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. :/