5 Journaling Ideas For Photos With No Clear Story

Photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/706601

So many of our photos tell a story all on their own. You can just look at them and remember the event, the details, the cute thing your kid said that day, the story about what was happening beyond the camera’s reach, the reason the family was together. For these photos it is easy to record the rich details that makes our scrapbook layouts meaningful.

But sometimes, you’ll have photos where there is no story, nothing big happened and there is no life lesson to teach. It’s just a cute photo. You know you’ll scrapbook the photo, but no journaling ideas come to mind.

Frustrating, right?

Forget the frustration. Here are five journaling ideas to help create journaling when it seems like there is no story to tell:

1. Look at the photo and start with the basics – who is in the photo, where was it taken, what was happening that day, when was it taken, why were they there… Just evoking these details might spark an idea. Sometimes, that’s all you need. If that’s not enough, what do you know that the photo does not convey? Who else was there? What’s happening behind the scenes? What happened in the car on the way there or on the way home? What happened 20 minutes after the photo was taken? Did this day go as planned or was it an unexpected outing? Thinking about all these other details might help you uncover a story you can tell.

2. Relay a recent conversation – if the subject of your photo is a person and you really have nothing to say about what’s going on in the photo, think about a recent conversation you’ve had. Do you text back and forth or email frequently? Did they say something funny about another family member? Whatever details you come up with do not have to be specifically related to the photo.

3. Journal about right now – Listing things is one of my favorite ways to journal. When items are put in a list, you don’t need a whole lot of detail. What is the subject of your photo into right now? What are their favorites? What’s their current schedule? Is there something they want to do every single day, without fail? What games are they playing, what is their current favorite food? Do they have an outfit that they wear constantly? The list could go on and on, but you get the idea.

4. Identify quirks – if the photo is of a person, start listing out all of the quirky things that are totally them. Are they saying a new word all the time or do they constantly gesture with their hands when they talk? Do they walk in a unique way, skip down the street when they are happy, give you a certain look when they are mad? Compare these quirks with what you see in the photo.

5. Random observations – this is a strategy I employ often with photos of my nephews (and I discuss the idea in more detail in this post). If you really have no details about what is going on in the photo, come up with some random life observation that can be gleamed from the photo. For example, life is better with a friend to share it with; or you can get away with anything at Grandma’s but don’t ever try that at home; or your smile makes the day brighter.

The next time you have a photo without a clear story attached, give one or two of these strategies a try. You might just be able to pull out a story and jumpstart a list of other ideas to use the next time you are in the same situation. Just remember that writing – just like crafting – is a muscle. The more you exercise it and work on it, the better it will be.

What are your go to ideas for creating journaling when you have no specific story to tell?

Thanks for stopping by today!


  1. These are great tips, especially for those pictures that are older or that my mom randomly sends me. Ha!

  2. great tips for journaling!!

  3. Great suggestions Tammy. I’ve started a huge list of layouts ideas in my Twelve journal, so now I can browse those lists when I have a great photo & want to use it to help tell a story.

  4. Great tips! When I don’t have anything to journal about, I usually just cop out and don’t – but I love these Ideas to get some thoughts on the page!

  5. These are great ideas. I am still trying to catch up 20 years worth (I didnt start until my children were finishing school). It’s so hard to remember all the little stories.

  6. Great tips Tammy.
    I will remember these when I get butt moving on some layouts 😉

  7. Great post! Many times I would like to use a certain photo, but don’t really know what to say, or don’t want to journal what the photo is about. Good tips and worth the effort to dig a little deeper.

  8. These are all great tips. It’s often difficult for me to use a photo and not scrap about what’s happening in the photo. Maybe it’s my type A personality! 🙂 But when I do, I often use #3. I like #5 though. I’ll have to try that next time.


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