One of the most challenging parts of scrapbooking is selecting and using papers that coordinate well with your photos. I've got an easy little trick that I like to use to help me in this area.
I try to make sure that my photos and the papers I use compliment each other, not compete with each other.
The first thing I look for when choosing papers is color. I know that generally you probably want papers that match the theme of your layout, but I will always go with color first. If I have Halloween photos, I try to make sure that if I use Halloween themed papers, that the colors still coordinate with my photos. You don't always have to do that and you can absolutely use themed papers that don't exactly match your photos. I just find that I personally like my photos and papers to compliment each other on a color level first, a theme level second.
Now that doesn't mean that I would use heavily themed baby papers on a layout about our trip to Disney just because the colors matched well. Theme often is important to me. I'm just saying I am most likely to go off of color first, theme second.
When I am going through the process of selecting my papers, I will set my photos on top of a collection of papers to see if I think they match or not. Sometimes this means using a full collection from one manufacturer and sometimes this means piecing together my own collection of papers from various manufacturers.
To piece together my own collection...
1. I will look at the colors in my photos and select papers that match them. If there is green, I find a green pattern that matches closely. If there is a blue, I find a blue pattern that matches closely. I repeat this for most of the colors in the photos.
2. After I have my colors selected, I will find some neutrals that compliment the color scheme. White, vanilla, tan, black, brown, etc. Wood grain is a fun pattern in the neutral category that I like to throw in too!
Now that have my papers picked out I am thinking about which papers to use more or less of on the layout. This is another area that I look to the color of my photos. I like to balance the colors of my papers with the colors in my photos. To do that I will...
1. Use less patterned papers that match a dominating color in my photos.
For example: If you look at my layout, green is the most dominating color in my photos. It's the color you see the most of. To maintain balance on my layout, I used very little green in the papers I chose.
2. Use more of patterned papers that match the less dominate colors in my photos.
For example: I chose to match the color of the large background on my layout with a the blue in Jackson's shirt. I also focused on the red in his shirt and used more red/dark pink hearts to compliment that color as well.
It's a pretty simple strategy that will help create well balanced layouts!