Insights and ideas from Linda Sattgast
Discovering digital scrapbooking
Linda Sattgast started scrapbooking the way many people do, with paper and printed photos. After getting a digital camera, she made the decision to go fully digital, and never looked back. What started as a hobby has evolved into a full-fledged business centered on teaching others how to start digital scrapbooking. Sattgast welcomes every opportunity to show people how fun and easy it can be, even for those who don’t consider themselves “creative.” Sattgast believes that with the right tools, some courage, and a little training, everyone can turn their static photos into treasured memories. She describes how she got started, and why she’s so passionate about digital scrapbooking in this interview with Photoshop.com.
Photoshop.com: What is one tool that you couldn’t live without and why?
Linda Sattgast: The two things I can’t live without are my Mac and Adobe® Photoshop® Elements software. My camera is obviously what I take my pictures with, but I’m not that particular about the kind of camera. I want to be able to capture things when I’m out and about. If I have to use my iPhone, that’s just fine. But without my computer and Photoshop Elements, I’m left with photos that may never see the light of day. Doing creative things with my photos is my main hobby. My goal isn’t just to take pictures, but to create something meaningful with them.
Photoshop.com: What role does Photoshop Elements play in your photography or photo creations process?
Linda Sattgast: Photoshop Elements makes me look like a pretty good photographer, even though I’m really just an amateur enthusiast. I use it to correct lighting, fix color casts, and crop the images. I use the Healing Brush on spots, clone problems areas, and sharpen the image. It is so rare to have a photo that is absolutely perfect right out of the camera, but with Photoshop Elements I can really make my photos shine!
Photoshop.com: How did you create the result in the Canoe Camping digital scrapbook page (Image 1)?
Linda Sattgast: Canoe camping is one of our favorite family activities. We love going to a private, pristine spot at Timothy Lake. It is a magical type of getaway. My husband is a very good canoeist, so the quintessential photo of that activity is of him holding an oar.
I created this page using the Out-of-Bounds feature in Photoshop Elements. It looks like it would be really complicated, but Photoshop Elements does most of the work for you. You can choose which part of your photo will stick out and whether or not you want the photo frame to be straight or skewed. I love where the oar comes out of the photo; it makes you feel like you’re right there. It makes me happy every time I see it!
Photoshop.com: Describe a favorite digital scrapbook page you’ve created and what grabs you about it.
Linda Sattgast: One of my goals is to finish a heritage album that includes past family and current family members. When you get into the world of digital scrapbooking you realize that you can say more than what a photo can say on its own. Sometimes, you just want to tell a story and put it on the page. Other times, a photo gives you more inspiration. With digital, you have more opportunities to make something magical than you do with traditional scrapbooking.
I had the idea for the Family Tree page (Image 3) for the album after I scanned a photo of my two kids that I took when they were very young. I kept looking for the “right” tree to photograph for the background, until I realized the tree in my front yard would do just fine—as long as I masked away the neighbors’ houses! I used Blend Modes to blend the photo into the burlap paper background and I used the Polar Coordinates filter to create the rays of light coming from behind and through the tree. This page represents the beginning of an album that will be very significant to me and my family.
Photoshop.com: How has Photoshop Elements made it easier to do the things you want to do?
Linda Sattgast: I consider myself the family historian, so scrapbooking our family memories is very important to me. I come from a traditional scrapbooking background and I’ve found that doing something digitally is so much more satisfying than paper and scissors. It isn’t just the convenience, it’s that I can do more and make my pages look better than ever.
Photoshop Elements has opened up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to scrapbooking. I can keep everything that I need for scrapbooking at my fingertips, and I can alter it to make it fit my needs. PLUS I can create the most amazing artistic effects with it, but in the end, the photos are the most important feature of a scrapbook page. That’s why I always make sure my photos look their best with some basic quick fixes in Photoshop Elements.
Photoshop.com: What do you like most about working digitally?
Linda Sattgast: The power and flexibility of digital is so much greater than what you can do with paper and scissors. When I was a traditional scrapbooker I tended to always work with 4x6 photos, because that’s how I got them developed. If I made a mistake on my page, there was no going back, unless I started over. With digital I can make my photos any size I want, and I can undo or change anything I don’t like about my page—love it! Overall, digital scrapbooking is less messy and more wow. The cool factor is my favorite part.
Photoshop.com: How do you think people benefit from preserving their memories digitally?
Linda Sattgast: Digital photography has created a proliferation of photos. There’s good and bad that comes with the ability to take as many shots as we like. With traditional film photography we were careful about what pictures we would take, and after we got our pictures printed we would put them into albums. The danger of having it so easy is that we snap hundreds of shots, and most of those never come to life.
That’s not to say that people don’t share their pictures. In fact, there are many ways that people can share photos, such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and more. But the creativity and customization of digital scrapbooking enables me go even further. I can put my page on a website or in a gallery, e-mail it to family and friends, and even give others permission to print the exact same page or album without having to create it again—which is especially helpful when making a heritage album that many family members would be interested in keeping. For me, nothing beats having something physical like an album that you can actually hold and hand to someone else, and pass down to your children. Technology gives me the opportunity to create these keepsakes in a fun and very artistic way.
Photoshop.com: How do you know that a digital scrapbook page is really good?
Linda Sattgast: Most of us aren’t born with an innate sense of design. We don’t know why a page looks good, or why it doesn’t, so we look around at other galleries and copy ideas. A paintbrush is the same tool in everyone’s hand, but an artist can use that paintbrush to create something amazing. In the same way, it takes more than the tools to design good scrapbook pages. It takes attention to why something is put together in a certain way. The most important thing about a page is the photos. If they look really good, the page is on the right track.
Photoshop.com: What are your favorite features in the latest release of Photoshop Elements? Why?
Linda Sattgast: My favorite new feature in Photoshop Elements 9, bar none, is the new layer mask capability. The job of a layer mask is to hide part of a layer without deleting it, which is extremely useful for so many artistic applications. I’m thrilled by the one click ability to create a layer mask!
The Out of Bounds photo technique is another winner. I don’t use it that often, but when I do, it takes most of the work out of the process!
Photoshop.com: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out with digital scrapbooking?
Linda Sattgast: Digital scrapbooking isn’t just for you. It is a gift you give yourself and others. When you create a page or an album about someone, you are affirming that person in a way that is tangible; you’re telling him or her how much you love them. If you’ve never tried digital scrapbooking, start with something simple, even a card. The only difference is the size of the page. Play around and try things out. Ask, “What would happen if…?” You can give someone a photo, but if you give a card or a scrapbook page you’ve created, you have given a piece of yourself.
Photoshop.com: Are you a self-taught photographer/digital scrapbooker or did you have a mentor or teachers that showed you the ropes?
Linda Sattgast: I started digital scrapbooking back when no one had heard of such a thing. I was an early adopter, so there wasn’t a lot out there in terms of training. Most of the training I encountered early on was skill centered and focused on learning how to use software tools. That’s fine and good, but it doesn’t help much for creating an actual project from start to finish.
As a result, I wanted to create training based on finishing projects—starting with very simple projects and progressing to more advanced projects, learning a few new skills at a time. I know personally how much easier it is to learn that way!
Photoshop.com: At what point did you evolve from a person who takes photos to being a memory keeper?
Linda Sattgast: For me it was the other way around. I started out as a memory keeper and evolved into photography! I kept a daily diary faithfully for many years starting at the age of 10. I didn’t get my first camera until late grade school, but that was in the day of film and light bulbs you attached to your camera. I took very few photos because it was expensive to get them developed. When I got married and had two children, I got much more serious about photography, but it wasn’t until I discovered scrapbooking that I really understood the kinds of photos I should take to truly record an event. That was when I really got serious about photography, and moving to digital made it SO much easier to experiment.
Photoshop.com: What is the best advice you ever received?
Linda Sattgast: Stacey Julian has probably given the best advice that I could apply to scrapbooking, which is this: “There’s exactly enough time to scrapbook your most important memories.” As scrapbookers, we tend to get hung up with wanting to get down ALL our memories, so we feel anxiety over “getting behind.” I struggle with that, too, but I’m trying to relax and let go of that impossible expectation, and, instead, focus on what is most important for me and for future generations. AND enjoy the process!
Photoshop.com: What do you say to people who say that digital scrapbooking is too difficult or time consuming?
Linda Sattgast: There is a slight learning curve when you start any new skill, but that can be overcome easily by taking a class. As with any new skill, you must practice it to make it “stick.” Once you get down the basics, you will be amazed at the speed and convenience of scrapbooking digitally!
I can still take a lot of time on a page if I’m trying something new or using an elaborate design I’m creating myself, but I can also create a page in five minutes by using a template, or I can “scraplift” a page I see in a gallery in 20 to 30 minutes. Now that’s speed when you compare that with traditional scrapbooking!
Photoshop.com: Are there any moments using Adobe Photoshop Elements that have made you proud?
Linda Sattgast: I especially remember the time I decided to make a Mother’s Day album for my mother and my mother-in-law. Mother’s Day wasn’t that far away, so I used a set of templates and got them both done in record time. I still remember how my mother-in-law choked up and said, “This is the best present I’ve ever received!”
What greater reward is there for scrapbooking than that?
Autumn Getaway: Papers & Embellishments: Falling in Love by Ashalee Wall
Canoe Camping: Papers & Embellishments: All I Have To Do Is Dream kit by Lauren Griers
Catalina Island and Paris: Papers & Embellishments: In Pursuit Of Liberty kit by Michelle Coleman
Cherish: Papers & Embellishments: Cherish This Moment by Digital Scrapper Designs
Family Tree and Skateboard: Papers & Embellishments: Rule My World by Irene Alexeeva
The Real Me and Timothy Lake: Papers & Embellishments: Garden of Memories by Veronica Spriggs
Walk on the Beach: Papers & Embellishments: Lucky Ducky by Miss Mint (Peppermint Creative)
DS Grungy Frame