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One of my creative goals last year was to take a photo of my kids together every week for the whole year. The project was called Project 52, initiated by Jodi of Practising Simplicity.

I rallied a group of friends to do this yearlong project at the beginning of 2014 (along with other photo projects, like taking a family photo each month) and we encouraged each other, often giving out reminders to our group to not forget to take pictures of the kids each week. I’m so happy to say that almost 85% of us actually finished the project on time, while the 15% actually had enough pictures to complete the 52 required.

I finished the album a few days before New Year’s eve and decided to try printing with Photobook Philippines for the first time. I have heard great feedback from a friend about their products and I was eager to try something new because Artscow, the one I’ve been ordering from ever since (their rates are very affordable – read: dirt cheap), is a hit-or-miss when it comes to picture colors.

Tackling a Year-Long Project

What worked for me doing this project was:

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  • Uploading the photo of the week on Instagram with my own hashtag for project. I used #p52matomarts for this. It made it easier for me to refer to it when I was assembling the album.
  • Having a separate folder for the project in my computer. I have a folder in my computer called “2014 Projects” and inside that folder nested an individual folder for “P52”. Inside P52, there were individual weeks. I initially just used one picture for each week but changed my mind when I was assembling my album to include outtakes or the rest that didn’t make the cut. Again, the hashtag made it easier for me to see which pictures went to which week (though I organize my pictures in my iPhoto library per week). (Computer > 2014 Projects > P52 > Weekly Folders > Weekly Pictures)
  • I shot 90% of their pictures using my iPhone. The ones I didn’t take were from other smartphones too, taken by my son or husband. I had them e-mail their pictures when they are away and I process pictures in the PicTapGo app. This has saved me a ton of time from processing photos. Seriously. This app rocks.
  • I wasn’t diligent backing up photos to their respective folders (I did this once every 3 months actually), but the hashtag was my reference point.

Assembling the Album

Once I completed the whole 52 weeks, I knew that I wanted to have a clean and simple design – with big numbers indicating each week and the dates covering the week.

I decided to go with this format:

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  • Use Project Life templates (I altered a few to my liking, depending on the orientation of the picture. But the template I used by default was Template C.)
  • Use Project Life cards (I used Midnight, Jade, Teen Boy, Teen Girl, Kraft and Strawberry).
  • Use an alpha from Shawna Clingerman (SSD) – I’m not sure if this is still available at the shoppe though.
  • Font: Caecilia Lt Bold.
  • Be photocentric – this is not really a scrapbooking project. It was a photo-centric project. It was so easy I finished it in one day. (I am familiar with Photoshop though).

You can view my completed album here.

It was my first time to try Photobook Philippines but I found their online web application user-friendly but a tad bit too slow for my taste. The application needs at least 2 seconds to load another command (for example, dragging the picture onto the page, clicking on it and choosing fit to page required the app to blink for at least 1-2 seconds before I can do anything with my mouse – and it’s not an internet connection problem).

That being said I was done quickly compared to what my friends have experienced (I assembled the album at 3AM if that helps – less people using?)

The Output

I ordered it on the 29th of December and received an e-mail saying it shipped from Malaysia via DHL on the 31st of December. I received it on January 7th, delivered straight to my house (with Artscow I had to pick it up from the post office and pay a fee of Php40-100).

I ordered the softcover 8×8 album and the colors are on-point (what I saw on my screen during assembly) and the paper amazing. I am not really good at technical stuff but my husband (who runs his own shirt printing business) was impressed by it so I guess you can take my word for it.

Here are some pictures:

My cover page. I altered a Nettio Designs' cover page for this.

My cover page. I altered a Nettio Designs’ cover page for this.

aggiethaP52printed2

A closer look at the detail.

A closer look at the detail.

The verdict? I’m definitely using their service again!

What I will do differently in 2015

I love, LOVE, LOVE this project that I am doing it again this year. A few things that I will do differently though:

  • Use my digital camera for at least half of the 52 weeks. There were really some ugly not-so-nice shots from my 2014 album (hey, that’s real life, y’all) but there were a few shots that were really nice and I know that it would’ve been better with a “real” camera.
  • Do letters. My initial plan was to write to the two of them each week last year but I failed to complete it. This year my plan is to write letters – even just little notes – to them each week and have them included in the album for this project. Here is Lily and Twig’s great inspiration for this project.
  • Take more candid, natural shots. My kids are 14 and 8 – not necessarily the best time for them to be close so I don’t catch them together all the time so my photos end up having them pose for me. The challenge this year is catch them together in natural poses – snapshots of everyday life.

What I have learned

00As I’ve said in my title page, the project initially started as a goal for them to be closer but it ended up being more for me as their mother. Time is fleeting and the important little things get lost in the big problems. This collection of photos reminded me that we may have had rough days in 2014, but we really didn’t have a bad year. THAT made all the difference.

I am continually grateful and amazed how memory keeping can give me that much perspective and value. Really, it has enriched my life in so many ways that I could even count.

Are you in for 2015?

Let’s do it together! If you want an accountability partner, let me know. I would be happy to be your partner through this year-long project. Trust me, the end result will be A-MAZING!

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