My name is Jan McCallum.  I lived in Durham, North Carolina, for 28 years, and I call Paducah, Kentucky, home, but now I live in Tiki Island, Texas.

Almost all of my photos fall into three categories – things I see on my travels, FOOD, or sunsets/views from my deck.  I have not found the discipline I need to do the Photo a Day thing yet, although I have tried.  I think it’s because so much of my scrapbooking is about the story!  If I am traveling, I take LOTS of photos a day.  If I am home, not so much!  I am not great about taking people pictures, which I already regret, but I suspect that will change if/when I have grandchildren!  And I find I take a picture of my mom every time I see her now, and those are some of my most cherished photos.  I do love the pictures I’ve taken of my kids through the years, and I miss being able to do that more often now!

I have a Canon T2i that I got before going to Africa in January.  I have a little camera – I love my Panasonic Lumix (that I got because Shelley’s took such great shots!) – but I find I take a lot of photos on my iPhone and now my iPad  because I can see it!  I always have my gadgets with me – and then it’s so easy to post those photos on Facebook!  I really resisted the switch from traditional to digital – it just seemed HARD early on – batteries, lots of extra stuff, needing a good computer, expense, learning curve, etc.  I finally bought a Fuji FinePix 7000 for Christmas 2004, but I didn’t use it until we went to Alaska in May 2005.  On that trip, I still used my Canon EOS with its big long lens, but I haven’t used it since!  And I do not miss labeling and carrying around all of those film canisters and getting them developed!

I have been a ‘scrapbooker’ for most of my life.  I won an award for “Best Scrapbook” when I was a sorority pledge during my freshman year of college and I’ve been historian for many different groups over the years.  I knew that memory keeping was in my blood when I discovered three HUGE scrapbooks that my father had made when he was serving in the US Army in Europe during World War II.  As a young man, in a land far away from his home in rural west Tennessee, living in almost constant danger, my dad had painstakingly recorded his story from the day he enlisted in Memphis at age 19 until the day he came home at 23.  In white fountain pen ink on black scrapbook pages, with some of the photos being tiny postage-stamp sized things and others being war ‘trading cards’, all attached with those impossible black photo corners, he recorded his experiences.  One of my greatest wishes is that I had known about these albums before he died, but at least I have them now and I have a window in which I can catch another glimpse of him.

My own scrapbooking style is pretty simple.  I take lots of pictures, so I put lots of pictures on my pages – or just one.  But if it’s just one, it’s a big one.  I’m not a fan of lots of decoration and one little picture!  I also write a lot, so between lots of photos and lots of writing, I don’t have a lot of room for lots of decoration.  My creativity manifests itself more in the pattern of the photos on the page than in lots of papers or embellishments.  I typically design my pages with empty photo frames, and once I’m happy with the look, I add the photos, the journaling, and anything else that enhances the page without taking away from the words and pictures.  I like doing geometric things and I like overlays.  I often use a photo, or part of one, as my background. Stickers, especially things like brads and staples, confuse me, but I like colors and cutting.  I should probably go back to kindergarten!  Like my traditional books, I often look for patterns and colors in my photos and make the page coordinate with the photo instead of the other way around.  Unlike my traditional scrapping, I don’t spend hours walking around my crop room looking for where I left the tape runner.  Or the paper I just cut.  Or the cutter.  Or the photos.  You get the picture!

My family learned a long time ago that when mama’s happy, everybody’s happy.  They tolerated the tuTTs (our family word for ‘stuff’) that came with traditional scrapbooking, and now they tolerate my new appendage (my laptop).  But they love looking at the albums and books I’ve made.  We use them to settle arguments and remember dates more than anything, and my friends love knowing my travel itineraries.  My favorite traditional books are the ones I made for my kids (yes, they each have only ONE album!) when they graduated from high school.  Eighteen years of memories, hair styles, clothing fads, and growing up all in one book – what’s not to love?  My favorite digital book is usually the one last printed!

Nature inspires me more than anything, but color and patterns are hard to resist, too.  I love sharing photos on Facebook – I’m into instant gratification!  Sometimes I find myself taking pictures just to take pictures and then I stop myself and enjoy the moment.  Our trip to Africa was the most fantastic photo-taking opportunity I’ve had – seeing all of those animals, up close and personal, was incredible!  Now to make time to work on that book….

Other things that inspire me are my p2P teammates, CMC friends, and many of you who post pages on Facebook.  I get ideas everywhere – books, magazines, TV, billboards, fabric, wallpaper, dishes – sometimes I think my brain will explode!  What I love most are the times that I’m taking pictures, and I’m designing the page they will go on as I’m snapping the camera!  I carry a notebook with me and I have some drawing apps on my iPad so that I don’t have to trust my memory.  You never know when a stellar idea will sneak up on you!  Some of my best ideas come as I’m sleeping – I have slept with a notebook and pencil by my bed since I was a child.  Maybe I should sleep more than I do!

There’s a reason I’m called ‘the Mothership’ and why my teammates refer to my job as ‘herding cats’.  I facilitate our weekly team meetings and make executive decisions if needed.  I deal with most of the business stuff and represent the team in our dealings with Creative Memories and in most of our other communications.  This all makes me laugh because I am not a detail person – as my partners will all tell you!  But I am a person of great vision and possibility, and I have learned that when I surround myself with positive, successful people, good things happen!

The thing I’m most proud of is what this group of women has worked together to produce, at great distance and without even knowing each other, and of the friendships and relationships that have come as a result of that.  That we have stuck together and persevered, against all odds, with no guarantee of any measurable success, is nothing short of a miracle to me.  I will be forever grateful that each one of these women trusted me and each other and themselves enough to jump with me – knowing there was no net below!  Geronimo!

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