Users of former Creative Memories software may want to migrate to Forever

If you’re a user of Storybook Creator or Memory Manager, two software products I’ve recommended in the past, take note:, the Panstoria Store, and the Panstoria Print Shop are closing on Jan. 31.

Storybook Creator and Memory Manager were products that came from the former Creative Memories. When that company went bankrupt, Panstoria picked up the slack and offered compatible Artisan and Historian programs. But now Panstoria is going away, too, and those old Creative Memories programs will no longer be supported and cannot be updated or reinstalled on a new machine.

However, a new company – – is picking up where Panstoria left off.

Everything to love about Panstoria – including Artisan, Historian, digital art, and a catalog of print products – are now available at

Forever and Panstoria joined forces in September 2014 because Panstoria’s products fit into Forever’s vision of helping people capture, save, and share their photos and memories for generations.

If you’re still using Creative Memories Storybook Creator or Memory Manager, they will continue to work, but they will no longer be supported and cannot be updated.

Solution? Upgrade to Forever Artisan ($29.95) and/or Forever Historian ($59.95). Still have questions? Forever has a good Q&A here.


More important than the food or cake at the graduation party: An album

Every child deserves at least one photo album all about him or her.

Every time I talk about the ABCs of Photo Organization (a talk I’ve given at nearly four dozen libraries in Chicagoland in the past year and half), I tell participants to prioritize the clutter and volume of their photo collection to find about 100 photos about their child and make just one album for them.

And if their parents didn’t do this for them, they have my permission to it for themselves.

I believe in the power of a scrapbook photo album to make a person feel special, important and loved. And I also believe in practicing what I preach, so I made a point to finish the scrapbook I started for my stepson a couple of years ago in time to display it at his graduation party yesterday.

Nothing like a deadline to inspire action. I devoted at least six hours this past week to getting that last 50 photos into this scrapbook.

I don’t know where I got this artificial deadline for creating a kid’s scrapbook, but it sure beats making one for a funeral, which is probably the second most common family event where pictures are shared.

My stepson felt valued, and I felt special, too, as our guests raved about the book I made. So, whether you create a scrapbook for your child for altruistic reasons or selfish ones, here are some tips for getting it done:

album prioritize


Do not feel compelled to use every photo ever taken of the recipient. The album I made has 28 pages and 186 photos, but it covers my stepson’s 19 years pretty completely: Birth, family members, cake-eating-first birthday, kindergarten graduation, DisneyWorld, wrestling, football, confirmation, first (and second) jobs, first car (and the four following that one), girlfriend, high school graduation and a bunch of events in between. A viewer can look at and read the whole album in 20 minutes or less. By limiting the number of photos you use, you automatically cap the amount of time you have to devote to the project. I promise you, it’ll be no less valuable with a few hundred (or thousand) miscellaneous photos edited out.

album memorabilia

Add memorabilia

As with photos, you don’t need to include every report card and homework assignment. But a few programs and ticket stubs add texture. I also included a family tree.

album labeling


Describe who’s in the photos. Someday, your child’s child will want to know that old lady holding Dad when he was a baby is great-great-grandma.

album straight cuts


Limit decoration

You can go to great lengths decorating scrapbook pages, but I stuck with straight cuts on the photos and a few paper triangles as accents on most pages. I “wallpapered” about one-third of the pages with whole sheets of paper, usually when I had only one or two photos to display.

album guest page

Invite contributions

Since we displayed his album at his graduation party, we invited guests to sign the last page of my stepson’s album. Now I don’t necessarily have to add photos of the party to the album to have a record of it.

How to preserve or copy a scrapbook? Scan entire pages and print a photo book

Scrapbooks are good for preserving many things, especially when the creator has a lot of memorabilia to preserve. A scrapbook allows the creator to save together photos, greetings cards, letters and other documents.

But scrapbooks aren’t easy to duplicate. All of that memorabilia is probably one of a kind so even when the creator is able to duplicate the photos, it’s tricky to copy the documents.

That’s when scanning a scrapbook — whole page by whole page — and printing a version from the digital images not only makes it easy to share, it creates a valuable back-up, too.

This also is a useful approach to save scrapbooks and albums that are falling apart. Scanning the book avoids the tedious process of disassembling everything — and risking damage to the  photos and memorabilia — only to reassemble again.

I recently completed a project for my mother who recreated a scrapbook album of her mother made after the death of my uncle (my mother’s brother). She wanted copies of the album to share with her living brother and the widow of the deceased brother.

I used a Flip-Pal portable scanner to scan the 12-by-12-inch pages. Flip-Pal comes with software which stitches together scans of portions of a larger image.

Here’s how an original scrapbook page looked:

byron photos

Each page required 12 scans with the Flip-Pal. For best quality results, I stitched together four scans at a time, then scanned the resulting parts together for a whole page. Here’s one of the partial scans of the page (all scans at 300 dpi):

byron partial

And here’s how the final, stitched image:

byron scanned page

I used these final images with Creative Memories Storybook Creator software to create a digital photo album. Each page was a single “photo” without embellishment since the image itself was a picture of an embellished scrapbook page. The digital version came together fairly quickly compared to the scanning and stitching. Naturally, there is no limit now to how many copies of the digital version can be created.

This is a particularly valuable album. The uncle for whom my grandmother created the original album died 41 years ago in the Vietnam War. In that page above, that’s my mom in the upper left corner, sitting on the couch with two of her three brothers; the one in the center died a couple of years ago and the boy on the end of the couch was the one who ultimately perished in the war.

byron letter

Among the memorabilia preserved in the album are the last letters and postcards my uncle sent to my grandparents while serving in Vietnam and the carefully typewritten letters from the U.S. Army documenting his missing-in-action status and later, his killed-in-action status.

“On 2 April 1972, at approximately 5:45 in the afternoon, while responding to an urgent call for assistance, your son’s aircraft was shot down by intense enemy fire. He and the other three crew members have been listed as missing in action. … Although all four crewmen carried survival radios, no transmissions have been received from them. I wish I could offer you more hope, but I am afraid it does not look very good, for determining Byron’s whereabouts.”

That last clause “for determining Byron’s whereabouts” was clearly added after the original message was composed as, perhaps, the commanding officer was straddling the delicate line between offering my grandparents hope and setting appropriate expectations.

All of these items are obviously one-of-kind documents of great value to my mother, her living brother and my uncle’s widow.

I’m so glad I could play a part in curating these important memories.

Now’s the time to think about that holiday photo project

The second best thing to getting a completed photo album as a gift is giving one.

Isn’t she adorable?

My stepdaughter celebrated her 23rd birthday last week, and she loved the photo book I made for her of photos from throughout her childhood. For a look inside the book, check out the post here that I wrote a couple of weeks ago.

The lay-flat binding is brilliant!

It’s so rewarding to watch someone paging through an album all about her and knowing you’re responsible for this moment of joy. At the very least, I wanted her to have tangible evidence that she is loved. (I also was pleased I chose Creative Memories’ lay-flat binding so she didn’t have to twist and turn to read the captions near the spine.)

Coincidentally, the poem I used to organize the photos is one of her favorites; she showed me a dog-eared copy of the “Letter to My Daughter” in her journal.

Now is the perfect time of year to start thinking about the photo album project you simply must complete and give at the holidays (think of it as a gift to yourself, too!). While you could complete it in a matter of days, it’s easier to comprehend and complete in steps so begin now and avoid a rush at the end:

  1. Gather photos.
  2. Sort the photos into some sort of order.
  3. Scan the photos (if they’re printed).
  4. Design the photo book and write captions. (For me, this is the longest part of the effort, so you might want to tackle the book in pieces.)
  5. Print and wrap!

What photo album project is on your list?

Poetry, love-themed design make meaningful album for daughter

One doesn’t need to be a poet to add meaning to a photo album. But poetry is nice.

While one’s own words add a level of sophistication and value to an album project, I’ve always thought it would be fun to create a non-chronological photo album for someone using the text from a book by Dr. Seuss or Max Lucado throughout the whole book.

Safer from a copyright perspective would be to use poetry by Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson but they don’t have quite the same fun.

Whatever the copyright consequences, I created a beautiful album for my stepdaughter using the poetry in “Letter to My Daughter.” It’s written by Maya Angelou or possibly Pamela Redmond Satran, depending on whether you believe

In any case, it has lines like, “A woman should have … a feeling of control over her destiny” and “A woman should know what she would and wouldn’t do for love or more.” I found photos from throughout my stepdaughter’s life directly or vaguely related to each line and created a 30-page 12-by-12 photo book. Here are a few pages:


To “A woman should have … a past juicy enough that she’s looking forward to retelling it in her old age,” I added a photo of my stepdaughter dressed as an old lady for Halloween when she was about 5.

For “A woman should know … where to go — be it to her best friend’s kitchen table … or a charming inn in the woods — when her soul needs soothing,” I used a number of photos of my stepdaughter by or in the water. Boating seems to be her favorite weekend activity this summer.

Many pages feature three to six photos, so I was able to incorporate about 95 photos in 30 pages.

For the decorative backgrounds, I used the Wedding Fresh Spring pre-designed pages in digital download from Creative Memories ($8.95). Using StoryBook Creator 4.0, it was easy to delete titles like “I do” and “Cutting the Cake.” The color scheme was feminine without being Pepto-Bismol pink, which accented the photos. The look is classic and contemporary at the same time.

The final result is meaningful and beautiful. And unlike anyone else’s album. Perfect for my stepdaughter.

Choose wisely when storing your important photographs

After a library talk recently about “The ABCs of Photo Organizing,” a woman asked me why I was using that album, pointing to my 12-by-12 Creative Memories scrapbook album of my stepson’s photos.

“Honestly,” I said, “I know this album will last longer than the photographs.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I worked for Creative Memories years ago. And my desk was next to the desks of Creative Memories scientists — real scientists with white coats and Ph.D.s who wrote scientific papers and mingled with other science types at conferences with names like “International Organization for Standardization.” These guys took their work seriously, and I, as a member of the marketing department, was often the recipient of their scientific reports praising or quashing some new product idea.

So I happen to know Creative Memories albums will last something on the lines of 400 years, longer than most photographs.

The woman at the library said, “But they cost more.”

“That’s true,” I said, “But you get what you pay for.”

If you’re saving a picture of your dog because she’s so darn cute, and you’re just looking for a vehicle to inspire an occasional jolt of happiness, put the image on your computer screen saver. Images like that don’t need to last even 2 years so when your computer crashes, you won’t care if the image is gone.

But images of your wedding, your babies, your dead grandmother and the graduation ceremony you worked 5 years to earn might deserve a little bit more care in their handling.

Even the best album won’t last 400 years if you store it underneath a leaky pipe in the basement. As in real estate, location is important in storing photos. A good photo album is a start, but here are a few more tips for storing your printed photos:

  • Choose temperatures like Goldilocks — not too hot, not too cold, but just right. The rate of chemical deterioration doubles with every 10-degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature, says Erik Carlson, director of operations for Film Transfer in Northbrook, Ill. Strive for cooler than 70 degrees but not freezing.
  • Moderate humidity, too. The perfect atmosphere for long photo life is 30-70% humidity.
  • Air pollution is a no-no. Prevent dust and particles from settling on your photos. In many cases, that means closed, upright photo albums and boxes with covers.
  • Light is like kryptonite to your photos. Any light is damaging, but direct sunlight is most damaging, Carlson says. Display copies of important photos on your bookshelves and walls, not the originals. And close your albums when you’re done viewing them.
  • Limit how much you touch your photos. Unless your photos are as important as the Declaration of Independence, you probably don’t have to go as far as wearing white gloves but you could. Be aware that even the cleanest of hands transfer fingerprints and oils to photographs. And, Carlson reminds, careless handling can cause physical damage, abrasion, tears and breakage. Consider wiping photos with a cotton cloth and use page protectors or plastic sleeves for images.

Photos of the lake — or anywhere else — transport the viewer

Choosing a place for the theme of a digital photo album is an excellent way to organize one’s photos — and it might make a fine coffee table book, too.

My sister lives on a lake in Minnesota, and a good friend of hers recently gave her a beautiful photo album illustrated with years of photos of their families’ exploits on the lake.

The cover is adorned with a magnificent shot of the beautiful body of water and simply the words “The Lake.”

Inside are pages of photos taken during weekends and holidays spent together as families waterskiing, grilling, carousing and fishing. Some of the pages feature headlines and quotes about lake life: “It’s the little moments that make life big.” I imagine the friend made a copy for herself, too, a simply way to preserve her family’s memories while making a meaningful gift.

Location is a good theme for other albums, too:

  • “The Cabin” or “The Cottage” or “The Chalet” works for photos taken at a vacation home or timeshare.
  • “The Farm” might be appropriate for a family or heritage album of photos taken on the family acreage.
  • “The Great Outdoors” titles a book of camping photos or snowmobiling expeditions.
  • Pictures taken during a college career or study abroad program could be assembled in a book titled simply with the city name.
  • “Our First Home” covers any span of time — long or short — and photos of any number of different events experienced there (holidays, new babies, gardens, remodeling projects).

I met a woman recently who intends to preserve her vacation photos so she can enjoy them when she’s older and can no longer travel — those books will be like travelogues of fantastic journeys.

The better the quality of the photography, the more the album will look like a coffee table book. Preserve some of the photos at a higher resolution so as to display them large and impressively.

A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature.  It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.

~ Henry David Thoreau