Can you ever have too many pictures? Ordinarily, I'd say no; more pictures = better choices so you can pick the best both in terms of photographic technique and to illustrate the story you want to tell. And if there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that it is easier to make good pages with good pictures. But sometimes bad pictures are all you've got, and not only do you need to use them, you need to use a lot of them. That's the dilemma I faced; let me show you how I solved it.
A little background first. I'm still working my way through my brother's share of our old family photographs. They're a unique challenge because I'm working with the originals and while the quality of the photography leaves a lot to be desired, they're still the physical representation of so many stories to be recorded for future generations.
Like my mother's art. Music was a big part of her life from the time she was a girl but she didn't embrace art until my little brother and I were grown and gone from the house. She enrolled in some classes at the local junior college, not to get a degree but just to learn the fundamentals of art, and it went from there. She was good at it too...good enough that she eventually began teaching art classes in her home. She painted on canvas, on crock and old butter churns, and even on saw blades. We used to joke that we had to keep moving or she'd paint on us too. So I had a stack of photos relating to her art. Some were of her and her booths at art fairs over the years and others were of pieces she had painted. She'd written information about the techniques she used on the back of some and signed her name to them which leads me to believe she submitted them to juried art shows. Of the 34 pictures in the stack, she was in six. And while it's important to have this record of her artwork, it was going to be pretty boring to have page after page of pictures of paintings in an album. How could I consolidate all these photos into one layout yet still be able to see them easily? I know...I'd make a photo waterfall. Here's how I went about it.
I started with a package of 4x6 two-up photo album refill pages. I used these from Target because they were convenient and not terribly expensive but you can probably find something similar from all kinds of stores.
All of my pictures were smaller than 4x6 so I cut them down to just the 4x6 pocket. If I were using 4x6 photos, I cut that middle section in half and use it for my flap. Then I trimmed then again to the correct width and inserted my photo. Since my pictures were smaller than the pocket, I put a small piece of adhesive on the back of the picture to make sure it stayed in the sleeve.
The idea is that the photos are going to lay on top of one another and slightly offset so you can grab the bottom edge of the top photo and flip it up to see the one beneath. I didn't want them on the inside of the page protector because you'd have to pull the page out of the protector to do this. And I was reluctant to do adhere these cascades of photos on the outside because I was afraid it would eventually tear the protector. So I did a little of both.
I cut two strips of the same cardstock I intended to use as the background, each being the same width as the series of photos I intended to mount on it.
Then I figured out where each strip needed to be on the page and drew cutting lines on my page protector slightly longer than the width of each strip. A Sharpie works great for this, and if you need to, you can "erase" the line with a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol. The bottom set of lines is about 2" from the bottom of the protector and the top set of lines is 1" from the top. There's nothing magic about these dimensions; that just seemed to work well for a line of photos covering most of the page height. Then using a metal ruler as a guide, I cut out a narrow rectangular section of the page protector for my strips to go through. Be sure to put your cutting mat inside the page protector so you're only cutting on the top side, not through both the top and the bottom.
After putting my background cardstock into the protector, I added some adhesive on the bottom edge of one of the strips and slid it through the opening I had just cut near the bottom. Once I aligned the edges, the strip was secured to the background page at the bottom. I added adhesive to the top and the middle then fed the top edge in through the top cut, lining it up with the top of the background page. So the strip is glued to the background cardstock at the top and the bottom and to the page protector in the middle, making it sturdy enough to hold all these photos in their little own little protectors...at least I hope so. And I did the same thing with the other strip. You can see where the cardstock is on top of the protector in the photo above because the protector reflects the light and the cardstock doesn't.
Then I started at the bottom and added the photos in their sleeves, with each new photo being slightly higher up on the page than the last. The amount of space you leave between them depends on how many photos you have. I had fewer of the smaller photos but that worked out well because they're old Polaroids so they're thicker. Twenty-nine full-sized photos on one page....that must be some kind of record!
The added bonus is that Mother's handwritten notes on the back can be read. If that wasn't important, you could probably double up on the photos but they'd need to fit snuggly in the pockets or you'd run the risk of them falling out every time the page was turned.