4×6 is how I roll.

“You’re like, so old school” is something I was recently told regarding my photo preferences, and after I finished laughing I thought maybe I should do a blog post about it…

It’s a kind of a part of my creative journey… and one that I want to share. I often get asked (regarding my Big Picture Scrapbooking classes) what photo sizes to print/what students need to do to be ready. My answer? Good ‘ol 4×6’s work just dandy. It’s what I work from most all of the time!

Once upon a time I wanted so desperately to be COOL. To be the girl that could do the amazing things that those totally awesome + popular scrapbookers were doing with tiny photos. huge photos. all kinds of odd sized photos but no regular 4×6 print sized jobs. I printed out 5 x 7 and 8 x 10 prints when I ordered batches of photos so that I too could be cool. When I first got my photo-quality printer I did a good deal of custom size printing too.

So why did I stop a few years back?

Three reasons:

  1. The cost. It was eating up my budget – both ink/paper + cost of enlargements in every batch of pictures
  2. It ate up my time budget. As mom of one baby, my time was in short and precious increments. To plan a layout in my mind, then print photos, then go make layout it was insane.
  3. I ended up happier with layouts made with 4×6 prints more often than not.

 These days if I print from home it’s because I have a specific idea or digital template I want to play with, or I am on deadline and have some odd size print that I want. I work from 4 x 6 prints about 99% of the time, and those prints are ordered from costco.com or www.scrapbookpictures.com. I’ve really come to LOVE www.scrapbookpictures.com for quality, speed, and ease of use. I like that if a photo is slightly off (color) they auto-correct BEAUTIFULLY and I can skip that step altogether.

When it comes to pictures – I’m all about saving time so I can PLAY with them!

I’ve always been a “print the pics you want” vs a print as you go girl. Reason #1? Not trusting technology/backing up/myself to remember to ever print. I don’t want photos lost. I’d MUCH rather have hard copies. I love them. They inspire me so. I do have digital back-up, but since 2005 I’ve gone back and re-printed a photo… twice at most.

Having photos on hand changes the creative process too. There is the wonderful ability to just scrap. No need for printer to be working or ink to be full – you’re already there. GO! scrap! enjoy! It also lets me see photos in unexpected combinations at times, and I do enjoy cropping my photos too. I do that a lot – it just depends on the page.

Sometimes I see layouts from awesome ladies who have used tiny photos printed special. or HUGE photos. These days I mostly appreciate their talent, but don’t try to copy them. I am ok with not following their path. I stay here in 4 x 6 land.

It should be said that:

  1. I am ruthless. Blurry, useless, too many duplicate/similar images, repetitive, and/or not loving them images are DELETED from my files. Same with photos taken just for the blog here or photographic experiments. DELETED. I’m not printing out as many photos as you might imagine because I cull the herd first. I do sometimes save imgs but not print if I can’t quite hit delete but don’t want them now.
  2. I am lazy when it comes to a lot of stuff. I do not want to be responsible for having supplies on hand to print pictures out or dealing with all of that. Upload files + hit order is much more my style. Even better? When pictures are delivered to me at home. Unless I’ve planned a trip to Costco, then I don’t mind picking up.
  3. I think it’s cheaper per print and better quality. Only at my printer’s best, with top of the line paper am I happy with prints. SO much cheaper to just let professionals print for me.
  4. I don’t do much photo editing outside of the awesome-tastic button known as “auto correct”. Oh I can, I just don’t. For me it’s like homework and I’d MUCH rather play with products + photos vs just editing pics.
  5. I want the photos to be a BIG part of my pages. Not something I make tiny to allow room for more embellishing and not something I make huge so there’s no room for embellishing. 4 x 6 is a place of balance for me.

Do I think everyone should print out like me? NO! I just thought it might be a good topic to blog about and let it be known that this girl thinks it’s A-OK to not print yourself. There are a lot of us who like the challenge of making it work with multiple photos that are standard print size. That cropping of photos post-printing and having a stack of pictures (literally!) to-scrap is a-ok. Heck – having boxes of photos that are NEVER going to be scrapbooked is ok too!!!

One of my favorite childhood activities was going through photographs. I loved seeing myself, my family, people I barely remembered, events I cherished all captured in the images within the photo box. I keep that image (of my own children) in my mind vs fretting over the “haven’t been scrapped” photos. It’s ok. Some are going to be boxed. Others in albums. It’s ALL wonderful.

Follow the path that works for you, and enjoy.

33 thoughts on “4×6 is how I roll.”

  1. I feel vindicated! I agree with you! Love prints, love 4×6 love having them ready to go. As I read your post, the word ‘ditto’ kept going off in my head. Thanks, I don’t feel so square (er, rectangle) now.

  2. Thanks for this post. I so agree with you. I love the 4×6. I do print at home the few pics I have to have NOW but love the stacks I pick up at my local Walmart. Thanks for this great post.

  3. Thank you so much for this post May! This is why I love following your blog and taking your classes at BPS, I can relate to you! I only print 4×6 and sometimes I feel like I catch a lot flack from people. I also print what I want, not what I need. I do not have time to think about printing as I am working on a page. Two little ones will do that to you!

  4. When I heard from a woman who was feeling how I used to (left out, totally uncool, etc) for having pics printed vs doing herself it gave me the thought that maybe I ought to say something, speak out as I do.

    Glad you liked the post!

  5. Amen to having 4x6s printed out and ready to go! This is exactly what I do and what I work the vast majority of the time. I use my 4x6s both full size and cropped, so I keep that in mind when photographing and printing (i.e., I make sure to have some wide angle shots that can be cropped down as well as close-ups). Can’t wait to see your layouts with 4×6 photos in Use Your Stash!

  6. and this is why I just you and continue to take your classes at BPS. You validated me, by printing at Costo, by loving and working with your 4×6 photos and being happy with scrapping them; as is.

    As much work and effort and expense went into editing, resizing, photoshopping, custom printing my photos…it was sucking all the fun, creativity and spontaneity of my scrapbooking.

    Rock on, girl, with your bad 4×6 scrapping self, and I will happily be trailing behind you, at Using your Stash.



  7. Great blog May! Just wondering though – your blog posts always show up twice in my Google Reader. It’s just started happening recently – maybe a setting has changed?

  8. It’s great to use the easiest most accessible means of printing just REMEMBER to print!

    I take so many that never see the light of day.
    I love the 3 lil girls pic. Precious

  9. I am the same way–I realized while I enjoy working with wallets, and for some photo-heavy layouts it helps me fit it all in, I just find it a pain to order both and pay for! It’s just easier to do 4 by 6, and leaves more time for plain old scrapping:)

  10. YES! Every now and then I do a slightly larger picture…but it’s so rare. And I use walgreens for my pictures. I tried to do smaller pics but it’s so complicated. To get the size I want of one pic, I had to order 4 wallet sizes or something. I’ll stick to 4X6. 🙂

  11. Wow…just what I would have said! I feel the same way and I will do 5 x7 if there are a lot of people in the pic. thanks!

  12. May — you are describing me to a “T”. People also tell me that You’re like, so old school” but HEY! I love having the professionals print my photos cheaper and getting more than one photo on a page!

    Many thanks for the wonderful and perfect description!! (as always!)

  13. You are so right May! Between blogging and scrapbooking it certainly is all consuming to crop those photos and make them look out of this world! I always thought I needed a photo printer at home to be able to print off the size I wanted, but have not succumbed to pressures. Your layouts look amazing with the 4×6’s and it is something I completely admire about your scrapbooking. Thanks for the great post!

  14. I’m on board too, I don’t too many odd sizes. I like 4 x 6 or a 4 x 6 I crop down to correct for my not-so-hot photographic skills. And on the editing, if I can’t fix it in 2 or 3 quick push buttons in Picasa, then it wasn’t a good picture in the first place. I don’t get all those photo actions that make the pictures look less like the reality of what was photographed in the first place.

  15. YES! I love a 5 x 7 for big groups or a special portrait. Sometimes if I have a big group I’ve cropped and printed like 8″ long but just 4 – 5″ high… it’s all about what works for you + what situation seems best!

  16. May you are right on the money as usual! I was right there printing all those special sizes and trying to use them on my layouts too.

    It’s funny as I’m organizing for UYS I have come across some photos along the way and a couple that I had put a special border on and printed a strange size. They were of my daughters birthday turns out I already scrapbooked that particular birthday and those special photos didn’t even get used somehow. LOL Guess it just goes to show that is not my usual and not to waste my money on those special sizes.

    Although one exception I’ve made is each year when I take a photo of my daughter on the first day of school I’ve had the close up photo printed 12X8 or 12X10 just to be able to see the details of her faced and how it’s changed over the years.

    I love that I can look at your layouts for inspiration and know that I’m not going to need to get an enlargement made. Or leave that photo off until I get it printed (I’ve done that, there might be a layout or two lacking a photo here and there)

  17. I am so glad that you use 4×6! that is my fav and I agree with you on so many levels about the cost to do bigger or smaller prints. I am curiousas to what size the girls are using that call you old school!!! I am fairly new to your blog and have enjoyed reading about your scrapbook journey!! ANNE

  18. Wow – I just kept nodding my head in agreement. Fairly shouted my affirmation when reading your “auto correct” comment. I feel more creative and satisfied finding ways to crop and use my 4×6’s than sitting at my computer printing exactly the correct sizes. Boring! I will sometimes print enlargements when I know exactly how I want to use them. But that’s it. I want to be in my scraproom, not on my computer!

  19. The only thing I can think of is if you subscribed to more than one of my site feeds… just go in and delete one of the “confessions of a chocoholic” subscriptions in google reader if that’s the case.

  20. May, I totally agree on having printed photos on hand & that they are better quality & less expensive to have printed at a lab rather than at home. Also love that you don’t do a lot of post-processing. I’ve resisted that also, but drool over the beautiful pics on others’ layouts. But I still would rather scrap than process pics.

    The only comment I would make is that I often want to crop my 4×6 photos. Maybe I’m not such a great photographer, but the composition is rarely perfect as is & there’s usually some dead space that could be trimmed. So I often ended up adding more photos onto your sketches for Camp Scrap because I cut mine down. Do you crop your photos before printing, pay closer attention to your composition as you’re taking a pic, or neither?

  21. I do all of the above. I try to zoom in when I take photos – avoid TONS of background or “nothingness” in any situation where I can. Sometimes when someone else is behind camera I do some pre-order cropping if I can’t stand it. Otherwise if I’m ok with the way it looks, or if I think I might want crop-able pics I leave it.

    It all depends!


  22. I actually find editing fun – but ONLY once in a while, and only for a special photo/cool idea.

  23. ITA with you May. I used to print and pre-plan LOs but it was taking up way too much time. Now I pretty much print everything I think I will scrap in 4×6 and the very occasional photo I love in 5×7. Then I have a huge batch of photos to choose from when it’s time to sit down and scrap

  24. I’m actually the opposite – I do print my own photos at home, frequently in sizes other than 4×6, and love the results. But you’re bang on – what works for one person isn’t necessarily right for the next, and what’s important is for each of us to discover how we best enjoy the process, regardless of what’s trendy or cool. So I’ll be alongside all of you in UYS, doing my odd thing while y’all work in 4×6 – can’t wait!

  25. 4×6 photos are a pleasure to work with. I always fins that 5×7, 8×10 and larger steal too much from the page.
    Awesome photos of the girls!

  26. As they say in the commercial-Brilliant. I am stuck with boxes of old faded photos-my kids were all pretty much in their 20’s when I started this. By the time I scan them and try to fix them, than of course the color isn’t right, I’ve lost all desire to do a layout. So I’ve gone straight to working on the grandkids’ photos and my boys will just have to pick through the boxes!

  27. May,
    I just went to Scrapbook Pictures to check it out – need to order pics from our vacation. What choices do you regularly use and why? Auto correct or premium? Regular finish or Pro? What is 4 X 6 w/env? Couldn’t find that in the FAQ – does it mean with envelope? Thanks for your input.

  28. I usually get 4×6 ‘auto’ correct with the regular finish. The pro paper IS better – sometimes I’ll get that if I’m framing/gifting a special photo. I’ve also on special occasion tried the metallic paper – SO nice on the right image!!

    I have no idea what ‘with envelope’ means – I really have just touched tip of iceberg with that company. I’d email them and ask.

  29. WOW amen sister. I’m a 4x6er too. I love putting several pics on a page, I feel that I’m wasting space if I only use one. I do do it on ocassion when the photo calls for it, but only rarely.

  30. Thank you! Thank you! I am learning to be OK with my scrapbook style and not to copy my artsy friends. I love 4×6 photos and the wonderful clean lines they give me. Thanks for pointing out all the other reasons I love them too – but hadn’t yet put into words.

Comments are closed.