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Are you looking for a creative way to journal that doesn’t require mad art skills? Let’s talk about journaling with photos and give you some creative ideas for things you can do in your own journal with photos!

In today’s digital world, printed photographs are something we often overlook as an idea for a way to add imagery to our art journals.

Why Use Photos to Journal?

There are a lot of great reasons to use photos in your journaling – here are some reasons why I think it can be very beneficial for everyone to include a picture or two in their pages.

Capture the Moment:

So many times things happen in our lives and we forget the details. With a photograph, you can capture what is memorable about a moment and don’t have to rely on your memory. Looking at the photo while you journal can help bring new thoughts and ideas to the surface.

Use Photographs as a Journaling Prompt:

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and so of course they also make for fantastic writing and journaling prompts. Sometimes all it takes is one photo to spark all kinds of thoughts and ideas to write about.

Lose the Fear of Making Mistakes:

Not all of us who love art journaling are great at drawing or painting. With photos in your journal you don’t have to worry about messing up and you can toss your need for perfection out the window.

Meet Yourself:

Photos provide a way to look back at yourself. When you see an old photo, so many things come to mind – memories, thoughts, and feelings. Sometimes it can be therapeutic for people to reflect on themselves through a photograph.

Quick and Mess-Free:

One thing I really like about using photos in your journals is it isn’t a huge mess like it can be when you’re using paint and spray inks. It’s also great if you don’t have a lot of time for creating art in your journal – you simply need to attach the photo to the page!

Change The Viewpoint:

While I love taking my own photos to use in journals, sometimes it’s fun to play around with those that others have taken.

There are many great free stock photo sites out there that can give you some great inspiration for things to include on your journal pages.

Now that we’ve covered the reasons why I think photos are a great addition for any journal, let’s explore some ideas of creative ways you can use them!

Creative Ideas for Photo Journaling

There are lots of different ways you can use photographs in your art journal – and most of them aren’t fancy or difficult at all! Here are some ideas for incorporating photos into your art journal:

1. Cut or Rip Your Photos:

Cutting or ripping a photograph in half or even tearing it at the sides can give a whole different vibe to your journal. You can also try cutting your photos into different shapes (heart, star, circle, etc.) or even cut the photo into many pieces to achieve a mosaic effect.

I don’t do this with originals or very old photos typically – but if you scan your photos or make photocopies or printing out photos you took with your phone or digital camera – this is very fun to do to give your pages some dimension and interest!

2. Go Big Or Go Small:

Both large and small photos work great in your pages. Try playing around with different sizes of photos – a photo can take up a whole page or you can use several smaller photos in a row. Mix and match!

3. Frame and Mount Your Photos:

Photos can look great when they are mounted on a piece of decorative paper – or you can draw doodle frames around them.

When I include photos in my junk journals, I always like to mount them to a piece of paper before putting it in my journal – it just gives the photo a little extra attention and adds to all those layers!

4. Memorial Pages:

If you’re like me, you have a lot of photos that remind you of a person, place or event somehow. You can use those photos to create a unique journaling page using your own words and images.

This is a great way to use old photos and remember the good times in your life or the memory of a person.

5. Attach your photos to pages in creative ways:

No one says you have to glue the photos down. You can tape them down with your favorite washi tape, use a paper clip to attach them to a page or even staple them in.

You can also use photo corners. Photo corners are a great way to give your photos a vintage look and can be a fun way to attach them to your pages.

6. Try a Magazine Layout:

If you spend a lot of time reading and cutting up magazines like I do, no doubt you’ve noticed the way magazines create page layouts with the article text surrounding the photos.

Open up any random page of a magazine article and use it as inspiration for where to place your photos and add text to a page.

7. Sketch Your Photos:

If you have a picture of something, why not try to sketch it on your journal pages? This is a great way to combine photography with drawing.

Your photos can be great inspiration for ideas for what to draw!

8. Doodle on Your Photos:

Remember when we were kids and we’d draw mustaches and funny hats on pictures of people? There’s nothing stopping you from doing that now either! 🙂

You could even make a Zentangle inspired portrait of someone or tangle on an image of a place or thing!

9. Make a Mind Map:

Take a photo and place it in the center of your journal page. Then, use your favorite pens and markers to make a mind map of all the different things you think about when you see that photo.

10. Label Your Photos Like a Diagram:

If you have a picture of something, why not label it like a diagram? For example, maybe you have a picture of your desk. You can draw arrows and diagram what each thing on your desk is for.

11. Create a Mood Board:

I love making mood boards to capture a feeling or inspire my creativity. You can use all kinds of different photos to make a mood board to reflect how you currently feel (or want to feel!)

Learn more about how to make a mood board here.

12. Include Photos of Your Goals and Dreams:

Visualization is a power technique that can help us reach our goals and dreams. Think of this like a vision board in your journal pages.

Create a few pages where you include photos related to your goals and dreams – and then write about why you want to achieve these things and the steps that can get you there!

14. Document Your Travels:

We have some great resources on how to create a travel journal and travel journal ideas on our website – photos are a great way to document all the places you’ve been!

15. Use Photos to Create a Gratitude Journal:

There is so much we have to be thankful for everyday in our lives. Take a photo of something you are grateful for and write about it your journal.

See our post on gratitude journal ideas for more inspiration!

16. Create a Nature Journal:

There is no denying the soothing power of nature and a nature journal is a great way to document your favorite plants, flowers and nature scenes.

17. Journal Block by Block:

My block my block art journal technique can easily be adapted for photo journaling!

Instead of painting sections, simply add your photos in a way so you have 4-5 photos on a page. Then, each day take 5-10 minutes to journal or doodle next to one of the photos.

18. Use Photographs to Make an Alphabet Journal:

Think of something to photograph for every letter of the alphabet or look through your old photos until you find something for every letter. Make an alphabetical journal of all your favorite memories and things!

19. Create a Photo Almanac:

With an almanac layout you can create a section for each season of the year. Turn your journal into a calendar that is a fun and creative way to document the seasons in your life.

20. Make a List With Photos:

Photos are a great way to illustrate a list in your journal. For example, you could have photos of your favorite bands or use photos of your favorite foods.

See my post on 101 List Ideas for more inspiration!

21. Play With Mixed Media:

The best part about journaling with photos is you still always have the options to play with paint, stamps, spray inks, stencils and more.

Try stenciling or painting a background and then add the photo on top or use even use the photo as part of a mixed media collage background.

22. Create Mixed Media Self Portraits:

Many people struggle with painting and drawing faces (myself included!) – using a photo a photo of yourself as a base can make it a lot easier and more fun!

You can trace and outline the different lines, add writing on your cheeks or even draw flowers and doodle patterns for your hair. Try this with a black and white photocopy of yourself and see where it takes you!

Tips for Working With Photos in Your Journal

Some of the ideas I mentioned above may cause damage to your photos. The easiest way to work around this is to only use copies of your photos. This is especially true for your old vintage photographs with emotional value!

You can either print out your photos with your printer, or you can upload them online to professional print shops who mail the photos straight to your door.

I usually get my photos printed at places like Walmart and Walgreens because they are close for me – just be sure you pick the right photo finish. (I like matte photos over glossy ones!)

If you want to preserve your work and make it more a heirloom that can be passed down for generations, I recommend taking in all the advice they give to scrapbookers – use archival quality supplies and stick to materials that aren’t acidic in nature.

The type of journal you use is entirely up to you also. You can make a junk journal or try out one of my favorite art journals – you could even use a bullet journal or a composition notebook and of course the scrapbooking industry is there for you too!

If you have any other creative ideas for photo journaling, please share them with everyone in the comments – I always love hearing your ideas and what you create!

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