This morning I saw my daughter gaze into a mirror, admiring her braids lovingly.
Then I saw her jump out of a building into a hay bale.
I giggled when I saw my newborn son snuggled up, screaming, for his first stroller ride.
And I smiled proudly at the look on his face months later after he mastered his first clap.
Yes, I saw all of that this morning. In the pages of a book.
In early 2007 with a toddler at home and a baby soon to be on the way I committed to documenting one photo per day of our life. Not a novel idea by any stretch of the imagination but I was excited about challenging myself to document the little moments of our days together. Each evening I would choose the image, write a (very, very) brief idea or story to accompany it and post it to my Photo A Day blog for that year. It got old quickly but I struggled to maintain the habit. I fell off the wagon a lot but I kept getting back on, determined to end the year with a living document. I gave it up somewhere around October (8 months pregnant with my second child and lacking energy for anything) but I was pleased with what I had accomplished. It felt like a valiant first effort.
The following year I came back with a new resolve — and a new subject — now with a two year old and newborn in the house. I made it through all 12 months of that year, missing some days and weeks along the way but ending up with a beautiful collection of images and memories from 2008.
It was then that I realized that housing these lovelies on the internet just wouldn’t cut it. I had created blog books before from my regular blog so I decided to give it a try with a new format. The single images and short stories begged to be presented as a coffee table book with large images and striking text. These books are now the cornerstone of my living room.
If you’ve never considered a Photo A Day project before, now is a great time to start. The year is coming to a close and January 1st is the perfect opportunity to jump right in. A few helpful hints for getting started:
- Find an easy place to host your project online. Blogger, WordPress(.com) and Typepad are all good choices. Even Facebook would be an easy place to keep your images filed if you create a separate photo album there for them.
- Don’t stress about the image you choose. Some days it will be easy. Some days not so much. Try to realize that things that aren’t necessarily beautiful to you today will hold so much meaning and memory years down the road. Looking back, some of my favorite images are of the mundane moments of our life.
- If you miss a day (or 20) pick back up and carry on. When it’s all said and done you won’t care so much about the days that you missed but you will so treasure the days that you have documented.
If you’ve already committed in the past to a Photo A Day project, good for you! Now it’s time to think about rewarding your efforts with a print version. A few things that might help:
- Choose a place to print your book. I like Blurb for projects like this. Shutterfly and other similar consumer print labs also have book options that might work for you.
- If you have more than one child, print more than one copy. For each book I print I make two copies – one for my son and one for my daughter. One goes out on the table and the other stays in the shrink wrap, tucked away. If anything should happen to the first copy (spills, tears, etc.) I always know I have another. And down the road when it’s time to gift the books to my children I’ll alternate which copy they get by year, tattered or new.
- Create templates for your book pages that make it easy to drag and drop your images and text. Don’t worry about being fancy, just worry about getting it done. I created two templates for my pages – one for vertical images and one for horizontal images. If you’re familiar with Photoshop and are comfortable using layer masks, text layers, and the move tool then you’re welcome to my templates. Download them here. (These templates are for Blurb’s 13×11 inch large landscape books.)
I’ll end this post with a confession: After three years of Photo-A-Daying I took 2010 off. As I sit here putting together my 2009 Photo A Day coffee table book (to give to my children for Christmas) I’m devastated by that choice. I realize what treasures these books are to me, my children, my husband and the 50+ year old version of myself and it makes my heart so sad to know that I’ll be missing a year. But taking that year off has reminded me how important these images are and I’m SO excited to start sharing and documenting the little moments again in 2011. I haven’t completely decided where to host it yet but more than likely it will be at my same old place.
Come January 1st, find me there and say hi.
Erin has been a mama for five years, a blogger for four, and a professional photographer for 3. She hopes to be all of those things for at least another 50. She’s passionate about her family, her friends, bright colors and shooting jpeg (what?!). Those are the things that feed her soul but Erin says writing about them feels like the dessert. Erin makes her home and runs her business in Huntsville, Alabama.