Interview: Jessika’s New Zealand Photobook

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Jessika's New Zealand PhotobookI scrapbook my photos.  It’s my hobby and how I like to showcase my pictures.  Just because I scrapbook my photos doesn’t mean you have to.  If you do scrapbook, it doesn’t mean you have to use the same methods I do (or anyone else for that matter).

It’s more important that you do something with your photos no matter what that is.  I suspect sometimes people are overwhelmed by what other people do with their photos and then do nothing.

When my friend Jessika told me she finished a photobook for her New Zealand vacation, I asked her some questions about it.

When did you take the trip?

We took the trip in November of 2012. I have no excuse why I haven’t worked on the book until just recently. I think because we returned and immediately had to slip into “holiday-mode,” it was easy for me to put the book off. So, I think from now on, I’ll try to figure out when I’ll work on future books better. Having a set aside preferred time to do it maybe means it will be done sooner.

How long was it and where did you visit?

We visited New Zealand, and we were there for just under two weeks.

Why did you end up going with a photobook?

I scrapbooked for a little while, and I love how creative you can be with a scrapbook. However, I have other hobbies I love and I finally came to the realization that I could not also scrapbook. I also like having the option of reprinting a photobook should it get damaged. Finally, I like how quickly I can put a book together. It might not be as beautiful as a scrapbook, but it still holds the purpose that’s the most important to me: cataloging experiences and photos (before I lose the photos and the experiences become faded!). I also like that I can get the project done with and then the worry of losing photos disappears– I’ve captured everything in the book!

What are your feelings now that it’s finished?

Relief. Achievement. I feel like I’ve time capsuled a special trip before it faded too much.

What are your feelings re the amount of description you put with the photos?

My previous books… I’ve put in too much description. I’ve realized that I don’t need to document EVERYTHING. Some things just don’t need to be documented. And, in looking back at my old books, I described things in 20 sentences where I could have just used one to two sentences.

So, with this New Zealand book, I was very minimal about my descriptions. I think this will be harder to do when there are stories behind pictures, but I love how the NZ book turned out so much that I think I’ll keep with my short and sweet approach from now on. For example, we went to the Zealong Tea Plantation in NZ. The old me would have described it, then talked about the tea heater, then talked about what type of tea we drank and the weather and etc etc. Instead, in the book, I put in a large page-wide photo of the plantation, and then four pictures on the next page of us drinking tea and goofing off with bronze statues of teapots. The caption? “Zealong Tea Plantation.” With those pictures, further descriptors really weren’t necessary. And, as a result, the book looks cleaner.

Any thoughts on the tradeoffs between getting something finished versus spending more time on it?

For me, getting it finished was important. I worry about losing camera chips or computers dying with photos saved on them. I’m also passionate about my other hobbies, and there are only so many hours in the day to be crafty.

Doing a photobook with less wordy descriptions means that I finished more quickly and I included photos that were important, not filler. It’s also helped guide what types of photos I take on a trip, and to have a plan on when to photobook when we return.  This system works for me because I have other preferences– just stay true to what you want to do and what works out best for your worries and time allocations.

I love everything Jessika had to say about this.  She did something that worked for her.  I like how she realized she didn’t need to add descriptions ad nauseam.  Sometimes I worry that I’m not capturing everything about a story.  This reminds me that I don’t have to.

The point?  Whatever works for you is perfect.

Do you have a photo album, photobook, or scrapbook you worked on recently?  I’d love to talk with you about it!

Wood grain image courtesy Andrew Taylor via Creative Commons license.

At the Personal Digital Archiving Conference

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Photos by Natalie ParkerI wear all sorts of hats.  Last week I put on my Master’s student hat and headed to Indianapolis to learn more about Personal Digital Archiving.

Why a conference on personal digital archiving?  There has been a lot of study about institutions (think universities, companies) taking care of their digital assets.  Not a lot of attention has been paid to how regular people manage their own digital assets.  Your digital assets are photographs, email, blog posts, bank statements, text messages, tweets, facebook records, videos, you name it!

As a scrapbooker studying archives, this subject is the perfect intersection for me!  The area of study is new and people at the conference were talking about how to define and address the problem.  What are people doing about their digital assets?  Do they care more about some digital items than others?  How to we let people know about resources that can help?

I met all sorts of great people!  I ran into another Master’s student/scrapbooker and we chatted about scrapbooking and her project to scan old family photos.  I chatted with a professor and someone from the Library of Congress about current trends in memory keeping — this included explaining what Project Life is and showing them examples of pocket page scrapbooking on my tablet.  I didn’t go to the conference thinking I was going to talk so much about scrapbooking, but the subjects are very intertwined.  Stephanie‘s dissertation on scrapbooking also came up.

What does all this mean?  I’m not sure yet but this is only the beginning for me on this subject.  I want to make sure I get out the word on some great resources I learned about that are geared toward regular people.

Do you have any questions on this subject?  Did you know people studied this?  Do you feel like you’ve got a handle on your digital belongings (it’s okay to say no, research shows most people don’t)?

Collecting Memories, Not Things

Antarctica by Natalie Parker 8Spring has sprung and April is clean-out month at my house.  Any time we have for housework we are spending cleaning out closets, cabinets, and our garage.

What a difference a few years make.  How our priorities in life have changed.

We collect memories, not things.  We choose to live in a smaller place with less room for “stuff.”  Our smaller home lets us live closer to fun things in our neighborhood and saves us money so we can go out and create memories.

I used to dream about saving all of my books so I could have a Belle library one day.  Every bookish girl dreams of having her own library.  I was holding onto a lot of books I won’t read again just to have a big collection.  Why do I need a collection just for the sake of having a collection?

Buy a big house with a library for all of these books?  Or save the money to go on another adventure?  I’d choose the adventure.  Every time.

I didn’t throw out all my books.  But I did decide I’m only keeping what can fit on the shelf.  I’m amazed that Mr. P feels the same way.  He’s not pressuring me to get rid of things and I’m not pressuring him.  We both have a clear sense of what matters to us.

When I’m old, I don’t think I’m going to look back fondly at the bookcase.  I’m going to remember the great memories we created.  The books are just an example.  We attacked the garage and our office closet.  The bathroom and hall closets are next.  Our bedroom closet and clothes got the treatment in January.

It’s hard to get rid of things that are perfectly good.  The solution?  We try to sell, donate, or give things to friends.  We have a favorite charity store in town, plus another store that takes paper goods and scrapbooking supplies I won’t use.  We are much more mindful now about what we will bring into the house.  Do we really need it?  They were giving away hats at the baseball game, but do we need them?  Will we use them?

I’ve read many places that we get more value out of experiences than things.  It’s taken us a while to realize it but I emphatically agree.  There’s a lightness that we feel when we have space to grow.  Space to grow and places to go.

 

Scrapbook Layout: Bowl Game

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Bowl Game Scrapbook by Natalie ParkerBowl Game Scrapbook by Natalie ParkerBowl Game Scrapbook by Natalie ParkerBowl Game Scrapbook by Natalie ParkerThe Story: Less than 24 hours in Vegas.  We went on a whim, following our team.  We both had demanding jobs at the time.   We managed to find a flight that left after work on the day of the game and a flight home in time for work the next day.

Ephemera I didn’t use: The second pic above is of all the stuff I saved from the trip.  I don’t use every piece of ephemera I save.  It’s important to me to include some ephemera but I don’t force myself to use all of it.

Experimenting with the Headline: I tried not to make everything so BLUE AND GOLD.  Not sure I love the result but the exercise was fun.  I like the fonts and how the score is there.

Lots of Type: It was challenging to get the entire story on the page.  But 24 hours in Vegas?  I had to explain how that worked.

Bowl Game Scrapbook by Natalie Parker

Font: Century Gothic (main headline), Cambria (sub-headlines), Microsoft Yi Baiti (story) | Tools: Silhouette SD (headline), Epson Stylus R2000 (photos) | Supplies: Epson Semigloss Photo Paper (photos) | Keepsakes Included: Game tickets, room key.

Springtime in Paris

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Flowers booming along wrought-iron fence in St .Germain de Pres, Paris by Natalie ParkerView out an apartment window in Paris by Natalie ParkerBread, butter, ham and champagne in Paris by Natalie ParkerRue Maurice Utrillo in Montmarte, Paris by Natalie ParkerReading Hemingway in Paris by Natalie ParkerReading in Les Jardins des Tuleries in Paris, by Natalie ParkerBlooming trees outside Notre Dame, Paris by Natalie ParkerParkers at a Champagne bar by Natalie ParkerMr. P and I spent last weekend in Paris because . . . why not?  We lucked out with the weather.  It was mild, the sun was out, and everything was blooming.

Thinking back to my post last week about the “right” amount of pictures to take on a vacation, how did I do?  I’m giving myself a B+ here.  We’ve been to Paris many times now, so I only took pictures occasionally.  I ended up with about 260 which I cut down to 132 after we got home.

I still wish I got more pictures of us during our trips.  Mr. P and I are painfully shy, so I only get up the nerve to ask someone to get our picture once or twice.

Le sigh.  Paris is easily my favorite city in the world.  I’m already missing the bread.

I’m on Paperclipping Roundtable!

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Noelle graciously invited me to be a guest at Paperclipping Roundtable again!  This time the topic was scrapbooking college.  Click here to listen to the show.

I have an album for each year I was in college.  I blogged while making my senior year album, you can see all the posts and completed pages here.  At the end of the show, I promised to scan and show the albums from the first three years.  I’ll have to get on that!

The show made me take a step back and think a lot about scrapbooking a college experience.  I will write more about it in the future, but feel free to ask me questions if you have any!

Scrapbook Layout: Big Game

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Big Game Scrapbook Layout by Natalie ParkerBig Game Scrapbook Layout by Natalie ParkerBig Game Scrapbook Layout by Natalie ParkerBig Game Scrapbook Layout by Natalie ParkerThe Story: the annual football game between my alma mater and her arch rival.  This is the game we throw the tailgate for and this page sits opposite the layout for the tailgate.  It’s actually called The Big Game in case you wanted to know.

Repeating the Headline: I liked the headline so much from the tailgate that I repeated it here.  It makes everything matchy matchy.

Not Great Photos: I don’t have great photos from the game, but three was enough and I sized them to work with the ticket and newspaper pieces.

Newspaper: There is one newspaper photo I cut out plus a long headline that runs up the side.

Stripes: I reused the stripe motif that I have on other layouts from this football season (here and here).  It ties everything together nicely!

Big Game Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

Font: Bebas | Tools: Silhouette SD (headline), Epson Stylus R2000 (photos) | Supplies: Epson Semigloss Photo Paper (photos) | Keepsakes Included: Newspaper photo and headline, game ticket.

Taking the “Right” Amount of Photos on Vacation

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Paris Vacation Photos by Natalie ParkerI was chatting with a friend this week about how to take the “right” amount of pictures on a vacation.  I could totally say “do what works for you,” but that’s not really helpful, is it?  If you’re someone who will later use your vacation photos for an album or scrapbook, here’s what I think.

If you take too few photos: you may find later that you don’t have much to work with album-wise (whether it’s a scrapbook, photo book or something else).  Don’t feel like you have to take pictures all the time, but maybe make sure you snap a few per day or per location and don’t forget to get at least one picture of yourself and travel companions together.

If you take too many photos: memory card space is cheap and it’s really tempting to snap away and figure it out later.  Mr. P used the multiple exposure setting in Antarctica.  When we got home, I had 2-3 shots of each photo.  A huge amount of photos can be very very overwhelming when you want to make an album and may make you avoid starting it.  If you end up with a ton of photos, make sure you sit down within one week of getting home to do a first cull.  Delete anything that’s blurry or bad.  If you have 2-3 of a shot, make a quick decision and keep one.  This way your set will be a bit tidier when you want to make an album.  It’s very hard to find the time and desire to go through photos right after vacation but trust me, if you have a ton, you should do it!  You won’t regret it!

How do you find that Goldilocks amount?  (as in, “just right”)  Practice, practice, practice.  I’ve had vacations with too few and too many photos.  When I do that initial cull right after I get back, I think about what worked and what didn’t.  I’m getting a lot better at getting the shots I want to get and knowing how to frame them.  I’ll take fewer but better ones.  I don’t think I’ll ever be perfect at it!

Scrapbook Layout: Football Tailgate

Football Tailgate Scrapbook by Natalie ParkerFootball Tailgate Scrapbook by Natalie ParkerFootball Tailgate Scrapbook by Natalie ParkerThe story: A massive tailgate that Mr. P and I throw every other year for a football game.  This one in 2005 was the first one that was documented (it’s a long story).

Just photos:  Again, this is a school-colors event, so my color options are limited.  I decided to not overwhelm the page with blue and gold and instead focused on the photos.

Vertical headline: I like how it kind of feels like a banner down the side of the page.  It’s very similar to the headline I did for the Bonfire page just a layout earlier.  I figured it would be nice and themey.

Handwriting: Ever have that moment when you wrote more than you allowed space for?  That’s what happened here.  Not a huge deal but I do love minor details.

Football Tailgate Scrapbook by Natalie Parker

Fonts: Bebas | Tools: Silhouette SD (headline), Epson Stylus R2000 (photos) | Supplies: Epson Semigloss Photo Paper (photos) | Keepsakes Included: None.

On Being “Behind”

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2004 Scrapbook Title Page by Natalie ParkerI’m a chronological scrapbooker.

Then that means I’m always “behind,” right?  Right.  And I’m okay with that.

Scrapbooking is a hobby.  It is not meant to cause stress.*  Period.

I actually find hindsight useful.  Yes, there is something interesting about capturing things as they happen.  I really value the perspective that I gain with time.  I  add details to pages I wouldn’t be able to without hindsight.

Perspective also helps me let go of excess ephemera.  If I scrapbooked my wedding within the first year, it would be twice as large and I wouldn’t have been able to part with the excess stuff I was saving.

Context is also a big deal to me.  The events in my life don’t happen in a vacuum.  I like being able to see everything from one year together — everything in life informs everything else.

Yes, I do want to make a dent in my scrapbooking so the number of years of lag time I have isn’t quite as large.  It’s really about space though.  Mr. P would like to see fewer boxes in the closet.

Some people report changing away from chronological scrapbooking so they don’t have that nagging feeling of being behind.  I’m embracing it.  I love going through a mini time capsule for a year years after it happens.  It’s so much fun!

This is what works for me.  Do what works for you!

*Except when I have an episode with my photo printer.  That is indeed stress-inducing. 

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