Hybrid Layout Share: Every Photo Tells a Story + free template download & step-by-step video

Cathy ZielskeFree Downloads, Scrapbooking, Tutorials21 Comments


I’ve been knee deep in the hoopla this summer of cleaning and organizing my photos, both digitally and traditionally. The digital part has included going back to 2003 and deleting digital photos that fit the following criteria: they are crappy or they are redundant. These are the types of photos that should have been pitched right after I uploaded them. But that is only a recent habit of mine, and so, I delete, I delete, I delete.

I will say this: digital photography is totally awesome. I will also say this: I don’t need all the photos I take. The word ‘overkill’ comes to mind.

One of the fun things in this culling process is revisiting old photos. And of course, with old photos come old stories and some of those stories that never got told.

Photos in and of themselves tell stories. They don’t all need corresponding scrapbook pages. We’d never leave the house if that were the case, right? But some elicit strong emotions and those are the ones that deserve a second life on a scrapbook page.

Such was the case with this photo.


Taken from my office, which empties into Aidan’s room, I was overcome with a sense of nostalgia, but one tinged with a little bit of regret. The story and the page follows:


JOURNALING READS: Recently I started purging a whole slew of photos from my digital collection and came across this shot of you. This photo is more than just a little guy cozied up in a comforter on the floor of his sister’s room just outside of my office. It reminds me of a time when work took such a priority in my life. You weren’t feeling well this day and deadlines were looming. It was an everyday kind of thing back then—getting you set up so that I could set up and knock out some work. Sure, I was a stay-at-home mom in theory, but so many hours were devoted to work, work, work, when they should have been devoted solely to you. I’m so thankful I got to be with you every single day of your life but I just wish I’d been less focused on work and more focused on you. It’s a little bittersweet to look back and remember this. Funny how a photo can bring up so many emotions, isn’t it? 

Short. Sweet. Bittersweet.

I’m anticipating that many more untold stories will emerge from the photo organization project.

Today, I want to share two things: 1. A free layered digital template based on my layout above for you to use to tell one story from a photo in your collection, and 2. A video tutorial showing you how to use PNG stamps on your scrapbook pages to create titles.

Here is the template file:


Download CZ_Template

Here is the video.

A Simple Digital to Hybrid Scrapbook Layout from Cathy Zielske on Vimeo.

Here is the set from which the digital page title came from: Page Titlers Brushes & Stamps.



Cathy ZielskeHybrid Layout Share: Every Photo Tells a Story + free template download & step-by-step video

21 Comments on “Hybrid Layout Share: Every Photo Tells a Story + free template download & step-by-step video”

  1. #1

    Oh – yes – very bittersweet. But you are SUCH a FANTASTIC Mum. (Sorry, probably a ‘Mom’ over there – ha ha) Lovely layout & one Cole will treasure. (It would be interesting to ask him what he remembers of those years – possibly not at all the absence you feel.)

    Most of all WELCOME HOME. I hope you had fab fab hols!

  2. #3

    Thank you so much for the template and tutorial. I always love your tutorials. And your journaling is so true. Nobody ever looks back on their life and says “I wish I would have worked more and spent less time with my family”. That time is sooooo brief. Spending time with family is worth every bit of sacrifice.

  3. #6

    Six weeks ago my best friend of 30 years decided we should revisit our youth and go rollerskating. It all went well for 2 hours. Then it ended badly with me losing my balance, falling, breaking my ankle……surgery to pin and plate it all back together. The good part is that six weeks off work on the couch in a cast was the perfect time to sort all my pre-digital and digital pics. It was so liberating to throw away all those crappy pics, who the hell is that pics, and why did I take thirteen shots of that pics. I think my photo body lost about 50 pounds!!

  4. #8

    Welcome back, Cathy! Love to see your trip on instagram, it was beautiful and you have fun with Dan!Thank you for this awesome gift. love your tutorials they are so much fun to watch sometimes they make me giggles. I agree with Louise, maybe Cole don´t feel the same way you feel the absente that you refer. You are a great mom sometimes we only can do is to relax and enjoy the ride of life and what gives us. have a great day 🙂

  5. #9
    dawny dee

    i too look back and wish i had spent more time with my kids. i wasnt a work-from-home-mom and had to commute to work and it does sting when i realize the time i lost.
    however i cant help but think that since you had the presense of mind to stop working and take that picture, that you werent 100% work obsessed. you were aware of him always. and i am sure he could feel that.
    could you have spent more time with him. sure. we all could have spent more – more hours, more attention, more play, more engagement. but i have no doubt you spent enough – enough so that he felt loved. and isnt that what matters?
    we’re all here to learn lessons and it seems like you have learned a big one. remember, its never too late to learn and grow. and your honesty in sharing this is probably teaching both your kids a big lesson. that its ok to make mistakes, that family matters always, that it doesnt have to perfect to work out fine in the end. and looking at your kids – theres no doubt it has worked out more than fine and its not even the end yet.
    oh, and thanks for the template. you are a kind and generous soul.

  6. #10

    Oh, how fast those childhood years fly by. One of the best things about being a grandma is that I have more time to totally focus on my grandchildren when they visit. So when I wish I had done some things differently as a mom, I can make it up as a grandmother. Thanks for your beautiful journaling (always an inspiration) and the free download.

  7. #11

    Love that you’re scrapbooking older photos, Cathy! Thanks for the free download. Now, I need to find a photo to scrap. Luckily, your quest to purge some of your older photos has inspired me to do the same, so I shouldn’t have any trouble locating one.

  8. #12
    Aliza Deutsch

    My kids are 11 and 14, and I sometimes get a twinge of guilt/regret when a new parent tells me they are not going back to work, and I think, “Oops, I should have done that.” (Even though I know it would not have been a good choice at the time.)

    It also took me some years to figure out how to avoid a lot of arguments with my kids (especially my older son), and I wish I figured it out earlier. I’m just going on faith that the fact that I figured it out at all will be enough. Actually, I blogged a little bit about this recently: http://peopleofthescrapbook.blogspot.com/2013/07/max.html

    Also, it’s funny because I happened to sit down at the computer to get started on a layout about being a “good enough” mom.

  9. #13

    Thank you so much for the free template & tutorial! Just starting to work with digital elements… have always admired your clean & simple style!

    I, too, need to go through my old photos, film & digital, and purge/organize!! So overwhelming that I have avoided the task bc i don’t even know where to start or how to tackle the project. So many pix with 2 kids & a cute puppy, let alone old family/heritage pix!

    Do you mind sharing some guiding principles you are following as you purge & organize? Are you using iPhoto or some other program? Are you organizing pix chronologically or by person, place, event? Are you scanning all film pix/slides? Do you backup using external drive and/or iCloud?

    Sorry to bombard you with so many questions but was excited to hear that you are tackling this huge photo org. endeavor…inspiring me to face the files & jump in!! Thank you again for sharing your projects, ideas, & for your ongoing inspiration & much appreciated humor!!

  10. #15

    Thank you so much for the template and tutorial. I hope you had the most wonderful time away. Cheers Karen

  11. #16

    Thanks for the free template! I am drawn to your clean and classic style. Any chance you have a PSE cheat sheet… Ctrl + O = open; ? + ? + zoom in.. etc. 🙂 It would be nice to have it off to the side when in PSE for quick reference.

  12. #17

    Thanks for the template Cathy. You’ve inspired me to start purging some unneeded photos. Maybe I’ll be lucky come across some forgotten photos too.

  13. #19

    I love this post!! How fun it is to go back and find a photo that makes your heart beat a bit faster and feel sad at the same time. I’m so thankful for this wonderful hobby of storytelling and many ways to document these moments. What a cute layout this is, thanks so much for letting us do this too, great tutorial.
    In my opinion you ROCK as a mama, back then and even now, we all wish we did things different or did more with them but do the best we can. Your kids are amazing and it shows in all they do, that’s a big part thanks to you being a great mom.
    Have fun purging, need to do this with my photos too.
    Welcome home and thanks for the fun posts while you were gone, I loved them!

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