SYW184 – Thoroughly Modern Memory Keeping

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Catherine Saunders leveraged her own time and space challenges to double down on modern memory keeping as a solution. Focusing on storytelling with photo books for her own projects and for others, she leans on timeless, minimalist design to complete beautiful keepsakes. Our conversation features Catherine’ s practical wisdom and also highlights where our worlds intersect and diverge.

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[00:00:00] Jennifer Wilson: Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way, the show that explores the breadth of ways to be a memory keeper today. I’m your host, Jennifer Wilson, owner of Simple Scrapper and author of The New Rules of Scrapbooking. This is episode 184. In this episode I'm joined by Catherine Saunders to explore modern, minimalist memory keeping that's driven by photos and stories. We chat about ways to move past obstacles and find true simplicity.

[00:00:53] Jennifer Wilson: Catherine welcome to Scrapbook Your Way.

[00:00:55] Catherine Saunders: Thank you so much for having me, Jennifer.

[00:00:57] Jennifer Wilson: I am looking forward to chatting with you today. Can you introduce yourself a little bit so we can get to know more about you?

[00:01:06] Catherine Saunders: Absolutely. Um, well, I'm Catherine Saunders. I'm um, I call myself a military spouse, a mom, and a modern memory keeper. I've been married to my husband for 17 years. He's a Navy fighter pilot, which is a big part of my personal story as a military spouse and something I certainly did not see coming. We have two really great boys who are soon to be in third and fifth grade.

And, I grew up in Southern California, but we've since lived all over. So we usually move every couple of years. Earlier this year, we left a little bit longer stint in Lamore, California and moved to Northern Virginia. So not sure how long we'll be here, but we're loving it so far.

All right. So we love to ask our guests what is exciting you right now in memory keeping this could be anything at all. Product, app, class, person, even an idea. What is kind of floating your boat?

[00:01:58] Catherine Saunders: Yeah. Well, I sort of have a couple of things. I, um, am kind of a formula person. I get really set in my ways and in my comfort zone. And so on my Instagram feed is filled with people in the memory keeping world who are doing things very differently. And I'm really inspired these days by some of the women who are using like film photography, mixed media, doing more like, personal storytelling projects. So one of my favorites these days is Azzari Jarrett. I think she's a great example of what that looks like. And then I'm also really intrigued by some of these like throwback, um, products online, to like kind of an old school minimalist memory keeping method. So like a traditional photo album. I've seen some of this pop up on Instagram and Pinterest. And I don't know if you know what I'm talking about. It's kind of like pocket page scrapbooking, but it's like a fixed, just photo album. Where you're printing four by six photos, sliding them into a photo album and like maybe jotting captions or dates next to the photos and then calling it done. That's how my mom documented our entire childhood. And I'm like very intrigued by that style of memory keeping, I just think it's a format that encourages people who wouldn't necessarily classify themselves as memory keepers to kind of dip their toe in the water, which is something I'm really passionate about. And for, you know, those of us memory keepers who, you know, feel kind of stuck or there's like a vacation or, you know, something that has like a fixed, very fixed type of photo attached to it. You know, a theme park trip or something like that. I feel like that's such a simple, fun way to, you know, get a project done and under your belt and like on your coffee table for people to flip through. So I, I like that kind of old school photo album thing that's happening.

[00:03:56] Jennifer Wilson: You know, and I hope it takes off such that we get modernized products along with that.

[00:04:02] Catherine Saunders: Mm-hmm

[00:04:02] Jennifer Wilson: Support it, rather than the, you know, the, the burgundy leather with like gold scrolls on it. You know, the old school type of products. We want it to look like our other modern memory keeping products. And so I would be super excited to have something like that on the market.

[00:04:17] Catherine Saunders: Yeah. I definitely think there are for sure people out there who are doing it and I've yeah, I've seen, I've seen some of it pop up. I agree. I think more of that, is really fun and simple.

[00:04:29] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. Yes. So we also like to ask our guests about their memory keeping bucket list. So this is one story that feels really important to capture, and you've not yet done it. It can be, you know, it could be small and silly or it could be deeply, deeply meaningful, but it just feels important. But for some reason you just haven't jumped into it yet. What is, so what's on your bucket list?.

[00:04:52] Catherine Saunders: This is such a great question. And I love hearing people's answer to it. Mine is one of these like bigger, really meaningful, to me, projects. My dad was also a Navy fighter pilot, like my husband, but long before any of my siblings or I were in the picture. But we have hundreds of letters he wrote home during his time in the Navy. His dad, my grandpa Owen kept every single one. He kept every letter, telegram, envelope, and he numbered all of them. So we have kind of two like photo box, size boxes full of these letters and they are so great. They start when he went to basic and flight school in Pensacola, which my husband also did. So I would love to document those letters in some way, make sure they're preserved properly and kind of alongside that document, his military service. And what I kind of envision is taking those letters and like photographing some of them, pulling quotes from some of them, you know, not, not necessarily documenting every single one. I think they're close to like 600. But pulling a few from sort of each cuz he deployed, he was in the Korean war and kind of these phases of his military service, pulling letters out and documenting those in a photo book, alongside photos, pictures of, we have his like flight helmet, his jacket, that kind of thing, those artifacts. And then doing that in a photo book format so that we could print multiple copies, you know, for my sisters, my mom, you know, whoever in the family would want one, but my younger sister and I have talked about doing this and it's just something I think would be like this epic project. And we, my dad passed away when I was 29. So I, that part of his life because I'm kind of living that life now is very special to me. And when we lost him, it kind of felt like I lost a little bit of the person who could relate to very much to like what my husband and I go through and what, you know, what our life ended up looking like. So I think it's, I think some of those emotional projects are difficult to tackle. And then also the scope of it, um, is, you know, it's, it's a challenge for me and something I find people struggle with is like, When there's too much to document, it's hard to know what to pick and choose. And so that's something, you know, that's on my radar as well with that project, but it's on my list for sure.

[00:07:16] Jennifer Wilson: That's amazing. I'm curious if say you you've completed this project, would you let go of those 600 letters?

[00:07:26] Catherine Saunders: No way.

No way . I think we would hang onto them. I'd wanna, you know, preserve them in a way that makes sense, and that protects them. But, um, no, I mean, we still have like the Sodoku book, the last one that my dad was working on, I just can't, you know, his, anything for people who've lost someone who is very special to them. I think like anything that has their handwriting on it, something they held, you know, is, is it's hard to part with, so they don't take up that much room. And so, yeah, I, I think we would hang onto them.

[00:08:01] Jennifer Wilson: That makes sense. And I, and I get it. I, I think that also, that kind of, how do I say this, putting those into a format or doing whatever you would need to preserve them, archivally. That's a project into itself, even separate from the photo book. And so I just kind of wanted to, to point that out is that it, you know, there's multiple layers to this. And I think we all have things like that, especially from our past that we wanna invest the time in, but time keeps moving and we have all these new memories too. So where do we focus?

[00:08:34] Catherine Saunders: I know it. I know it. I know it. Um, yeah, I agree.And maybe that's something we, we do in stages, but, um, that's totally my bucket list project.

[00:08:45] Jennifer Wilson: I love it. I love it. It sounds beautiful. All right. Let's dive into our topic today. So you're definitely a modern memory keeper, and I'd like to start off by hearing a bit about your evolution. How did you get started and what led you to those particular formats you use today?

[00:09:03] Catherine Saunders: Yeah. I started back in 2011. I was, pregnant with my first son, Ben and I came across this or a friend of mine sent me a book that was written by two female pediatricians about how to care for a baby. It was very straightforward. And at the end of the book, they mentioned thinking about what you're gonna do with the photos that you take of this kid. And I had, I did not, I, I know isn't that wild. I didn't come to, to kind of the memory keeping world from, you know, I wasn't a scrapbooker or anything like that. I was literally a mom Googling, what do I do with my kids' photos. And I stumbled across Liz Tamanaha's blog, Paisley Press. And then that led me to Becky Higgins and Project Life. And it was such like a nascent period of time back then in the world of pocket page scrapbooking, I think I sort of came to it when it, I believe like relatively new. Um, and it really spoke to me because I do really like order. And like I said before, I like a formula. And so the pocket pages I just was really drawn to because it was like, okay, I could document a week in a layout. And then I know how many pictures I kind of need and how many stories I'm gonna tell. And so I documented, if you're familiar with Project Life with like the, A, the first design. So it was like, I think it was eight in a layout. It would've been eight, four by six photos and then eight, three by four pockets. When I initially, you know, bought my supplies, I bought a 12 by 12 album. I bought a packet of like the very basic pocket, 12 by 12 pocket design. And there were no kits available at the time. So I just bought plain white three by four cards. And that was how I started documenting. And that was really how it continued. And I documented that way for years. Both of our kids, you know, those baby years and, and all of that. And then when our younger son was, uh, almost two, we moved to Europe, and that was when things really started to shift for me. I, we were making so many memories. We were taking so many photos and I just found I could, we were making memories faster than I could document them. And so I had to kind of take a step back and two things really shifted for me. I found myself wanting to shift from documenting in real time to documenting in retrospect, that was a biggie. I, the stories I told in those, those first like four years or so of documenting four, four or five years were so personal, Jennifer. Like, I was really, you know, and those albums are so precious to me because I was really documenting what it was like for me to become a mom, um, which wasn't easy for me. My husband was deployed. You know, we moved a couple of times, you know, and it was, it was such a formative period of time for me personally. And so those albums are deeply personal to me and I'm a pretty private person. So I don't, those are not albums I would like set out for someone to flip through, you know. I, I want my kids to have those someday, but, uh, but they are really personal to me. And so I just found like I'm a journaler. So I process in real time by writing and I didn't need to do that with our photos. I just, that was that's for me, that's kind where I came to. So I, I really wanted to kind of shift to documenting our photos in retrospect. And, and the benefit for me, of that was okay, I'm off the hook for documenting while we're in Europe. Like I can just enjoy it, take the photos, you know, I'm journaling. So I was, you know, keeping track of our memories that way. Um, but then when I went back, it was easier for me. After some time had passed to really identify the most important stories to me. It was harder for me to see that when I was right up on top of it, if that makes sense, so.

[00:13:24] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, a hundred percent, yes.

[00:13:25] Catherine Saunders: You know, wherever, I think like in those early years of documenting week by week, everything felt important. Everything felt important. And so I just, it was, as I look back on it, it's just, you know, for me personally, it's just a little too much. If that makes sense. So I wanted to tell kind of a bigger picture, like a little bit more of like an eagle eye view of our life. And, um, I studied history in college and I think that really informs how I think about our memories as well. Just wanting to kind of tell like a, a big epic story, in one project. And I just found that was easier to do after some time had gone by so sort of wanting those projects to be a little bit less personal, a little bit more photo and design driven, and then telling kind of one continuous story in a project. I found that was easier to do in a photobook, for me. So that's, that's really what drove that shift from pocket pages, primarily to photo books. I still love pocket page albums. I love the tactile quality. Those are my favorite projects to flip through. So I document our kids' school years using pocket pages. And then I do a really paired down version of Ali Edwards, December Daily, every year. But for our family history, I, I like the style and kind of the medium of photo books.

[00:14:50] Jennifer Wilson: All right. I have so many questions. So I guess the easiest one is, do you create a photo book for each year or for each trip? How do you, how do you choose what subject matter?

[00:15:01] Catherine Saunders: Yeah, that's such a good question. So I don't document year by year. Because our family is military and we move every, you know, couple of years. Our, the way I think about our life does not fall into like a chronological or, uh, I would say a calendar timeline. It really breaks up into like where we live, because that informs our home, our friends, our, you know, sports, the kids are doing schools, they're attending. We moved in March of this year. And, you know, it's the middle of a school year. So I will document the past couple of years kind of our pandemic years. And that, that photo book will end when we move. That that's like just in the middle of the year. Um, so that photo book would cover a couple of years. And then this photo book that I do next, documenting our time in Northern Virginia. I don't know. I don't know how long it'll be. I don't know if we'll be here for one year, two years, three years, but kind of for whatever period we're living here, that'll go in one photo book. So I go back and do that document that, and I ki, I sort of think of it as like seasons of life. So if you're not a military family, I think of it as like, but let's say you're a parent, you know, you kind of have those baby years and then you have those early school years, and then maybe the later elementary school, middle school, high school. That's sort of how I think about it. It's like, what are those seasons of life that are where our family is? You know, in those baby years, you're kind of house bound. You're going to the park, you're you, our life then looked so different from how it looks now.So I that's just naturally how I think our, life kind of breaks up and that's how I document. I also encourage people to kind of begin with the end in mind, five years, 10 years, 15 years from now, what do you wanna hold in your hands? What do you wanna have in front of you that documents your family's story? I call it your family archive. What do you want, you know, what are the building blocks of that? And I am a minimalist, um, you know, in terms of like my home, my stuff, and, you know, that is largely informed by the fact that we move so frequently. And so I knew I didn't want, I, I did not need 22 annual photo books. It's not how I think about our time. That said, you know, I have, I'll do a photo book for, if we take an epic trip, I'll do a photo book for that. We had a photographer at our military homecoming. I did a little photo book for that. So those, those kind of one off projects, I'm totally comfortable putting those together. But in terms of telling like our big family story, I think about it in terms of seasons of life and those, those seasons are, they vary in length of time.

[00:17:56] Jennifer Wilson: Between that point and your distinction between in the moment and retrospective memory keeping, I think those two factors can really shift how many of our listeners can, I don't know, cobble together, their unique suite of things that they do as memory keepers. Cuz oftentimes we wanna do all the things, but we can't, there's so many memories. There's not enough time. We love all the products, all the options, but what really makes sense for your personality, your family lifestyle, your personal lifestyle. Like, and I, I love how you've really personalized it uniquely to you. And I know there's so many others out there like you who, uh, are, are nodding along and saying, oh my gosh, yes, this is, this is the shift that I need to make.

[00:18:46] Catherine Saunders: Yeah, I think it's absolutely that. I mean, that's sort of the beauty, I think of this world, the memory keeping world and the community is that, you know, the, when we see what people are sharing online, we see the projects they're sharing. That may be the way they document it doesn't mean that we have to take everything that everyone has done and incorporate all of it, you know? But I do think it's worth considering, you know, what makes sense for our family and what makes sense for us personally. Um, what do we wanna hold in our hands? And then the, and then also the other factor, Jennifer is time. You know, what kind of time do we have that we want to devote to this? And I was just in a period of our lives, where we have a lot of commitments. I'm working. I, you know, have military sort of commitments outside of, you know, our home. And. You know, like I said, we were making memories faster than I could keep up. So I had to rethink, um, how we were doing that.

[00:19:49] Jennifer Wilson: Are there other ways that that being a military family has impacted the, the choices you've made. I can imagine even just like the, your, your thoughts about quantity of albums, because you have to move those from place to place. That that was, that was part of the thought process.

[00:20:05] Catherine Saunders: Absolutely. So having taking kind of a more minimalist approach in terms of the quantity of memories we were documenting for sure. Um, and I would say the biggest, and then definitely like break how I think about our memories. Just, you know, in terms of like, We've lived here, you know, for two years. Okay. That's a set of memories, you know, that's a photo book. Um, but it, the biggest impact I think, has been in how much I share of our personal memories. It's something I, I am open to sharing more this year. We've my husband has kind of moved out of a more operational role. He's a fighter pilot, so he, he was deployed for almost a year during the pandemic. And, um, and he is an exceptionally private person. He doesn't, um, he doesn't have any social media presence. He, you know, he's just, he's very private. So I'm very cognizant of that. A few years ago, some, there was a list circulating on the internet that had names, addresses children's schools, you know, that kind of thing of active duty military service members.

And we had friends whose information showed up on that list. And so it's just something I'm a, I'm very aware of. I would say the biggest impact of our military life on my memory keeping is how much I share of our personal, uh, memories. Um, that's been kind of the biggest impact.

[00:21:31] Jennifer Wilson: For sure, for sure. And that's not something that, uh, as a, a total civilian family that I would necessarily think of. So I appreciate you sharing that.

[00:21:39] Catherine Saunders: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:21:41] Jennifer Wilson: So the, the kind of shifting gears here, the content that I see you creating on Instagram, which is consistently beautiful.

[00:21:48] Catherine Saunders: Thank you.

[00:21:48] Jennifer Wilson: Emphasizes the value of memory keeping, it offers nudges to take action. When you're thinking about what you wanna share, what are some of the messages that you are trying to emphasize?

[00:22:01] Catherine Saunders: Yeah, I think the biggest message I'm trying to emphasize is that you're not behind. And you can start anytime. I actually just had a conversation with, a gal the other day, who does, you know, she does photo books every year and she very kind of casually said, you know, if you're a year or two behind you can't get caught up, there's no way. And I was like, oh, I completely disagree with that. Um, I think that telling big stories that encompass many years is not only okay, but in some cases, preferable to trying to go back and capture every detail. I think about projects, like, you know, if you've been married for, let's say, 15 years. Go back and document the first 10 years of your marriage in one photo book, there's nothing wrong with that. Pick 20 photos from each year and put 'em in a photo book. And you know, maybe at the beginning of each section, you have a list of like, sort of a bulleted list of like, what do I remember from that year? What were the big milestones that year? I think telling those epic stories is a great way to document past memories. And I just find so many people will message me or talk to me in real life. And it's like, Ugh, I haven't done anything. And they feel defeated about those memories. And I just, my biggest message is it's just never too late. Your memories are always behind you. So you're not actually behind, you know, you're always kind of ahead of your memories. You can start any time and you don't have to document everything, you know, deciding what you wanna print, what you wanna document doesn't mean deleting the memories that you don't. It's just picking and choosing some of those stories to tell to, you know, commemorate in a photo book or an album, but it doesn't mean you're erasing the things you don't include. So those are, those are a couple of the big messages I'm I'm hoping to get across.

[00:24:04] Jennifer Wilson: Well, and I also think that there's something about format there in terms of you don't have to do everything the exact same way. You mentioned you document your kid's school years and the pocket pages, and then some of these bigger projects are photo books. So it doesn't mean because you, you're choosing some of the more minimal options that you can't, you know, get creative and make mixed media mini albums, whatever you know is interesting to you at the time.

It just provides better balance overall. So you don't feel so.

[00:24:35] Catherine Saunders: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I, I think it is, there is a lot of. And here's the thing. There's a lot of like guilt and shame associated with motherhood in general. We don't need to pile on about that. There's there, it's okay. You know, people, when people sort of, they find out what I do and then they admit, oh gosh, I haven't done anything with our photos. I just, every time I hear that, I say, well, that sounds normal. It, that is normal. Mo, you know, the, the women listening to this podcast, I think, you know, and, and men. I think maybe we're in the community, we're familiar with memory keeping maybe to some degree we're memory keepers. But even as memory keepers, there are those projects that we're, we haven't completed or that we've started and, you know, sort of let collect dust. I just think it's okay. You know, as, as our family historians, anything we're doing for our families is a blessing to them. Anything we're documenting is a blessing. And so it doesn't have to be perfect. I am certainly not quote, caught up. I have projects that I want to do and are kind of on the shelf and, you know, I haven't hit publish on and I it's, okay. I, it doesn't stress me out. I'm just not worried about it. I'm like, you know what, there are gonna be seasons where I have more time. Going through a move earlier this year, wasn't one of them. So, you know, that's okay. It's all right. We just, I think eventually it's important to kind of carve out some time to attack some of these projects. But yeah, I think if we can like dispel any of that sort of shame and guilt around not being caught up, um, is really important.

[00:26:20] Jennifer Wilson: Totally agree. Totally agree. Are there other ways that you see the average family picture taker getting stuck in the process?

[00:26:29] Catherine Saunders: Oh, yeah. I think the two biggest are overwhelm and time. So overwhelm, I think it's, you know, the volume of photos, the amount of memories we're making. And then just the vast plethora of options for what to do with them. I, I think just overwhelm all around. There's so much amazing content out there. Lots of incredible products, lots of options. And so I think overwhelm is a big one. People look at their camera roll. They're like, well, great. I've got 14,000 photos on here. How on earth, you know, where do I start? That's a big barrier to entry. And then time, people are busy. There's so much content to consume and memory keeps memory, keeping takes time. So I, I think it's just encouraging people to make a little time now to document their memories. And I, and also, you know, sort of carving out and really defining the distinction between capturing memories and documenting them. If people are, you know, avid photographers, videographers, they like having photos and videos on their phone. I encourage people to go for it, you know, do that. But I actually have found, like knowing what the plan is for our memories. And for me, it's quite a minimalist approach. So I don't need that many photos to get these photo books put together that, that cover two, three years, you know, in one book. So, I find it helps to, helps me be a little bit more present when I know what I'm planning to do with those photos. And then I'm less overwhelmed when I go to document because I don't have so many photos to choose from. You know, conversely I recently was, um, or earlier this year was in New York with my sister for her birthday. And I knew I wanted to make her a photo book just of that trip. So that totally informed how I captured, that trip. And so I think, you know, where the average, you know, picture taker, family historian is getting stuck overwhelm and time, I think a way to combat that is just thinking about what do you wanna do ultimately with those photos, you know? And then I think that helps to, to free us up in both of those areas.

[00:28:40] Jennifer Wilson: And to know that each, each decision is kind of standalone unique in itself and that's okay. That's, you know, that's beautiful in its own way and we will all, then there'll be even more memories to document the future. Just more decisions. I love that.

[00:28:55] Catherine Saunders: Right.

[00:28:57] Jennifer Wilson: So creating and educating on photo books has really become the heart of what you do. So we talked already a little bit about how you personally came to this shift, but why do you think photo books specifically are a great choice for modern memory keeping.

[00:29:14] Catherine Saunders: Yeah. I, I mean, there's sort of the logistical aspect of like, you know, you don't need any special equipment. You don't need any software, you don't need any supplies. So it's, there's such a low barrier to entry for people who aren't memory keepers, who don't have, you know, product in their homes. I think that, uh, photo books are a great way to document in retrospect. Um, so the form, you know, kind of my approach to like our big family memories, uh, documenting backwards in time, in as opposed to in real time, it photo books are a really easy way to do that. So for those big catch up projects or, you know, like my bucket list project, um, I just think photo books allow you to gather your photos, upload them and then design, design, design, hit publish. So it's an easier way I think, to, or it's an easy way to do that in retrospect. Um, and then I love the minimalist design of photo books I wanted, as I thought about, you know, all these memories we were capturing in Europe, I wanted the way I documented that time in Europe to reflect how I felt about it. And I, for me, that those couple of years we lived in Germany, our kids were so little and it was just this really kind of beautiful, simple time for our family. And I wanted the design of those memories to reflect that. And so I like that a photobook allows you to include lots of white space. It allows you to mix collages of photos with like one single large photo that bleeds out to the edges and spans across an entire layout. So I love that kind of balance in a photo book and the, the really sort of minimalist design opportunity. I also think, I don't know if you found this Jennifer, but when I started documenting with pocket pages and like, you know, um, kind of hybrid scrapbooking, I knew what I wanted my albums to look like. And it took years to get there. It's like, it just took a long time for me to edit my, my style down. I think, you know, minimalist design is, it appears really simple, but it is not the easiest to achieve. And I do think photo books lend themselves to that. Easier than say, uh, like hybrid scrapbooking or, or mixed media. Not that it's not achievable, but I think it's, you know, for people who are, maybe this isn't their hobby, they just wanna get their memories documented. I think it's a way to achieve that, look very simply.

[00:31:51] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, I can see that for sure. Because when you're creating a Project Life spread, particularly in the 12 by 12, then we're really talking about 24 by 12. You have basically 16 mini pages there that you're trying to coordinate and find balance. And, you know, did I edit these consistently? And so it can,

[00:32:11] Catherine Saunders: Yeah.

[00:32:12] Jennifer Wilson: It's definitely harder to feel that sense of visual ease versus a photo book, which you said has, has the white space has really impactful, large photos or collages. I am more likely, much more likely to create a photo book with completely unedited photos than I would be to create a pocket page just because of how I want it to look in the end.

[00:32:36] Catherine Saunders: Yep. Yep.

[00:32:37] Jennifer Wilson: That's an important distinction, I think.

[00:32:39] Catherine Saunders: Yep. Yep. Totally.

Are there any tips that maybe, you've already mentioned so many, but to make that process of creating a photo book, less overwhelming. Particularly when you have just so many photos, it can be difficult to, to cull those down to the ones you want to use.

[00:32:56] Catherine Saunders: Yeah. Um, okay. So I, I would, my biggest tip is to break down, up one project. So, what I mean by that is I, I recommend starting with, you know, what do you wanna document in this one project. And, and whatever the medium is, if it's an album or, you know, a photo book, whatever that might be, give yourself a clear scope. What's the start, what's the end. I think intuitively we know this, but it's worth actually like jotting it down, you know? And an example would be, let's say someone is documenting their wedding. Is that, does that include the rehearsal dinner? Does it include the day after brunch or is it just the professional photos from the wedding? I think giving yourself a clear beginning and end helps. And then I take that, I recommend taking that project, whatever the scope is and breaking it down into chapters. So if you are, let's say you're documenting, 10 years in one book. 10, 10 years of your marriage, maybe each chapter is a year. Let's say you're documenting your kid. Your kid is graduating from high school and you wanna give them a photo book as they're walking out the door, what are the chapters of that book? Maybe you have 18 chapters, but maybe you have something like chapter one is the baby years. Then, you know, early school, middle school, high school, um, now you only have four chapters. Then I just think about like, how many photos do you want for each chapter? And then go find those photos. Don't look at all your photos. Go find as many photos as you need for that section. I think when our eyes get attuned or our, our mind gets attuned to what we're looking for, as opposed to what we're looking to exclude, it helps in that process of selecting photos. It is, and, and I will tell you like documenting, cause I did document a lot of our time in Europe with pocket pages.

[00:34:57] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm

[00:34:58] Catherine Saunders: We would, you know, come back from Italy and it's like, okay, I've gotta pick, you know, 10 photos from four days in Italy. And I took 400, you know, or whatever it was just knowing, like I've got this limit in terms of how many photos I can include. So now I'm not looking for my favorite photos. I'm looking for 10. So what are the, like, where is the, the awesome photo that we took, you know, in the Vatican? Where is that great shot from Trevor fountain? And then I'm looking for a variety. So I don't want just all of us staring at the camera, smiling. I want some details, some wider shots. So I think giving yourself a number, um, and then looking for those photos, it just helps you kind of, hone in on that easier than say, taking the full breadth of your photo library and then trying to narrow it down. You know,

[00:35:55] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, a hundred percent.

[00:35:56] Catherine Saunders: Makes sense.

[00:35:57] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, totally. I will often like look at a single day. I mean, in talking, I'm talking about average days, not Italy days, but I have, I can't look at the week. I can't look at the month. Okay. Here's the day, you know, let's narrow down the 20 to two or three, and pick what's the best.I think that's a really sensible approach. And shifting that from trying to eliminate, to trying to pick, can make a big difference.

[00:36:23] Catherine Saunders: And I will say.

[00:36:23] Jennifer Wilson: Nobody likes to, to, to discard things. It's hard.

[00:36:26] Catherine Saunders: No. No, I agree. I agree. And I think a, another tip along with that is think about like, what are the, what are the stories you're trying to tell. If you're documenting a day, you know, there, there are so many things, you know, that happen in a day. When you're, when you're memory keeping up close like that. But if you are, if you're documenting a larger period of time, you've gotta zoom out a little bit and think about like, what are the lessons? What are the stories? Find the photos that drive that story. I think that that's really like at the heart of how I think about, um, memory keeping and it's, you know, that's like, I, I also, I mean, Ali Edwards is a huge influence for me. And so it's like that kind of storytelling piece. I'm writing in my journal. I don't, I'm not gonna write a lot of personal things in a photo book. For me that's, you know, not how I document, but I do want those photos to drive the story so that as we flip through a project, it, you know, it does take us back. It does transport us. So that means that like some of those photos are candid. Maybe some of them are blurry. Maybe some of them, aren't the best. It's not the best photo you captured that day, but it's of your kids laughing and they're moving and you know, it's, you can see that movement in the photo and that's something that kind of drives that story forward. So you're looking for, for those photos that best tell the story. I think that helps when you have a lot of photos to choose from

[00:37:54] Jennifer Wilson: I also think that the more you do that, the more it will inform the photos you take. Cuz I know I take a lot less of those posed photos. So much that I can annoy others with it because they want those posed photos. But like, no, I just want the casual shots. I want, you know, here's our coffee cup and here's the, you know, us laughing on the train or.

[00:38:17] Catherine Saunders: Yeah.

[00:38:18] Jennifer Wilson: The, the context shots are often so much more story rich than like here we are. And here we are again, and.

[00:38:25] Catherine Saunders: Yes. Yes, absolutely. And so, like, we, I, I totally agree. We went to Disneyland before we left California and, you know, we made sure I was like, let's get the one picture in front of the castle. Let's get it, let's get that picture. And then that might be the only picture that we have of the four of us posed looking at the camera where we handed the phone to somebody else. But other than that, yeah, they're snapshots. You know, and that's kind of, we're casual people. That's kind of how we live our life. And so I agree, once you start, I think once you get started memory keeping, it does really inform how you capture, how you capture your life. Because you know what you like looking at in retrospect.

[00:39:09] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. Um, this is more of a logistical question, but there, as you know, so many options for photo books today at a wide, wide range of price points, to free with just pay shipping, to hundreds and hundreds of dollars. So what, what are your favorites right now?

[00:39:26] Catherine Saunders: Yeah. Well, I'm a big fan, I'm, my husband would say I'm not great at budgeting, but, um, I do. I am very cognizant that memory keeping can be an expensive hobby. And so, uh, absolutely there are really good options at a wide range of price points. I use for my client projects that you'll see, like on my, um, website and Instagram, I use MILK Books. Their, I use their premium, hard cover books, their lay flat, their gorgeous quality. And they allow for a large page count, which I like. But they are really pricey. So they, they do add up, but those are kind of, you know, those are custom projects. So I, that's what I use for client projects for more, of a budget option and an option where there are frequently sales that come up. I have been really liking Mpix premium books. So M P I X and I like their hard cover. I like their soft cover. The, um, and I like the premium, so they lay flat. the, the paper quality is awesome. Paper quality is really important to me. I was a stationary designer before I was doing this for clients. So I try to opt for the best paper quality my budget allows. Um, but I think it's totally okay to set a budget for these memory keeping projects and then work within the constraints of that budget. The, the most important thing is getting those photos in print in a place where you can easily access them, enjoy them. So, whether that's hard cover, soft cover, in a photo book, or an album, you know, I, to me, I'm not picky about that for people. But I just personally have a thing about paper. So I only use matte paper in photo books. I don't use, uh, like a glossy or photo paper. I think it matte paper sort of elevates the project a little bit and it kind of gives it that like, uh, little bit of like a timeless, kind of like a photo or like a coffee table, book quality to it. So I recommend whatever you're printing. If you kinda like that look. If that's your thing, then I would go with a matte paper. The, the, the photos are a little muted, but it's just a style and it's the style I prefer.

[00:41:40] Jennifer Wilson: All right. Thank you for sharing those. I will include links in the show notes to this episode. I wanted to, and sorry about that, interrupted you. I wanted to end on talking a bit about your business. So what is your vision for All The Best?

[00:41:54] Catherine Saunders: Yeah. my vision is to see women who haven't done quote anything with their memories to start documenting them. I was a teacher in my past life. I, my degree is in history and I have a master's in education and I taught a class. Uh, I developed the curriculum for, you know, shot and taught a class last year on, um, family archive photo books, and I'll teach it again this fall. But I loved teaching people how to do this for themselves. And, and I had memory keepers in there and I had people who were brand new to memory keeping. And, so that is really my vision is to see women who haven't documented their memories and women who have maybe abandoned this practice or feel overwhelmed by it really come back to it, adapt it to what works for them. For their style for their time and, you know, then kind of make it happen. I, so, you know, that's through blogging and through some like digital resources, I still work with clients, but I think the heart and soul as I move ahead is really with, kind of walking alongside people, teaching them how to do this for themselves and really encouraging them to go for it. I just, I, you know, as I mentioned, I was a, I studied history. I taught history. I have a love for, uh, for kind of our past, and I think it's important to, it's an important part of being able to be present. If we're, you know, consuming so much and not putting something out there, not producing something creative in our own life, I think that can lead to comparison. I think it can lead to overwhelm, guilt. And I just think that actually documenting our own memories is a way to really foster gratitude and kind of an appreciation of our own life. Which in this day and age, you know, with social media and all of that is, you know, even just like hanging out with friends and stuff. I just think it's really tempting to compare our lives to other people and this is a way, I think for us to remember, to remind ourselves that our life is, is great. You know, there's a lot to be thankful for. And, um, it's, it's great because it's ours, you know, it doesn't, it doesn't have to be anybody else's. We don't have to meet some benchmark for it to be worth documenting, whether we're single, married, children, no children. You know, I just, my vision is to see people celebrating, appreciating, documenting their own stories.

[00:44:40] Jennifer Wilson: Hmm. I love that. I can tell, we share so many different values and a heart for, for what we do. And I'm, yeah, I'm so honored to have had a chance to talk to you today.

[00:44:51] Catherine Saunders: I so appreciate it Jennifer. This has been a joy.

[00:44:54] Jennifer Wilson: Can you share what we can find you online and anything you might have new or coming up later this year?

[00:45:00] Catherine Saunders: Yep. I, um, you can find me My Instagram handle is Cat Saunders, which is a nickname. I do go by Catherine, but you, I answer to Cat as well. So yeah, my website would have everything that, you kind of, you know, every sort of venue to find me Coming up this fall, I'm gonna be teaching another, cohort of family archive photo books. This is my signature course, and I do teach a free workshop leading up to that. So if you get over to the website, you should be able to either get on the wait list or sign up for that workshop. And then, I would love to see anyone who wants to kind of tackle their memories in this way, join the course. It's a ton of fun.

[00:45:44] Jennifer Wilson: Sounds awesome. We will definitely include those links as well. Again, thank you for your time.

[00:45:49] Catherine Saunders: Thank you, Jennifer. I appreciate it.

[00:45:51] Jennifer Wilson: And to all of our listeners, please remember that you have permission to scrapbook your way. Hey friends, one last thing. We've got something brand new lined up for the season ahead. Make sure you're getting Simple Scrapper email updates or following us on Instagram so you don't miss the announcement.

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