait photos, you might want to choose a configuration that has more 3x4" pockets than 4x6" pockets.

Now, grab a piece of paper (or use the sheet from the free workbook!) and sketch the outline of the page protector that you're using and start doing a game of mix and match. This process goes something like this:

  • Pick and choose the photos + ephemera you'll be using for the layout. Subconsciously, you would have done this step when you picked the page protector configuration that you'll be using so this step is easy-peasy.
  • Arrange those photos + ephemera into the pockets of your page protctor. So, write something like "photo #1," or "ticket from the movie" on your sketch.
  • If there are specific details that you want to include, write it down as well. Had a fun conversation with your bestie that you want to document in the same layout? Pick the place where you'll be writing that down.

Make this process QUICK. Don't dwell on this. The point of this step is to (1) find out the exact photo sizes that you're using and (2) create a balanced layout in terms of photo + ephemera placement. You don't need to plan out the small details like the stickers you're using or the colors.

Step 3: Crop the photos to the correct sizes and print it all.

Estimated amount of time for this step: 5 minutes

The reason why you did a rough sketch in Step 2 was to be able to identify the correct sizes that you're printing your photos in. You want to avoid printing seven photos in portrait when you only have space for five or something like that. Now that you have the exact sizes, use your favorite photo editing software to edit + crop your photos and then finally, print it out.

A Complete Guide to Pocket-page Memory-keeping: How to create a pocket-page layout from start to finish

In terms of editing, I mainly adjust the brightness and contrast + apply some Photoshop actions (kind of like VSCO filters) to change the overall tone of the photo. Then, I use Photoshop to crop my photos. If you don't have Photoshop (it's awesome, I use it all the time), you can use a free online software like PicMonkey to do the same thing.

Depending on your level of tech savviness, this process can take around 5-10 minutes.

Quick commercial break // This has been in the works for about a year and a half already... I'm launching an e-course on analog travel memory-keeping! I am PASSIONATE about introducing a better way to relive your travel experiences (yes, I am throwin' some slight shade on social media...), a way where you can TANGIBLY  flip through the stories of your past adventures.

This course - Craft Your Travel Story - isn't launching until May 2017 BUT I want to help you get started with travel memory-keeping while you wait excitedly ;) This is why I created this FREE comprehensive five-day e-mail course, The Travel-keeper Bootcamp!

Craft Your Travel Story - coming soon!

In this bootcamp, I will be sharing very practical + actionable tips, intentional systems and methods to help you document the details your travel experiences, take photos that accurately tell your stories, and gather ephemera as your "hard evidence." This bootcamp will prepare you a lot when it comes to finally creating your analog travel album.

You can join this bootcamp - did I mention that it's completely free? - by clicking here and signing up on that page or just leaving your name + e-mail below:

Step 4: Layout the photos + ephemera according to your sketch and fill in the blanks with pocket cards.

Estimated amount of time for this step: 5 minutes

On this step, you'll put together all your photos + ephemera into the actual page protector based on the sketch that you made in Step 2. You can adjust and re-arrange this to your liking, still. The sketch just helps you create an initial vision for what you want to create in order to avoid overwhelm. You practically have 70% of your layout done already. And it's only been ~18 minutes.

A Complete Guide to Pocket-page Memory-keeping: How to create a pocket-page layout from start to finish

After layouting your photos + ephemera, you might have some blank pockets left to fill. At this point, you can go through your stash of paper products (we talked about this in the first post) to fill the remaining pockets. It's a good practice to leave a pocket for a title card and a journaling card so that you can add more context to your layout. But that's totally up to you!

A Complete Guide to Pocket-page Memory-keeping: How to create a pocket-page layout from start to finish

A Complete Guide to Pocket-page Memory-keeping: How to create a pocket-page layout from start to finish

After Step 4, you have a complete pocket-page layout! Give yourself a pat on the back, you've worked hard ;) If you want to add a little somethin' something to your new layout and you have a bit more time, you can proceed to the next two steps. But if you want to keep it simple, you can definitely stop right now.


Step 5: Embellish what you want to embellish

Estimated amount of time for this step: 5 minutes

Sometimes, when you look at a layout, you get this teeny tiny feeling in your heart that something's missing. You want to add a bit of oomph! on that photo that you really love or you feel like you can emphasize a certain pocket more. That's what embellishments are for!

Common and simple forms of embellishing often include:

  • using alphabet stickers / thickers for titles,
  • use stamps and stickers to as accents and,
  • adding dimension to your layouts.

A Complete Guide to Pocket-page Memory-keeping: How to create a pocket-page layout from start to finish

But before we leave this topic, I need to give you a reminder: Embellishments are fun and all but it's NOT an essential. You CAN do pocket-page layouts without embellishments. This is completely optional. Don't feel like you have to do this in order to create beautiful layouts.


Step 6: Write down all your journaling

Estimated amount of time for this step: 5 minutes

The final step - that I actually think is necessary - is to write your journaling for your layout. Remember the memory-keeping trifecta? You already used photos and ephemera in the first five steps. Now, let's focus on writing down the STORIES. The common types of journaling that you can do in your layout are (1) captions, (2) listicles / bulleted points, and (3) longform stories.

A Complete Guide to Pocket-page Memory-keeping: How to create a pocket-page layout from start to finish

If you're confused on what format to use, here's quick guide:

  • Photo captions — a short snippet that describes a photo or an ephemera (name of the restaurant you went to, what this ticket was for, etc.)
  • Listicles / bulleted points — easy way to tell the story of an event chronologically, listing out things like stuff you received for your wedding, music you listened to during the road trip, etc.
  • Longform — this is great it really including emotion and lots of detail; perfect for a more in-depth documentation of important moments of your life

Eventually, it's all up to what you're comfortable with. You might not like writing long pieces of journaling or you might actually prefer just doing bullet points. You do you.


Putting all your hard work together!

Yes! After around 30 minutes, you have created your own pocket-page layout! Woo hoo! Cue the confetti ;) It wasn't too difficult, right?

A Complete Guide to Pocket-page Memory-keeping: How to create a pocket-page layout from start to finish

Now, if you do the exact same steps again and again for a different story / time frame (remember to keep it short + specific!), then you're well on your way to completing your first album. This means, in a few more thirty-minute memory-keeping sessions, you'll have in your hands a completed book on that road trip you took around your state, the fun get-together with your high school buds at a beach resort or the first year of your beautiful daughter.

The last part of this series is all about Four Quick and Simple Memory-Keeping Techniques to Craft Beautiful Pocket-Page Layouts. So stay tuned for that ;)


Which step was the easiest for you to follow? The hardest? Let me know what's holding you back in the comments below. I want to help you get past it!


Also! Make sure that you download the free workbook! It has lots of helpful prompts that complements each step that I discussed in this blogpost:

A Complete Guide to Pocket-page Memory-keeping: How to create a pocket-page layout from start to finish


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