The Creative Mama » inspiring art, encouraging women

one frame a day

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.

Creating them was easy once I came up with a template that worked for me. I spent a few nights cutting and pasting, dragging and dropping, and ended up with priceless heirlooms for my family.

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 Cobb

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.

About Erin


Erin has been a mama for six years, a blogger for five, and professional photographer for four. 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?!). Erin is also the creative force behind the highly acclaimed Clean Color video editing tutorial. 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.

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  • MMB

    Don’t know if you will see this, Erin, but I would love to know whether you “slurp” your blog photos into the book, or if you use entirely different files/version of the pictures when making the book. I’m wanting to do this the most streamlined way possible, so I’m just wondering if you use the blog as a step toward creating the book or if it’s an extra step in order to document online, but then you go back to your own files when creating the book. Don’t know if that makes any sense… Thanks!

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  • Melissa Wesley

    I will be joining you in 2011 for this amazing project! Even though I’m in the middle of my current 365 project, I can **NOT** resist starting this ASAP!

    Thank you for sharing all these amazing things on your site!

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  • http://homegrownmosaic.blogspot.com Yvonne W

    What an inspiring post!! Watch out 2011!!

  • http://www.thackerkids.blogspot.com Kaelin T

    You have inspired me to start this on Jan 1! Today I do books for each of my kids for every year (even though they are 1 and 2) but the idea of the family book is even better. Thanks for the inspiration and guidance!

  • MaryRuth

    Love the format of the books!

    2011 will be my third year of taking a picture every day. Some days it get tedious… but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. It’s been the most worthwhile project I’ve ever done and I absolutely love it!

    I might download your template and go digital for 2011. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  • Heather M.

    Thank you so much for posting this, Erin. I’ve been doing a photo-a-day for 3 years now and have yet to print those photos. I’ve been trying to think of a painless way to do it but I think I just need to hunker down and get them uploaded and printed into a book. Your books look amazing!

    I was considering taking next year off because I feel so completely burnt out right now but after reading this post I’m reconsidering. Thank you for your honesty. :)

  • http://www.sdanddoublee.blogspot.com Stacey

    Another quick question, Erin! Will your templates work for PSE?? Thank you!

  • http://www.sdanddoublee.blogspot.com Stacey

    Erin-Love this idea. I’ve been an avid blogger for a few years now, but have never printed out my blog or photos in a book. Just curious…which site do you use to have your blog printed?

  • http://smileyssweetsandcreations@blogspot.com Lisa

    Thanks, Erin. I was doing so great gathering a photo a day for my project this year and forgot one day in July…but kept going..then ditched it in October and I’m so bummed I did. I want to try again next year, too. You have encouraged me and I soo want to try the big book like you did. It’s beautiful. Thanks for providing the template, too! Can’t wait to try again! Oh, did you host your project via blogger or another blog?

  • http://dallasandelizabeth.blogspot.com Elizabeth C.

    I’m convinced! I can’t wait to try doing this project in 2011. I took a ton of pictures in 2010, but hopefully this will push me to do even more.

  • http://cherylblackwell.blogspot.com Cheryl

    Oh,, I am soooooooooooo doing this next year. I can’t wait til Jan 1st.

  • http://veronikagphotography.blogspot.com/ Veronika Goisova

    I love this Erin,I read your Pigbear blog for long time,and watch your work….so inspiring and beautiful,full of life…thank you!:-)

  • http://www.marietaylor612.typepad.com marie taylor

    do you use every picture? i am doing a page a month to prevent having a huge book, but now the pictures are so small and i am not including journaling which i think i will miss. thanks :)

  • Carri Powers

    I’m SO inspired! I love the idea and really like that it ends up in a book so you have something tangible for all the dedication it requires to stay on track with the daily photos. Question though – how many pages is your book? Do you just take a sampling of the year’s photos?

    Thanks for sharing the idea!
    Carri

  • Leanne

    Great post, Erin! I’ve often thought about doing a photo-a-day project but never have. You’ve inspired me to do it this year. Thanks for the tips, and a huge thanks for the awesome template! I love it!

  • Erin

    I’m so excited that there are so many of you already doing this…and so many of you willing to give it a try!

    One of the benefits of NOT meeting your goal of taking/posting one image everyday is that the bill isn’t so high at the end when you go to print that bad boy. ;) I’d say each of my books end up with about 200 pages. Expensive, yes. Worth it, for sure. Blurb will occasionally have coupons and specials so it’s worth waiting for those if you’re watching the bottom line.

  • http://remember.winger.com/ nicki

    OK, LOVE these books! I do have a picture for everyday of 2010 (so far :) ). Will that make the book way too thick???I can’t wait to do this. My past pics for 2008 and 2009 were all placed in photo albums. I may do this instead!

  • http://lifeineden.wordpress.com Life in Eden

    Just ordered mine the other day! Although I used one of the print companies. I started this last year, after we had a turbulent time. We’ve loved looking back, seeing how are kids have grown, the places we’ve been. This year was much easier to put together, after the practice of the year before. Plus I had tried a 365 and had some other “sessions” set up through the year with the kids. Now I shoot family events with this in the back of my mind.
    Yours look gorgeous Erin! Do you actually include all the shots, or do you edit down to the best? I’d imagine it would be pricey to do nearly 300 pages. We’ve ordered copies of ours for each of the kids, plus one for us and the grandparents. But our pages include multiple images, so it is only around 36 pages. Thanks for sharing your templates — I’m dying to try Blurb next year.

  • Jennifer

    I always looked forward to your photos and am thrilled to hear you’re going to be starting back up! :)

  • http://recoveringfirecracker.squarespace.com Trude

    Thanks Erin! I was thinking about not doing P365 next year, but I think you’ve convinced me to keep going. My first year was 2009 and it did amazing things for me personally as well as for my photography. At the end of last year I had all of them printed individually and put them into two albums and hand-wrote my notes from that day (as posted to Flickr). But this year I did the math and it’s actually cheaper to do a Blurb book, which I looove doing with their built-in software (because I’m too lazy to Photoshop all of them). Can’t wait to finish it up and have it in my hands! :)

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  • http://www.sweetbabybean.com Pamella

    Oh, I seriously love this idea! Thank you for this! I am taking the challenge! =)

  • http://www.thephotographybox.com/2010/11/fun-unique-gifts-for-photographer-in.html Amarie

    Great inspiration! Thank you!

  • http://rhonacs-lifeingeneral.blogspot.com Rhona Stevenson

    I followed a link from Kelly’s facebook page and I’m so glad I did. I’ve thought of doing the photo a day for a while but when I’ve missed a few days I’ve given up. You’ve just inspired me to start again as I have a new granddaughter and it would be such fun to document the first year of her life. Thank you for sharing your books and the templates you’ve offered for download. I now look forward to having my own book next year :) xx

  • http://reginamphotography.com Regina

    Oooh! I love this idea! :) I think I’ll give it a try come January!

  • Diem

    Your post is inspiring me to take a photo-a-day in 2011, and your templates will help me make my first blurb book. Thank you! Your books are beautiful.

  • http://www.lisacall.typepad.com Lisa

    I am definitely going to start this in January.

  • http://www.momandcamera.com GayleV

    I love creating photography books for my family each year. So fun to look back on the year and remember all the wonderful snippets of life I have been able to capture! And I LOVE Blurb for this. Great quality!!

  • http://www.503photography.com Jess

    Oh my, Erin! I love this so much. I am so happy you wrote this and gave such easy & practical steps so that we can do the same. Thank you, thank you!

  • http://flashbulbspurpleirises.wordpress.com/ Gwen

    I love the book idea!! I’m doing a project 365 this year, and I almost hate it. I mean, I love looking back at the captures, but I’m so Type A that I get stressed when I miss a day. I don’t know what I will do next year, I think I will aim for a photo a week instead. I don’t want to abandon it altogether (especially after reading your regrets for 2010), but I don’t want the pressure that I am feeling from it right now.

  • http://www.creativityinprogress.com/blog/ sunghee

    Lovely!!! I tried a photo a day this summer for the first time, but quit because I missed taking photos few days. It was not easy to remember to take photos everyday. But, after seeing your album, I’d like to try again. I can’t wait till 2011 to start!
    Thank you so much for sharing!

  • http://stacyberryphotography.com stacyberry

    awesome idea!!! i’ve considered doing something similar b/4 but knew I would fall behind and didn’t want to give me something else to beat myself up about. but i think 2011 is a very good starting point!! and start it off know that it doesn’t have to be perfect—missing days/weeks is ok!!! thanks for the inspiration!

  • http://diplofam.blogspot.com Carin

    you have inspired me to try this! I think it will take some discipline but as you said–totally worth it!
    Blessings,
    Carin

  • Jen

    Oh, I love it. I try to keep our blog updated, but since the addition of our 2nd child I have been slacking. Thank you for reminding my how important this is. I am excited to start a frame a day in January!

  • http://mytwinsforlife.blogspot.com Box of Chocolates

    Thanks so much for sharing this information. I think I’m going to do this. I started blogging about a year ago with the idea in my head I want to create books from it and all my other pictures for my children and ourselves as keepsakes. Fabulous!

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  • AmyC

    What a great gift you have with those books! I may just have to join you this year!

  • http://www.mykidscallmemom.blogspot.com Jamie M.

    I have been putting a book together for 2010, it is my first year and I love looking back at the earlier months of the year. I am looking forward to doing it again next year!!

  • http://www.overcomingbusy.com Marci@OvercomingBusy

    I am far from a frame a day but I do keep my pictures organized on my computer. I mark the ones I really like and then the first of December, I upload them to a photo site and make a book of the year and give it to the grandparents for Christmas —and I get one for myself :)