project life

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

With my ever-increasing love for designing and creating story books for my family, the basic building blocks of my memory-keeping these days are still my Project Life albums. Today, alongside my Weeks 14 and 15 page layouts, I thought I’d recap on why I think using pocket pages as a memory-keeping system rocks, and why I am committed to all five of our Project Life albums. (Yes, it’s five now because Bear has one too now that he’s turned one. Crazy, right?)

I love that it’s a system that allows me to go back and change or add things if I want. One of the main stumbling blocks when it comes to starting a photo album or a scrapbook is that you worry about getting it wrong and making it perfect. A system like this takes that fear factor out of the equation, so that you can just start.

I have the freedom to choose how often I work on my albums. While most people choose to do weekly spreads for their main family album, you can do whatever suits you: weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even yearly. As you all know, I use a weekly system for our family albums, and a monthly system for each of our boys’ individual albums. It all comes down to: whatever works well for you.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

If I fall behind, it’s easy enough to catch up. I simply ‘double up.’ For example, if I’m three weeks behind on our family album, I simply work on two weeks at a time for three weeks, and then I’m all caught up! For our boys’ albums, I sometimes like to give myself a break from doing them for a month, and so the next month I simply work on two months’ of photos and journaling, and then I’m up to speed again. (I never, ever try to catch up on a heap in one go anymore because I know from past experience that that usually becomes too big a mental hurdle. It’s all about spacing it out, and knowing what I need to be doing at any given time.)

I can use inserts to my heart’s content! When we’ve had special events like births, birthdays, anniversaries or special milestones like the first day of school, I’ve made use of countless inserts to help me document these momentous occasions. Other times, inserts have come to my rescue when I’ve simply had extra photos or extra journaling that won’t fit into the regular two page layout.

I can include keepsakes and memorabilia in our Project Life albums. Keepsakes like movie tickets, brochures, something your child drew, a note, a letter, cards, and school certificates can all go inside the albums. You can either slip them into a photo pocket or include them in an insert or a special 12×12 envelope designed to hold keepsakes or simply punch holes in them and put them into the binder directly.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

I love the fun of seeing a page come together. Obviously, my style is super simple and minimalist, but I still enjoy the process of deciding which photos go well together and working out where to add journaling. Photos that are seemingly insignificant and mundane in and of themselves suddenly shine with meaning and beauty when they are carefully laid out together on a page.

I love being able to document our life on a regular basis. Every week, I write a short summary of what happened. I pick my favourite photos in Aperture. Using the InDesign templates I’ve set up, I add extra text or journaling when I feel it’s appropriate or necessary. I add the day and dates of the photos. I print the photos out on my Pixma. I slip them into the pockets. And presto! One week of our family life is documented, and the whole process takes me about 1.5 hours at most (if I’m not distracted by Facebook). I do this every week of the year, and at the end of the year, I have a complete album filled with memories of our family life: precious every day moments that would otherwise go undocumented. And because I’ve been systematically working on it all year, there is no catch-up at the end of the year. No huge, empty scrapbook for me to fill.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

The thing I love the most about Project Life is that it gives me an easy structure for documenting our family and family life from every angle. In ten years’ time, I don’t want to only have a record of events like birthdays or holidays, I want to have something like this so that I can remember those little moments and what our day-to-day life actually looked like. Our Project Life albums cover every single aspect of our family: important milestones, big events (e.g. birthdays, holidays), candid portraits, little moments, corners of our house, etc. Our Project Life albums are the reference point for everything – this is why I see them as the building blocks for my memory-keeping. I also like creating photo books, story books, journals (for example, this one), and scrapbooks (for example, this one): these are projects that allow me to ‘zoom in’ and focus on a particular story or a particular period in time. However, at the end of the day, it’s our Project Life albums that tie everything together.

You can read all my Project Life posts here.

Other posts you might be interested in reading:
My thoughts on the Fujifilm Finepix x100s
My weekly Project Life process from beginning to end
Tips on taking photos for Project Life
What you need to get started with Project Life

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

It’s pouring down rain here in Sydney right now. My hands have been cold all day, and I can’t seem to warm them up. Rick’s picking up the two older boys from school and preschool, while the other two are tucked up all warm and cosy in their beds. My parents should be arriving any time now to spend Friday evenings with us. Rick and I are truly blessed to have parents who not only live in Sydney but who are also happy to visit us on a regular basis. I never had the chance to get to know my own grandparents since they lived in a different country, so I count it a blessing that my children have such a wonderful relationship with all four of their grandparents.

Anyway, I hope this week has been a lovely one for your all, and I look forward to sharing more stories with you next week. In the meantime, grab a hot cup of tea (as always) and I hope you enjoy these pages from our family album… (You can click on each image for a larger version.)

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

What happened in Weeks 11 and 12?
I de-cluttered my entire office in Week 11, and Jamie celebrated his third birthday in Week 12. (Why are all my children growing up at some crazy exponential rate that I can’t seem to keep up with?)

How were the photos taken and processed?
All photos were taken on my Fujifilm x100s and processed with VSCO Film. You can read more about how I edit my photos here.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Favourite photos from Weeks 11 and 12?
For Week 11, I love the photo of the four boys on our stripy rug in the bottom left hand corner. It was one of those candid shots which speaks volumes about their personalities and what family life looks like in our household. I also adore the photo of Bear examining the baby monitor (top left of the right hand page) – the light is so beautiful in that shot. The capture of Pete helping Nan out with Sunday’s coffee (bottom right-hand corner) is also very sweet. For Week 12, the photo of the sunset on Jamie’s birthday (bottom right hand of the last page) is my favourite, along with the photo of Jamie with all four of his grandparents. Such precious times.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Number of extra pages and inserts?
I had a 6×12 insert for both weeks, with written details of each day’s events. I also had about half a dozen 8×10 inserts for Week 12, showcasing photos from Jamie’s birthday celebration.

Overall thoughts?
The colours on each of the page flow well together, and I’m glad I managed to squeeze in so many shots of people across the four pages. I also really like my still life shots, which add just the right amount of variation and breathing room to the layouts.

Supplies used?
Becky Higgins Design A page protector; Kodak 210gsm glossy premium photo paper. All photos printed on the Canon MG6360 Pixma using genuine Canon ink.

Please feel free to leave a link to your latest Project Life post if you’d like to share.

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Other posts you might be interested in reading:
My thoughts on the Fujifilm Finepix x100s
My weekly Project Life process from beginning to end
Tips on taking photos for Project Life
What you need to get started with Project Life

You can read all my Project Life posts here.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

I’m excited to get back to posting more regularly about our Project Life albums. It fell off my radar a bit because I wasn’t sure whether you guys were still interested in reading about my layouts and I was starting to worry I was just saying the same things over and over again. However, the honest truth is that our Project Life albums form a big part of who I am as a person so even for that reason alone, I’ve decided I do want to keep sharing my layouts. If you’re a Project Lifer yourself, you’ll know that we’re actually already up to Week 22 (crazy, right?) but I’ve decided to go back to Week 9 and 10 and to start sharing from there (since my last post was on Week 8).

You will probably notice that there is hardly any journaling in these pages. The reason for this is because I’ve actually been keeping a daily sort of journal of what we’ve been doing as a family, and I’ve been including all the words from that for each week in a 6×12 insert. I haven’t decided how or when I will share these insert layouts yet, so for now, you may just have to use your imagination…

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

What happened in Weeks 9 and 10?
Rick’s Grandpa’s funeral took place in week 9. The red roses were from his memorial service. We also celebrated Rick’s birthday that week, and I captured these scenes at twilight. In Week 10, we discovered this new park, we went to a cousin’s farewell, I spent a lovely afternoon with Jamie in the studio, and I caught this beautiful last light on camera.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

How were the photos taken and processed?
All photos were taken on my Fujifilm x100s and processed with VSCO Film.

Favourite photos from Weeks 9 and 10?
All the photos from Week 9 are evocative for me. The red rose, in particular, reminds me of Rick’s Grandpa. I also love the black and white photo of Rick reading to the boys at bedtime (bottom right of page 1), as well as the photo of the afternoon light in our foyer (bottom right of page 2). For Week 10, the photos of Jamie in my studio are definitely my favourites, but I also adore the ones of the three big boys together. So much love, joy and fun right there.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Number of pages and inserts?
I had a 6×12 insert for both weeks like I mentioned above, with details of each day’s events. I also had about half a dozen 8×10 inserts for each week showcasing more photos from each of the week’s events.

Overall thoughts?
At the time, these pages were quite hard to put together, as I was still getting used to my new photography with the Fujifilm x100s. However, now that I look back at these layouts, they feel very cohesive to me. I like all the darker images and how they contrast well with the sunnier, brighter photos. It’s a good reminder that I can include both types of images in my pages and still be able to make it work.

Supplies used?
Becky Higgins Design A page protector; Kodak 210gsm glossy premium photo paper. All photos printed on the Canon MG6360 Pixma using genuine Canon ink.

Please feel free to leave a link to your latest Project Life post if you’d like to share.

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Other posts you might be interested in reading:
My thoughts of the Fujifilm Finepix x100s
My weekly Project Life process from beginning to end
Tips on taking photos for Project Life
What you need to get started with Project Life

You can read all my Project Life posts here.

Project Life, Week 8

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

How I love rainy Friday evenings. They make me nostalgic for the week that has been, and excited for the weekend ahead About forty minutes ago, we finished eating out roast chicken dinner, and the boys are now tucked up, all cosy and warm, into their beds. Rick has already cleaned the kitchen and the meals area, which means we now have an entire evening before us – free to do whatever we want. Sounds amazing, I know, but the reality is that Rick needs to keep working and I will be filing, budgeting and reconciling bank accounts. (Yay! Not.) I’m also hoping to draft up an action plan in preparation for Bear’s baptism and first birthday celebration in a week’s time. I’ve already snuck in a power nap, so hopefully it’s all full steam ahead for this cold Friday night. (If I don’t procrastinate, I get to eat a Ferrero Raffaello. That’s the deal.)

Anyway, ever since I broke through that wall, I’ve been able to re-establish a good rhythm with our Project Life album. I’ve even managed to catch up on two months of journaling and photos for each of the boy’s individual albums, so I’m feeling pretty happy about my memory-keeping efforts as of this moment. Definitely looking forward to taking it a bit more easily this month…

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

What happened in Week 8?
Pete’s fourth birthday! I baked a cake, and we had grandparents over for a celebratory afternoon tea. The day after that, it was the Lens & Layout workshop, so I guess you could said it was a pretty big week.

How were the photos taken and processed?
All photos were taken with my Fujifilm X100S and edited using VSCO Film in Aperture.

Favourite photos from Week 8?
Definitely the top two photos of Pete on the first page. It was Rick’s idea to cover him up with streamers, and I thought he looked so very cute. Gosh I love that boy.

Number of pages and inserts?
I had four 8×10 inserts and one 8×8 insert.

Overall thoughts?
I love all the pops of colour against the white backgrounds. The spread looks very fun, and it’s one that always makes me smile when I’m flipping through the album.

Supplies used?
Becky Higgins Design A page protector; Kodak 210gsm glossy premium photo paper. All photos printed on the Canon MG6360 Pixma using genuine Canon ink.

Please leave a link to your latest Project Life post if you want! I would love a peek.

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Other posts you might be interested in reading:
My weekly Project Life process from beginning to end
Tips on taking photos for Project Life
What you need to get started with Project Life

You can read all my Project Life posts here.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Friends, what a difference two weeks make! When I wrote this post, I was well and truly despairing whether I would ever find my Project Life mojo again. I couldn’t envision what my spreads would look like, I kept questioning whether I should change over to monthly spreads instead of weekly spreads, and I felt completely overwhelmed at the thought of falling more than five weeks behind.

In the end, it came down to two things. First, I simply got over the fact that my photography style was changing and that my photos would no longer look the same as they did before. I stopped doubting and embraced my new visual voice. The ironic thing is that I’ve always known this to be true since it’s happened before, and I even wrote about it in this post. However, this latest shift has been the hardest for me to come to terms with because I had grown so very comfortable with what I was doing before. It worked extremely well for me, and it was hard to open up my mind to the possibility that something else might work just as well – or even better. I’ll touch on this more in another photography post, but at the end of the day, I just had to go with the flow.

My other ‘ah ha’ realisation was this: just because everyone else around me was seemingly shaking things up and changing the way they were approaching their Project Life album this year, it didn’t mean that I had to as well. I love my weekly spreads and all the templates I’ve set up work really well for me, so why change it just for the sake of changing? Given that my photography was already changing, it eventually dawned that it would actually be a good thing to maintain the same approach to my design and layouts.

And so, over the course of a few days, I finally broke down the wall and managed to create four weeks worth of spreads and inserts. I couldn’t be more stoked. Today, I’m sharing Week 6 with you all, and I hope to post more in the coming weeks and months.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

What happened in Week 6?
We saw my parents for the first time since they returned from their six-week trip to Hong Kong. They were pretty psyched to see the boys again, and vice versa. I made roast chicken for the first time, Edward started to grow hair in a big way, and I gave Jamie a haircut which Rick did not like. He thought it made Jamie look too much like a girl. Needless to say, I responded rather defensively until I realised it was exactly the same haircut that my own mum used to give me when I was little. (Woops.)

How were the photos taken and processed?
All photos were taken with my Fujifilm X100S and edited using VSCO Film in Aperture.

Favourite photos from Week 6?
All the photos of the children are lovely, but my favourite is actually the one of the cup of Milo on the windowsill. Milo is one of my ‘comfort drinks’ and I remember it was cold and rainy that day, so looking at the photo makes me feel all warm and cosy inside.

Number of pages and inserts?
I had three 8×10 inserts and one 8×8 insert.

Overall thoughts?
I love how all the colours and tones in the first page blend together so well. It’s one of my favourite pages in our 2014 album to date.

Supplies used?
Becky Higgins Design A page protector; Kodak 210gsm glossy premium photo paper. All photos printed on the Canon MG6360 Pixma using genuine Canon ink.

How is your Project Life coming along this year?

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Other posts you might be interested in reading:
My weekly Project Life process from beginning to end
Tips on taking photos for Project Life
What you need to get started with Project Life

You can read all my Project Life posts here.

My children's individual Project Life albums - The process (Part one), by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

This second post about my children’s individual Project Life albums has been a long time coming. In my first post, I gave you guys an overview of my framework for my boys’ albums. In this second post, I thought it might be helpful if I started sharing in greater detail my actual process. Because there’s so much to cover, I’m going to focus on photo selection in this post, and then I’ll look at other aspects of my process (ie. photo editing, exporting, design, layout, journaling, assembling, etc.) in subsequent posts – hopefully you won’t have to wait another year till the next one! I know I’ve said a couple of times that I’ve sometimes wondered whether or not I should continue with these albums, but every time I flip through them and look back over all their individual memories, I can’t help but conclude this: it is totally worth it. (You can click on each image for a slightly larger version.)

My children's individual Project Life albums - The process (Part one), by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

A note about design

Before I dive into my monthly process, I just wanted to make one comment about my design philosophy. One thing that I always have in mind when I work on the boys’ albums is that I want the the overall look and feel of the albums to appeal to them as boys. For this reason, I’ve kept the design very simple and contemporary, much like our family albums. For colour accents, I’ve used light teal, yellow, beige and also dark grey, as I think they go well together and none of the colours are ‘girly.’

My children's individual Project Life albums - The process (Part one), by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

On time management

In my time management post, I detailed how I go about organising my month to make time to work on each of the boys’ individual Project Life albums. Basically, I update their albums on a monthly basis and because there are a number of them, I simply focus on a single boy’s album each week. In other words, during the first week of the month, I work on Jamie’s album. During the second week, I work on Pete’s album. During the third week, I work on Angus’ album. You get the picture. Instead of spreading it out over the course of the week, I usually try to finish updating each of the albums within a couple of days. Because I always stick to the same process, it only takes about 2-3 hours overall for each album. It largely depends on how focused I am (which is what this post was all about). If I don’t get distracted by the likes of Facebook, I can get it done in under 2 hours.

My children's individual Project Life albums - The process (Part one), by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

It all begins with a smart album…

Selecting photos probably takes up a third of the total time taken to update the boys’ albums. This is where Aperture comes in. Aaaah, Aperture. I’m not quite sure what I would do without this brilliant piece of software. Every single one of my digital photo is organised and tagged in Aperture. This means that when it comes to memory keeping, everything is ten times faster than it would otherwise be. Say, I’m updating Angus’ Project Life album for the month of December (which is actually what I spent last night doing). I simply create a smart album for the month, naming it ‘Angus 2013_12′ and nesting it under Angus’ main folder. This brings up every single photo that includes Angus from that month. Usually, this brings up a few hundred photos, but for the month of December, there were 819 photos due to preschool concerts and Christmas gatherings.

My children's individual Project Life albums - The process (Part one), by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Narrowing down the field

To narrow this down quickly, I type ‘vsco’ into the text field at the top of the browser window. This brings up the photos of Angus in December which I’ve already processed using my VSCO Cam app or VSCO Film presets within Aperture. (Remember that by the time I work on the boys’ albums, I’ve already completed our family album spreads for that month, hence I’ve already gone through and processed my favourite photos.) I immediately drag these photos into another album. I then delete ‘vsco’ from the text field and I quickly scroll through all 819 photos to see whether there are extra photos that I want to include specifically in Angus’ album.

My selection criteria

My criteria for choosing the boys’ photos is not whether they are the best looking photos, or the best photos from a technical point of view (I save that criteria for photo books like this one). Instead, I’m looking for photos that capture moments which I want us to remember years down the track. This means that the photos which end up making it into the boys’ albums are a combination of every day moments, portraits, funny captures, spontaneous family selfies, events and other special occasions. It also means that some of the photos overlap with our family album, but I am totally okay with this because it’s all about what makes sense for each particular album.

My children's individual Project Life albums - The process (Part one), by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

iPhone versus EOS photos

Most of you already know this, but up till now, my iPhone has been my primary every day camera and so most of the photos in the boys’ albums so far are from my iPhone. In addition to these iPhone photos, I usually include a handful of portraits I’ve taken using my Canon EOS into the main spread as well. If there is a particular sequence of EOS shots that I really like, or if there’s been a special occasion like a birthday or a school event, then I include these in either as inserts using 8×8 or 8×10 layouts.

My children's individual Project Life albums - The process (Part one), by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Using colour labels

For those of you who have read this post about my weekly Project Life process, you might remember that I use colour labels when I’m choosing photos. I employ the same method with the boys’ albums. Photos that I want to include in a horizontal 6×4 pocket, are labeled orange. Photos that I want to include in a vertical 3×4 pocket, I label green. Photos that I want to include on an insert layout, I label yellow. (Note that some of the photos I label orange are actually portrait in orientation, rather than landscape, but because I know that I’ll be dropping it into my 6×4 template with a square photo, I consider it an ‘orange’ photo.)

Multiples of four

Because I only use the Design A layout, I know that the final number of ‘orange’ photos has to be a multiple of four. I mentioned in my overview post that I’m flexible with the number of pages I end up with each month for each of the boys, and this is still the case. I do like the keep the ballpark around eight pages though (that’s four spreads), which is equal to about 32 horizontal ‘orange’ photos. This means that if I end up choosing about fifty or sixty ‘orange’ photos, I just keep culling until I end up with just 32 or 36. At this point, I also need to consider how many ‘green’ photos I have. If, for example, there are under 20 ‘green’ photos that I’m happy to use, then I’ll keep culling my ‘orange’ ones to a lesser multiple of four.

My children's individual Project Life albums - The process (Part one), by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

I heart filler cards

You may have noticed that I didn’t say that the final number of my ‘green’ photos also has to be a multiple of four. This is because I know I can easily use some of the 3×4 vertical pockets for journaling, captioning and (more recently) highlighting their funniest quotes from that month. In fact, I really like doing this because it means that even when there isn’t negative space on the individual photos to add text to (I’ll discuss this in more detail in a later post), I can still jot down some journaling on the 3×4 filler card. Also, from a design perspective, the filler cards break up the content on each page through the addition of white space, and therefore, breathing room for the eye.

Image sequencing

Another thing I like to do when selecting photos for the boys’ spreads is to choose 2 or 3 photos that were taken in quick succession to form an image sequence in the the layouts, like the one in layout immediately above. There are three reasons I like doing this: 1) It’s a good way of balancing the number of vertical and horizontal photos (I almost always end up with more horizontal photos). 2) It’s a fun way to show how a special moment in time has played out, kind of like a ‘flip book’ animation. 3) When you have photos that almost look the same, the page immediately feels less cluttered.

A final note…

It’s not about choosing photos that are perfect. Nor is it about photos of only the ‘exciting’ stuff that we do with them. It’s about choosing photos that paint a realistic picture of their childhood. Photos that encapsulate their everyday life. Photos that show them changing, growing, living, learning, and loving. Photos that document their relationship with each other, with us, with the wider family, and with their friends. Because at the end of the day, that is what matters.

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I do apologise if this post was overly detailed or technical in any way. I guess I just wanted to give you all a clearer picture of what I do and how a streamlined process can significantly reduce the time it takes to do something like this.

If you have any questions at all, fire away!

p.s. I’ll try and write my next post in less than a year’s time…

(You can read all my Project Life posts here or go here for a visual gallery.)

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Over the weekend, I finished off our 2013 Project Life family album, and I couldn’t be more stoked. One year of family life – documented! Seriously, that’s what this all comes down to. Capturing our memories and making them tangible, so that we can go back, remember, laugh, smile and be thankful for the journey we’ve made together.

Anyway, I found these images of my layouts for Weeks 41 and 42 on my computer, so I thought I’d share them before moving onto my new album, especially as I really like a lot of the photos that are included in these two spreads. I’ve also written down a few of my thoughts regarding Project Life in 2014 at the very end of this post. (You can click on each image for a larger version.)

What happened in Weeks 41 and 42?
I spent most of Week 41 working only my designs for The Remembrance Edition of Project Life. Every evening, after the boys were in bed, I would sit down at my desk in the studio and work till late into the night. I remember how I kept the lights off and the window open. The darkness and the cool evening breeze helped me to focus. It was also the week we started having picnic dinners down by the beach again…

Week 42 was the week of the terrible bushfires here in NSW. We also picked up my new typewriter, and we celebrated Angus’ 5th birthday by going to the aquarium together.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

How were the photos taken and processed?
All photos were taken on our iPhones and processed with the VSCO Cam app.

Favourite photos from Weeks 41 and 42?
I really love the photos I took during Week 41. If I had to choose a favourite, it would probably be the photo I took in the dark in my studio, with only my chair illuminated by the light from my computer screen. (You can see the photo more clearly here.) To me, the photo encapsulates all that time I spent working late at night on the Remembrance Edition, which obviously holds a very special place in my heart. For me, the strongest photos are those that are evocative like this one.

For Week 42, I adore the photo of the four boys on my couch in the studio, and I also love the photo of all their little hands (and Rick’s) scrambling for a scoop of ice-cream (top right of the second page).

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Number of pages and inserts?
No special inserts for Week 41, but for Week 42, I had a number of 8×10 inserts with extra photos from Angus’ birthday.

Overall thoughts?
I love all the evocative imagery in Week 41, and just looking at the pages now, it really brings me back to that week. The blacks, whites and greys in Week 42 (especially on the second page) make the pages feel a touch sophisticated, which is sort of appropriate since the second page is all about Angus becoming a big boy…

Supplies used?
Becky Higgins Design A page protector; Kodak 210gsm glossy premium photo paper. All photos printed on the Canon MG6360 Pixma using genuine Canon ink.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Looking ahead to 2014…
I am determined to stick to my weekly routine of sorting out our photos on Sunday evening, and working on our family Project Life album on the following Monday. This has worked well, so I don’t see any need to change it. As for the boys’ albums, I have, in all honesty, been questioning once again whether it’s worth all the effort, because it truly is a lot of work since there are so many of them! However, I keep coming to the same conclusion. Yes, it is. It is worth it, because it is their childhood. It is my children’s childhood. So yes, it is worth documenting.

What I do plan to change is when I actually work on the boys’ albums. Instead of working on them in the middle of the week, I’m going to spend Saturday evening doing this instead. I am always at home anyway on Saturday nights since Rick is at home working, and it means that I then have the rest of the week (after Monday) to work on other things.

In terms of design, I know it sounds boring, but I’m just going to keep using the same templates – unless I have the time to come up with something else that I like just as much! I’m due to work on Weeks 1 and 2 tonight, so I guess we’ll see…

2014 – let’s do this!

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Other posts you might be interested in reading:
My weekly Project Life process from beginning to end
Tips on taking photos for Project Life
What you need to get started with Project Life

You can read all my Project Life posts here.

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Project Life is a system created by Becky Higgins that is designed to simplify your efforts to document life and help get your photos into a book. To learn more about the product and how to get started, click here.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Now that there are only a few weeks left to go for our 2013 albums, I thought I’d share some reflections on Project Life this year…

My photography style has morphed. There’s no doubt about it. My photos are darker, full of silhouettes and shadow. As a result, my spreads feel slightly more…dramatic, even though I am still documenting the same family life as before. This is not something that I anticipated happening, but as I wrote in this post, I know that my Project Life ‘style’ will evolve over time and this development in my photography is simply part of that process.

There are some weeks when I take beautiful photos, and there are other weeks when I feel like my images are completely uninspiring. I’ve had to learn to embrace this ebb and flow and to let go of my innate desire for every spread to be ‘perfect.’

Project

I am still using my iPhone to capture all my daily photos. This works well for me, and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. I’m looking forward to upgrading to the iPhone 5S next year as the light sensor on that camera is meant to be quite remarkable, and I’m excited about what that might mean for my images. VSCO Cam is still my exclusive photo editing app, and F2 is still my favourite filter.

I am journaling more than I did a year ago. Not so much writing down my feelings so much as recording in greater (textual) detail what actually happened on certain days of the week. To keep things simple, I like to use either my 6×4 template with the square image on the left, or I type white text onto a part of the photo with negative space. By using these two techniques, I am able to keep my layouts looking uncluttered despite the extra text.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

I’ve somehow managed to keep up with doing our family spreads almost very single week. My weekly routine of sorting out our photos on Sunday evening and working on my layouts on Monday evening has worked really well for me. Using the same InDesign templates every week also helps immensely in terms of maximising efficiency.

Having said that, there are some weeks when I honestly don’t feel up to it. However, I push through this and do it anyway, because I know that for me, it’s much better to just get it done than to let the backlog build up.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

I’ve also kept up with updating my boys’ individual Project Life albums. I won’t lie. This is a lot of work, and usually when I’m in the thick of it, I find myself constantly asking Rick: “Do you really think the boys are going to appreciate this when they are older?” And always, always, he looks me straight in the eye and say ‘yes.’ And there’s no doubt about it. When I see the boys flipping through their albums and scrapbooks and when I see their faces light up and when I hear them talking about ‘the olden days’ (like on Peppa Pig), it honestly just gives me unspeakable joy. Plus, it’s scary how much we (Rick and I) actually forget, and it’s just so reassuring to know we have it all documented so that we can go back and remember together.

Ultimately, I’m incredibly thankful for our Project Life albums, and at this stage, I’m quite certain I will be continuing this journey in 2014. (Will you?)

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Other posts you might be interested in reading:
My weekly Project Life process from beginning to end
Tips on taking photos for Project Life
What you need to get started with Project Life

You can read all my Project Life posts here.

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Project Life is a system created by Becky Higgins that is designed to simplify your efforts to document life and help get your photos into a book. To learn more about the product and how to get started, click here.

(Linking up with The Mom Creative.)

Project Life, Week 44

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Only eight weeks left to go until we wrap up 2013, and I’m so happy that I’ve been able to document another year’s worth of memories for our family. I had a couple of ‘blah’ weeks in October, when I simply didn’t feel inspired to take any photos but I pushed on nonetheless and I’m happy to say that I have at least 80% of my mojo back. Honestly, I’m incredibly thankful that doing Project Life ‘forces’ me to take photos of our everyday – I think back to our years together before having children and I truly would love to have some visual record of the everyday during that time. Obviously, I’m not going to dwell on this but I guess it’s just extra motivation for me to persevere with my photography even when I feel lazy about it. (You can click on each image for a slightly larger version.)

What happened in Week 44?
Time at home with the boys. Lots of watching Bear roll around on the floor – his main method of getting about these days. Rick picked and arranged a beautiful floral arrangement using kangaroo paw from our front garden. (Crazy, right? Talk about unexpected talents!) We discovered a new cafe and had fun taking photos inside the retro cinema next door. I developed an obsession for photographing wild greenery. We all went along to a first birthday party. And I finished writing my letter to Angus for his fifth birthday. Good times all round.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

How were the photos taken and processed?
All photos were taken on my iPhone 4S and processed with the VSCO Cam app.

Favourite photo(s) from Week 44?
That bottom photo of Bear on the first page, with his big brown eyes staring up at me as I held him during bedtime. Such a perfect capture of an daily ritual that makes me smile and ache all at once. And that photo of Jamie on the second page, sitting on the red cinema seats all by himself. You probably can’t see the detail, but he has the sweetest smile on his face. I adore it, even if it was the result of his attempt to charm the two old ladies across the room from us.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Number of pages and inserts?
Just the usual two page layout – no inserts!

Overall thoughts?
I really love all the beautiful grey light contrasting with the yellows, greens and reds. I also love how the pops of colour are all similarly bright and rich in their tone.

Supplies used?
Becky Higgins Design A page protector; Kodak 210gsm glossy premium photo paper. All photos printed on the Canon MG6360 Pixma using genuine Canon ink.

If you’ve recently shared a Project Life post on your blog, feel free to leave a link below.

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Other posts you might be interested in reading:
My weekly Project Life process from beginning to end
Tips on taking photos for Project Life
What you need to get started with Project Life

You can read all my Project Life posts here.

* * *

Project Life is a system created by Becky Higgins that is designed to simplify your efforts to document life and help get your photos into a book. To learn more about the product and how to get started, click here.

The Remembrance Edition (Project Life), by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

My dear friends, I cannot believe that I am actually writing this blog post. Today, Becky Higgins will be announcing a new Project Life mini kit on her blog: the Remembrance Edition. And as surreal as it is for me to say this, it was designed by me.

Little ole me.

It all began some six months when I was chatting to another mum on the AUS/NZ Project Life Facebook group who had also lost a baby. At the time, she was looking for a kit of some sort to document her journey. Neither of us knew of any, and I candidly suggested that perhaps I could design something for the both of us. She thought that that would be a lovely idea, and so I popped it on my ever-growing projects list.

Over the next couple of months, Rick and I would talk about it here and there and we both agreed that it would be a nice thing to do. One day, out of nowhere, I found myself wondering whether Becky would actually be interested in having something like this as part of her product line. I decided to reach out to Kari, Becky’s lovely Marketing Director, whom I had gotten to know a little since becoming part of the 2013 Creative Team. In an email that would signal the beginning of this wonderful project, I very tentatively asked her whether there was any possibility of working together to develop a special Project Life digital kit for the babyloss community. There were so many of us, I told her, yet there really wasn’t anything out there…

The Remembrance Edition (Project Life), by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

It didn’t take long for Kari to reply. She already knew about Cameron from my blog, and so she understood exactly where I was coming from. I tell you, Kari is one of the loveliest people whom I have met online and I honestly wish we lived closer to each other so that I can meet her in person. But anyway, she said that she would talk to Becky about it and get back to me. I can’t tell you how much I held my breath in the days that followed…

In just over a week, I saw an email from Kari in my inbox and I almost jumped out of my skin. I opened it and saw the happiest reply: Becky liked the idea and would love to see some sample cards from me as a first step to possibly making all this become a reality. Even though there was no official commitment yet as such, I was nonetheless thrilled that Becky was interested in seeing some concepts. As timing would have it, however, Trish and I had just sold out our first Life:Captured workshop and so began two months of dedicating almost all my spare time to prepare for the event.

Finally, towards the end of August, after we finished winding down from the workshop, I sat down and began sketching out my concepts for Becky. I’d already been a working on a mood board, and so I had a pretty rough idea of what I wanted the kit to look like. Still, it was nerve-wrecking putting the concepts together because I knew I was proposing something quite different and I had no idea how Becky and Kari would respond. When Becky herself wrote back personally to say that they loved it and would love for the project to go ahead, I was simply over the moon.

Obviously, I was happy that I would get to design this very special edition of Project Life.

But more than that, I was just so encouraged that Becky and her team felt that something like this was worth creating.

The Remembrance Edition (Project Life), by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

As you may have already noticed, my concept for this edition is quite different to other Project Life kits. The main difference being that I’ve used my photography in these designs, which I know is somewhat of a unique approach. 

The reason for this is simple: When you’ve lost a child, the documentation process is quite different to when you’re documenting the life of a child that’s alive. Apart from the photos that we have of Cameron on the day he was born, we have no more photos of him. There are no baby toes to photograph, no milestones to capture on your camera, no candid shots of the parent holding or feeding the baby… We have only our grief, our tears, and ultimately, our words. So while all the other Project Life kits are graphically designed to complement people’s photos, I’ve adopted almost the opposite approach: cards with beautiful imagery to complement a grieving mother’s (or father’s) journaling.

The Remembrance Edition (Project Life), by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

In terms of the wording, I wanted to avoid trite sentiments like ‘everything will be okay’ or ‘keep smiling’ or ‘stay positive.’ Such words are meaningless when you are grieving for your child. Instead, I’ve written words that I think are true. And real. Simple truths like ‘it hurts’ and ‘taking it one day at a time’ and ‘missing you.’ Heartfelt truths.

With the journaling cards, I wrote down prompts that I felt might help a mother who’s grieving to articulate what she feels. To encourage her to document her pain, and her tears. Grief can be so all-consuming that sometimes it’s easy to just bottle it all inside. But writing it down, journaling one’s pain, is so crucial to the grieving process. If I had not written, if I had not journaled as I’d done after Cameron died, I would’ve found it so much harder to cope with my grief. An empty notebook, however, can be confronting so hopefully these smaller journaling cards can help parents express their sorrow a few sentences at a time.

The Remembrance Edition (Project Life), by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

After Cameron died, writing was one of my lifelines. There is no doubt in my mind that ‘writing my heart out’ helped sustain me through each day. Six years on, I actually cannot imagine not having my journey documented through my journaling. Those words that I wrote in the throes of my grief are utterly precious to me today. They can be hard to read, that’s true, but they are a true reflection of our journey. Of that time of grieving for Cameron. And because of that, they are beautiful words to me. To have my pain, love, tears, grief, and struggles recorded for me to revisit at any time is a bit part of my tie to Cameron now.

And so, I guess, it is my hope that this Remembrance Edition might somehow help other people to do the same: to give their sorrow words.

Even though there are a few cards that are specific to losing a baby, when I was designing the kit, I actually had in mind anybody who has ever lost someone they loved…

The Remembrance Edition (Project Life), by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Right now, as I write this blog post, I can’t help but shed tears. It overwhelms me to think of everybody in the world who has suffered the horrendous pain of losing a child. My heart goes out to all of you. You are not alone. We are not alone.

To my own little guy, Cameron Angus Mason, this entire project was for you.

I miss you like mad, and I will never, ever cease weeping and longing for you.

You are loved. Always.

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Note that you can click on any of the images above for a bigger version.

If you would like to see the entire collection of cards in the Remembrance Edition, you can visit my Facebook page and click on Albums.

And lastly, I printed my cards on matt photo paper and they turned out beautifully.