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Documenting a Disney Vacation with Project Life


According to Becky Higgins, Project Life is “an ultra-simple solution that helps us get those pictures into albums.” So, I thought, it should be a great way for me to quickly get our Disney pictures into albums.

Deciding how to scrap my Disney photos started months before we even packed for the trip. I knew I wanted the freedom I get from digital scrapbooking, but I also knew that my family was partial to actual albums. In fact, the past two trips I did both — had a photo album for individual photos and a digitally scrapped album that featured the highlights of the trip (printed as a bound photo book). This trip I wanted something that would let me have both in the same album.

I started reading a lot about Project Life around the first of the year (2012), which is when everyone makes that New Year’s resolution to complete Project Life. I was incredibly inspired by what I saw, particularly from the Becky’s Project Life creative team. I realized that by using some of the digital Project Life products available I could bridge both my need to have a lot of creative control over my album and give my family an album they could hold. The best part? I had an idea that I could get it done fairly quickly.

Planning Before You Go

My first step was to purchase the Project Life items I thought I would use in creating my album. From Amazon, I purchased a binder, an assortment of plastic page protectors, and a core kit. I selected a digital Project Life core kit that I knew I wanted to use. I also purchased some photo templates from The-Lilypad.com and DesignerDigitals.com. I organized all this in folders that made sense to me.

Through my years of digital scrap booking, I’ve found that actions/steps/organization can be done in many ways. What worked for me was to divide templates and journaling cards by size.

Within the photo template folders, templates were renamed so that the number of photos in the collage was the first thing in the name. When I opened the folder, I could immediately see which templates would fit the number of photos I wanted to use.

All of this allowed me to put my photos and stories into albums very quickly. Organization is something that helped me find a good groove when I was ready to actually work on my album.

Physically, I didn’t do a whole lot of organizing of my paper materials. I cleared a shelf for my purchased supplies. I set aside a collection of the 3×4” journal cards. These went to Florida with us, where we used them as autograph cards when we ran into characters. I also included a small chipboard piece with a clip to provide a hard surface for the characters. And colored Sharpies with a click top. Purchased in colors to match Project Life of course.

When You Get Home

. You’ve gathered materials. You’ve taken the trip.  Now what?

First, let’s download and organize all those photos, from all your photo taking devices. Phone, dSLR, point and shoot. Download them all, and then back them up. Then it’s time to start organizing.

Do you want to do your album chronologically? Do you want to do a theme-based album (i.e. all the photos from Magic Kingdom, no matter the day, go in the same section)? You’ll need to decide this and then your photo organization will flow from this.

After my summer 2012 Disney World trip, I decided to do a traditional, chronological album, although I have done themed in the past and liked that as well. After I downloaded my 1500+ photos from the trip, I sorted them into folders based on the day they were taken. It looked like this:

My next step was to individually look at each photo (I used Windows Photo Viewer) and decide whether it was a photo I wanted to continue to edit and include in my album or whether I should just throw it out. Since I had already backed up all my photos, I could delete fairly ruthlessly. Does this photo tell a story I want to include in our album? If not, I deleted it from the folder. If I liked it, it was given a quick edit using the amazing RadLab (http://www.gettotallyrad.com/radlab/) plug-in for Photoshop Elements 9, my software of choice.

Now that my folder is full of photos I know I want to include in my album, I organize them according to the story I want to tell. This might mean a sub-folder of photos from a ride, or a meal, or of the Yeti Print that Josh Gates from Destination Truth donated to Expedition Everest. There are just some stories that have to be told. Here’s how one of our Animal Kingdom days looked when organized by story:

Now I’m finally ready for the fun part: planning my album pages. Lucky for you, there are a ton of Project Life planners available for free download on the internet. For me, it was easiest to open a digital template of the page protector I wanted to use and just use a font to type what story went where. Here’s how one of my planning pages would look:

And here’s how the finished page looked in my album:

As you can see, I frequently used photo collage templates to create a collage of photos from one story that would only fill one photo pocket. I also used Cathy Zielske’s Tiny Templates to allow me to tell a quick story about a photo without taking up a whole journal spot. However, if you aren’t familiar with Photoshop and just want to print photos and journal quickly, you can certainly just use 4×6 photos and 3×4 journal cards. You might need more albums this way, or you might just want to be more selective about which photos make it into your album. It’s your album and any way you choose to document is the right way.

As promised, here are some of the many free, downloadable Project Life planners available on the internet. I suggest that if you want to use a paper planner, decide which plastic protectors you might want to use, then print up a bunch of this planners, three hole punch and put them in a 3 ring binder. You can easily grab the planner as you’re organizing photos and start planning what you want to put where, and see if you have holes to fill with journal or filler cards.

Marcy Penner Project Life Planner Pages A-G

Zoe Pearn Planner Pages

Listgirl’s Tutorial for using an iPad to plan Project Life

The Erratic Project Junkie’s Planner Pages

Sara Burns Project Life Planner 

Products

There are new Project Life core kits, that are really yummy and so fun for Disney, coming out in May, so make sure you follow Becky on Facebook to get the latest news about where you can find her products. The product page will also always have the up-to-date information on new goodies.

In addition to the Project Life branded products, there are tons of products available for use in Project Life albums. My favorite are the 3×4” journal cards, most often available as a digital download. If you are a digital scrapper, you know how to use these and are ready to go. If you’re not as familiar with Photoshop, you can download these products and then send them to an online developer such as Persnickety Prints (who will not only print 3×4” prints but will also round the corners for you) and then use them as you would any journal card.

Here’s some of my favorite digital Disney-themed products:

And if you’re interested in some free downloads, I did a series of Disney-inspired journal cards last year when I was planning my own trip and album. You can find them on my blog Document Life Now:

All of these materials and all of my preparation allowed me to put together an album covering fifteen days in a relatively short amount of time. I’m very happy with the finished product and love that by using Project Life, I was able to include memorabilia and mementos. Have a look for yourself. Here’s our final day at Disney as it looked in our album:

Have fun with this project, whatever products you use. Make your album a wonderful reminder of the trip you shared with your family so that those memories never fade.

Want to see more of my Disney/Project Life album? See all my pages on my blog, Document Life Now

Posted on by Kim in 01) Before You Go, 02) When You're There, 03) Back Home After The Trip, Official Project Life, Pocket Scrapping (Project Life), Scrapbooking (digital or paper)
  • Kay

    Kim,
    You make Project Life so organized! It is really an amazing system and all your organization prior to your vacation must have been realy helpful. Your explanation of your organization is very helpful, should I decide to give it a try. Although I dabble in digital, I still love the designing and cutting and pasting of the traditional scrapbooking. Anyway, great post!

    • http://www.documentlifenow.com Kim

      Easy for me to organize my digital life. Not always so organized in real life. Thanks for the comment!

  • Angela

    Kim,
    What a great idea. Seems so simple. I am looking to get my 2010 Disney vacation in a book before we take another this summer. The trip before that I did digital but have still not printed. Do you think this is easier than digital scrapbooking? Thanks again for all the inspiration.

    • http://www.documentlifenow.com Kim

      For me it was easier because I wasn’t trying to be artistic or even creative. I was just telling stories and putting pictures in albums. It sure went a lot faster, too. You could also do the system digitally. You can ge the templates and core kits digitally at ACDigitals and it will still all go together fairly quickly. Then print in a bound book if you’d like, or just print the layouts and slip them in a PL binder!

  • http://www.listgirl.com Christine N

    Thank you for linking to my tutorial on using the iPad to plan for Project Life! I loved reading about your organization and how you documented your Disney vacation with Project Life!

    • http://www.documentlifenow.com Kim

      You are welcome! Such a cool idea!

  • http://designsbyleti.blogspot.com Leticia EM

    Wow I love this article. I feel like for the first time someone explain in a way i can understand. The way your organize just made sense to my brain. I love it. I will be referring back this article alot. Thank You so Much for this

    • http://www.documentlifenow.com Kim

      So glad you enjoyed the article! It was trial and error for awhile, but when my organization fell together, it was magical. Thanks for commenting!

  • http://erraticprojectjunkie.blogspot.com Elle

    Thank you for linking up to my Project Life Planner. I love the way your pages turned out!

    • http://www.documentlifenow.com Kim

      Love PL planners! They are so awesome for those who need to see it laid out!

  • Bonnie

    Curious what you used to give the cards to the characters…were the cards too small? Did you put something behind them so they could sign them?

    • Kim

      I had a small piece of chipboard (slightly bigger than the PL cards). It had a big clip on it. I clipped the cards to the chipboard and then gave the characaters the whole thing. After each character, I moved a signed card to the back. The characters love the handmade mini-clipboard!