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Archive for the ‘organization’ Category

I don’t have many people in “real life” who are willing to listen to me muse and ramble and think out loud about these things, so lucky you, dear blog reader– you get to hear/read! I hope you enjoy it, and I’d love to know your thoughts.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you KNOW that I have Thoughts on photo management.* Haha! You probably even know that I have Thoughts (and some more here) on planning my album projects.

What I do NOT have a good handle on is how to manage the stories I want to tell that are older (I only started captioning my photos in 2011-ish after my daughter was born) or don’t have photos (this is rare, but it happens!), or that have extra bits and pieces (ephemera, etc.), or aren’t part of a larger story arc.

This became especially apparent to me the other day when I was toying with the idea of scrapbooking some of my honeymoon and/or pre-wedding photos (I got married in 2006). I have made a wedding scrapbook that I am still proud of (yay! it has stood the test of time! ….although the quality of my blog photos does not…), and I’ve even made pages about the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, but nothing about getting ready before the wedding, and nothing about our honeymoon or our second reception.

I pulled out the photos I had printed years ago– some are stored in a photo album (so that they can be flipped through), and some were simply in their envelopes, and I realized that I’d actually done some album planning already. This is what I would consider an “album project” — a larger project that will have an overarching story in a dedicated album or two. I went on a hunt and I located the papers upon which I had made layout design sketches, and I’d even written journaling! (and in fact, I’ve discovered that I even wrote about my plans in an ancient blog post here). I am so thankful for that planning, even if I end up changing my design ideas, because that journaling is priceless.

But what about the “random” stories? The events (big or little) that will only get a page or two? Or things that I want to scrapbook but I don’t know how big of a story it will be come? How do I store those bits and pieces?

Right now, I have two main locations. I have a plastic file box (originally intended to store kids’ schoolwork, but since they are still in elementary school, they have a small enough collection that they can share a file box! haha!) I’ve divided my ephemera into hanging files– sometimes the files are for an individual event; sometimes they are for whole seasons of a year, folders that collect all the smaller bits. This is a vast improvement over what it used to be– a large basket stuffed with random envelopes. (it was scary, to be quite honest.)

I also have a 12″x12″ album where I’ve collected items and story “prompts” to myself in a similar way, but instead of file folders, I used the page protectors as dividers.

But I’m not happy with this system. For one thing, there is a weird amount of overlap between the two locations. But is it worth re-organizing? Probably not. I’m sort of at a loss as to how to even begin to think about it. I’d rather spend my time actually scrapbooking.

I will say, that I’m not delusional enough to think that I will ever scrapbook all of these stories. I have NEVER expected to scrapbook all of my photos (not even a fraction!! after all, I take a LOT of photos). In the past, though, I had a handle on how to winnow the photos and stories down to what I wanted to preserve scrapbook-style.

Aside from my China album, my very first “real” scrapbook album was a gift for my boyfriend-who-is-now-my-husband on our one-year anniversary of dating. (Turns out, that was the night he proposed!!). I made little slips of paper for each thing I wanted to document about the story of our relationship, and I moved them around and pinned them to my bulletin board — almost like a storyboard for the album!

This is a photo I snapped in February 2006 of my first album “storyboard!”

Subsequent albums were planned in a similar way, although now I made lists on sheets of paper, marking single pages and page spreads, rather than using moveable scraps, and I checked things off (with my big purple marker!!) as I made them. I’ve never been a scrapbook-in-chronological-order girl, but I DO want my layouts to be in my albums in chronological order. It’s just how my brain works.

But the volume of stories exploded once I had a child. I made special albums for her first month (December Daily-ish– and I’ve never done a flip-through!) and her first year (photo-a-day). And then… all bets were off.

For my second child, I did another photo-a-day album with lots of inserts, which is very nearly finished… (every year, I say to myself, “Maybe by his birthday, I’ll finish it!” Maybe by his seventh birthday, I’ll finish it! Haha. but really… can I??).

But what about the in-between years? What about the years after that second photo-a-day-album? I HAVE made one-off layouts for events in between those years, and I’m in-progress on two larger scale album projects (Disney 2016 and my 2019 “everyday” album)…

Obviously, I have albums started for those two big projects. Pages are planned, photos are printed, etc. The one-off layouts are stored in an “extra” postbound album on my living room bookshelf until they have a better home, but now that album is running out of space! What do I do?!

Should I buy more albums? (I think the obvious answer here is YES.) But do I designate an album for each year and just add layouts as I make them? (Again, I think probably the answer here is yes, but less definitely.) Do I make plans and lists and fill in stories like I used to? This seems overwhelming. How do I decide how many stories? What stories? What photos?

Husband and I have been discussing a photo-album style approach to printing photos– we want to have our photos off of our computers and viewable in a physical format, especially for our kids to see. (I will save this for another blog post when we’ve finalized our plans…) I don’t want this to replace my scrapbooks, but perhaps it will free up my mental space to see more clearly which stories I want to tell in a more “artful” format in my scrapbooks.

And this is where I trail off in confusion…

What do you do?

~

*The blog post I have linked here is a lot of years old, and yet, much of my workflow is actually still the same. It really works! I have learned more about Lightroom the time since I wrote it, and now I cull and rename photos inside of LR, which makes things go even more quickly. Someday, I should probably write a new blog post, but since so little has changed, I’m still going to put it off for a while longer.

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I had a scrapbooking victory at the beginning of July: I finished planning the photos for my entire Disney 2016 scrapbook project. I’ve always preferred to be a pre-planner for scrapbooking (well, everything, but that’s another level of Type A-ness that we don’t need to discuss right now, haha!), and so it is extremely satisfying to have figured out my whole plan for this album. (Here’s a post that gives a little peek into how I plan my pocket pages, and though it’s not for this particular project, the general idea is the same).

As soon as I’d placed my order and received it (Persnickety Prints for the win!), I cut apart all of my photos and slipped them into the page protectors (divided and full-page). Now I know where everything goes and how it fits together for the whole story. (About a year ago, I made a video about this process, you can see it HERE.)

Now, when I want to work on this project, I flip through the pages of the (two) binders to find something that catches my fancy that day, and the photos are all ready for me.

I decided this time to dive into one of the layouts for our Hollywood Studios day, about our experience with Toy Story Midway Mania. I bought a Sparkle City project pad, and the patterns in that collection seem to “go” with Hollywood Studios in my mind. In particular, I thought this patterned paper with all the neon signs went well with this ride, so I challenged myself to use it (it’s a larger scale pattern than I usually choose!).

I added some white pearl Metallix gel through a star stencil to add a bit of texture to the background and layered on a couple scraps of patterned paper (the yellow-green is actually a really old one from My Mind’s Eye). I used lots of craft foam to raise my photos…

I also tried to use a bunch of stickers to add layers, so I pulled out the Sparkle City Project Pad as well as the Sparkle City sticker folder and the Shimelle #stickerbook. The flat letter stickers in the title come from the folder and project pad, too.

As always, I finished off the layout with some wood veneer and some enamel dots (including a hidden Mickey, of course!).

supplies:
Shimelle Sparkle City Project Pad (patterned paper, stickers, alphas, solid aqua cardstock)
Shimelle Sparkle City sticker book
Shimelle #stickerbook
Fitzgerald silver foam Thickers
Therm-o-web Deco Foil Metallix gel (white pearl)
Project Life (Jade edition) 3×4 card
Studio Calico wood veneer
Paper Studio silver glitter enamel dots

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I thought it might be interesting to write down my process for planning the pocket pages in my 2019 album.  So while I was working through my April photos and stories (yes, I know it’s November…but life got busy!), I took some photos and wrote down my steps.

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1. Gather all the stuff. 

I’ve made a point to save bits and pieces: ticket stubs, business cards, name tags, programs, wristbands, etc. to include in this album.  I think physical memorabilia is really interesting.  In my album, I’m keeping a 12×12 page protector for each month to collect all these things in one place. I’ve also been using a free printable from Simple Stories (specifically a page from the February 2019 printable set) to collect some notes each month (I fell off this bandwagon during the summer, but I’m getting back on it this fall!  I’ve actually printed it out 12 times, duplex, so that I have it ready for each month).  It’s on this sheet that I record notes that don’t necessarily have specific dates associated with them: the things I’ve been listening to or watching, the foods that I’ve especially enjoyed throughout the month, and occasionally some notes about how I’ve felt during the month.

I spread out all of this stuff where I can see it easily, and I get out my computer and my planner to help me with the next step.

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2.  Make little paper notes. 

I’m a fairly visual/tactile planner, so I’ve found that it helps for me to start out with little slips of paper — one slip for each thing I want to include in my album.  Since I use a lot of PDF sewing patterns, I save the off-cut portions of the pages to use as scrap paper.  They’re usually oddly-shaped, so they’re perfect for tearing into little slips.

In order to write these slips, I look through all my stuff (step 1), all the photos I took that month, and all the notes I made in my planner.  Each item gets its own slip so that I can physically move it around as I do my actual page planning.

At this stage, I’m starting to get an idea (from looking through my photos again) which things will have a larger (literally) presence in my album.  I’m starting to think about how many inserts and “regular” (not pocket page) layouts I’ll add… but that’s for the next step.

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3a. Plan the pockets. 

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m a pretty structured person.  For me to enjoy my scrapbook-making, I like to have all of my photo sizes and placement planned ahead, especially for pocket pages.

In this step, I take my little slips of paper and I actually move them around on the divided page protectors.  I have cut out templates of my “standard” smaller photo sizes (3″x4″, 2″x3″, 1.5″x2″– these are the orange and olive green pieces in the photos) so that I can really visualize what will fit in a pocket.

I’m using Design A for my main pages.  I don’t have a specific number of pages that I am aiming to fill–just what makes sense for the stories I have.  However, I do try to make sure that I end up with filled pages– I want each month to start on a new 12″x12″.

The pockets aren’t exactly in chronological order, but I do try to stick to a general idea of chronology– the stuff on the left hand page generally has occurred before the stuff on the right hand page.  When I want a particular photo/story in a particular place, I use some items (like family swim, projects I completed that month, “listening,” “watching,”) to fill in gaps and keep that general chronological flow.

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3b. Make a diagram.

In addition to the little slips in the actual pockets, I have found that it is super helpful later to have a diagram of the pages, too.  I’ll do a rough little sketch of pockets, make notes about what I want to make sure to include in the journaling, etc.

As I determine my photo sizes, I move them into collections in Lightroom.  I have collections set up for each of my smaller photo sizes so that I can batch “print” them to 4″x6″ canvases for actual printing.  I also export my “full-size” 4×6 photos to a To Print folder that I keep on my desktop.  This is where I collect all of the files to send to Persnickety Prints (my favorite).  I like to print in large batches, so this helps me to keep track of what is ready to go.

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4. Plan inserts.  

While I’m deciding where each smaller story will go in my pockets, I’m also identifying larger stories that will get pulled out into inserts.  For instance, the issue with my ankle has become a larger story this year than I expected, and so I’ve started making inserts where I’m “highlighting” all the ankle stuff for that month when there was a lot going on.  We also took a big road trip to visit family and friends in April, so that is being “upgraded” to several inserts that will spotlight the different aspects of that trip.  Since it was Easter, I’m planning to make two traditional layouts that feature a family photo and the egg hunt my kids did at my in-laws’ house on Easter Sunday.

Sometimes these inserts get planned as I’m working on the main plan for the month, but usually I leave these until the end of my monthly process!

Except for the traditional layouts, which I am planning to make 12″x12″, I like my inserts to be smaller than 12″x12″.  Most often, I simply cut down different pocket pages (one column of a Design B page, or a Design A cut down to mimic Design H), but I also like the Becky Higgins Design G pages.

5.  Print the photos and make the pages!

After I plan several months and/or decide on other photos I want to print for other projects, I use Lightroom to batch print the smaller sizes into 4″x6″ photo files.  I have a number of printing templates set up for this, and they make it so quick and easy!

I send off my photo order (usually to Persnickety Prints!) and eagerly await their arrival in my mailbox.  You can see how I distribute the prints into my albums in THIS post

and then….it’s on to making the pages!  Check out my 2019 album progress by clicking THIS link (as of the writing of this post, I’ve only fully completed the January pages!)

~ ~ ~

….now on to plan May…and June…and July…and August…and on and on!  I’ve got some catching up to do!

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To help my kids make sure they accomplish all of their morning preparations, I made a up a little check-off chart for them!  This chart was heavily influenced by THIS really cute one, but I ended up drawing my own, because I wanted to have a chart that reflected our particular tasks and look like the items in our own household.

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I drew the pictures by hand and then scanned them in black and white.  I adjusted their sizes to make them consistent, spaced them out, and then added captions in Photoshop Elements.  The charts are slightly different for my son and daughter: I drew clothes that look like their favorite school-clothes styles, and my son doesn’t need to style his hair in the morning!

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I bought very inexpensive frames with plexiglass, and we attached a ribbon to hang them from two Command Hooks (<-affiliate link) so that the hooks could become a holder for a washable dry erase marker (each kid picked a favorite color to use from a set I found in a craft store several years ago).  They are hung at kid-level in the hallway so that as they complete tasks, my kids cross off each picture.  We also added felt pads to the back of the frames so they don’t make marks on the walls when bumped.

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During the day or in the evening, I simply wipe the frame clean, and we start over again in the morning!  We’re several weeks into school now, and the charts have been really helpful in motivating my kids to accomplish what they need to do before leaving for the bus stop!

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Last Christmas, Husband and I decided that V should “inherit” my American Girl doll that I’d had when I was younger.  She was delighted, and I really enjoyed seeing all of my special little doll clothes and accessories out and being enjoyed again.

One thing that I really felt strongly about, though, was having a good way to store the doll’s dresses.  When I was younger, the dresses must have stayed in a pile or gathered under the little garment bag I had as part of the doll’s traveling kit.  It made it hard to play with them, and so I asked Husband if he could help… and of course, he did!

We browsed for some ideas, and somewhere on Pinterest we saw an idea that we both liked– it was straightforward and we had scrap wood on hand.  Husband purchased a dowel, and put this cute clothing rack together really quickly!

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Originally, we had intended to paint it, but we think it looks nice as-is.  It’s stable without being bulky, and I love how it keeps the outfits tidy and unwrinkled.  It’s also tall enough that my daughter can store more accessories on the floor under the hanging clothes.

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I noticed, however, that the dresses collected dust really easily.  (Our house always seems so dusty, no matter how frequently we change our filters!)  It really got to me the other day, and so I went down to my craft studio and drafted up this fabric cover for the rack.

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There are main panels connected with a top panel (so that the design of the fabric could be upright on both sides), and end panels that flare to fit the shape of the clothing rack.

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I added a handle on top so that my daughter can easily pull the cover off whenever she’s ready to play with her doll.

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I think it’s working out really well!

dollclothesrack

The cover is easily vacuumed or washable, and it keeps the dresses ready for playing!

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2019-05-28 20.16.53

I started putting together this big 200-print order from Persnickety Prints in January, and I worked on it through mid-May (album planning sometimes takes me a while).  I placed this order on May 16 and received it within a couple of days!  (Persnickety is awesome.)

When I got the order in the mail, I had the idea that I could do a super-sped up video of how I separate out my photos into my different album projects.  You see, for about every project I do, I start with an enormous amount of pre-planning.  I like to know where my photos are going to go and what sizes I plan to use.  That way, when I get to the paper cutting and gluing and making things pretty part of the process, the photo part is already finished.

It’s taken me a while to get this video completed (my very first voiceover ever!).  But now it’s ready to share!

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With this order, I have photos for 5 specific projects, in addition to some that I intend to frame or to use on a few scrapbook layouts that aren’t part of a particular album project:

Husband helped me rig up my tripod with my camera so that I could put together this video.  I increased the speed to 20x… and just because I’m a nerd, I did keep track of the actual time it took for each stage:

  • unboxing+sort = about 10 minutes
  • appendicitis mini album = about 15 minutes
  • mommy book = about 5 minutes
  • baby album = approximately 31 minutes
  • Disney album = approximately 22 minutes
  • 2019 Jan and Feb = approximately 39 minutes

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Here’s the video!

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For the past two years, I used a Sugar Paper for Target planner for all of my goal-setting, to-dos, and daily planning.  I’d switched to the Sugar Paper one when I was unable to find another favorite planner of mine, and I discovered that its weekly layout with a facing weekly planning page was exactly how my brain worked!  When I went to buy one for 2018, I made the sad discovery that they weren’t selling that planner through Target any more!  I had fallen in love with the weekly layout, and the planners directly sold from Sugar Paper didn’t even meet my needs 😉

As I discussed this “tragedy” with Husband, he suggested that I make my own.  He even volunteered to set up an Excel spreadsheet to auto-populate the dates onto the weekly pages and calendar spreads so that I wouldn’t have to do it by hand.  In fact, he went so far as to program it so that I can enter any year, and it will calculate the proper dates!  Hooray!  He really is amazing.

Not only that, but he helped me fine-tune the margins and cell sizes so that it prints out just right.  I decided to make a half-letter sized planner and use the Staples Arc system to bind it (I purchased THIS punch–affiliate link).  In past years, I stuffed all sorts of bits and pieces into my planners and they ended up bulging in an unsightly way with extra papers (and then they’d fall out if I dropped the planner…).  I purchased a set of Arc covers and the largest discs I could get so that it has plenty of room to grow.  I’ve already added several bits and pieces (notes from my daughter, slips of paper with school information, ephemera stapled to patterned paper, and cards…) and it makes me so happy to see them as I flip back.  I love that these bits of life are now part of the planner in a sleek way.

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After lots of fussing with the layout and fonts, I finally reached a look that satisfied me.  I took my favorite aspects of the two planners I’d loved and some modifications that I’d been making to them and mashed them all together.

At the front of the planner, I have a year-at-a-glance calendar that I modified from HERE.  Because it wasn’t quite the right aspect ratio for what I needed, I took a screen shot of the .pdf and re-created the title with fonts that match the rest of my planner.

2018planner03

Each month starts with a notes page, which I am using to keep track of the things I accomplish during that month.  On the facing page, I have a planning page to help me keep track of my intentions for that month in each of a number of categories: scrapbook (memory keeping), sew, home, and health.  I also have a spot for important dates and a box where I can make notes for future goals and hopes — the ones I want to get to but aren’t reasonable for that month.

2018planner04

Right after that comes the month’s grid.  In a future iteration, I hope to have the boxes programmed with conditional formatting so that the borders show up only if there is a number inside… but for now, I might add pretty patterned paper to the blank boxes… maybe!  These pages are printed on card stock, so they serve as a bit of a divider.  I may add little tabs (maybe with matching patterned paper??), as well.

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Each week has a planning page and a week-at-a-glance page that I use to keep track of my daily to-do list and appointments, etc.

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It took me until almost the end of January to get everything in order, but I was using test pages from the beginning of the year, and that really helped me work out some of the finer details before I printed everything.  I am really, really happy with how this turned out!  I am so very grateful for Husband’s help!  This wouldn’t have come together without him.

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I have written a couple of other posts on this topic previously on my blog (HERE and HERE); however, they are at least a couple years old.  I thought it was high time to write a refresher post– especially since I mentioned it recently on a podcast about using my big camera in everyday life, and I also recently gave a short talk at a ladies’ event at church about organized memory keeping with digital photos.

In fact, my workflow hasn’t actually changed in any substantial way since my post about using Flickr.  I think that this means that my process is working really well for me and the way that my brain works.  I will say this: the process is work-intensive.  It is not quick and easy.  It takes dedication, but I firmly believe that it is absolutely worth it.

Therefore, I think it is worth sharing again– so here is my current workflow:

  •  Get the photos to the computer.
    • I have a folder in “My Pictures” for each year.  Within that folder, I keep monthly folders.  If there is an especially big event (say, a special vacation), I might have an additional subfolder for that set of photos.  But in general, monthly folders are sufficient.
    • Several times per month (or more frequently, especially if I want to use a particular photo quickly– for example, on the blog, or to share with a friend or family member), I put my SD card into the slot on my laptop and copy the photos onto my hard drive.
    • Once per week, my husband and I upload photos from our phones to Dropbox, and I copy those photos onto my laptop’s hard drive, as well.  I keep cell phone photos in separate subfolders in my monthly folders because it helps me keep what photos I’ve processed straight.  I generally work with one camera at a time so that my brain doesn’t get too tangled.
  • Delete the bad photos.
    • I delete anything that is badly blurry, or a photo of someone with a really weird expression or eyes closed.  I delete obvious near-duplicates.
    • I have a hard time culling too many photos, though.  My kids are little, and their expressions change so quickly.  I am lenient on myself and probably keep too many…
  • Rename the photos from the big camera.  Yes, this is an extra, unnecessary step.  
    • The images from my big camera are just numbered, and so I rename these files with YYYY_MM_DD_shorttext so that there is a bit of information captured in the filename.
    • Yes, this is an extra, unnecessary step.  However, I appreciate the quickly-accessible information when I’m scanning through my monthly folder.
    • For big events with lots of photos, I don’t always re-name, especially if the files are in a separate subfolder.
  • Import photos into Lightroom.
    • I import my photos in smaller batches when I can; it makes the next tasks seem quicker.
  • Add metadata.
    • In my opinion, this is the most important step.  As I gushed about in my long-ago post about metadata, it is amazing that there is a way to record stories right there within the .jpg file.  I started adding captions and stories to each and every photo that I add to my hard drive within a few months of my first child being born, and it is a game-changer.  Yes, it takes a lot of time, but now I know my thoughts or the story behind every photo.  I am able to preserve precious details in a manageable (and backed-up!) way.  It’s kind of like when you used to write photo details on the back of a print…
    • In Lightroom, in the Grid or Loupe view, there is a “Caption” field in the right-hand menu:
      lightroom_annotated
    • You don’t need a fancy program to enter a caption, though!  In Windows Explorer (this is Windows 8), make sure that in the “View/Navigation Pane” options, the “Details Pane” is turned on.  The metadata will be revealed, and you can edit fields right there, including the “Title” field (This is where LR writes caption data, and where it will be picked up by Flickr, etc. as caption information).  Make sure you click the “Save” button to write your metadata changes to the file!!
      windowsexplorer_annotated
    • You can add the same story to a series of photos by selecting them all before you type your caption.
  • Choose favorites.
    • In each import set, after I’ve captioned all of the photos, I select favorite photos.  I personally label them  with a purple color label in LR.
    • I’ve set up smart collections for each month; based on the date and color label, the collections automatically pull in those favorite photos so that I can easily export and share them later.
  • Edit favorites.
    • During each import session, I do some simple edits on only the photos I’ve selected as favorites.
  • Export and manually back up photos.
    • At the end of each month, I export the favorite photos to a temporary folder and upload them to an album on Flickr that I designate to be viewable to family and friends.  I also copy them to a computer at a remote location for an extra layer of protection (Thanks, Dad, for giving me back-up space!).  Then I delete this folder of edited images; the edits are stored in Lightroom.
    • At the end of each month, I upload all of my photos (the unedited files) from that month (from all of my cameras) to a private album on Flickr– this is an additional layer of backup for my photos.  I have Crashplan running in the background at all times, and theoretically once per week, I also back up my laptop to a local hard drive (Even though I have Google calendar set to send me a reminder every single week, I will admit that I am too lazy to actually do it every week).
    • Once my photos are backed up in multiple locations, I empty my camera’s memory card(s) for that month.

Processing my photos through this workflow ensures most importantly that my stories are paired with the photos–I can’t stand the idea of not having an idea of why a photo was taken.  My photos are safely backed up, and I am able to (mostly) keep on top of the influx of new ones.  I am able to share with family and friends, and I am able to have photos ready for memory-keeping projects at any time.

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Around November of each year, people in the online scrapbooking world start talking about December Daily.  This annual project was started by Ali Edwards years ago, and I’ve always been mildly interested in it, but never enough to actually do the project.  The closest I’ve come was to make the December album for my daughter, to document her first month.  I did finish that album, though I’ve never yet shared the finished project on the blog.  (I’ve been contemplating making a video page-through, even though it’s been about 2 years since I finished it!  Does that sound like something you’d watch?)

But like I said, I enjoy seeing other people talk about and work on their albums.  I love watching Ali’s day-by-day documentation each December.  So this past December, I decided to jump on the bandwagon.  I was smart enough to realize that there was no way for me to actually make the album during December (what with the ornaments and the frenetic princess dress sewing…), but I deliberately took photos every day, and I wrote down notes and stories.  I thought I’d make it in January.

Hahahahahaha!

I will say, I did get my December photos through the pipeline of my photo workflow in January, so that was something, and I did start planning the album–in the midst of preparing for our Disney trip! I really pushed to finish the planning and print the photos in February, and in March, I just barely started to assemble the album.

Today, I thought I’d spend some blog real estate to talk again about how I plan for a project like this.  We’ve established my Type-A tendencies many times on the blog, but why not reinforce the idea? 😉

The Album

I had purchased a Simple Stories Snap! 6″x8″ album on clearance a while ago, and this was the perfect project to put inside.  My plan was to use one side of a page/divided page protector for each day in December, with the exception of particularly important days (like Christmas day, or days spent celebrating with extended family).  I also purchased a second package of a mixture of 6″x8″ Simple Stories divided page protectors, since what came with the album wouldn’t have been enough for the 31 days of December.

I’m really not a fan of pocket-page scrapbooking, but since the idea of this project is to capture small stories each day, it really lends itself to a more modular format like divided page protectors.

The Products

Way back when I purchased BasicGrey’s Nordic Holiday collection for V’s December album (read that story HERE–and while you’re there, notice how similar my album planning process is!  I just need so much structure!), I also purchased the Crate Paper “Peppermint” collection kit.  I decided to finally break into it and use it for this project.  I have a miniscule selection of other Christmas products (like the leftover Nordic Holiday and a few papers left from the Lucky Girl Crafts December kit when I was on the design team there).  I am supplementing with basic embellishments (rhinestones, doilies, washi tape, stamps, etc.).

Story Management

I knew I would cover the whole 31 days of the month because my husband’s parents came for a visit arriving Christmas day, and I definitely wanted their time with us documented in the album.

Before I formally went through the photos to choose which to print (and in what sizes), I sat down with my planner, my phone, and my Gmail* to figure out what things happened on which days in December.  I printed a blank calendar grid and jotted down basic notes to jog my memory.

*I often will email myself stories about little things that have happened in a day– I’m faster at typing than hand-writing, and I tag them “[person’s name] story” so that I can easily find them later.

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working on December Daily page planning

Photo Management

This was the most time consuming part (so far).   Armed with my calendar of stories, I sat down with my Lightroom catalog and a “cheat sheet” of all the page protector configurations I owned.  Looking at one or two days at a time, I chose a page design that was appropriate for the photos I was hoping to use.  I sketched out each and every page for my album in my sketchbook.  Phew!!

planning page for December Daily 2015

planning each page for December Daily 2015

As I worked on each day, I sorted the photos I wanted to print into LR collections based on the size in which they were to be printed (6″x8″, 4″x6″, 4″x4″, 3″x4″, 3″x3″, 3″x2″, and 2″x2″).  In the print module, I was able to batch-print multiple photos to 4″x6″ canvases to upload to Persnickety Prints when I did my big photo order at the beginning of February.  Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Lightroom?

working on December Daily 2015 at craft day today

working on December Daily 2015 at craft day

At a church craft day, I brought my album+page protectors, my stack of prints from Persnickety, and a box of Christmas supplies.  I chopped the photos apart and slid them into their appropriate pages…which took a lot longer than I’d anticipated!  Once the photos were in place, I got to start on the fun part– embellishing and writing out the stories!

But that’s for another post 😉

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I took a lot of photos when we went to Disney World.

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This should surprise no one that knows me!  I’ve said it before: I really do believe that I enjoy things more when I can photograph them.  On top of that, a photo is a wonderful way to spark a memory.

Since I knew that Tracie and I would be recording a podcast about my trip, I took special note of the number of photos that I shot.  Indulge me while I record some numbers here, because I think it’s interesting:

  • Before any culling, I had a total of 2,005 photos (not including photos from my sister-in-law, who generously shared her set with me, nor the PhotoPass/Memory Maker photos).
    • 302 on Thursday
    • 493 on Friday
    • 396 on Saturday
    • 459 on Sunday
    • 310 on Monday
    • 45 on Tuesday (morning at the resort, then traveling home)
  • After culling (I went easy, deleting only the worst or near-duplicate shots), I had 1,448 photos from my big camera plus my husband’s and my phones (the vast majority are from my big camera).  All of these photos got captions as per my normal photo workflow (all photos that I add to my computer’s hard drive must have some sort of caption in the metadata.)

Husband and I sat down together on several evenings right after the trip and looked through the revised set of photos, this time including the PhotoPass shots and the ones from my sister-in-law (which also got captions).  We tried to be extremely selective, and we narrowed the set to 248 favorites.  I shared these 248 on Flickr in an album accessible only to friends and family.

By the way, sitting together to look through our photos was a wonderful way to re-capture the magic of the trip.  I came home from FL with a really awful cold, and so it was an especially hard re-entry into “real life.”  Remembering our favorite moments together really helped to cement them into our memories.

My general plan for these photos is :

  • create a “princesses” mini album for V, and a “Disney favorites” mini album for B
  • create a basic photobook so that we can have all the photos available to look at ourselves and to share with others (since we all know it’s going to take a while to make an actual scrapbook!  I want my kids’ memories to be reinforced by the photos.)
  • get some printed as soon as possible to start scrapbooking

I’ll cover those first two points in other blog posts (as I complete them, I will add links).  Right now, I’m going to focus on the prints.

I originally thought that I would just print all 248 as 4″x6″ photos to have them on hand.  But the more I thought about my scrapbooking style, and the way I plan scrapbooks, I realized that would likely lead to a lot of extra prints.  I’m okay with having some extra prints (to display, to share with V for her own scrapbook, etc.), but I didn’t want an overload of them–I would just feel so guilty.

So for my first printing of the photos, I narrowed the “favorites” set yet again.  I chose photos that went along with my “favorite moments” (as noted in my Disney journals), photos that would be used in my daughter’s princess scrapbook, or just plain absolute favorite photos.

It was hard.  As I sorted photos into a separate collection in Lightroom to be worked with later, it almost physically hurt.  I admit, I am a little bit afraid of forgetting about them.  But hopefully by referring to my “favorite moments” and the entire set of 248 (or the truly full set of photos), I will be sure to print more, possibly in other (likely smaller) sizes as I work through my scrapbook.

In the end I had 134 that I wanted to print at 4″x6″ for sure.  I can already visualize how many of them will appear on layouts (that is exciting!).  There may still be extras when I actually work through the scrapbook, but they are the favorites of my favorites.  As I said before, V will use them in her own scrapbook, or we will display them.

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I took advantage of Persnickety Prints‘ Super Bowl sale to order my photos (I had several other sets to print, as well), and I am so glad that I did!  I am SO HAPPY with the quality of the prints!  In the past, I’ve used big online retailers or warehouse stores to print my photos, and they always come back with a strange color cast and/or ever-so-slightly blurred (even after I check all the boxes to remove any auto-corrections that might be applied).  After all the time I spend tweaking my photos to be how I like them, it’s such a disappointment.  But the photos I got back from Persnickety look like what I see on my computer screen.  The color is beautiful.  They are lovely and clear.  I LOVE looking at the photos, and I know that I’m going to love scrapbooking with them.  I’m hooked on Persnickety now.  (They didn’t ask me to say any of these things– this is truly how I feel!)

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