Say You, Say Me | I’m Your Private Dancer

Privacy in Scrapbooking

Q | I just started blogging my scrapbooking. (Just got accepted to a creative team, yay!) I’m struggling a bit with balancing privacy and visibility. Up to now my scrapbook layouts pretty much just went up on Facebook for my friends & family to see. But now that I have a blog and a brand new Twitter account I’m a little freaked out. Real name here, pics of family there, and potentially crazy people around every turn! How do you manage it?

A | My personal information was a very closely guarded secret for me for a lot of years, having been “heavily embedded” in the Internet since back in the pay-by-the-hour for AOL days. At this point I share quite a bit of personal information in a lot of different areas online, where people can see it, and the biggest reason for that shift was my involvement in the scrapbooking community. I had to ask myself what I really wanted out of this experience and it really boiled down to this:

  • I saw great potential, through memory keeping, for both personal and creative growth.
  • I have always believed that the best way to grow is through our connections with other people, whether they’re like-minded or polar opposites.
  • There are no large groups of digital scrapbookers in my area (that I know of).

I can document our lives and my innermost thoughts without sharing a single morsel of it with anyone outside my close circle of friends and family, if having shelves of finished albums were my only goal. However, I reached a point in my life where I felt as though I wanted more, and where felt as though there was great potential for something more deeply-rewarding within this community.

It has not let me down.

The rewards have far exceeded any concessions I have made on the personal side, but you have to answer that question for yourself. Sharing so much of my personal life on the Internet has required that I put a lot of trust in people who are, effectively, strangers. In an ideal world we would all be able to convert all of our closest girlfriends and family members to digital scrapbookers and we could grow as artists with one another. I’ve been largely unsuccessful at accomplishing this, so far. Even if I did manage to get them all on board with the idea I have found deeper pools of trust, support and self-awareness in some of my online relationships than I have in many of my “real-life” relationships. I don’t think I could walk away from that.

That being said, I do have a few lines in the sand as far as what I will and won’t share publicly in the name of scrapbooking. One example is that I remove (via cropping or creative Photoshop retouching) any instances of my son’s last name on any pages I post online. He and I have different last names and in the rare instances where his appears in a photo (school projects) or in my journaling (references to his dad’s side of the family, for instance) I remove them. I do the same for any references to his school, including his teachers’ names, which I abbreviate in my journaling.

On purely a respect level, I don’t post anything about him that he wouldn’t freely admit to another person or  any photos that I know he would be uncomfortable with other people seeing. This means I have some pages in our printed albums that have never been seen online. For example any pages that have photos or journaling that deal with something he has struggled with emotionally, medically or academically – those are just for us. He’s also a very modest kid so he has always had full creative control over any summer photos I use of him without a shirt on (swimming photos). If you go through my online galleries you’ll notice that the majority of those pages feature closely-framed head shots or photos where he was in deeper water, but he has approved a few wider shots on an individual, purely arbitrary “I look awesome in that one” basis.

Like this photo will forever be one of my favorite summer photographs of him:

You also will never find a photo of him in the bathtub, at any age, anywhere in my galleries – that’s just a no fly zone for him whether he was 6 months old or 6 years old.

I follow the same rules for pages about myself or my husband, but … for different reasons. I don’t know if you could see photos of me in the bathtub and still want to hang out. I don’t think we have that kind of relationship.

And it goes without saying that I don’t post on my blog or any social media site about a vacation we’re on or about anything else that would create any sort of security-related fiasco for ourselves. Like you’ll never see me posting photos of my diamond tiara room or my Scrooge McDuck-style vault filled with gold coins and priceless artifacts.

That would just be irresponsible of me.

What Say You? Everybody In!

If you have any advice, tips, tricks or encouragement to offer on this topic please weigh-in in the comments below. I know everyone has different perspectives on online privacy and where they draw the line when it comes to scrapbooking, specifically. I’d love to hear yours!

Or if you have any other questions about … anything .. that you’d like me to ramble on about? You can post those here or shoot me an email if you’re bashful.

I sent a quick email off to The Flock and received these answers:

CHRISTINE | Probably not an answer she wants to hear, but if she’s concerned about privacy, then she may need to reconsider being on a creative team. The whole purpose of the creative team is to showcase and  market the designer’s products.  The photos/layouts would be posted everywhere.  She doesn’t need to use her real name though.  And nobody needs to know where she lives.  I have seen people post layouts with their kids’ faces blurred out.  Really NOT a big fan of that.  To me it totally distracts from the layout and you might as well not post it publicly.  The blurred faces actually sort of freaks me right out.  I’m staring at THAT instead of looking at how pretty the layout is.

ALEXIS | I used to blog my scrapbook layouts (and I still would, but am lazy, too!) but honestly I don’t think that many friends and family see my blog. Unfortunately that is the nature of the beast (the Internet). I AM careful about NOT posting my location (which is why I cannot understand the appeal of Foursquare), but for the most part I am an open book. But then again, I also don’t have my own kids to think about. :/

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  • Thanks for answering my question, Peppermint (and team)! Your point is excellent…KNOW what you want to get out of the experience before you start. I stopped posting to online galleries a while back because I found myself going back and checking for comments, view counts, etc. Then I realized that the only people I really cared about seeing my stuff were my friends and family, hence the switch to just Facebook posting.

    Now that I’m on the CT I think that drawing the mental line for me and approaching the blog and the gallery posts as business related (advertising products and the website) is very important. Networking, making connections and getting inspiration from other scrapbookers online can be tremendously valuable as long as I don’t rely upon it for validation of my work on a personal level.

    May 3, 2012
    • I have gone through some highs and lows where I gave group validation far too much power in my creative process (this is something I struggle with on the design side, too). I’m human, and sometimes fragile, and definitely a work in progress. And really, like most areas of life, this particular one is up for periodic re-evaluation. When it stops being enjoyable then things need adjustment.

      May 3, 2012
  • Rebecca

    For what it is worth, here is my 2 (loooong!) cents:

    This is an issue that I (and my husband) have discussed at great length. I spend a lot of time looking at other people’s scrapbook layouts and drawing inspiration–not just from the photos, but also from the journaling (which, to me, is the most important piece). I greatly enjoy the peek I get into other people’s lives, because it makes me think about my own. I feel like I really “know” some of the people I follow on-line, and I would jump at the chance to meet them in real life.

    But…in the end, we decided that privacy concerns dictated that I should not post any of my layouts publicly. This is despite the fact that I am very proud of them and think that I would love being part of an on-line community. I also think my kid is pretty darned cute, in a rather biased-mom sort of way. ;)

    I would be thrilled to be part of a CT, but I think Peppermint is totally right: you have to know what you want to get out of the scrapping experience. For us, our privacy concerns won out over my goal to express my creative self on-line, and I am okay with that. Frankly, it’s the reason I don’t have a blog and I’m not on Facebook. (Yes, we are total Luddites.)

    But there is a piece of me that wishes, like Peppermint, that I had a local digi scrapping community where I could share my creativity. Unfortunately, I have not been able to entice my girlfriends to do it, either. :(

    May 3, 2012
    • All I can think of is how much free time you must have without Facebook in your life. Haha.

      May 3, 2012
  • Now that I’m reading it, I realized that I comments to Peppermint on this subject can seem a bit… opinionated and harsh. I thought I was only talking to HER! LOL. Anyways, I think it’s always a good idea to get a mental check of what you expect you’ll get out of an online presence vs any concerns about privacy issues. I also never mention my neighborhood, where I am exactly at that moment, when I’ll be on vacation, other people’s last names, etc. So while I do share quite a bit on my blog, I don’t feel that I’ve shared such details as to jeopardize our safety. My other point is, when joining a Creative Team, it is taking that online presence one step further because your “work” will be reaching a wider audience. Definitely something to keep in mind if you’re concerned about sharing on the internet.


    May 3, 2012
  • The things I post on-line, be it layouts, blog or Twitter posts, are only ever the things I’m comfortable with the WORLD knowing. Sounds dramatic I know, but it’s the truth! Once something is “out there” in cyber land, it’s almost impossible to retract / remove it. The subject of 99% of my pages is either me or my DH so I guess I never really considered “privacy” to be an issue. I’m also not a big journaler . I struggle with finding the right words, so naturally prefer to creative LO’s with little or no journaling on at all. For me, scrapbooking is purely a creative outlet. I don’t have children, so feel no urge to document things for future generations, I scrap for me, for the here & now and for whatever catches my eye at any given time. Amy, I hope you enjoy being part of a creative team and find the balance that works for both YOU and the designer you’re creating for.

    May 3, 2012
  • Timely topic as I have been struggling internally with this issue now that my girls are getting older. I have shared a fair amount of stories and photos on my blog as well as scrapbook pages but i have noticed a slight shift in the way i present photos and topics. i think the big shift for me is when my girls started saying “please don’t share that on your blog.” that statement stays with me as i plan out blog posts or create pages for design team.

    my hard and fast rules –
    i will never share photos of my kids with their friends (unless i’ve taken a photo that has some creative cropping – definitely no faces) and
    like Peppermint, i will not advertise when we’re out of town, however, i may blog about it afterwards:)

    May 3, 2012
    • That’s a good point about the friends issue. I don’t post any pages that have my son’s friends in them, either.

      May 3, 2012
  • This is an issue I am having to reassess and consider at the moment. Since I started blogging, it has become a significant portion on my memory-keeping. There are many stories and photos that I have recorded on my blog that will never make it onto a scrapbooking page. That doesn’t worry me – I just like the fact they are recorded. However, enter a new boyfriend. Now I need to consider his privacy as well as mine and it feels like I am omitting stories from my blog and therefore my memory-keeping.

    May 3, 2012

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