I received the following email message from Shutterfly today, in promotion of a photo book idea:
If you can’t read it, it says:
“Julie used to be a scrapbooker, but then she discovered photo books are less expensive, less time consuming and you get a beautiful book instead of a big, bulky album. Now Julie is totally in love with making photo books — she’s created 37 in the last two years.”
I have one thing to say:
No longer will she have the tactile pleasure of trimming her photos, nor the intellectual stimulation of moving embellishments around the physical or digital page. No longer will she get to drool over galleries at Designer Digitals and Scrapbook.com. No longer can she hang out with us “cool kid” scrapbookers… because she thinks she’s not one of us anymore.
Note what I said there: “She thinks...” ‘Cause in my humble opinion, she’s still very much a scrapbooker.
Now, I have no problem at all with photo books. I love them! I see them as a new dimension in storytelling. They don’t replace my traditional scrapbooking; they add to it. I often create photo books for people who live far away, for sporting events where I don’t have an emotional connection to each and every photo, or when the photos are the focus and don’t need a lot of text or journaling. And when I get better at digital scrapbooking, you’d better believe I’ll be looking to print out my pages in a nice, neat book.
But to say that photo books are not scrapbooking? There’s something wrong with that. In fact, I think it’s time to revisit a simple math equation:
photo + memory = scrapbooking
I’d even go so far as to say that you don’t even need a photo to make a scrapbook. But that’s a rant for another day.
Right now, let’s focus on the fact that Shutterfly is way missing the mark on its target audience. To say that photo book creators are not scrapbookers is like saying that bloggers aren’t writers because their work is online. Or that someone who takes photos with a digital camera and displays them only online isn’t a photographer. Or that Herbie Hancock isn’t a musician because his music is electronic.
The focus on the tool rather than on the intent is where things fall off track. And where things really go wrong is in the imposition of a false dichotomy (either/or) on the participants: You’re EITHER a scrapbooker OR a photo book maker, but not both. It’s this kind of thinking that sinks us in the muck of division rather than unity (“She’s not like me… she uses RHINESTONES on her pages!”)
If your intent is to capture part of your life through photos and words, you’re a scrapbooker. Whether you use a quilt or a photo book or a tattoo or the side of a building or a 12×12″ album or your blog doesn’t matter, just as it doesn’t matter if an artist creates in clay, acrylic paints, marble or sand.
So, Shutterfly, I know you weren’t trying to insult anyone with your email. But I also know that you wouldn’t want to go on with such a deep misunderstanding of one of your key target demographics (namely, scrapbookers). So just understand this: We scrapbookers love our scrapbooking. We enjoy the process, the time involved, and yes, even the “bulky” albums that can result. Most of us would never completely replace what you call “scrapbooking” with photo books, but we would gladly open our hearts an inch or two so you could show us how to use photo books to enhance the process of scrapbooking, either for some of the photos we don’t have time to scrapbook traditionally, or for gifts, or for the printing of our digital pages, or for hybrid projects.
And as for Julie… can I have your old scrapbooking supplies, seeing as you no longer need them?
P.S. What do you think? What makes a scrapbook?