How to Make a Journal With Photos for Pages

feature-notepadsExtra photos for bloggers: 1, 2, 3, 4

When one of us was a wee youngster, she wrote her initials plus Cody Henderson’s in big hearts on every available surface.

On the walls.
On the sidewalk.
On the carpet.

She got in a lot of trouble.

If only she’d known then what she knows now, she’d have made this book instead. A journal with pages made of photos of walls, sidewalks, bathroom mirrors: anything you could write graffiti on in real life.

Note to self: next time.

How to Make Journals With Photo Pages
[Inspired by The Walls Notebook!]

p.s. Our pals at Smugmug are giving away a set of our cell phone lenses. Check it!

Pages of Photos

write-smYou can use pictures of anything to make pages for this book.

A few ideas:

  • Walls
  • Sidewalks
  • Bathroom mirrors
  • Somebody’s upper arm
  • Textured surfaces like peeling paint, wood, or tile

Light colors work best if you’re writing with ordinary pens or pencils, but dark surfaces are rad if you want to use paint pens or white pencils.

What You’ll Need


  • Double-sided matte photo paper
  • Colorful/pretty paper (maps, wrapping paper, graph paper, etc.)
  • X-acto knife, ruler & cutting mat (or a paper cutter)
  • White glue (like Elmer’s)
  • Paintbrush
  • Two binder clips or clothespins (optional)
  • Waxed paper (optional)
  • Stack of heavy books (optional)

Step 1: Lay Out the Pages

paper-smThere are three ways to make double-sided prints:

  1. Print 5x7s and glue them together,
  2. Print on both sides of 5×7 double-sided paper, or
  3. Print on both sides of letter-sized double-sided paper (that’s what we did).

To do what we did, lay your prints out in Photoshop, with 2 5×7 images centered side-by-side in the middle of an 8.5×11 document.

Print a one pair of images on double-sided paper, flip it over and print another pair of images on the other side. Let the prints dry completely.

We made about 16 prints for a small book: you can make yours thinner or thicker depending on how many images you want to use.

Step 2: Cut Prints to Size

cut-smTrim the prints down to 5×7. Make the edges as straight and neat as you can.

A paper cutter will make this step really easy, but an X-acto knife and ruler will work just fine. Use a cutting mat so you don’t carve up your work surface.

Step 3: Glue Stack of Prints

glue-smTap the stack of paper sharply on the table to even up the stack. Tap one of the long edges until it’s perfectly flush.

Optional: you can use binder clips to hold the pages together, or you can just wing it.

Apply glue to the evened-up long edge of the stack. Smear the glue evenly over the surface with your finger. If any glue gets on the face of the pages, just wipe it away with your finger.

Let the glue dry for about 15 minutes, then shmear another layer of glue onto the same edge. Let it sit until the glue is completely dry.

The glue layer should be nice & thick. Unclamp the stack and ruffle it to see if any pages come loose. If they do, apply another good layer of glue and let it dry.

Step 4: Make a Spine

paint-smOK are you ready? It’s time to make a spine! (Jealous, invertebrates?)

Cut a strip of decorative paper 7″ long (the same length as the long edge of your photos) and about 1″ to 2″ wide.

Apply a thin layer layer of glue to the paper strip. Use the paintbrush (or your finger) to brush glue over the entire surface, including the edges.

Step 6: Glue the Spine Onto the Stack

spine-smGlue the strip onto the spine of the notepad (you know, the part with the glue layer on it.)

Line the paper strip up over the center of the spine, then bend one side down so it folds over the front cover of the notepad.

Smooth the strip onto the photo with your finger, then bend the other side of the paper strip onto the back cover and smooth that down.

If excess glue gets on the covers of the book, wipe it away with your finger.

Step 7: Let It Dry

books-smYou can let the book dry without doing this bit, but this makes it look extra pro.

Slip the book between a couple layers of waxed paper. Dump a big stack of books on top of the notepad and let the glue dry completely.

OK see? You just totally made a book. Now who wants ice cream?!

More Ideas

  • Not feeling crafty? Get the book that gave us the idea!
  • Use pictures of your friends from your last vacation or party! Have them sign it like a yearbook, or draw mustaches and hats on them. (BEST wedding present!)
  • Use horizontal photos instead of vertical ones to make a landscape-format journal.
  • Use square pictures and a thick stack of paper to make a desktop notecube.