The one question I receive, more than anything, is what my workflow looks like. I have to chuckle at this because I am probably the most sporadic scrapper in the bunch! I don’t know if it is because I have two young kids, or because I am home with them and running my own business at the same time, or if I am just that disorganized. (If you ask me I proclaim myself to be a very organized person, but there are times I feel like Billy Crystal would look at me and say I am the worst kind of gal–high maintenance that thinks I am low maintenance.)
Anyhow, I spent time the past two weeks documenting when I worked on Project Life and what I did during those snippets of time as well as outlining my process. So here is a little glimpse into my world, but as I am prone to do, first…a little history.
I started doing Project Life on January 1st of 2012. Honest to goodness I remember how exciting it was to place my first picture in the digital template. I waved my husband over to my computer and exclaimed, “look at this cute picture of Holly and look how I am able to write a story about it! Is this not the coolest thing ever!?” The story was about donuts. And the story was so true, and so “her.” And I was hooked. Never in my life have I kept up with a project of this magnitude, but maybe that’s because, to me, it actually doesn’t feel like a project at all. Something has to be done with all of the photos in my hard drive (at that point I had five years worth of photos that had yielded about ten scrapbook pages and 5 prints in frames) and Project Life offered up an easy and cute solution.
How I Document: My weeks this year run Monday-Sunday so that I can keep my weekend together. Last year my week ran Sunday-Saturday and I must say I kind of miss that. I had thought having the weekend together would make it easier, but in reality I am ending up with too many photos each week. Maybe this will change once summer hits and we are on the go a lot more….I don’t know. I write myself notes, send emails to myself, and even leave myself voicemails to remember things if I am on the go. I always have either my phone, IPAD, or computer near me so it’s rare a moment passes me by. (And if none of those things are around? Good old pen and paper!)
My Software: Photoshop CS5
My Materials: 97% of the time I use the Design A template. I just find it easier to take one more decision off of the table. I tend to chose a Project Life kit to work with for the year, but I mix it up–a lot. I get bored too easy so my pages are really all over the place. If I am short on time for a week I revert to the chosen kit for the year, this year it’s Seafoam, but more often than not you will see me with a new kit each week. I had a ton sitting unused in my computer that I finally can justify buying and I subscribe to the daily digi which replenishes my stash once a month with 6-7 digi kits. I also shop too much on designerdigitals.com, acdigitals.com, and jessicasprague.com but that’s a whole other topic.
My Equipment: I have a Nikon D700, a Panasonic Lumix, and an iphone 5. Since I received my 35mm lens for Christmas that is all that I have shot with, but prior to that I used my 50mm most of the time. I also have an 85mm–but that only comes out if I am trying to do a portrait-type shot. The other two are much more versatile for the day to day. (All of these lenses are f/1.4–I love my low apertures!) I recently did an image “test” with my Lumix and my iphone however, and the iphone won. I dare say I am going to go down to just two cameras….if you don’t have the iphone 5, and you can get it, do it. Amazed at how good that little camera is.
How do I organize my photos: I am sure this is very clumsy, and the most inefficient way to do it, but I upload everything from my phone and cameras with a USB cord. (I really have to figure out all of that cloud syncing stuff. If you know of a good way, or a good article to read about it–show me the way!) I organize my photos in Adobe Bridge. The main folder is called 2013ProjectLife (so creative) and there is a folder for each week. Within that folder I am trying to create folders for “used” photos that were placed in the two-page layout and an “unused” folder for those images that still need to be placed in an insert, collage, or enlarged. I didn’t do this last year so when it came time to do my Shutterfly book last month it became quite the process. One of the main reasons the only book I have printed is Volume One from January-June!
Photo Editing: I wish I could let it go, but I can’t. Every image in my layouts has a little something done to it. Usually I sharpen it just a tad and add contrast, and if it needs it I lighten the photo up or color correct it. (The latter usually happens when I forget to change the white balance indoors.) Photos shot with my D700 are much more ready SOOC than the iphone–mainly because I only shoot in manual so my exposure is typically right on. (I shoot in jpeg mostly.) I absolutely ADORE instagram and the filters within it, so most of my iphone photos are instagrams. I use the earlybird filter A LOT.
How do I get it all done: I wondered this myself, so it was really interesting to write down what I did and for how long these past few weeks. On average a two-page spread seems to take three hours when you add it all together, and it is made up of many, many small chunks of time. There were days I spent 16 minutes in the morning uploading photos and then placing a few in the design A template, and on a couple of evenings a week there were much longer stretches of time spent playing with my layouts in front of Downton Abbey, Grey’s Anatomy, or The Following. (I have quite the varied TV-watching genres don’t I?) I also spent a few moments throughout the week when the baby naps and Holly is at pre-k uploading photos or picking out journaling cards…but truly the bulk of it is done on two nights a week and on the weekend when the kids nap or are playing. My kids have early bedtimes so by 645-7 I can really dig in and have some fun for awhile. It all boils down to what you make time for though. Making my album is so important to me that I just get it done. Period. I truly wish I could say the same thing about working out….
In what order do I complete the layout: This is where it gets a bit willy-nilly. I don’t have a set order! I place photos along the way all week long, favorite images always stand out to me immediately. I edit them prior to dragging them over to the layout, but as far as the brushes, text, or elements I sometimes add….well there are times I add them before they are in the layout and sometimes I do it later once the image is “clipped” in. I tend to gravitate toward the latter process only because my template is sized down because of the whole double-matting thing….and I was forever placing things that were getting cut off. I do choose my background paper and inner-mat colors first, but honestly they can change too. I pick the kit I want to work with based a bit on the season and what I am in the mood for that week–I don’t believe I have ever chosen one based on the photos. I throw journaling cards in the layout, then I take them out. I play and play and play. If I wasn’t digital…….yikes. This album would a) never get done and b) create such a mess I would go crazy! I am a firm believer that if you buy what you love (in terms of supplies) and take pictures of what you love–it all works out. And if a picture is really wonky and busy I convert to black and white. I typically have two b/w photos a week but for fun I have created all black and white layouts (last year it was week fourteen and week twenty-two) for something different.
I plan on doing an all black and white the week of March 4th this year. I would love if anyone would like to follow along–leave me a comment if you want to join in on the fun. It really is a fun way to do something different! Fingers crossed I will have finished a b/w kit by then we can all use….oh do I need some time for that!!!
That’s it. Nothing earth shattering, certainly nothing creative. I think the main thing I came to realize as I was detailing it all out is that the whole creation of this Project Life album is just that important to me. It serves so many purposes…a collection of our memories, a place for our photos…but really? In the end I became very aware that it’s MY THING. The ONE thing I do for myself all week long. It’s a pretty solo activity when it’s all done digitally, and when you are around little ones 24 hours a day like I am it’s nice to have something of my own that’s fun and allows me to flex some creative muscle.
Honestly….Project Life just makes me happy.