Week in the Life 2014

Week in the Life 2014 Photo Book: Thursday

This is the fourth post detailing the pages of my 2014 Week in the Life photo book. You can view all of the posts in this series here.

Pancake breakfast in front of the television serves as the opening spread for Thursday. 

This image is similar to the intro image from Tuesday. The journaling tells the story of my botched alarm and the fact that Lyra is almost an hour late for school.

Another day, another morning failure. Sigh. This week really was a bummer.

I would love to be one of those amazing self-deprecating bloggers who could make light of all of this, but part of the reason I think it took me a while to finish this photo book (after spending so much time writing and documenting) comes down to a single word: shame

This week was a huge struggle for me. I failed. A lot. In any week there are magical and beautiful moments. This week had those. But it's hard for me to look past the many places where the mess cropped in. Indeed, I made some serious adjustments after I took a long hard look at things. I adjusted our morning routine. I adopted a meal plan.

But re-reading what I wrote during this week, going through all of the images, putting it in a book to be held in my trembling hands, to post it online for any stranger to shake their head and tsk...there is tremendous vulnerability for me there.

As much as I want to embrace what is real, I want to run away from it, too.

Housework Everyday Life PNG stamp is from Everyday Life Brushes and Stamps by Cathy Zielske. 20 years from no that Obama Biden mug is going to look as ancient to Lyra as a Nixon campaign button has always looked to me.

Back-to-back shots of food for the afternoon and evening. I was feeling somewhat deflated and tempted to stop documenting on this day. I am glad I pushed through. I don't love what's pictured, but I love the way the light is hitting that Coke bottle.

Final spread for Thursday. I love how well that low-light image of my husband came out on the bottom image. I wish I could have grabbed a shot of our competing media device, as I was listening to the Serial podcast on my iPad, while he watched Sons of Anarchy on his iPod. It's why I almost bought him this card by Emily McDowell for Valentine's Day, but settled on this one, instead.


Next up, Friday, which just so happened to be Halloween. And the first snowfall of the season.

Week in the Life 2014

Week in the Life 2014 Photo Book: Wednesday

This is the third post detailing the pages of my 2014 Week in the Life photo book. You can view all of the posts in this series here.

The intro spread for Wednesday features an image of my daughter's hand as she puts away silverware from the dishwasher. This was a newish chore for her at the time that has now become routine.

Another morning. Another tale about scrambling and disorganization. This week was so painfully revealing.

This is, hands-down, my favorite spread in the book.

I can remember the trip we made to Target to pick out hats and gloves. It was a first time for us California transplants. The temperature had taken a dive on the morning pictured (it was mild and in the 70's just the day before).

This image captures one of the first times she wore the hat, and it would become a staple accessory throughout the rest of the cold season. But, sometime after the start of the year, the hat was gone. Lost. Left on a bus, or on a playground...somewhere.

We have other hats. I'm not sentimental about this one. It's just the magic of photography and memory keeping. What you wind up preserving is often unexpected.

To create the overlay effect on the photo:

  • I stamped repeatedly with another digital brush from Ali Edwards' What Today Looked Like collection.
  • I alternated colors and played with the opacity settings on the brushes to create the gradient effect.
  • I then used the Quick Selection tool + Refine Edge to mask out my daughter and place her on a separate layer. This creates an illusion that the words BRING ON THE ROUTINE are floating in the air between my daughter and my husband. 

The PNG days of the week stamp on the right page is from the same What Today Looked Like collection.

The mess in the background of this image is killing me. So are all the splashed drops of coffee on the espresso machine. But...the mess is real. Life was kind of messy during this week. I'm not sure how clearly I would have seen it if I didn't have all the photographic and journaling evidence.

I do not take self-portraits or duck-faced selfies. It's far outside of my comfort zone. As is capturing an image of me eating on the couch. But, for this project, I went there. It's up to me whether I'm judging harshly what I see here, or treating the sight of my whole self with kindness. Not including this image would not be the truth. It is the story of the way life looked for me 6-weeks post surgery, unemployed, and at home.. 

I used the same stamping technique here as I used in the Starbucks image from Tuesday.

Here, a story about one of the the most tender moments I've ever had with my daughter. It was by far the sweetest moment I had that week, and it came on a day when not much went particularly well. I've copied the story below for ease of reading:

Lyra is putting the finishing touches on a homemade couch fort andI get down on the ground to snap a a few images. Because of my surgery, I generally avoid getting low because getting back up ispainful, if not outright impossible. 

After I get a few pictures of her fort, I let her know that I'm going to the next room to lie down for a bit. She asks if I could please bring her her iPod and I say sure, but it will take me a minute to get up from the floor. 

She crawls out of the fort and says, "No problem I'll help you." 

And she extends her sweet little hands to me. In that moment I have to keep from becoming completely overwhelmed and crying. I kiss her hands and tell her, “Thank you for being so kind and caring.”

And then I notice that the shirt she is wearing has a huge heart. 

I keep holding her hand and I ask her, "Can I take a picture of your big huge heart?" 

And she says, "Sure. Y'know, my heart really is this big!"

And I said, "It sure is baby. It's at least that big."

Final spread for Wednesday. A pile of dishes in the sink, following a refrigerator clean out + some get real journaling about the mess of the day. The stamping technique I used on the photo is the exact same I used on the image of my daughter heading out the door, above. The TODAY WAS A CHALLENGE brush is also from Ali Edwards' What Today Looked Like collection.

6x9 photobook, Week in the Life 2014

Week in the Life 2014 Photo Book: TUESDAY

This is the second post detailing the pages of my 2014 Week in the Life photo book. You can view all of the posts in this series here.


When designing the spreads for Tuesday, I began to experiment with using digital brushes for repetitive stamping. Up until now, I have mostly used the PNG versions of the digital stamps, but by switching to the brushes, a whole new world of play opened up. While the same looks could be created using a PNG duplicated on multiple layers, the resulting file would be messy and unnecessarily large.

Here's what Tuesday looked like in words and images.

Just like Monday, the introduction for Tuesday was is from a photo taken in the early morning. I snapped this shot midway through making my daughter's lunch. I actually took a similar shot several times throughout the week, knowing that when I put together my album I'd likely only use one of the images, since my daughter eats almost the same thing every time I pack her lunch.

However, scrambling in the morning and issues with getting her lunch packed wound up being a major theme (an a major we need to change this for me). so, while sliced ham and a granola bar are pretty mundane photographic objects, this image has a lot of emotional weight for me. It's symbolic of a certain kind of chaos and disorganization that reared its head again and again as I documented the week.

I photographed the alarm clock using my iPad before I got our of bed. The time is reflective of my having overslept, which is thematic of the week.

I'm as self-concious as most women when it comes to having my photo taken. My husband snapped this series of images while we were having an unusual Starbucks breakfast date after my daughter left for school. I love the genuine expressions he captured here. 

The image collage on the right page was made using an altered version of  Press Plate 39 from Paislee Press.

The repeated digital stamp shown on the right side of the page is part os the Thankful for This Day stamps and brush set by Ali Edwards. I used the digital brush here instead of the PNG file and stamped repeatedly in the white space, changing the color, as needed.

A scene of my lunch and daily medication regimen, which is very much a part of my life. The Tuesday digital stamp is from Writers Block Vol 2 by Paislee Press.

Same stamping technique used here, as above. I used two versions of the phrase no day like today from the What Today Looked Like brushes and stamps by Ali Edwards. 

More stamping for this 2-page spread image of my husband working in the afternoon. This stamp is also from What Today Looked Like. I used the ABR version to repeatedly stamp the phrase WORK LIFE, reducing the opacity of teh brush about 20% before each stamp. This is similar to the effect you get if you ink an acrylic or rubber stamp and then repeatedly stamp the paper without re-inking.

Cross-Country Move, 6x9 photobook

Cross Country Move Photo Book: The Technical Design Stuff

This is the third post in a series about the photo book I made to document our cross-country move from Southern California to Indiana. You can view all of the posts in this series here.

Photoshop Template Design

Before I began building my photo book, I created a Photoshop file with a series of 6x9 inch master pages that I would use a template for all of the spreads in the book. 

Master page designs: day intros

For the purposes of the book, each day is a chapter and they all begin with the same layout design. I kept the left page pretty clean, with a circular-masked image, a day-number heading, and a sub-heading that lists:

  • the city we began the day in
  • the one we finished in, and
  • the miles in between


I kept the rest of the pages pretty simple, creating space to tell the story of each day (as documented my DayOne App) and to display large images. I wanted to tell the story of the day as a cohesive story, as I usually wrote it in a single setting after we checked into the hotel each night.

While I used image collages a few places in the book, I primarily chose to display my images at 6x9 (full bleed, single page), 12x9 (full-bleed, 2-page spread) and 9x9 (square-cropped image that is full-bleed on one page, only).

This is a photographer preference. I think images have an emotional impact that is proportionate to how large they are displayed. I prefer to collage images only when the grouped images tell a greater story together than apart. Usually, these are a series of images taken close to the same time:

Or, images connected in theme, color, tone, or texture:

A Look at all the Page Templates

Below, are screenshots of each of the layouts as they appear in Photoshop. 

You may have noticed two collage layouts toward the end. These are Press Plate 38 and 39 pre paislee press. I plan on doing a tutorial soon that explains how I use Photoshop's linked smart objects to incorporate templates that I purchase from other designers into my photo books. I'll update this page with a link to that tutorial when it's done.