weekend creative : documenting a week in your life

Next week, from Monday through Sunday, I will be documenting a week in my life with photos + words and I invite you to play along. (You could even begin today or tomorrow if you wanted - there is no reason it has to be Monday through Sunday vs. Saturday through Friday.)

This is a creative adventure. It requires little more than a camera and a willingness to pay attention and gather up stuff from your daily life.

Even if you have never scrapbooked before you can do this project.

This will be a pared down project from the one I have taught previously. Right now I am most interested in the photos and the words and that is where my focus will be throughout the week.

Some of you out there may be thinking: my life is boring or I do the same thing everyday or what story do I have to tell? As with many of the projects I have created, the preparation process is just as (and maybe more) important than the creative process of actually putting the album together. Most likely you will learn something about yourself over the course of this project. I learn something new every time.

Daily Tasks For The Week:

Take photos. Commit to keeping your camera with you throughout the day. Capture everything. Capture things that may seem silly or dumb. Capture the normal. Capture little things. Capture your environment. Here's a couple questions I ask myself or I keep in mind as I am going about this project: what's my daily routine, where did I go, who did I see, what do I do, what does the inside of my home look like, where do I spend the most time, etc. Capture stuff that you use everyday: your computer, a coffee mug, a favorite pair of shoes, a book, etc. Make sure to take a photo of yourself each day. See the list of possible photos below.

Upload photos. Take a bit of time each evening to upload your photos for the day. You can use this time to eliminate duplicate shots and if you are really on top of things you could print them out or upload them to your favorite developer to have them ready to create with the following week.

Designate a place for notes. Have a notebook or a couple sheets of paper set aside to jot down notes, stories, things to remember about each day. Don't make this complicated. Don't run out and buy a new notebook. The back of some junk letters, the leftover pages in a journal you have always meant to get around to, etc. You simply need somewhere to write down notes over the course of the day.

Take notes. Once you set up something to write on, do the writing. What should you write? Thoughts you have during the day, things your kids or your boss or your partner say, things you notice (simple and profound), what you ate, etc. Go for the basics. These notes will be transferred into your album when the time comes. See more about recording the story under the category heading below.

Designate a place to store life-stuff. Part of the process is collecting bits and pieces of your life over the course of the week. For this I recommend setting up an envelope or folder for each day. You may use some of this stuff and you may not. I tend to keep things like receipts, handwritten notes, etc. These will be companions to your photos + words.

Possible Photos:

- think about the most basic things/the real life things that you see everyday: those things that are so much a part of what you do each day that they simply blend into the blur of images
- chores
- loves
- dishes
- food you cook
- food you eat
- driving to work
- driving your kids to school/kids at the bus stop
- computer
- what you do for work
- looking down at your shoes
- your front door
- thermometer/temperature outside
- gas prices
- the grocery store/your grocery cart/bags of groceries
- the mess
- piles of stuff
- the funny face your kid is making/funny things they are saying
- laundry
- your child's room, toys, favorite books, etc.
- document the imperfect normalness of your existence

Check out a couple articles I wrote for my Everyday Life photobook at Shutterfly (these definitely apply to this project):
List of Everyday Photos
8 Techniques for Choosing or Taking Photos

For more everyday life photo ideas check out these Flickr groups:
My Everyday Life
Corners Of My Home
The New Domesticity
Self Portrait Tuesday


To prepare for my journaling in the past I have designated categories: food, gratitude, work, stuff, etc. You can totally implement something like this for yourself - it helps keep you focused on what you need to document in a written format - or you can be more free-flowing. This time around I am going for more free-flowing word documentation - capturing bits of my life in words rather than giving myself specifics - either way you go will be just fine. Just make sure you write something as you go along. It is way too hard to try to remember what the heck happened on a specific even a few days later.

A couple things to note:

(1) This is not a class. I do not have a finished project to show you or specific instructions to follow. I will be working alongside and adjusting and going with the flow from Monday through Sunday. It's a journey we can embark on together. One of the big reasons I am doing this on my blog is so that I will actually do the project. You are making me accountable. This project is worth all the effort you will put into it...but it does take work.

(2) This does not have to be a 12x12 album. It can be smaller or larger. You can include tons of stuff or just photos + words. Part of the process will be figuring out how to showcase your photos + stuff. One of the things I am excited about in relation to sharing this journey is the variety of different albums that will result. Part of what I will be thinking about as I go along next week is how I want to put the album together. I am envisioning a hybrid combination of paper and digital elements. Other than that I will be using things I have on hand here at home. I will post some ideas for supplies/formats for putting the album together on Monday or Tuesday next week.

(3) Take this one day at a time. If you take a ton of photos on Monday and only a couple on Tuesday - no big deal. Let's get rid of that pressure before we even begin.

Special Request:

I know there are a bunch of veterans of this project out there. If you completed this album in the past, would you post a link in the comments section to your album if you have it posted it in an online gallery or blog? I would love to give people who are considering this project a peek at how some have turned out in the past (there have been more than one design for this album and lots of variations).

Also, if you have photo suggestions from your experience that would be great to share as well.


My friend Tracey over at Shutter Sisters is highlighting this project today and is planning to do a book giveaway with all four of my books. Click on over to enter and check out the Shutter Sisters blog.


A complete list of posts related to the week in the life project can be found here.

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149 thoughts

  1. Linda says…

    I was thinking of not doing this because my life is so crazy right now--but decided what better time!!! I am going to start tomorrow cuz I have some fun things planned this weekend--thanks for the challenge!!

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  2. D'Nese says…

    I am so very excited to do this-that you suggested this. Thank you also so suggesting things to take photos of cause I was kinda wondering what would be some of the best objects. Your wonderful Ali, I hope you truly believe this!!
    I was wondering, where do you find most of your products? They are so very simple and just perfect for the everyday photos.

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  3. Débora says…

    I didn´t do this project before, but I saw the CKU album, and it´s amazing! I´m starting monday, and I have a group of friends here in Brazil that are with us on this journey! I´m helping with translation for the girls that don´t speak English. This is going to be fun! Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Juliana says…

    I would love to participate & play along with this "class". I have always wanted to do this, now I have the motivation to give it a try! I do have a question though. I work full time in a hospital as a physical therapist. What would you suggest about how to photograph my day? I really can't take photos of what I do each day, even though I would love to be able to do that. Any suggestions would be great! Thanks!

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  5. Ali says…

    Hey Juliana - can't you take photos of non-people things in the hospital? Machines, office area, where you are in the hospital, signs, paperwork (respecting confidentiality of course), lunch, elevator, etc. I bet there is really a lot there you could capture that does not involve your clients :).

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  6. beck says…

    I think I'm in! :)

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  7. Mrs Geek says…

    I'm so in. I need to get out of the creative rut. I've always wanted to take this class! Glad I can play along at home.

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  8. cori in wa says…

    Thanks for doing this... inspiring us.... and joining in. Bless you!

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  9. Susan says…

    sounds fun Ali! thanks for opening this up and motivating all of us to do this along with you. You can count me in :-)

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  10. Tran Quach says…

    Thanks for doing this Ali! I really, really wanted to take your album track for CKU, but it was soooo hard to pick from! :-)

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  11. april says…

    Hi Ali,
    This is going to be a challenge! And a fun one too! I started scrapbooking about a year ago, most of my layouts are 12x12. I did one mini album few months ago, it wasn't easy (it was the 'star' shaped album from Love, Elsie) but I had lots of fun completing the 40-page album. I had ordered a few mini albums, going to use one of them for this new project. Feeling excited already...

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  12. Linda says…

    Hi Ali and everyone else!
    This is just so awesome, love the idea and love all the examples posted here! I started yesterday evening when I broke my favorite coffee mug. Instead of freaking out (as I normally would do) I yelled at my husband: WHERE'S THE CAMERA!!!
    This will not be a normal week for us either, since mom is moving today. After 20 years she leaves the house we grew up in, where we laughed&cried and where my dad died from cancer nine years ago. This is a big deal for her (and, to be honest, for us too). I am so thankful this project came along just now, since this is a day I want to keep alive for the rest of our lives.
    Thank you so much Ali, and thank you to all for embracing this project and sharing your ideas!

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  13. Marilyn says…

    Oh Ali! This sounds like a lot of fun! It seems interesting, challenging, and fulfilling all in one emotion. I am sooo going to play along with you! Thanks for the inspiration, and I can't wait to get started!

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  14. Nala says…

    I have never done scrapbooking before. I didn´t know where to start :) (ok, I have your books and some papers and supplies which I bought but I never start) I like the idea of one week very much! And I will try!
    Thank you so much.

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  15. Terri says…

    Ali, I just want to say thank you for doing this. I look at your projects and want to do them but for some reason I just get stuck or intimidated and never get past the first step. I need to take one of your classes but never have had the opportunity so this is perfect for me. I now have no excuses!

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  16. Simply Vintagegirl says…

    I really like this idea! I think I just might do it.
    For all of you doing this, I have made a notebook that is easy to make, and was inspired by Ali. It fits wonderfully in an apron pocket! You can find directions here:
    God Bless!
    Miss Emily Rose

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  17. ria nirwana says…

    Wow, Ali! This is like taking a whole week class with you at CKU that I may never have! How can anyone miss this? No way!
    We are here in Indonesia is going to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr' next week, so starting Monday we are going to have a looong holiday. Perfect time, because I plan to do many new things with my kids and plan to record this.
    I am so in...
    Thank you Ali for the inspiration you are always giving us.

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Steph says…

    Oh, I loved this class when I took it at CKU in 2006!
    I've put photos on my blog if anyone's interested in seeing part of my album.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. betsy says…

    This is so amazing that this project cropped up this week. I did my own version of this in 2004 during the DNC and have a copy of the Obama speech included in my album-I didn't watch the Convention just heard it on NPR. I made my kids listen to the radio then and reread the transcript to them the next day! Also a big deal that week was that my oldest daughter had to go to the emergency room with an eye infection and this week my youngest is battling an eye infection. (The only 2 eye infections we have every had). Can't wait to do this project.

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  20. Molly I says…

    I've admired this project, Ali. I won't be joining in right now -- my creative focus is putting together the story of my travels this week -- but I'll definately reference the posts sometime in the winter, to do one for myself. I look forward to seeing the range, too. Thanks for the prompt.

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  21. Jessica C says…

    Hey! I did the album at CKU in Orlando, and here are the pages I posted on my blog:
    I didn't really like stamping at the time, so I made lots of substitutions. :) Still one of my favorite albums ever!

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  22. Mary says…

    Thanks Ali. I will join in, but I need to buy a new camera, so I will start probably the following week.

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  23. Sara says…

    I'm hopping on for this one! I'm excited. Thanks for the kick in the pants!

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  24. sarah says…

    I can't wait to get started tomorrow! I never scrap about myself--always my two little boys, so this will be a challenge :) Thanks for the challenge Ali!

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  25. Samara says…

    This is such a fantastic idea. Your ideas for putting it together are, as usualy, fabulous. Good stuff!

    Reply 0 Replies

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