Let me start by saying that Project Life is without a doubt one of the BEST things that I've done for both myself (and my family), EVER.
Seeing my husband and boys look at what we've done throughout the year - from the trips we've taken to the everyday moments of our usually chaotic life at home - and then talk about it while they *remember* it though the photos, is priceless.
For those of you that are new to PL, or unfamiliar - you can read more about the concept on Becky Higgins blog here.
For me, it's also a way to keep up with sorting and processing my everyday photos of my family, and maintaining the memories of the little things that I don't want to forget >> and it's ultimately an easy place to record it all, in a meaningful way, to look back on later.
And now for the fun stuff first - what I'm doing and using in 2013. I AM SO EXCITED TO DOCUMENT 2013 WITH ANOTHER PROJECT LIFE ALBUM!!!!
My cover page of the first album is done and ready to go!
I used a Design F page protector and filled it with bits of the January Studio Calico project life kit along with favorite photos of the fam... (my sister Kimmie took the family shot of us and also the shot of Eric and I!)
...a little "potty people" family cut with my silhouette. The "potty people" are cuts from the Silhouete store - I just resized them and arranged and welded them together to form our "family". :) The "love" bubble is a die cut that I hoarded from a past Studio Calico kit.
...& a title card I made myself in photoshop.
* My favorite weekly "spread" of page protectors - One Design A page protector and One Design F page protector. I've found this combo works REALLY well for my photography style, as I seem to shoot a lot of portrait oriented shots, and the Design F page protector lets me get MORE of those in! That said I still have a large stash of other styles, and I'm sure you'll see a bit of those mixed in throughout the year.
* Design H insert - My favorite insert for when I have too many shots in a week and don't want to leave anything out! Leave it whole, or if you need less "extra" that week, simply cut off the top or bottom 4x6 pocket.
* 3x4 grid cards - I use these alot. They are my main card for weekly journaling in my spread (My "This Week" Card) and they're also great for capturing little artwork masterpieces from my boys - ready to be tucked into a 3x4 protector pocket as part of the "week"!
* My new favorite Studio Calico Date Roller Stamp.
* Two We R Memory Keepers Aqua Albums - Also avail at Target.
* Ali's brushes for Photoshop. I love 'em. :)
* Nisa's Calendar Card - Her version this year is available in both a Monday and Sunday start. I'm going with Monday!
* A Martha Stewart Journal that I grabbed earlier in the year at Staples I think. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT for recording the little things that my boys say, or what we do in a week - I use this bc life gets busy and it may be 3 weeks or 3 months before I go back to journal a week. This keeps it all there and organized for me. I usually use about 2-3 pages per "Week" - label the top of the page with "PL WEEK # and the date" and then try to jot a few things down about each of us.
* And a few other things that I think are super-handy for Project Life: an anywhere stapler (I love the smaller size staple in my album and it's ease of reach). Staz On ink. 6x6 paper pads (perfect scale and dimesion for easily trimming to fit 4x6 and 3x4 pocket) - I keep the ones that I've accumulated from Studio Calico card kits in my bin of supplies. Washi Tape - I have a bag of what I've accumulated in my 'project life bin' - it's perfect for adding a touch of color to a grid card or photo!
And now on to how I go about attacking Project Life each week - what works for me, and some of the Q's (with answers!) that I frequently get asked via email and comments (at the end of the post). Here we GO!
Over the past year, I've realized that my own PL "style" is pretty simple. For me it's REALLY about the photos and stories. My album is mainly photos, digital brushes/stamps, 3x4 grid cards, and the occasional piece of ephemera.
I started out with a PL core kit in 2012 - and I would definitely recommend purchasing one to anyone just starting out, and I'm sure I'll end up picking one up when the new ones become available in 2013. :)
#1 - PHOTO ORGANIZATION - when i upload my photos to my mac - i upload them to a file folder labeled with the date - then i have a whole month's worth of folders in a main folder labeled ie "DECEMBER 2012". For me, this is the easiest way to both find photos later on (I usually have a good idea of when it was taken) and also to pull for Project Life weekly spreads.
#2 - SIZING/STAMPING PHOTOS - I try to sit down to size and "stamp" photos (ie put the digi brush 'stamps' or text on in photoshop) at least one night each week. It can take me anywhere from an hr to 3 hrs depending on how much proofing I still need to do, how many photos I'm including, and how much "stamping/text" I add.
When I size my 3x4's I crop them at 3x4 inches @300dpi and then add them to a blank 4x6 @300dpi document in photoshop. I add stamps/brushes/text, flatten it all, and then save it as "WEEK 1-1" or "WEEK 1-2" etc as I proceed through what's needed for my spread. They are also all saved into their own folder for that week - I have a BIG "PROJECT LIFE 2013" folder that then holds "WEEK 1", "WEEK 2", etc. It keeps it all nice and neat and orderly so that I can easily upload to have them printed.
#3 - DECIDING WHAT TO USE WHERE - There are always a few shots that stand out right away, so I start with those, and then work on to other photos that support "stories" or memories that I want to tell. As I'm resizing I also open up a 12x12 @300dpi BLANK DOC in photoshop and copy and paste each 4x6 and 3x4 into it >>> ARRANGING where I'd like it as if it was the style page protector that I'm using.
THIS makes it easier for me to visualize and see where a splash of color is needed, or where my weekly journaling or calendar card will fit in best, etc. I instagrammed a shot of my process as I worked on our Christmas spread, earlier in the week. Here's that...
#4 - PRINTING PHOTOS - I have everything printed at Costco, matte finish, 4x6 prints (as I've arranged my 3x4's two-up on a 4x6 base for cutting up later).
#5 - PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER - My FAVORITE part!!! I love bringing home a week or two from Costco and looking at it all on my scrap counter. I trim it up and then arrange it - looking to the 12x12's I've assembled in the process as guidance - and sometimes switching it up a bit. I create my title card with papers and silhouette cuts, add a few little extras like cuts or stamps or stitching to some of the photos, and then print out my "This Week" journaling card.
For 2013 I've organized all my "essential" supplies into a canvas box (from target).
Within are smaller canvas bins (housing 6x6 paper pads, studio calico PL kits, grid cards, etc) that can be easily taken out to use and then quickly put away. There's also a bowl of leftover past SC kit stamps that translate well to PL and my date stamper - that sits out on my scrap counter regularly.
For me Project Life is better when kept simpler, so this is all I really use along with one studio calico "pizza box" full of favorite patterned papers and cardstock left over from past kits.
A: Favorites are 'Chunk 5', 'Bebas Neue', & 'Wisdom Script'. 'Pompadour' for numbers. On my 'THIS WEEK' journaling cards I use 'Blackout' and 'TS Florida'.
Q: What is the handwriting on your photos/cards:
A: I use A LOT of Ali's photoshop brushes on my photos, and to create my own 3x4 cards (in photoshop) - because I ADORE her handwriting. ;) And I like the consistency of it throughout my album. You can buy her brushes at Designer Digitals.
Q: Where do you print your photos:
A: Costco, always. And I opt for "Matte" paper. I don't print anything at home.
Q: How do you create the Calendar Card you use weekly?
A: It's a digital brush by Nisa Fiin (available for purchase HERE) that I stamp/brush on a 3x4 @300dpi "document" in photoshop each week with a different background color (to coordinate with that week). I then create a second "layer" and use a small heart brush to stamp over the dates from that week. I then reduce the opacity in the "Layers" panel in photoshop to about 50% so it looks like the dates are highlighted (and still visible beneath). Nisa's calendar cards this year COME WITH various highlighter shapes - SO cool! :))
Q: Where can I get the heart brush/cut you use frequently on your photos and spreads?
A: It's actually part of my Photography biz watermark - so it's not something that's for sale anywhere, sorry!
Q: How many albums did you use for 2012?
A: Two - I'm a very "flat" Project Life'r. :)
Q: I love the way your printed journaling-on-grid-cards looks. How do you do that?
A: I have a "template" that I created for myself in word. Its set up to be about 2.5 inches wide (to allow for a margin on either side of the text with the 3-inch wide card). I type out my text and print it on a regular sheet of paper. Then I take my 3x4 grid card and arrange it over the text on the sheet of paper (it helps to flip the paper over so that you can see the text from behind through the regular printer paper when arranging your card). I lightly tape (scotch tape) the top of the grid card to the printer paper and then send the printer paper back through my printer, so that the text is now printed on the 3x4 grid card.
Q: How do you print your photos at 3x4?
A: I print two 3x4 pics, 2 up on a 4x6 (at costco). I set it all up in photoshop. Start with a 4x6 @300dpi blank doc. Crop your first pic to 3x4 @300dpi, select all, copy then paste onto new blank 4x6 doc and move it over to one side. Do the same with the second pic, moving it over against the other side. "Layer - Flatten Image" then save, and it will be ready to print as a 4x6.
THE END! I hope this helps some of you who want to start a PROJECT LIFE album this year - you can make it as little or as much as you want, and one thing I know is that you will NOT regret doing it.