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Books have a unique way of stopping time in a particular moment and saying: Let’s not forget this. ― Dave Eggers

Let me first begin by noting, that for all of the images I share (a lot!), I’m terrible about printing. I have crested 3000 images shared on IG just this last week, and easily have a thousand more here. Readers have on occasion asked how I print or keep the images (aside from my back-up hard drive), and the quick answer is I don’t. I have a few individually printed, but having 3000 individual prints around the house can feel equally as cumbersome. Still, I’ve realized in recent years as my children scroll through our computer’s photo library or my camera roll or IG feed, I need to print more. In our digital age, there’s something remarkable, almost sacred, about holding something concrete. In teaching my children to handwrite letters, I’ve learned that a different function occurs in the brain when you write a word in pencil on paper than when you type that same word on a screen. It wedges itself just a little deeper into your memory faculty. I’d like to think a printed image, or even a book of them can do the same.

It is common for young parents to hear how quickly the years go by and how we’ll miss them when they do. “Soak up the days,” older parents admonish. Although I have done my best to do exactly that, it wasn’t until the end of 2013 that I actually felt the slipperiness of time. Our youngest, Olive, would turn five a few months into 2014, and suddenly I felt the weight of a changing season for our home. No more nursing or potty-training. No more nap-time or strollers. No more jibber-ish talk or sink baths. 2014 would be an official sign-off to the baby/toddler/early-preschool years, and I wanted to document it, to store up what little bits I could. A form of closure? Possibly. Inspired by my online friend Jodi, I began a personal 52 Project in our home in 2014 and 2015. It was far more challenging than I expected, but it caused me to see our days in a new way, to see my children in a new way. I’m so grateful for these small recorded bits of their childhood. And although there are umpteen other images and stories to print, I wanted to make sure these were hardbound in a book.

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PRINTING THE 52 PROJECT BOOKS

There are of course a variety of ways to design and print this sort of project. Price and time is always a factor, and perhaps the trickiest part of this one is incorporating text with the images. Earlier this year, Ronnie of life: captured and I worked together to create a template for my 52 project book, and I’m so excited to share the template will be available for you through their site in early October! You can follow them here to find out when it releases. I printed the book through Artifact Uprising, which I highly recommend for high-quality printing. I simply waited for one of their sales (typically around a seasonal holiday) for a discount. They also have page templates that are easy to click-and-drag, but the text may take a bit to type out and organize if you go that route.

PRINTING INSTAGRAM BOOKS

If you have not signed up with Chatbooks, do it now. While the printing is not the best on the market, it is wonderful for the $8 price-point. I subscribed early last year, which simply means every time I post an image to IG, it automatically fills another page in my Chatbooks. When I have reached 60 pages, it gives me three days to preview and make any changes and then auto-ships directly to my house. Eight dollars. It’s a way to simplify one part of my life, and the kids adore them. I’m considering ordering a back up of each one to keep away in a safe place. If you’re interested in trying one for free, use the code CLOIS678. But I promise, if you consistently share images on either Instagram or Facebook, you’ll love them.

CLASSES FOR PHOTO ORGANIZATION AND DESIGN

I’m quite interested in transforming the archives of this space into book/booklets for our home (and possibly others someday). Over the last two years, I’ve taken two courses with life:captured and I cannot recommend either enough. The Photo Organization class was life-changing for my work flow and photo storage, and the InDesign for Beginners class gave me so much vision and help to design my own storybooks and other personal project books (you can read more of my thoughts on the class here). Although I am still quite slow with the layout, I appreciate the skills I’m learning and now sharing with my children, too. I’m mentioning both classes today––even though they’re indirectly related to printing––because the fall sessions for these courses are beginning again next week, and registration ends on Monday (Sept. 26). To all of you who have oodles of images clouding your virtual space, or who are interested and yet unfamiliar with layout design, or who want to learn more about how to capture a story with your camera (phone or otherwise), give yourself an early Christmas gift. Wink. Wink.

And if you’re interested (and still reading) in reading more of how I keep memories, you can also find my “Storytellers” interview from the summer here. Happy new week to you all. Keep a bit of time to hold your story, whether by your heart or a book.

 

 

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I’ve been quietly working through the photography boot camp, Unravel Your Photos, with Life:Captured and Artifact Uprising the past few weeks. These lessons are a sort of retreat for myself–efforts I know will pay enormous dividends in my own workflow, but also as my own children begin taking and editing their own photos, too. For those of you unfamiliar, the online course is designed to help organize photos in Adobe Lightroom, a photo software I’ve used for over two years now (and highly recommend). You can read more about why I’m taking it and what I learned after lesson one here. Unsurprisingly, I am shocked by how little I knew about Lightroom and am so impressed with how direct and clear Ronnie’s lessons are. (I also adore hearing her Australian accent on the videos.)

The second lesson of the course is entitled “See the Big Picture,” which tackles the more confusing topics surrounding the Lightroom catalogue, such as how to label and organize folders in one system. Do you remember how I likened my computer’s photo storage to a closet? Well, this class turned on the lights so I could see exactly how messy and disorganized my hard drive “closet” really is. My phone images were separate of my DSLR camera photos. I had photos in multiple places, labeled by date but also by writing topic. Basically, I had photos everywhere. Ugh.

In “The Big Picture,” Ronnie demystifies the Lightroom catalogue by showing exactly how to find where the master files are stored on the computer’s hard drive and what happens to the photos when you edit in Lightroom. She uses step-by-step video tutorials to teach how to create a new master folder for all of your images, clearly labeled by date down to the second. This is SO helpful! Still, perhaps the best new habit I’m establishing as a result of this class is the weekly or bi-weekly importing and backing up of my photos. Clearing my phone and camera of photo clutter and keeping all the images in one place makes the task of sorting and processing feel far less daunting. As with any area of my life, bringing order to this mess is bringing a new simplicity to my work flow and time. If this class might be helpful for you, Ronnie and Trish have opened registration for the same class beginning in January. I’ll be back with lesson three sooner this time. Wink.

 

 

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Although I have spent much time during the last 18 months discovering ways to simplify, de-clutter, and organize our daily living and home, I admit I am a complete mess in terms of digital photo archives. The hard drive on my computer is currently full, as is the memory on my phone. I know. Don’t judge me. Although everything is already backed up, I have yet to empty my hard drive for fear of losing something, and that mostly because my files are chaos. My hard drive is much like staring at a closet heaped with disorder–a large shoe pile, clothes on hangers, clothes not on hangers, shoeboxes, piles, and so on. I know I need things in the closet, now or at some point in the future, but the disorder keeps me from using it properly or at all. A back-up drive gives me the luxury of copying it, so technically I know every file is there. Only now I have TWO messy closets–and, honestly, am I likely to go fishing through the back-up drive for those files either? Honesty is the most important part in de-cluttering any aspect of our lives, and truthfully I am a digital hoarder. 

As some of you remember, I took an inspiring online class last year with life:captured–a school for modern memory keeping which I entirely adore. Through that class, I previewed a bit of Ronnie’s very organized files and was utterly inspired by her. If my online files are like a hoarder’s closet, hers are like a dream with clothing and accessories neatly aligned by color, style, and season. It is the sort of closet I enjoy in reality, where I knows exactly what I need, when I need it, and also when it’s time to get rid of it. Sigh. In terms of finding and creating files on a computer, doesn’t that sound peaceful? While I’ve made several adjustments to my file labels since that class last year, I am really needing a larger tutorial on file organization. In short, it is time for me to learn how NOT to be a digital hoarder.

unravel your photos: lesson one

When Ronnie asked me to join a group of bloggers working with life:captured and artifact uprising for the project “Unravel Your Photos”, how could I refuse? These are the exact lessons I need–and an opportunity to put this more abstract part of my life in order, too! Over the weekend, I completed my first lesson, “No File Left Behind,” an overview of the benefits and basic principles of file organization in Lightroom (my favorite photo editing software–bonus). Again, Ronnie has such a gentle manner of organizing her class materials that makes large, intimidating endeavors feel manageable. Still this could get messy, folks, and you know I’m going to take you along for the ride. Wink.

Since I have a full hard drive, I needed to clear space to work. Now thanks to my sexy date night purchase, I have two fresh external hard drives and am currently emptying my cluttered hard drive onto the first. At my brother-in-law’s encouragement, I’ll tuck that aside in a safe place for the peace of knowing I DO actually have all of my files. This week, I will be clearing my computer hard-drive and starting fresh. In short, I am emptying contents, so that I can clean and create fresh order. As I learn to organize my files in a new way, I won’t feel distracted by what already exists, by the filing mistakes I’ve made in the past. The second hard-drive will be used to back-up files from this point on and as I have time or need to retrieve old, disorganized files, I will catalogue them according to the new system. I’m expecting I’ll learn some tricks over the following weeks concerning that, too. As Ronnie encouraged us in the lesson this week, “start with your current photos.” The best way NOT to become a digital hoarder begins with what I do right now. I like that.

 

 

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My husband and I recently watched an old episode of Friends, one where Monica passes around recent pictures she’s taken, nervously saying, “don’t touch the photos! It will leave fingerprints.” My husband looked at me and said, “it’s such a different world now.” And it’s true. Like so many of you, I rarely have images to pass around to my children or friends. Instead, I simple pull out my phone to pass around or email images from my computer. A few months ago, I wrote a bit about the art of memory keeping and my goals to combine my writing and images about our life into a printed journal. This is something I’m aiming to change in 2015.

Sometime early last year, I discovered life:captured inc., a modern school for memory keeping run by two very talented women in Australia, Trish and Ronnie.  Through workshops and, more recently, online classes, they teach everything from storytelling with your images to organizing your files and printing life books or story books. They were creating exactly what I had always envisioned and offering me tools to learn the same! indesign_class-14

In November, they offered their first round of online classes–a more realistic option for me, seeing that their workshops are hosted in Australia. I chose the six-week course, “InDesign for Beginners,” with Ronnie because I had no experience with this Adobe graphic design software and I wanted to learn how to create templates for my own family storybooks. It was incredible! Each week, Ronnie would release a new lesson including video guidance, notes (the transcript of the videos), and lesson assignments to practice for the week.  Enrollment to the class also included a private class forum to dialogue with Ronnie and other students about things that were challenging or not working well. Most lessons could be completed in 30 minutes, a reasonable time commitment, I think. And you could review previous lessons at any time. I had to do this after the holidays, since I had missed a couple with all the family happenings.   I ended up watching each lesson twice over the course and used the printed notes to underline shortcuts or parts I kept forgetting for quick reference.

I certainly recommend having an iPad or tablet to watch the videos. It’s not impossible without, but you’ll end up watching, pausing, and flipping to your own InDesign screen back and forth often, which could easily become frustrating and cumbersome. I did this the first lesson. With the iPad (or some other device), I could play the videos beside me and follow along simultaneously on my own screen. Here’s a couple of screenshots from one of the projects I developed while in the class. I chose writing, quotes, and DSLR images from our afternoon at the beach last summer.

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One of my personal goals this year is to print more photos and family journals this year. (It was last year, too, but I feel more equipped this time.–wink.) One of the most helpful parts of the class was hearing and seeing how Ronnie organizes all of her online files throughout the year. Some images she prints weekly, others seasonally, and others annually. Isn’t she incredible? I am so inspired to keep these files in order and print them this year!

Maybe you’re like me and have a goal to print more photos or photo books of your children, or maybe you’re just learning how to use a camera and want to learn take better pictures and tell stories through them. Either way, I highly recommend any of life:captured’s online classes. I should also note, the deadline for their next group of classes is this Saturday, January 31–so jump in quickly!

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This post is in partnership with life:captured inc., a small business devoted to helping others with modern memory keeping. As always, all thoughts and opinions I write are my own. Thank you for supporting businesses that help keep this space alive.