Creative Photo Stories

Two iOS apps make for some very creative photo-storytelling.

Collect icon

Yesterday I stumbled onto two delightfully creative iOS photo apps made by an Australian company called The Lens Lab. The first one is called Collect ($1.99) and is described as a Photo Journal. It is better described is journaling with style. With Collect you can include text with you image in many creative ways. Here you see a “framed” photo which includes space for descriptive text. Collect…

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Creative Keynote – The Digital Scrapbook

Since my favorite storytelling format is a digital hybrid somewhere between a journal and a scrapbook, I need a software platform that supports a broad range of features. My favorite storytelling platform has to be Keynote, Apple’s presentation graphics app. You may be more familiar with presentation graphics for building  . . . presentations, but you will be pleasantly surprised to discover they have a creative side too. Keynote, along with Microsoft’s PowerPoint, Corel’s WordPerfect Presentations and OpenOffice’s Impress apps, are also very nice scrapbooking platforms. My storytelling style could be described as a scrapbook with plenty of journaling.

This storytelling style is probably not the best format for a traditional family history. Presentation graphics apps support text, but they are not very good writing platforms. Text does not automatically paginate when you fill up one page and spell-check is probably the only writing-support feature. In my case, I’m building my book from a series of short stories – most of which began as blog posts. I’m blogging my stories as the research/inspiration/memory/whatever motivates them. Later, they may become an element in a digital scrapbook. These scrapbooks will continue to grow as new stories are added. But that’s the joy of digital (one of many, actually). Just add it to the existing project and move things around until it all fits together the way you want.

Since the wordsmithing is already done, my focus is on finding the right supporting media (photos, video and audio) and building an attractive page layout. Although presentation apps all have a number of themes, giving you instant design capabilities, most are focused on the business world. We are beginning to see a few photo book themes appear, but I prefer to begin with a basic white theme and a blank slide.

Childhood Sounds story pageIn this example, the story is about sounds I remember from my childhood in the 1950s. One of those memories is of local shrimp boats motoring out in the early morning. Shrimp boats weren’t often included in my family’s Kodak moments back then so I had to make do with something more recent. This is a photo I took recently and the large amount of sky in the shot meant it had potential as the background to the story’s text. There was one small problem. As a color photo, the picture was the focus – not the text. By using a cheap photo-art app, I converted the photograph to a monochrome sketch which not only allowed the text to stand out, but gave it a vintage look too.

Keynote Collage

If you like collages, Keynote makes creating them easy. Sure, you can buy digital graphics, but you can also turn family ephemera into custom graphics using your scanner.

Traditional scrapbooks – especially those created prior to the digital age – are often an eclectic collection of memorabilia and stories. Because older scrapbooks didn’t always offer the ability to add or rearrange pages, they offered a somewhat chronological look at the events, people and things that person found interesting. Thanks to apps like Keynote, we can build stories in whatever order they come to us, save them into one or more presentation files and rearrange the order of individual stories within a file at any time. It’s as easy as dragging slides up and down the slide view panel.

Not only do my presentation/scrapbook projects fit my style, they are also a big hit with my family – including the younger ones. My goal is to tell the stories of the people who were a part of my life and show them as the fun and fascinating characters they were – not just vital records in a genealogy database. Storytelling with Keynote helps make that happen.

Project Keynote Life

What is Project Life? from Becky Higgins LLC on Vimeo.

I love the idea of Project Life but I think it can be done just as creatively without spending a lot of time and money. And, the results can easily be shared to any number of others. How? By using my presentation graphics program (Keynote for Mac or PowerPoint for Windows). These are great scrapbooking tools!

DigitalLife 1

This is one slide from my “daily” album. The custom journaling cards take advantage of Keynote’s built-in design elements. I just created a rectangle shape, chose a color and used a ragged line border. I also used that border for the photos. What’s really nice about this example is that the photo on the left isn’t actually a photo – it’s a 10-second video clip.

If you want to add embellishments, that’s quite easy. Keynote users will find Jumsoft’s Toolbox for Keynote [Mac & iOS] and Toolbox for MS Office offer a number of gorgeous themes for photo albums as well as delightful graphics and other embellishments at very reasonable prices. The toolbox app is actually a catalog of these elements and you make in-app purchases for the ones you want. Many of them are free.