I have promised several people I would post this, finally getting to it.
Part 1: What Works for Me
It’s taken me several years to get to a place where I feel that I am documenting our life as it happens. I will be honest in saying that I really wondered if I would ever be able to do that because I take SO MANY photos. I can easily take 2000 photos in one month depending on what’s going on and yet there are other months (usually January) where I might take less and that’s ok. I think that’s part of trying to keep a balance.
With so many photos in the year, you’d think there might be a lot of those that aren’t important or are duplicates. Sometimes that’s the case, but I usually find that at least 70% of them I find show something important to me at least.
So how and what do I do with so many photos, in a way that I can digest and keep up with?
The truth is that I started out with high aspirations of being on top of my scrapbooking and photo storage and I did well until I think Delaney turned 2 and from there it all went downhill real fast. I don’t even have any great excuses other than I’m human and normal and just pretty much like everyone else except that maybe a take a few more photos than the average mom.
But I found myself becoming more and more unhappy with the fact that I didn’t have a method for documenting our lives in a way that was working well, in my opinion and it’s been said I’m a bit of a perfectionist at times
When I began to think about what I wanted and compared that to what I was doing….BLECH! Definitely not a match. So I knew I needed to change that or this “internal” disgust was just going to grow and grow. So I set out to decide what it was I wanted and that’s where the process started to change for me.
It took me some time to figure out
a) what I wanted (and that’s constantly changing, which is ok)
b) how I was going to get there and
c) how to start to work at it slowly in a way that I could keep up with it and stay current, something I certainly wasn’t doing 5 years ago.
More than anything, I LOVE photos. I hoard them, feel the most happy when shooting pictures of things that make me happy) and that is just who I am, it will never change. I’m not the best at deleting all the photos that maybe I should, which makes for an even more interesting organizational challenge. But I found over the past 10 years that if I’m not interacting with my photos in some way, I’m not happy. However, I am not a fast scrapbooker and I have learned that I like to have projects with consistancy from year to year rather than a range of projects that happen to be what I felt like making on that particular day….know what I mean? I wanted a system, one that made sense, but was a match to ME and my style of ‘getting it done.” I wanted projects that allow consistancy and flow from year to year, with basic structure, but yet I also with so many photos, I wanted something that allowed me the ability to utilize a lot of photos in a easy format. I wanted to be creative yet, not have my creative process slow down my “efficiency” of documenting our lives.
So finding a process that matched my desires has taken me some time to figure out (not that I’m totally there, but I am a heck of a lot closer and on my way) and I’m constantly changing it and adding to it as I’m able to stay current with what I’ve implemented.
Sharing different pieces of this process in the next few weeks here on my blog.
So a few years back I started making these digital “year in review” books for each of the girls. Each month is a double page spread, with other special activities, such as birthdays, dance recitals, vacations, Christmas etc getting their own separate page. I stumbled across this process just by trying it as a Christmas gift and realized quickly how this started to become a key piece in documenting life as it happened. But more importantly, I loved the process and it was something I could easily keep up with no matter how crazy and intense life became. I have kept up with this now for 3 years while I’m continuing to add additional pieces to accomplish my “big picture” goals.
I get a lot of questions about how this affects my love for scrapbooking. What’s interesting is that this part of my process (making yearly digital books) has liberated my time for scrapbooking and my love for the process more than anything ever has before. I have all my favorite photos for each child archived in a book so if I want to take an afternoon or 2 months to work on an “over the top” creative project about our vacation or any other topic, I am virtually guiltless in doing so. My creative time can now be just that.
I will share more about my other scrapbooking projects (notice I say other because I consider these books scrapbooking) and how that relates to these books in follow up posts to this topic.
Specifics about these books:
As I said before, I first did these as Christmas gifts and now I do them at the end of the year after Christmas. I start creating the book in December right after New Years for the last month and then print. I have discovered lots of coupons in January as “post holiday” retailers are working hard to get your business. So I can find good deals then as well as being able to add in the end of the year to each book. I have considered starting the books and working on them through the year and then decided that I enjoy it so much at the end of the year looking back, that I didn’t want to change that. I also like having the perspective of time that helps me see things differently. Photos and events that at current might not be special to me, later on have more meaning or sometimes less meaning. I often find that a photo that I thought was less than stellar or lacked much value, 6-8 months later has a lot more impact on me. Just another thing I love about making these books.
I first order only 1 book, but later on in the year when there are great deals on photo books, I will then order a second one or order any books I need to get duplicates of (the great thing about a digital books is I can order more any time as the copy is kept online until I remove it.) So the girls have their copy to keep forever and we have ours to keep at home.
For me the process of replaying the year in photos while I’m working on them is as fun to me as anything. I have done this enough times that I find I’m looking forward to it as soon as we have the last year’s printed. It offers me perspective and makes me enjoy the little things, something as a Mom, I want to do a heck of a lot more than laundry or dishes, right? So this process is good for me in the scope of being a MOM as well as having a great finished product in the end.
Most of the books I have made, have between 250 and 300 photos of our favorite photos from the year, specific to that child. I try to include photos that 5 and 10 years from now will mean something to each one. If I’m unsure, I will ask the girls about the photos while I’m working on their book, which btw, I can do on my laptop on the couch while we’re spending some family time together and they will help me. I also am working on, notice I say “working on” being in more of our pictures. As the one behind the camera usually, I might need a support group to change that one, but I’m trying. I noticed just the other day in McK’s book I actually was in 5 photos on one open page. Pretty sure that comes close to being a record for me. One thing I’m always trying to make an effort to be aware of. Some of our first books didn’t include as many photos of myself, but more of the girls. But I have changed how I perceive what should go in to these books. I try to include as many photos of mom & dad, family, etc where I can because I know as the girls look back, they will not want to see every photo of them, but see THE TIMES and all their favorite people at that time in their life incuded, as hard as that is to put my face in there. So while these books are about them and they are also about their world and the people in it.
The girls look forward to their books arriving and it’s pretty obvious they love them. So do their friends. They are stored in a drawer in the living room (you can do this with these because they are so compact, something else I love about them) and when friends come over the books always seem to be out of the drawer (lots of friends make it in the books because they are in a lot of our photos.) I know when the girls are in High School they will love looking back at who were their best friends and the craziness I managed to catch on film. If I can keep up with just one system or process, let it be this one because when the girls leave home if they have this one book from every year, I would be happy.
Related yet off topic funny story: McKinley came home from school the other day and apparently needed something for show and tell. She got a note in her book bag that it was her day to bring something. She told me right away and she knew exactly what she wanted to bring. She said she wanted a picture of “Sissy” on the toilet.” I have learned with McK that you never know what’s going to come out of her mouth, but even this one, caught me off guard. Then a few minutes later I realized that in her latest photo book was a photo of her just as she had mentioned. She was wearing a mask and nightgown, sitting “you know where!”
I believe she has been looking at her BOOK.
When I started making these books, I decided to let go of some of my “issues” I have with perfection, still working on that one too. But doing so has been part of making this work for me. I upload every photo I take (more details on that process to come.) If a photo happens to be post processed, then great. But otherwise, I don’t fix photos or alter and apply actions to all the photos I’m using. If I did, the reality would be that I would never be done with the books. It’s not about perfection, it’s about making it work.
I include specific information about the month and details that I think will be important 5 years from now on the pages where I can add it in and then we go back to the final book and handwrite in details where we want them. This is all a part of the final goal of getting it done and not getting caught up in all the details, which is an important part of making this work for me.
I know there are a lot of different sources for making digital books including snapfish, shutterfly and kodak, evan apple.com but I have done all of my projects with Photo Works. Nichol introduced me to their services several years ago and I have been hooked ever since. You can use THIS LINK to sign up, totally free.
I have 100% of my 2007 photos uploaded and archived off site on Photoworks and also on disk, in addition to our at home archiving we do. It’s all a part of triple protection so that we never lose our photos. This is another part of the process that has evolved for me as I have experimented and learned. I now upload my photos throughout the year, month by month. So by the end of the year, I don’t have to go back and spend the time doing this. Makes this process work so much smoother AND even better I now have a second set of all my photos archived off site. This past year that became even better when I discovered I could with the click of a button, have those burned to disk for me and printed in to 1 FAMILY PHOTO LIBRARY book. More on that book later…
Here are a few photos I pulled out of last year’s books:
I questioned whether I really wanted to post a link to the girls books for safety reasons, but if you are interested in a web link where you can view our full books interactively page by page, just post a comment here and I will email you the link.
These books are one of the ongoing projects that I have discovered work for me, but along the way I have stumbled across a few other systems and projects, more on those to come:
- family photo library
- digital photo library backup
- personal photo journals for the girls
- family photo journal
- other scrapbooking related projects
- photo related gifts
If you have questions, just comment and I will try to answer those in my follow up post.