Strategies For Stories Without Photos

Even in this digital age when we are taking far more photos than we will ever have time to scrapbook, you may have a story you want to tell but no photos to go along with it.

Maybe it’s a story from your own childhood or it could be a story about your unruly teenager who avoids the camera.

Does not having the perfect photo stop you from documenting the story? It shouldn’t.

Here are some strategies that might help you alter your approach to that page.

Find an unrelated photo

There’s no rule that says a photo on the scrapbook page must have something to do with the story you are telling.

  • Use an older photo – if the story is about a person, maybe you don’t have a current photo or all of the current photos bring up bad thoughts or feelings. Find an older photo of happier times.
  • Use a photo that reminds you of the person – maybe you want to tell a story of how you and your cousins spent summers at your Grandparent’s cabin but you have no photos of that time. Take a picture of any lake or body of water or maybe even a sunset through the trees. It doesn’t have to be that specific lake to evoke the memory.
  • Take a new photo – you can stage a photo to express the feelings from your journaling. Maybe your story is about how you baked sugar cookies with a friend every Easter. Take a photo of sugar cookie dough and sprinkles and a scattering of cookie cutters.
  • Take a photo of a gift that person gave you – maybe it’s too painful to include a photo of the person, but you still have something they gave you. A photo of a possession that represents them can still be a very powerful image.
  • Find a photo online – The Library of Congress has a fantastic catalog of photographs. Even if you don’t want a generic photo, you might be able to find a photo there that can give you inspiration for something you could take yourself.

Don’t use a photo at all

Speaking of rules, there’s also no rule that says every scrapbook page must have a photo. If you don’t have one and don’t want to find a photo using some of these other methods, let your journaling be the star of the page and find other ways to reinforce the story.

  • Use memorabilia in place of photos – maybe you have memories of Christmas shopping “downtown” at a large department store growing up, but have no photos. You could use bar code tags or labels you’ve cut from clothing. A post card or map could be used to illustrate the location.
  • Choose specific embellishments – use chipboard pieces or cut some with your die cut machine that could create a scene to be used in place of photos. K&Co. has packages of die cut pieces (like this and this) that would work perfectly.
  • Make words the focal point – create a word collage that reinforces the story or contains words that describs the person in your journaling. The website Wordle could help get you started.

Don’t let a lack of photos keep you from getting your stories into your scrapbooks. Sometimes you just have to think a little bit outside the box.

What do you do when you have a story to tell, but you have no photos?


  1. Great post – I’m slowly learning to tell the story and not worry if I don’t have a photo that is an exact match.

  2. Thanks Sue! Photos are usually where my process starts so in the past, I would just put the stories off because I didn’t know what to do. Unfortunately, some of the stories have been forgotten. I learned the lesson – use it or lose it!

  3. This is so true.
    I don’t that many pictures of my childhood, but so many memories.
    I took a picture of the highway sign because every summer I would have to drive over 8 eight hours to see my dad, down that same highway.
    Now I just have to make the layout 🙂



  1. Scrapweb November 26, 2010 Edition | Scrapworthy Lives - [...] Strategies for stories without photos [...]

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