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Hybrid Project Life Album Process

At the end of last year I was feeling burnt out on scrapbooking.

Don’t get me wrong, I love our community and this hobby. I’m in it for the long haul and am excited to see how our industry evolves in the decades to come. But after 8 years of creating (much of it on display for the world), I was tired of the anxiety I continued to feel.

I’m planning on digging into this further at the next Simple Scrapper Live, but I have some serious handwriting hang-ups.

While I do wholeheartedly believe in embracing imperfection, I have to be having what I call “a good handwriting day” to complete a scrapbook page. If I’m not, my brain and hands don’t work well enough together to make the letters.

This challenge has led to me creating less consistently than I really wanted. I have stories to tell and time keeps on passing.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

In this new post I’m sharing more about my decision to do hybrid Project Life pages in 2017 and the process I’m using to make spreads. I’m even including a peek at my first pages with this approach.

Why I Switched to Hybrid Project Life for 2017

In last week’s Simple Scrapper Live I shared the three reasons why hybrid scrapbooking makes sense for me in 2017. Hopefully my story above explains a little bit more about the anxiety I feel about handwriting and scrapbooking.

I’ve embedded the video here, in case you haven’t already watched the 15-minute segment.

Beyond that stress was also a need to switch things up for variety’s sake. I’d been doing pocket pages consistently since 2011, but only used my computer for the journaling a few times.

While I certainly don’t lack for Project Life supplies, when the idea for hybrid popped into my head I instantly felt relief. It just made sense in my current season of life.

How I Use Lightroom for Project Life

You don’t need to use Lightroom (or any photo management software) to do Project Life the hybrid way, but it is a key part of my process.

Step #1: Organize Assets
I started by creating a collection set for Project Life 2017 and another collection set for each month (02_February, for example). Then within that collection set I have three collections: Plan, Cards, 3×4 Photos. The Plan collection is my working folder of candidate images and supplies. Final choices get dragged to the appropriate collection for ease of printing (see Step #3).

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

Step #2: Plan Spread Design
I set up a Lightroom print template that matched Project Life Design A so that I could visually plan out my spread.

Download Project Life Design A Lightroom print template.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

(click to enlarge)

I love being able to drag photos and supplies into each cell until I get a composition I’m happy with.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

Step #3: Print Photos
With all of my assets selected, I started the process of printing. My 4×6 images were printed directly from Lightroom. My 3×4 images were collaged 2-up using a Lightroom print template and then printed from Photoshop.

Download 2-up 3×4 on 4×6 Lightroom print template.

Step #4: Export, Journal, and Print Cards
Printing of the journaling cards is similar, but requires one extra step. I started with a print template where I could collage my supplies onto an 8.5×11 canvas. These pages were exported as JPG and brought into Photoshop. I journaled directly on the large images before sending them to my printer.

Download Lightroom print template for 4×6 and 3×4 cards.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

(click to enlarge)

Tool Tip: The photos were printed on Canon 4×6 Semi-Gloss Photo Paper Plus with my Canon PIXMA Pro-100. The journaling cards were printed on Epson Double-sided Premium Presentation Paper Matte and cut apart with my Rotatrim Paper Cutter.

My 2017 Project Life Pages (So Far)

We were well into 2017 when this approach finally clicked for me. I didn’t want to get started with a new album just because the calendar turned over to January, so I waited it out.

After seeing some beautiful hybrid pages on Instagram and thinking “I wish I could have that clean look.”, I took the plunge. This spread took about 90 minutes in total.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

(click to enlarge)

I used five 4×6 photos and three 3×4 photos, along with three 4×6 cards and five 3×4 cards. All photos were from my phone and edited with Lightroom. The black and white images were also processed with RadLab using Milk and Cookies.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

My biggest surprise with this new process was how much more I typed than I would write by hand. It took me back to my days of digital scrapbooking, where I admit, I told more involved stories.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

My Ali Edwards Story Kit embellishments are some of my favorites, so being a scrapbooker, I had to add just a few to complete the page.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

It was fun to be reminded that I only need my printer in order create “patterned paper” for scrapbooking. While doing that on a large scale is not efficient, for these small pocket it makes a ton of sense.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

I see Project Life as a snapshot of our life through my eyes. My layouts will often include different perspectives, but these pages are more “mine” than the others. I’m thinking of including a selfie each month.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

I’m just as guilty as anyone about making scrapbooking more complicated than it needs to me. The simplicity of this card in particular reminded me of what I value most in this hobby.

Questions to Ask about Hybrid Project Life

My approach to creating hybrid Project Life pages in 2017 won’t be for everyone. If you’re intrigued, however, it is my hope that you pause to ask yourself why. What might need to change so that you can feel even more excited to create? Here are some good questions:

  • What reasons do you have to make a change?
  • Do you have the technical skills or are you willing to learn?
  • Is there an even-better option?

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

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How to Start Digital Scrapbooking

I recently hosted two live broadcasts on Facebook about digital scrapbooking. The first focused on the “state of the craft” and how digital fits into the larger industry. The second connected my new rules of scrapbooking to digital crafting, focusing on how the choices you make can lead to feeling unmotivated.

Both were geared more towards women who have some experience with digital scrapbooking, so I wanted to take a moment to step back and focus on how to get started with this approach. Here are some of the basics to help you start digital scrapbooking:

How to Start Digital Scrapbooking

What is digital scrapbooking?

Digital scrapbooking is the creative process of uniting photos, words, and supplies using your computer. The end result can look much like a traditional scrapbook page or quite different, depending on the scrapbooker’s tastes and preferences.

Where can I buy digital supplies?

My favorite 100% digital shops are The Lilypad and Sweet Shoppe Designs. If you like Ali Edwards, she has a variety of digital supplies as well. (If you have a favorite, leave it in the comments below.)

What software should I use for digital scrapbooking?

Most digital scrapbookers user Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Elements to create scrapbook pages. Photoshop is more sophisticated and can be purchased for as little as $9.99/month. Photoshop Elements (commonly referred to as PSE) is more user-friendly and does not require a subscription payment.

How do you use layered templates?

Layered templates are one of the best ways to get started with digital scrapbooking. The key to using digital scrapbooking templates is understanding layers and clipping masks. This video tutorial from our archives can help you get started:

Are there apps for digital scrapbooking?

Your computer is best suited for creating digital layouts, but the Project Life app is a popular solution for creating pocket-style pages.

How do you print digital pages?

Completed digital pages are generally saved as a JPG file and then printed with a mail order service like Persnickety Prints. Many digital scrapbookers prefer to print individual pages rather than waiting to print an entire bound book.

Where do you store digital items?

Digital scrapbook supplies are files, generally JPGs (digital paper) and transparent PNGs (embellishments). Thus you would store them like any other files on your computer, in folders. I prefer to store my photos, digital supplies, and digital pages separately.

What is hybrid scrapbooking?

Hybrid has always been a catch-all to mean a lot of different ways of using your computer for scrapbooking. Printing a word art overlay on a photo is technically hybrid. Today I’m seeing the most hybrid work being done with printing Project Life cards.

How does Lightroom fit into this?

Adobe Lightroom is photo management and editing software. While you can use this software to organize digital scrapbooking supplies, and even create photo books, you can’t create layered scrapbook pages with Lightroom.

How do you start digital scrapbooking?

The best way to begin is by practicing and finding additional answers as you need them. If you would like to take a class, I recommend Digital Scrapbooking for Beginners at Scrapaneers. It’s free!

Have a question about how to start digital scrapbooking? Leave a comment below.

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How I Plan to Scrapbook 2017

For the past five years I’ve been using an approach to scrapbooking that combines layouts and pocket pages in one album. This unconventional take on organizing album content was a huge creative lightbulb moment for me. Ultimately, it is a semi-chronological strategy that leans on organization within the album to give more context to each story.

In that time I’ve used several 12×12 albums, as well as tried other dimensions on for size. In this post I want to share what I’ve learned, as well as my plans for the upcoming year. While I’m always still adding to older albums, I love starting fresh with clarity on how the new stories will be scrapbooked.

How I Plan to Scrapbook 2017

What I’ve Learned from Divided Albums

By using Stacy Julian’s Library of Memories categories as sub-divisions within my albums, I’ve found a freedom to follow my creative intuition. Some stories are so tiny they are captured with a cookie’s fortune stapled to a filler card. Other stories are so grand they deserve multiple pages of attention. But by creating these jewel-box collections of stories within a single album, each woven together by a theme, I’m able to listen to my muse without fear that it won’t “go”.

My albums since 2014 have featured monthly Project Life spreads (under “Things We Do”) along with layouts in the other categories, each using a different size of album. I found 8.5×11 to be so awkward that I switched back to 12×12 mid-year (2015). I’ve enjoyed the pocket pages of 9×12 (in 2016), but not odd-sized layouts. For me 12×12 is best, but your mileage may vary. I deeply believe that this approach (no matter what size or format you choose) can facilitate the creative shift you’ve been craving.

I love how my albums have come together with ease, but I need to admit that I feel restless and ready for a change.

My Album Approach for the 2017 Year

As I’ve considered what to change and what to keep the same for next year, here’s what’s been on my mind:

  • I want to limit my purchases and make a huge dent in my stash. I feel like we’re in a trend plateau at the moment, where color palettes are being refreshed but the overall style aesthetic is not shifting rapidly.
  • At the same time, I’m also feeling pulled to more minimalist designs with even fewer supplies. I’m thinking about photo books, the Project Life app, white borders, and typewritten journaling.
  • Layouts continue to come easier for me than pocket pages, though that doesn’t seem to diminish the deep satisfaction I have from the pocket pages I have completed. I still feel compelled to do both.

Ease is perennially a top priority for me. As much as I love creating, I can all-too-easily get in my own way with mental roadblocks and procrastination. Thus, I’m all about finding the most simple solution that will offer a satisfying experience. I’m always trying to find that intersection between what fills me up and fits my life.

With that in mind, in 2017 I will return to a 12×12 album. I love both 12×12 layouts and lots of 4×6 photos, making this album size (and Project Life Design A) more natural for my creative preferences. I’m also planning to adjust my content strategy, revisiting an approach I tried in 2013: including pocket pages within each category, focusing on the small stories.

My emphasis on small stories within just one category left my album feeling unbalanced in depth. In tandem, dividing my attention between telling stories of a single month and across time left me unfocused. I am eager to capture a broader suite of little details about life right now, while more actively pursuing deeper stories.

To do this, I need to fully shift my pre-album photo organization (collections in Lightroom) and my album planning to consider the four categories. Here’s what this looks like in theory:

  • Each week I will sort photos into Lightroom collections for Things We Do, People We Love, Places We Go, and All About Us. The original image files will remain organized by year and month folders.
  • Every two weeks I will rotate which category is my focus. I will create pocket pages and layouts for the current year, while also leveraging this thematic focus to create something for a previous year’s album.

Honestly, it’s taken writing this post to flesh out the approach in my own mind. I know it’s time to do something different, yet I feel pulled between what I know and some of the stylistic directions I admire. All that said, I feel a sense of contentment about this foundational structure, making it that much easier to trust my creative path will unfold before me.

Questions to Craft Your Own Plan

If you’re not 100% happy with your current process, here are some questions to help you customize your own approach for 2017:

  1. What products/styles are you most excited to scrapbook with?
  2. What size/format has been most successful for you in the past?
  3. What is the simplest approach that would feel satisfying?

Plus, if you would like to learn more about my divided album approach, make sure to follow the link below to download a free PDF guide that explains all the details.

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The New Rules of Scrapbook Projects

Pause just a moment for me, OK?

Stop and think about a project that is not yet finished. Recall why you started it and how the creative process has unfolded.

Has it gone smoothly or have there been false starts and frustrations?

In my book The New Rules of Scrapbooking I encouraged memory keepers to stop banging their heads against the proverbial wall, by intentionally choosing project approaches that feel easier and more fun to complete.

Our hearts will consistently pull us towards more, but we can meet that yearning with solutions. We can lean into authenticity to create with more meaning and make conscious choices that will help us get the most important stories told.

This is the time of year when thoughts of new projects and how to adjust existing approaches reaches a high. But why is it so much harder to follow through with ease, than to dream about the possibilities? The answer is simple: you’re still following the old rules.

So, what’s the next step?

Thinking about new projects? Scrapbooking is easier and more fun when you follow The New Rules.

I’m kicking off a new content series, where I’m going to show you how to apply The New Rules to your scrapbook projects.

I can’t guarantee that you’ll never feel frustrated, but I will promise that you’ll feel more confident personalizing your hobby and more capable of making sustainable decisions.

The series will focus on how to seamlessly combine pocket pages and layouts in a single album, while exploring various tips for finding your own perfect-fit project approaches. Here’s a primer:

1. Your stories will outlive all the trends.

As the popularity of an approach rises, it can feel tempting to follow along with the crowd. By all means test the waters and embrace a playful, experimental mindset, but always turn inward to ask whether this approach fills you up and fits your life.

2. You are the consistency in your projects.

Your life is not perfectly uniform and color-coordinated, so why do you have such high expectations for your albums? Your style, technique, and composition preferences provide the perfect touch of creative consistency to overcome perfectionism.

3. Choose the simple and satisfying option.

With so many options today, it’s possible to select a format (or combination of formats) that’s not only simple, but also meets your storytelling and creative needs. This begins with accepting that your project library may also not be uniform.

Leave a comment and tell me:

What’s the single biggest challenge you have with annual album projects?

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The New Rules of Scrapbooking

The New Rules of Scrapbooking is now available, only on Amazon! It’s my 5th book and this one feels much different. New Rules represents what I’ve observed and learned about this hobby in the eight years since Simple Scrapper’s launch, offering hope and advice for today’s scrapbooker. Crafting with your photos can be simple.

The New Rules of Scrapbooking

Get the book on Amazon for just $2.99 FREE through September 5th.

I want this book to start a new dialogue about our hobby, so after months of closed-door work on this project, I’m excited to begin connecting with you. This morning, I hosted a Facebook Live session and I’ve embedded the recording for you below. New Rules will also be our Book Club selection for November.

What are the “New Rules” of scrapbooking?In this video, I’m sharing 5 rules every scrapbooker needs to know, the story behind my latest book, and answering the most common questions.

Watch the video, then get the book FREE on Amazon: http://bit.ly/thenewrulesbook

Posted by Simple Scrapper on Friday, September 2, 2016

The New Rules of Scrapbooking

Frequent Questions

How long does the free book promotion last?
The New Rules of Scrapbooking will be free on Amazon through Monday, September 5, 2016.

Do I need a Kindle device to read the book?
No. There are Kindle apps available for both iOS and Android as well as the Kindle Cloud Reader, which allows you to read any book you have purchased directly in your web browser.

Is the book available outside of the United States?
Yes. If you have trouble purchasing the book, visit your country’s Amazon site and search for “The New Rules of Scrapbooking.”

Will the book be available in other formats?
Yes, but later. At the end of this year, I will release audio and print options for the book.

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