The Story = Photographs + Words

One of the “rules” of scrapbooking is that you should journal on your scrapbook pages. The journaling is what makes it a scrapbook page. In the words of one of my respondents from my dissertation, “without the words, it’s just a glorified photo album.”
But what counts as journaling?
Does it count if you include the who, what, and where? In one of my interviews, my respondent was showing me her pages and kept pointing out where her journaling was written. It almost always consisted of only a date–the date the photographs were taken. Huh? I often include the date, but my co-workers at the scrapbook store most certainly did not consider me much of a journaler. Some of my co-workers, had more words (or journaling) than photographs. Another one of my respondents mentioned she was surprised by scrapbook pages that only included words and no photographs. For her, this made little sense. If you just include words, then you put it in your journal. A scrapbook, then is something different.
There is little agreement over how many words count as journaling. There is also little agreement as to what the content of those words should be to be counted as journaling. For example, I could write: 2/1/2011 or I could write: On February 1, 2011 we went to the park (or whatever is in the photograph). At first glance, the second option makes it appear like I have quite a bit of journaling, but it really tells the reader nothing more than what the photograph and date already do.
What makes this all the more confusing is that now there is a scrapbooking movement–if you will–about “one little word.” Ali Edwards (I review her blog on Thursday) is teaching a workshop through Big Picture Classes called One Little Word. The goal is that each person selects a word to focus on throughout the year instead of following conventional New Years Resolutions.
My question, then, is can journaling be only one word long?
Yes! At least, I think so. Journaling implies a lengthy story. This image intimidates potential scrapbookers and current scrapbookers. I think we should ditch the word journaling altogether and just call it the words. I don’t even want to call it the story because story implies length just like journaling does. Moreover, I believe that a photograph with or without words can tell a story. For me scrapbooking is photos and words. Sometimes, you might only have one photo and one word. Sometimes you might have a dozen photographs or a hundred words. Regardless, most scrapbooking is a way to tell a story using both photographs and words. Occasionally, you might have just a photograph, just words, or just a piece of memorabilia. It doesn’t matter.

What do you think? Please comment below.

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