I didn’t have a phone until I was a senior in college. When I finally got one, it was the kind that slid apart to reveal a tiny keyboard, and it definitely didn’t have a camera on it. Crazy to think about now, as 95% of my photos are taken on my iPhone alone, but back then I was still shooting with my Canon film camera.
I started taking photos in middle school when a neighbor gave me his grandpa’s 1970 Minolta camera. I instantly fell in love with the darkroom, playing with light, the graininess in a photo, and the happy accident that sometimes came with film development.
Naturally, I wanted a way to display my photos, so scrapbooking became a normal part of my routine. It was a way for me to document life, something that seemed to be innately important to me, for reasons unbeknownst to me, until last year when we learned that my Grandpa was dying. I spent a lot of special time with him those last months as he told us stories and shared photos from his growing up years. As I started unpacking these leather-bound books he brought out, I saw photos cut out in cute shapes, captions written in beautiful cursive underneath each adventure, glue and more glue. My Great Grandma Leona was quite the scrapbooker, even back in the 1920s. All of these years later, my hobby I’d had since I was a little girl suddenly made so much more sense. She was an artist. A creative. You could tell these albums were put together with love and brought her great joy.
My passion for photography as a young girl turned into a budding twelve-year business that was rewarding and challenging. In that time, we also started to grow our family, and weddings/family sessions on the weekends didn’t align with my life’s schedule any longer. Documenting my family was still something I was passionate about, however, but out went the crazy scissors and invisible tape, in came iPhones and digital elements.
Over the years I’ve tried multiple ways to document our family – here are a few of my favorites and some tips-n-tricks I’ve learned along the way:
1. I started my system using Project Life by Becky Higgins in the physical kit form. Her concept started by taking a photo a day for a year, adding a caption, printing the photos, and adding them to a physical album. I have four years worth of Project Life albums that my kids love looking through! If you’re still a pen and paper gal, this is a super fun way to document life.
2. After a few years I switched over to the Project Life digital kits. I was spending hours and hours editing wedding photos on my computer so it was a natural transition using Photoshop. One piece I loved about digital was the 12X12 size the pages printed out at. I bought myself some d-ring binders and slipped those pages into the album as a forever keepsake.
3. Shortly after, Becky developed an app for Project Life that I still use today. I create milestone sheets for my kids and their special moments, print those off in 12X12 size, and slip them in their individual scrapbooks using page protectors. I may be a year or two behind at the moment, but that’s on my list! Every year on their birthday, that child pulls out their book, and we look through it together as I retell their stories and look through photos. It’s a favorite family tradition!
4. My new favorite way to document our day-to-day life and family vacations is through Chatbooks. If you’re already sharing your life on Instagram, you can set up a Chatbooks subscription so that every 60 pictures a book gets automatically printed for you – perfect situation for a busy mama! If you’d like more control over which photos print, you do get an email when it’s ready to ship. You can then go in and edit to your liking (remove any photos, add in photos from your camera roll, change the caption/date, etc.) over the next three days. Since all of my photos are directly on my phone, it’s easy and user-friendly for me to upload quickly.
So there you have it, busy mama. Hopefully a few options for you to start getting those photos off your phone and printed somehow — IF that’s your desire. Because my biggest tip? Don’t stress about it! We have so much we feel we have to do and strive for as moms, you certainly don’t need another one to add to your plate.
What’s your favorite way to document your family’s life? Have fun clicking + creating + documenting!