Each Tuesday, I typically share my most recent spread as well as host a linky for readers to link up their pictures/layouts. This week, instead of showing a bunch of layouts, I am answering YOUR Project Life questions. These questions were submitted here on the blog, on Facebook and via email. This post is LONG, but hopefully it helps give you a bit more perspective about my favorite form of memory keeping and how I approach it.
What exactly is Project Life?
This video does a great job of explaining Project Life.
Let’s break it down:
- core kit: $29.99
- Big pack of page protectors: $29.99
- Journaling pens: $5.99 (you’ll need at least two to get you through the year)
- Photos – 365 4×6 prints: $70 (This could vary greatly if you print at home, take advantage of printing deals, incorporate larger prints in your album, etc.)
- Album– $19.99 (though these always go 50% off at local scrapbook stores)
Total cost: $155.96, or $2.99 per week – Now this is the bare minimum, of course. You will incur additional costs for buying a variety of page protectors for your stash, adding additional embellishments (unless you have them already), etc. You can certainly save some money if you buy the digital kit and then print your own cards, but honestly, the time and ink of doing that makes it seem like it would be a wash, in my opinion.
Personally, I think $156 for something that is going to be passed down to generations AND IS FUN is totally worth it. Scrapbooking has never been a super cheap hobby ($1 for a single piece of cardstock?! $5.99 for thickers?!), but it is one that has changed my perspective on how I view the world, and for that I am so thankful.
One reader said that to do Project Life digitally and then print the book, it cost her $135. So, I would say it is pretty equal, especially when you figure that you can get print deals + albums at Michaels for around $10. (For another breakdown of the digital cost of Project Life, check out Sheri’s post.)
How much do you spend a month on Project Life?
I don’t know, but based on the number above, I would guess it works out to about $20-$30 a month. Some months would be more (if I am buying supplies) and some months would be less, but I think that is a good range. (You will notice this works out to be more than the cost outlined above. That is because I use a variety of page protectors sizes, print from home (which is more expensive) and buy extra stickers, cards, etc. for my album.)
Do you have a station set up so you can leave it all out?
I am so thankful that in our new home, I have a craft room where I am able to leave everything out.
When you do a mass print when you are behind how do you print the different sizes, do you plan the layouts of each one you are behind on and then print?
Yes, I plan out the layouts and then print multiple weeks at one time. It is so gratifying to get those photos in the album that I insert all of them at one time, and then go back and do the journaling.
I plan my layouts by making very simple sketches of my layouts, the page protectors I am going to use, etc
Do you edit all your photos?
If you mean color correct, etc. no, not usually. I just don’t have the time. If you mean edit to format for my album (ie: crop to 3×4, 6×12, etc.) then yes. I use Photoshop Elements for all my editing.
What is the best way to organize the pictures that you want to print from a week?
This is what works for me. In addition to saving my photos in a folder for the year, I have a folder on my drive labeled Project Life.
In it, there are folders for each year (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
In each year there is a folder for each week. (ie: Week 1: January 1-5; Week 2: Jan. 6-12. I include week labels in front of the date so that they line up chronologically)
In each week I copy all the photos I want to use.
I then create a print folder and a used folder.
Photos that I am going to use as is in 6×4 or 4×6 size, I place in the print folder immediately. Edited photos (ie: pages that are two 3×4 photos on a 6×4 template) also go in the print folder.
The original photos go in the used folder.
When I have completed this, I then upload everything in the print folder to my photo developer.
Man, this is a tough question. Last year was the first year I had a photo printer at home. I used it to print the majority of my photos for Project Life. Without question, I don’t think I would have stayed on top of my album as much as I did, nor would I have had the diversity of photo sizes in my album. (Last year was my fourth year doing Project Life and it was the FIRST TIME I completed my album. I am confident this would not have happened had I not had a photo printer.)
That said, it is more expensive to print from home. So you have to figure out if the additional cost is worth it. Cost is going to vary based on your printer and the kind of ink it requires.
What do you recommend for printing Instagram pictures?
I print Instagrams in two sizes – 2×2 and 4×4. If I am printing 2×2, then I copy the instagram from Webstagram and paste it into a page in Photoshop (you can fit 6 instagrams on a 6×4 template. If I am printing 4×4, then I save the photo from my phone, then put it on a 6×4 template in Photoshop.
There are services that will print your instagrams for you, but I have never used them.
For more instagram tips, read this post I wrote last year specifically about Project Life and Instagram.
How long does a layout takes you and how you tackle —if you break it into steps or do it in one chunk?
I would say a layout – from selecting photos all the way to my finished spread takes me 3 hours. Most weeks, I break it into two chunks. The first chunk is for planning my layout, selecting photos, uploading, printing, etc. The second chunk is when I actually do the layout, the journaling cards, embellishments, etc.
What extras do you include in your Project Life album?
I love to include tickets from events, my kids’ artwork and special cards. For a list of 100 extras you can add to your Project Life album download this free printable list I created last year. It will surely spark your creativity.
Are the Project Life plastics safe for photos?
Yes. The products are acid-free and archival safe.
What page protectors do you use most frequently?
What kit are you using this year?
I am using Seafoam for my family 2013’s album (my kit arrived yesterday!).
I am using the childhood Wellington and Bridgeport kits to work on redoing my college albums (my photos were all in those awful sticky albums). I have already started on this project and am so excited to share it with you. In 3 hours this weekend I tore apart three sticky albums and got all the photos in Project Life page protectors + the journaling cards inserts. The album is coming together beautifully – and quickly!
I am planning to use Olive for creating a heritage album with some old photos that I have from my ancestors.
Is there hope for me if I get behind in the whole process? Any way to be organized enough not to get behind?
Yes, there is hope if you get behind. My keys to success:
- Staying on top of my photos. Download them to your computer. Organize them by week. The biggest time suck for me is that part, so if you can at least do that, catching up isn’t so hard.
- Take notes of your weeks – during or after the week has happened. I find that when I am behind, it so helpful to go back to a little journal I keep just for Project Life to see notes I wrote from the week. The notes are very simple – “Safety week at school. Adeline diagnosed with RSV” etc. These little memory jogs make for a more personal, engaging album.
- If possible, block out a large chunk of time to catch up. I got to be several months behind and was able to catch up because I blocked out several 2-3 hour sessions where I could work on my album.
- Participate in my weekly Project Life Tuesday link-up. The accountability of that weekly link-up has been a huge motivation for me to stay on track.
I do both. I add my favorite photos to my Project Life album and I also make a photo book. (I typically make photo books for vacations and the kids birthdays.)
Do you have any digital tips for Project Life?
I have never done a digital Project Life album, so can’t be much help there. I recommend Jessica Sprague’s website for digital tips.
Can Project Life replace a baby book?
I see my Project Life family album as something totally separate from a baby book. With the way I do it, I could not see one replacing the other (though when we only had Elias, there were A LOT of weeks that were just cute pictures of him. The way I do Project Life (and the most common approach, I think) is to document our family’s week, every week. Photos range from piles of laundry to the kids in the sandbox.
A baby album is really the place for recording all those sweet milestones and special firsts. I like the idea of that being stand-alone. (I will be creating Adeline’s first year album using the new Project Life Baby Kit and will be sure to share it here on the blog!)
What kind of camera/gear do you use?
We are fortunate to have two SLRS – a Canon 40D and a Canon EOS Rebel T3i .
We also take a lot of photos with our iPhones.
Why Project Life over traditional scrapbooking?
I was a traditional scrapbooker for years. I love the process of starting with a bunch of products and creating a beautiful layout + telling a story. That said, I always felt behind. I never felt like enough of my photos got into albums. I would spend 2 hours often on only documenting a few photos or one event.
Project Life enables me to document many more stories, get many of my photos in albums and share a more complete picture of our family’s life. The kits are beautiful and versatile and the system really works for my busy life.
I truly believe that Project Life has changed my memory keeping life.
What additional Project Life questions do you have? And if you have Project Life pages to share, please link up below!