Amy Beth

September 1, 2014

Project Life: First Spreads

So a few weeks ago I told you about my fear of forgetting my children’s early years and what I was going to do about, namely, start a physical album of photos and journalling based on the ProjectLife method of scrapbooking. I’ve completed my first few spreads so I wanted to report back and share what I think about this method and lessons I’ve learned thus far.

1. It’s easier than scrapbooking, but harder than just sticking pictures in an album.

I like that I don’t have to embellish anything If I don’t want to, but I’ve found that it takes some time and creativity to make use of the different layouts and pocket sizes to create a cohesive spread in the book. It’s fun, but definitely not effortless.

2. It makes just as big of a mess as scrapbooking.

At least, I make just as big of a mess working on a layout for my ProjectLife album as I would on any scrapbook. I’m making my own journal pages, rather than purchasing any kits for now, so that involves lots of paper cutting and various markers and pens. Many of the pocket sizes have required trimming down my photos as well. All these paper scraps make it a little more difficult for me to find the time to work on it because I have to get out all the materials to start work and put them all away when I’m done. I’m working on creating a better project space for myself so I can leave things out and come back to them as I get the chance.

3. I’ve developed some opinions on photo printing.

I used SnapFish to print my photos. It was by far the most affordable option I could find, and they were running a special on free shipping during the time I was printing these. I got 400 photos printed (remember, I’m catching up on 2 years!) for just around $35.00. Even though I probably won’t end up using all 400 photos in the book, the price was good enough that it was worth it for the ease of editing down the photos as I went along rather than trying to make all those decisions on the front end. Making decisions is not a strength for me.

There are a few things I wish I had done differently though. First, during checkout I was giving the option to have everything printed as a 4×6 or to have those pictures that were taken with my phone printed at a slightly smaller size that wouldn’t require the photos to be cropped to fit the 4×6 ratio. I thought that it would be better to avoid cropping, but once I got the photos I realized that it would have been more useful to have them all be a full 4×6 inches. The slightly smaller sized photos can leave some gaps on the edges of the pockets that I’m not a huge fan of.

I also realized that square instagram photos don’t translate well into rectangles. Several of my favorite instragrams had major portions of the photo cut off. I’m looking into some other options to get photos taken with instragram printed.

4. I learned that 6×8 photo books and pocket pages can come with different specifications.

The binder I ordered has 4 rings in it. While the pocket pages I ordered only come with two hole punches. I didn’t even think to look at this while I was ordering supplies. It’s not a huge deal to add some extra hole punches to the pocket pages, but it’s an inconvenient extra step that I wish I would have avoided.

5. I probably could have done the bigger album.

Before I started I thought a 12×12 album sounded too big and overwhelming. Now that I have 400 pictures to put in an album, I think I probably could have filled out the bigger pages just fine. I’m finding the smaller page sizes to be not quite as impressive looking as the 12×12 album examples I’ve seen online. Then again, maybe it just takes practice to get things really looking good.

6. It does make for a nice way to document important moments in life.

I’m happy with how my album is coming along so far, even though I’m just a few spreads in. I imagine as I do more and get into a better rhythm that I’ll start to put things together a bit faster and develop a particular style that I like. I feel like I’m definitely in the experimental stage right now.


I started the album out with a few images from my pregnancy with a couple of journalling cards to take note of the little details. I didn’t do a lot of documenting during pregnancy, so one spread pretty much covered all I had to say about it.


The next couple of pages are of our first moments in the hospital after he was born. I used a long skinny pocket on one page to write out a brief birth story and some of the vital stats (date, time, weight, and height – blurred out in this photo).


The other side of that spread continues the birth story along with some pictures of Charlie’s first moments with various family members who were there.

I’ve only gotten through the first few hours of Charlie’s life so far, so I have a long way to go. I’ll keep you updated!