Like pretty much everyone else I know, or have even ever heard of, I’m behind on my “getting photographs into albums”. The backlog is overwhelming, so I’ve learned to focus on a few projects at a time, but even in that context I’m sadly lagging. I got a photo book printed with digital layouts for both sets of grandparents of the lass’ first year in time for Christmas that year. 2007, that is. I finally got the same done for them for 2008 some time last year. May, I believe. I had originally planned on going though and redoing some layouts and adding a few more before having our own version of 2007 printed, but finally decided that would probably never happen and that having those pictures on paper was more important than my exasperation with the look of some of those pages (the first digital layouts I ever did, some of them ain’t pretty). So I got them printed when Shutterfly had a promotion, and the lass was thrilled – and so was I.
So, in terms of digital layouts, I’m working on working on 2009… It’ll be done sometime.
In the meantime, though, one of the things I don’t like about digital scrapbooking is how difficult it is to incorporate ephemera. I’ve always collected it all: Ticket stubs, programmes, flyers, labels and so on, and I have never really found a good way of keeping it sorted and relevant.
And then Ali Edwards started sharing how she is using Becky Higgins‘ Project Life, and I was sold. Well, I spent a couple of weeks checking out the products in the relevant shops, adding them to the cart, then leaving before actually ordering, only to return a few days later and repeat. And then I suddenly realised I probably had everything I needed in my stash. And I was right.
I had an American Crafts three ring 12×12 album, I had page protectors in various shapes and sizes and divisions and I had paper, plenty of paper. I went with a basic week layout of a double spread of six 4×6 photo pockets, which is similar to the official Project Life spread, except the middle pockets in that are subdivided again. This works, though. Every week I start adding ephemera as the week progresses, frequently moving it around quite a bit before actually calling the week done. I pulled out a series from Junkitz in two colourways and precut a few 4×6 pieces, useful for journalling or for sticking pieces of ephemera to. I’m also adding a few snaps from the Instax, whenever I remember to use it.
Some weeks I add one or more extra page protectors to hold larger images, artwork the lass does or larger pieces of ephemera. Here, for example, is a newpaper article about a charity event at the lass’ daycare to benefit disaster relief in Japan. A local recording artist, very popular with the kids, had a mini concert and so I also have a signed photo of her in another added page protector. I use the technique Ali Edwards has demonstrated of sewing on the page protectors to make them fit if you don’t have the correct size.
Some weeks there are more photos and journalling than can be housed in the 12 spaces, and then I add more page protectors for that as well. In this case I added one 8,5×11 divided into two vertical 4×6 and one 8,5×5,5, allowing me to house a few pictures taken in portrait rather than landscape format and to add a bit more journalling.
Now, to make this work, there are a few things I’ve decided from the start:
- I just tag the photos when I upload them and then print in batches every few weeks on my home printer.
- I don’t do any processing to the pictures on the whole, in a few cases I’ve cropped a portrait to a landscape, that’s it.
- If all I have from an important event is a blurred picture, I use it.
- I do a lot of the journalling by hand. My handwriting ain’t pretty, and it’s also partly illegible, but it’s better than nothing, and nothing is what I’d have if I set out to do it all on the computer.
- What I have is what I have. Some weeks I remember to get the journalling done immediately, some weeks I don’t. I aim to get it done within a few weeks, but I found myself doing the week before Easter yesterday, and I know I’ve already forgotten details. However, something is better than nothing.
- I use my blog, and more importantly my private blog (available to family and friends) to source journalling. The latter is where I try to get down the strange things the lass says.
Last week I started using Evernote on my phone to jot down notes when we’re out and about. We’ll see how that pans out, but making a note there is much less work than adding a blogpost from my phone, so I think it’s a stayer.
There is much to love about the Project Life approach, not least of which is that I now have a place for some of those photos I take that are not family related. When I work on layouts for photo books I tend to either focus on the lass, keeping the grandparents in mind, or on specific “themes” such as the trip to the Gambia. The last few months I’ve been travelling to Oslo more or less every week for workshops on a project, and this results in pictures that don’t necessarily have a natural home in any of my other projects. For Project Life I’ve started trying to take pictures of the various hotel rooms I stay in, for example.
And, of course, I now have a perfect home for some of the lass’ artwork. I’ve tried to keep examples along the way of course, but this way I not only get to display it, I also get it in context, so that even if I forget to date a certain piece, we’ll know when it was done.
In short: I love it.
And, yes, some of Becky Higgins’ original products are now on their way. Looking forward to playing with the various page protector layouts especially.
If you want to see more examples of how people are making Project Life work for them, check these out:
- Becky frequently showcases other bloggers on her blog
- Ali Edwards shares her spreads every week
- Cathy Zielske occasionally offers some great inspiration
- As does Meagann on her blog Cherish the Ordinary Everyday
- So does Mrs Boom at Messily Ever After
- And there are some lovely pages at Simply Autumn, too
All now in my Google Reader. There is also a free community at Big Picture Scrapbooking. If you have tips for other Project Life inspiration, let me know.