Stepping Stones Blog

Milestone Memoir: Step 5

As I mentioned in the Introductory Post, Milestone Memoir is my vision of marrying one picture (worth 1,000 words) with one personal essay (500-1,500 words) to create a meaningful narrative for future generations.  

This method varies from traditional scrapbooking in that it places more emphasis on the written word, and less attention on decorative elements.  While journaling is always encouraged, many scrapbookers treat writing as an after-thought.  We try to ensure that the 5Ws are addressed (who, what, where, when, and why), but we tend to focus more on the layout’s visual appeal.

Please note that I do not see Milestone Memoir as a replacement for current scrapbook techniques.  Instead, I see it as coming along-side your other photo preservation methods.  It is more of a hybrid of scrapbooking and storytelling – YOUR story that needs to be shared with others.

Over these past few weeks, I have unveiled the nine-step process:  Step 1: Brainstorm a Theme; Steps 2 and 3: Brainstorm Chapters and Review Photos; Step 4: Select ONE photo per chapter.  Today we will focus on Step 5: Page Layouts and Color Schemes

* * * * *

layout 1In traditional scrapbooking, we tend to look at the photos, consider the event, and then design a page around those elements.  This method often places the layout as the focus (the paper, stickers and other embellishments) and the story becomes secondary.  This is a fun, creative way to showcase photos and utilize artistic talent.

Milestone Memoir, however, puts the story front and center.  It is the single photograph and the accompanying words that take priority.  However, a touch of decoration adds visual appeal and should not be ignored.

layout 2I believe that simple is best, but simple does not mean boring.

When I was a Creative Memories consultant several years ago, we had a series of idea books called “Fast Formulas”  These were invaluable to me as a consultant as well as a scrapbook enthusiast.  Over the past few years, however, I have learned that we can all design our own “fast formulas” by analyzing layouts we enjoy.

layout 3I encourage you to look at idea books, scrapbook magazines, and Pinterest.  When you find a page you like, stop and analyze the elements of the design:  is it the way the photos are grouped together – the decorative corner design – or the unique borders along the outside edge?  Use these pages as models for your own “fast formula” collection.

Once you have collected 15-20 different page layouts, you have more than enough ideas for a completed album.

The next step is to devise a color scheme.  I love this idea for two reasons:

  1. It limits the decision process.  Once you have pre-selected 3-4 colors and/or 6-8 papers to use throughout the album, layouts are a breeze.
  2. It provides consistency.  The theme for the album may be subtle, but a consistent color scheme will reinforce that common thread.

color schemeFor my first Milestone Memoir (autobiography from birth to marriage), I considered the photos as well as my color preference.  In the end, I decided to use soft browns, mauve pinks, moss greens, and the occasional turquoise.  I chose papers that I liked because…. well… this is MY album, MY story and I want to use colors that bring me joy.

You can either decorate pages ahead of time and then add photos and essay later… or you can decide which design to use based on the particular photo.  While the former makes for efficiency… I tend to prefer the latter.

At this point, you are ready to create!

Next week I will preview a Milestone Memoir handout.  I will also showcase a few sample pages from my “Milestone Memoir” before I delve into drafting the essay.



  1. cathyensley

    I hope you’ll show some actual finished products. I’d love to see them.

    • Stay tuned, Cathy 😉

      I’m glad you are interested in the concept.

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