The Holiday Story in a Photo Book

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

In January we had a week's holiday staying in a beach house in Pauanui in the Coromandel Peninsula. It's the 4th January we've been there (plus a few other times during the year), and the third time we've stayed at this particular place.

I've recorded previous trips there in my Project Life pages, but before we went this time, I'd decided I wanted to make a photo book. Because I had the idea in advance, I was more conscious of capturing moments and the essence of what we love about our holidays there.

Let's be honest, I also knew that I wanted to have an excuse to take photos... and lots of them. I don't know what it is about a different location and being in holiday mode, but it just seemed I saw beauty and great photo opportunities everywhere. The rainy days just added to the magic. And how do you beat getting up to watch the sun rise?

I used my Canon in manual mode for 300+ 'keeper' photos and kept about 70 from my iPhone, plus the others gave me a few they took of me to help me add more of me to the story.

I was definitely in my happy place there and once we got home, I was aware of getting my book made while it was all still fresh in my mind. Just over a week later it was in my hands.

How do you decide which company to use?
I chose Artifact Uprising because I've used them multiple times before. The first time was based on online recommendations and once I looked at their website and philosophy, I felt they were right for me. I love the feel of their pages and soft covers and their choice of sizes. I used their variety of page layouts to make the job simple. I felt there was no need to complicate the process with re-inventing the wheel, or adding any words or embellishment.

Choosing a book size.
I must admit this one was tricky and the final decision was based on the price, however 2 book sizes were the same price. I ended up going 6x8 portrait because I've used that size previously and I think the same size of specialty photo books sitting together on a shelf will work for us. My intention is to make the same size books for several other trips we've had to other places.

How do you decide what to include and the format/order? 
In the end I just went with the flow. The week was a series of rainy days and sunny days and most days the activities were the same so I just made pages in sort of that order and revised it a few times. Then I pushed order before I could fiddle with it any more. These are some faves.



Apart from the where, what and why words on the intro page and the final page, there are 86 pages of photos only, so it's basically a photo narrative. I love it and a sure sign of success is that my husband took it to work to show a colleague.

It was an investment. Our NZ dollar is awful against the USD at the moment and the postage was more than the book, but I feel it's a souvenir. I would readily have paid this amount for a painting or print to bring home in the past.

Apart from this photo book, there are some photos I want to use as wall prints and so I'm pricing special prints at the moment. I'll be sure to let you see how that project turns out.

Thanks for stopping by:)

OLW | A little practice challenge

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


If you're participating in the One Little Word workshop, you'll know what the February prompt is all about. I'm not going to explain it here, because that would be inappropriate, however I'm going to share what I've set for myself to do during Feb. It's all about practice. I've explained before that my word this year is voice and my reasons for choosing this.

I felt it would be a perfect opportunity to spend a month photographing using my DSLR camera.

In typical Donna fashion, I thought up too many complicated challenges for myself, then in a moment of clarity, I decided to keep it really simple.

Photograph and choose 1 photo per day which evokes an emotion.

Why? Because I want to focus on finding my visual voice, and in particular, my photography style. I'm obviously passionate about photographing "the everyday", because this captures our lives and who we are. But I have a much deeper connection to certain photos and a lot of those are really nothing to do with my everyday moments.

They are more about connecting with the magic in my everyday... things that spark emotion or joy. It may be something as simple as colour, lines in the shadows, the fluttering lacey leaves. Some days it may be the connection between my daughter and our dog or simply the way the light falls on the dogs ears.

From my enormous collection of inspirational words, today I chose this quote which will be my guide for the month:

"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy." RUMI

It's only Day 2 of this 29 day challenge. So far I've surprised myself with the 2 photos I've chosen. They are probably not the ones which tell the story best. Yesterday I kept 6 of the photos I took at the marina. I chose this one because I was captivated by the light sparkling on the sea.

Today I walked past this hibiscus again. I remember photographing this one day last year. I adore the colours within the flowers but also the contrast between the flowers and the blue sky.. I used my 50mm lens today and love this capture. It was a competition between this one and seagulls on the reef at the beach, so I'm surprised this one touched my heart more!

It'll be interesting for me to see if any pattern emerges during the month. I hope so because it's the direction I'm looking for.

Thanks for stopping by.

Some thoughts on changing my Project Life style

Monday, January 25, 2016


Hello! I haven't been here to share anything for a while. We had a fantastic week's summer holiday at the beach and I've been trying to preserve the relaxed feeling since we returned home.

I haven't shared any Project Life pages for a while. I'm still tidying up the last of 2015 and I made a start on this year's pages with the intention of simplifying everything even more. Something has been niggling away at me again... as it has done before, so I've stalled on progress while I figure out what I want to do.

Then I saw Becky Higgins posts on Instagram yesterday. If you've been following her you'll know she's working through how she wants to memory keep from here on, as she has amassed ...138, yes, 138 albums already! I have absolutely nowhere near that amount and I'm already concerned about storage and more importantly, what I leave behind for my children. Yes, history is important, but as they are in their teens, I've observed that they want to downsize their belongings.

With house prices and rents so high where we live, space is probably going to be a premium when they move out of home and they won't want to be storing multiple albums. My daughter has been working on some of her own memory keeping and I've even noticed some changes in that over the year. Less is more.

As I sat here yesterday, it dawned on me that I need to seriously look at a more intentional way of recording our lives. Some things and little moments will always be important to me but endless repeat photos and just making pretty pages for the sake of making something seems meaningless to me too.

I probably sound like a worn out record on this. I had these same internal struggles and gave up traditional scrapbooking years ago because it was just creating too much stuff. I know not everyone will agree with me and of course, memory keeping is very personal and each to their own. I do respect this.

So yesterday, I thought, why haven't I swapped to photo books as I've talked about in the past? I've always liked to look at the finished physical pages as I go, but I think I'm ready to make the change now. Slim books printed at the end of the year and which will sit side by side on a shelf. It just seems so obvious now.

And then there's the how. Which size? Which company?  Use the Project Life App? Or mix it up?

So many choices but it's all exciting to me. And there's my answer in the word exciting. I need to be excited about any project to keep invested in it.

I do know this. From here, I'm focused on photography and memories. I think I have my plan sorted. Stay tuned for more news! I'd love to hear your thoughts on this too.




Project Life 16 | Cover page

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Boom. Just like that my cover page is completed. I've made similar cover pages each year in this very minimal design.

I must admit I woke up this morning semi dreaming that I should be using the Project Life App this year! Where did that come from? I think it would be a nice simple idea and I could make pages on the run, but I have product and album space to use up and so this year, I'll be continuing the regular way but in 9x12 size. I'll be mainly using Design F trimmed down but I've collected a variety of other pages I can adapt or use as inserts.

I've used a similar format for all my cover pages so far. Here's 2015 and 2014.

Products Used:
Becky Higgins Project Life Page F (trimmed)
Becky Higgins Everyday Edition  (including sticker embellishments)

Project Life is a system for memory keeping by Becky Higgins.

Thanks for stopping by.

One Little Word 2016 | Getting started

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


This is the most exciting part of the year for me. The beginning, a fresh page and always so inspired. For me the New Year is always a holiday period and the weather outside is usually too darn hot, or raining, so perfect to get all my projects kicked off for the year.

The biggie for me for the last 4 years has been getting my One Little Word sorted out because I try to let the work on this first month's prompt guide me for my other projects.

This year the inspiration has been charging at me! My word is voice and already it's had some surprising impact.

Here's a look at how I've set up my album. I've gone with a monthly divider idea as Ali has in the official album but I'm using Project Life Design I cut down (removing the top pocket makes it 4x8 or 2 4x4 pockets. My intention is to use one of my self-portraits each month, since photography is there among my word and intentions.  Each month I'll use one of the many quotes I've already gathered. I love finding words that really speak to me and this one from the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is no exception. I'm planning to put this one on my wall.

Because the tabs Ali used are not available in NZ and others are expensive and not my taste, I'm making my own. I posted a tutorial on how I do this here.

I'm also using the packaging sticker and cards which came with my Get To Work book in my album because they are great little inspirational fillers.

Lastly, I made a divider for the back of the album to keep any relevant inspiration I come across. There's already pages torn from a magazine and highlighted and words from a book which are meaningful. I love that it will all be housed in one place - a complete working manual.

Album is a 6x8 Becky Higgins Project Life album.

I hope you're making progress and a fresh start to the year!

Donna xx

Steps to a Fresh Start

Sunday, January 3, 2016


2016 has arrived and I'll be honest, it didn't start on the happy, positive note I'd imagined. While we were out having dinner on New Year's Eve, after seeing the film Joy (which by the way was great), we got a message from home advising the downstairs loo was blocked. Argh... not good news at any time but especially not late on NY Eve! On arriving home, we realised it was a major and not an easy fix. The mood completely changed. Meanwhile the weather had packed in. We woke to rain and wind on New Year's Day. It's summer here folks. We love spending our blue sky, sunny New Year's Days outside.

I sat there and wondered how I could turn my negative start into a positive. It all starts with a shift in attitude. Finding the magic in my everyday. Super-hubby fixed the blocked toilet and I knew that eventually the weather would clear. My garden would be well watered AND there would be an opportunity to satisfy my obsession for photographing the magic after the rain, the results are these photos. Meanwhile, it was an opportunity to work on my intentions for 2016.

I read this post and some of it resonated with me immediately. I sat down and mapped out a clearer direction. I've been working hard on myself and my direction over the last couple of years. Last year I feel I neglected my blog somewhat. As part of my fresh start and more focused direction, I intend to share my journey more here this year. By nature, I tend to keep a lot to myself, but part of my OLW work with my word voice means this is the perfect place to keep my thoughts, inspiration and progress, and I might just inspire some of you out there too. That would be cool.

There are some quite simple steps I took to clarifying my direction. If you're struggling to find what it is you want to be doing, you're not alone.

I've always loved this quote:
"Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it". Julia Child

1. CLARIFY
What is it you really love and want to do? What excites you and makes your heart race thinking about it? What are you happy to work on regardless of the day? What will bring joy to your life?

For me this means photography and finding my style and direction within that. Part of that means pursuing finding the magic in my everyday. I have lots of exciting ideas to share in time. Of course, I'm still going to be creating projects from those photos to share as well.

2. FOCUS
Narrow down what it is you need to do. Consider what, why and how. What's essential to carry on with your vision.

For me this meant working through many brainstorming sessions to work out the why and the how. I needed to narrow a few things down and put in a simple format for clarity of my mind. It helped, it really did.

3. BE OPEN
...to learning, to experimenting, to exploring ideas, to accepting new ideas, to realising it's not all going to be a piece of cake. To accepting that nothing beats darn hard work and commitment.

4. JUST START
There's no time like today. Go on, you can do it!

or you might identify more with the short version I wrote in my journal...

MAKE IT HAPPEN
KEEP IT SIMPLE
MAINTAIN FOCUS AND CLARITY
ENJOY THE JOURNEY

What's your focus for 2016?

Thanks for stopping by. Donna xx




On finding my VOICE

Thursday, December 31, 2015


As I sit here with a slight breeze blowing in my office window, I hear the voices of 2 little boys playing next door and smile at their chatter and their relationship with their grandparents.

It occurred to me that this is my One Little Word VOICE in action. Communication and each with their own individuality.  Already, a day before the 2016 workshop begins, my word has pushed and pulled me. I sat down and tried to think out roughly why I chose this word and what my intentions are for the new year.

Originally I wanted to find my visual voice, in particular my photography. It's become such a passion that I contemplated studying photography in 2016, but in the end, I feel I'm making great progress on my own and in conjunction with other studies and research. I mean, honestly, 6 months ago I almost exclusively used my DSLR on an auto mode. I found it too overwhelming to select the correct functions fast and so took the easy way out. One day my son said "Mum, just put it on manual and never go back. You'll figure it out." And because I can't let my son get that over me, I did just that and I have figured a lot out. Trouble is, you realise, the more you figure out, the more you realise there is to learn!

When I wondered what sort of photographer I might be, should I be say, a professional... I was a little stumped. There are so, so many directions one could take. What excites me most? When it comes down to it, I'm most drawn to editorial photography. But within that what is my style? Well, I'm going to have fun exploring and experimenting.

It's not all about visual though. I realise that there's my written voice, my oral voice, and my inner voice; all of equal importance. It will be an interesting year figuring out what my style is and listening to my gut.

Once again I'm going with a 6x8 album for this workshop, but I've started a new album and I want to add in research and notes, as well as the monthly prompt work from Ali. It'll be very much a working manual.

Very much excited to commence this new year. As I say goodbye to 2015, I'm sad to end my year on the Becky Higgins Creative Team 2015, but pleased to have a new direction. I will of course, still be doing Project Life. I also have a plan for a project which involves photography and probably all I've learned on my OLW journey over the last 3 years:) I feel a sense of freedom and freshness entering 2016. Long may that feeling last!

If you're doing the One Little Word workshop, I'd love to hear your words. Today a potential word for 2017 popped up! (insert big eyed emoji). That's getting a bit ahead of myself.

Wherever you are have a very happy and safe New Year.

Donna xx




 
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