I wanted to write a post about the things I’ve learned working on Digital Project Life. Some of the rules apply to traditional scrapbooking, but my focus is on digital, since that’s how I roll. So without further ado, here’s my list:
- Stay current. I learned this in a workshop from Heidi Swapp fifteen years ago! If you’re always trying to catch up the past, you will always be behind. When you’re working on current stuff, you feel so much better about being in the here & now. You can actually remember what happened, and can write more detailed journaling about the current events.
- Make a listing of the weeks of the year you’re working on. I jump around a bit. Sometimes I am working on a current year and prior year simultaneously. I have a list of the weeks, and cross them off as I complete pages. I love drawing a line across a week with my Sharpie pen! Click here to see my post about this topic.
- Choose a style for your album, and stick to it. This is why I like to jump around between years. I love Anna Aspnes’ s art, but I also love Katie Pertiet’s art. In my current albums, I use Anna’s work. I love the feel of the abstract, and it just makes my heart happy. However, using only one style kind of cramps my creativity. So when working backward (as in my 2012 album), I use Katie Pertiet and other artists similar to her style. I also use the traditional Project Life layout. I want to keep it as simple as possible so that I can get more done in less time. I’d love to be completely caught up before I die. That’s a huge undertaking, as well as cost, but it’s a priority to me.
- Look at the photos you want to use before deciding on which layout you’re going to choose. There’s nothing worse than being limited by choosing the wrong layout, and forcing your photos to work, or eliminate photos you wanted to use. I’ve been in layouts before, and redesigned the shapes to fit what I wanted. Or at least get them more closely to what I wanted, then make the photo work. Fighting with a layout really hinders the flow of creating the page.
- Take some Photoshop classes. I started doing digital layouts in 2008 with Jessica Sprague. The cool thing about her courses is that you get to keep them forever. (Of course if her site ever disappeared that forever is a relative term.) But for now, all my classes are still out there. I’ve gone back and watched them multiple times to refresh my Photoshop knowledge, flow and style. Even when she recently revamped her site, all my classes have been archived, and I can still access them. I highly recommend her classes. Another good one to use is Kim Klassen. Her work is more associated with still life photography, but she is awesome for Photoshop and Lightroom tutorials!
- Take a photography class. With the iPhone so readily available, I’ll confess, I haven’t been using my Nikon D300s. That’s bad. I can barely work the thing anymore. I honestly need to take some beginner photography classes, just to fall in love with my Nikon again. I loved my D60, and when I upgraded, I never quite developed a good relationship with my D300s. It’s a total love/hate relationship. When I look at my work back in 2010/2011 when I was really into photography, I was good. I mean really good. I actually had people paying me to do their portraits. And now I’m lazy with that dang smart phone!
- Do not keep your drink next to your computer or keyboard. If that spills, you’re going to freak out & waste so much time cleaning up the mess & worrying about your computer! Keep it on a table, chair, or dresser next to you. So if it spills you only have to clean up your soda, water or cocktail.
- Use Google. I hate it when I see people write questions regarding Photoshop in threads. “How Do I blah blah blah in Photoshop?” OMG! I just want to scream USE GOOGLE to search that! You have an awesome resource at your fingertips that you can find answers to pretty much any Photoshop question out there. Also use youtube to learn stuff for free. If you can’t afford (or don’t want to pay for) Photoshop classes, youtube has stuff about anything and everything. It’s amazing. Use those resources, and don’t make people answer your Photoshop questions in threads. It’s a waste of everyone’s time. (Don’t get offended if you’ve done this… just make the switch!)
- Do join threads/sites to share your pages. I get so many ideas from other people’s layouts. Just being able to view them really gets you motivated to create. It’s also awesome to post your pages and have people comment on them. We take so much time & put so much of ourselves into these pages, that we need those comments to make us feel good about what we’ve created. Make sure to return the favor, and hit that “like” button, or leave a comment on other’s work. I try to make a rule that for every page I post, I need to leave that many comments on other’s work. I’m not the best at it, but I do try.
- Print your albums. Vint Cerf of Google warns us regarding computer file types becoming obsolete. With the way technology changes, we can’t always be confident that our .psd and .jpg files will be the standard forever (click here for the full article). Having a hard copy of your work is critical, and it also finalizes that accomplishment of finishing an album. I typically print albums for myself and each one of my kids. With there being six of us in total, it’s by no means cheap. I try to print them throughout the year (and always wait for a Blurb coupon), to spread the cost. If your kids are grown, you can always ask them to print their copies, and send them the link to purchase it.
I’m sure I have a lot more I could say regarding what I’ve learned while creating my Project Life albums, but I’ll save them for another blog post. I’m really excited to share my Week 2 layout for 2015. Yes, I’m behind, but I’m in the current year and using my list to keep track of where I’m at. For this week’s layouts, I used Anna Aspnes’ Art Play Palette “Sweet Pea.” I used little elements from other Palettes as well: “Frozen” “Generations” and “Love Story.” I’m loving Cathy Zielske’s Project Life layouts as well. I’m using Katie Pertiet’s “Counting Weeks” to label each week in my pages. I’m going for that more uniform look this year.
Feel free to drop me a link to your Project Life blog in the comments below, or any other tips you’ve learned and want to share about your experience working on Project Life.