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. christie says…

    This is a GREAT idea! I have to try this! I'm already thinking of the day-to-day photos I want to take.

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  2. Helen says…

    Hi Ali, I read your book LIFE ARTIST, and gave a try to this project-- with my own design, as it was not a class--but i'd love to start over again !!! thanks for asking us to join you on this !

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  3. Grace says…

    It will be interesting to play along to see if I can do it myself. Love that your blogging to hold yourself accountable. Let's do it!

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  4. Fiona says…

    Hi Ali,
    Thanks for the inspiration. I started already this weekend taking photos to document our everyday life, and I've been having so much fun! It has certainly made me appreciate the "now" of our lives and helped me to not sweat the small stuff. I really appreciate your work...you're my favourite designer!
    Living in Denmark, it's a little difficult to get hold of scrapbooking stuff and inspirational classes/scrap sessions, so I really appreciate being able to get inspiration online. Thanks again!

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  5. Melissa Raphael says…

    Looking forward to doing this again :)
    I took your class in Orlando in 2007 and loved it.
    Here's my album:

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  6. heather says…

    Wow this looks awesome. And I love what everyone shared too, gives some great ideas.
    I am so playing along.

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  7. Jocelyn says…

    Hi Ali,
    Thank you this. It's the first time in sometime I've felt inspired to photograph.
    (not a scrapbooker)
    I'm doing a simple project (camera + post-it notes) to document my week. I'm loving it and I'm feeling super inspired.
    Thank you for that.
    Is there a common collective where we can post the results of our project?

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. LisaE says…

    Love seeing all the albums, and that has prompted me to give it a go as well. Thanks to Lain Ehmann for spreading the word, too!

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  9. Stephanie says…

    I have never scrapbooked. I am struggling to start a first year album for my nine-month son and am paralyzed by every woman's worst enemy: seeking perfection. I am hoping the confidence I gain by completeing this small and casual project will help me get unstuck!

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  10. Christene says…

    So, I was reading along, getting all amped up from everyone else's excitement (it's contagious, you know) when I reached for a piece of gum... I noticed that the inside the packet states "Dirty mouth? Clean it up with Orbit!" Look at that, my first piece of everyday found objects. And so appropriate, as my 17 month old son is learning to speak and parroting everything that he can!!!
    Thanks for the inspiration, Ali - AND everyone else playing along.

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  11. SandraC says…

    Hi Ali, thanks for the inspiration. I've always wanted to do something like this, sort of a diary. Hope to find the time to play along. Having a few deadlines this week, so time is scarce. But I really promise to try!

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Sarah says…

    This inspired me to finish up my album from last year. It was almost done but it needed the finishing touches. And when I finished, I was totally inspired to do this again. (Which I absolutely wasn't planning to do before this afternoon.)
    In honesty, I didn't think I loved my album from last year. I did it in March so many of the pictures seemed dreary. Bad lighting from so many indoor shots. And I remember thinking that my life seemed so small when I looked at those pictures last year.
    But going back only a year and half later, I love it. I love seeing those details. I love remembering the day to day stuff and realizing how much our life has changed in such a short time. I love seeing things that I have no memory of - that my husband played board games with the kids almost every night that week, when I bought that Easter dress which has become a favorite dress up item.
    I am so excited to do this again. Thank you again for the inspiration you provide!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Heather says…

    I've been in this scrapbooking funk for months now...then I found this post just in time- I think it will be perfect to get the creative juices flowing again- thanks for the kickstart ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Ali says…

    I loved your comments Sarah :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. kimberq says…

    I am so pumped for this!!!Ran into a lady from Artistry 2007 this weekend and were chatting and talking about this project. I am so inspired!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Jill says…

    I'm all set! Thanks for the reminder about charging that battery!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. gardenymph says…

    Oh Yes! I am taking my camera to bed with me tonight so that I can start clicking away first thing in the morning. My life is so magical right now, and crazy with three kids, there is so much that I don't want to forget.
    I haven't checked in for quite a while, and I didn't realize that you were expecting again. Congratulations! :~)

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. beth says…

    i'm in!

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. becca says…

    I'm in--Sunday through Saturday (because we went to the pumpkin patch today).
    Thanks for the challenge!

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Noel says…

    Hi Ali,
    I am new to your site. :) This sounds like such a great project and I can't wait to start taking pictures tomorrow. Thank you for the inspiration!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Natty says…

    wow i love this idea, and even better that so many people are going to be doing it at the same time.. i've got my camera ready and i'm readdyyy to be clickingggg:D

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. laurence says…

    Hi Ali.
    Did not visit your blog for a long time, see new exciting projects. Thanks for sharing your font, your ideas and your smiles (what I find special when I read your posts is that I can't imagine you different than smiling!).
    Off to work, but I will never stay again such a long time without reading you.

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Buddhini says…

    For the first time I am registering with a this kind of project. So excited :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Secret Agent Mama says…

    I came here via Tracey (Mother May I) and I will be taking part in this, this week!
    I will be back with the link as I think I will make it a page or do it via Flickr.

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. spread your wings says…

    I also came here via Mother May I . I am already sort of doing this with my daughter who went off to college this year. We are doing it together as a way of experiencing each others new day-to-day life away from each other. ( I just use my iphone.) It's a good discipline, however my daughter finds it hard to get her daily shots but for the most part it is a wonderful experience / experiment.
    Maybe I can get her to commit to one week.

    Reply 0 Replies

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