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year long photo projects

The Resilience Through Joy Show - Episode 003: Joy Through Passion Projects

The Resilience Through Joy Show - Episode 003: Joy Through Passion Projects

Welcome to the Resilience Through Joy Show - Episode 003: Joy Through Passion Projects, a conversation with Beryl Ayn Young, founder of Recapture Self, a community for deeply feeling, giving moms who are ready to reclaim their identity beyond story reader, snack maker and boo-boo kisser.

Motherhood is a role that we love, but the day-to-day grind of being a parent can be exhausting and all consuming. However, it’s possible to be an amazing mom (even on the hard days), fiercely devoted to our families, while also making time for ourselves too. 

5 photo projects for the new year

It's a brand new year and if you are anything like me, you are setting goals and making plans for the year ahead that include several photo projects.

But are you feeling overwhelmed by all the photo projects on your to-do list?

I'm over on Mom365 explaining my top five essential photo projects that have you covered. Pick even just one of these family photo projects to focus on this year. Break down your project into small steps.

Then, schedule them out in your calendar and you CAN get it done!

Read more on Mom365

The best photo project you will do this year - my tips on Mom365

With holiday madness behind us, the end of the year drawing near and a movie queued up for a rare quiet evening at home the other night, I decided to review and catch up on my photo-a-day project, and I was pleasantly surprised to find very few gaps in my calendar for 2014!

I've been doing this project since Liam was born in 2009 and I have photos for almost every day since then but, well, let's just say that for past few years, I still have quite a bit of backfilling to do.

However, this this December 31st I closed out the year with a photo posted for every day!

Learn how you can do the same and help to make 2015 a special year of capturing the moment with your family.

Read more on Mom365

DSLR free vacation and quiet time in midst of excitement (sibling photos week 33&34/52)

We just got back from a week of vacation in Florida. It was fantastic! We basically spent almost the entire time either in the pool or at the beach. At night it felt like I was still floating up and down after all the hours in the water. It was great to be outside so much but also tiring. By the time the kids were in bed, we were pretty much ready to call it a night too!

And guess what? I did not take my DSLR to the pool or beach once! I went with a waterproof point-and-shoot and my iphone. In fact, were it not for this project, I might not have taken any photos at all!

I did however capture the two boys playing with Lego guys in the hotel. One of the fun things about the vacation was getting to see them spend so much time together.

I also captured this moment while we were waiting for our Duck Boat tour. The light, just like the moment, was irresistible.

I'm so glad to have these photos from our vacation. I'll be honest though, my favorites are the beach and pool snapshots that I took with the waterproof camera. Knowing that I didn't have to lug the "big camera" everywhere, or worry about keeping it safe from sand and water was great. I'll share those another time!

Spring photo tips (sibling photos week 14/52)

Spring photo tips (sibling photos week 14/52)

Spring is finally here! Well, we'll ignore the current forecast of rain mixed with sleet and "wet snowflakes" and pretend that spring is here!

Last week we celebrated spring by making our first trip of the season to the Pratt campus where we spread out a blanket and enjoyed some snacks and time running around in the sun.

As we were packing up to go home, the boys started whispering and giggling to one another and I managed to capture this moment.

I am loving seeing their relationship develop through the lens of my camera. Looking for sibling moments to capture means that I am seeing more of them, and creating more opportunities for them to occur. Already I have a much stronger sense of their relationship that I did last year and that is something I feel really good about.

Photo tips

Early spring can be tricky for photos as the sun is starting to get higher and brighter but there is not a lot of tree foliage to provide shade.

Here are three strategies I used to create this photo:

1) Position yourself so the sun is behind your subjects: In this photo the boys are in direct sunlight but I put the sun behind them so their faces are in shade.

2) Crop for an off center composition and to remove clutter: Because I was in a rush to capture this moment, the boys were more centered in the original photo and you could see the stroller and all our stuff in the background. Cropping totally transformed this photo - even I was pleasantly surprised by how much, to be honest!

3) Convert to black and white if the lighting conditions are harsh: The blanket is close to blown out (over exposed) in this photo as it is in direct sunlight compared to the boys, but in black and white it is less noticeable and distracting.

Get more tips for capturing the moment this season.

Shooting in very low light (sibling photos week 11/52)

Shooting in very low light (sibling photos week 11/52)

I'm not sure when, but for several months now, Jack has this thing where he wants to "hold Goh Goh" (Goh Goh is Chinese for older brother) so Keith came up with a way that Liam can put his legs over Jack's and be "held" without, you know, totally crushing Jack.

It is adorable.

It also hearkens back to the days when Jack was a baby and Liam was always asking to hold him.

Last weekend was a busy one filled with birthday parties and other social events so I didn't get to take my weekly sibling photo until early in the week - and I was restricted to an early morning or late evening moment.

So this photo of Jack "holding Goh Goh" is brought to you courtesy of 6am after we switched to daylight savings time (ie it was pitch black outside).

Photo tip

When you don't have much light, crank your ISO way up high on your DSLR. Check your manual as you may even have an "ISO expansion" setting that will allow you to go extra high. Yes, your photo will be grainy and the colors will not be great, but convert to black and white and embrace the grain!

Join me in my year long weekly sibling photo project and share your photos with the Peer-to-Peer Facebook group. Become part of the group - membership is free with a purchase, past or current, of any one of the Photosanity workshops.

Photo habits for beautiful family photo albums on Mom365

In the old days, every photo we took was on a roll of film that we got developed. Prints typically came with a flimsy but free album that you could put them in. Second copies were often included so you could give them out to friends and family.

These days you can take a lot more photos without worrying about the expense and inconvenience of getting film developed, but as a result, most people rarely even print their photos any more, myself included.

On Mom365 I'm talking about how you can easily get into the habit of making prints and creating beautiful photo albums.

Read more.

My most rewarding photo project - as a mom and photographer - on Mom365

This month, over on Mom365, I am sharing some of my secrets to getting your photos off your hard drive and out into the world to be shared and enjoyed off screen.

This week I talk about the most rewarding photo project I have done as a parent and as a photographer.

I am talking about my ShutterCal photo a day project.

Jump over to Mom365 and read about how my photo a day project transformed my experience as a mom and a photographer and how it can do the same for you, in a way that is easy, fun and rewarding.

Get photos off your hard drive - my photo advice on Mom365

Now that your photos are beautifully organized and backed up, what are you going to do with them?

Digital photography makes it easier than ever to take tons of photos without having to deal with thousands of prints and negatives.

We are all taking a lot more photos as a result, which I can only see as a good thing... but it does have its downsides, one of which is that most parents now have thousands of photos collecting dust on their hard drives instead of in boxes under the bed or in the attic.

I still believe in the power of physical prints, albums, books and artwork.

Read my advice on Mom365 and learn how to use one of my favorite services to create your own albums using your Facebook posts!

Photo cropping - my secret weapon for great photos (week 2 of 52)

Photo cropping - my secret weapon for great photos (week 2 of 52)

It turned out that for various reasons, I didn't get a lot of opportunity to photograph Liam and Jack together much in week 2. I snapped this and a few other photos while they were sitting watching TV at grandma's, but it wasn't until I applied my super secret creative technique to this photo it turned into something I loved.

My secret?

Cropping!

Cropping is an easy way to make your photos more creative after the fact. If you captured a sweet, emotionally good moment but the photo is a little blah, chances are that the composition is not strong. This may especially be true if your camera limits where in the frame you can focus. Or in this case, I didn't want to get too close to the boys to disturb them so cropping after the fact allowed me to get in closer and achieve more of an off center composition that strengthened the photo and made it more striking.

I also like the natural eye contact from Jack, whereas Liam is completely focused on his TV show. We try not to allow too much screen time but when we do, this is pretty typical! In fact, it's Jack's eye contact and look of puzzlement that makes this photo a winner for me.

I'm loving all the sibling photos in the Photosanity Peer-to-Peer Facebook group! Several parents are joining me in this focus for a "52 project." To join in, join the group - membership is free with a purchase, past or current, of any one of the Photosanity workshops.

Capturing sibling moments (week 1 of 52)

Capturing sibling moments (week 1 of 52)

As I looked over my photos from last year for our holiday card, one thing that struck me was that I didn't have as many sibling photos as I would have liked.

Let's face it, sibling photos are hard, especially when you have an active four-year-old and one-year-old, neither of whom is particularly inclined to sit still or be cooperative.

However, Jack is two now and he has started preschool - it's just two days a week but I see a big difference in how he interacts and plays, plus he is really starting to talk a lot more. As a result, the boys are starting to play and interact more as two kids rather than an older kid and a baby.

I am really enjoying seeing their relationship develop, listening to them have actual conversations, and being able to step back and let them entertain each other.

So this year I have decided to focus on sibling photos, and to share a DSLR sibling photo each week here on the blog as a "52" project.

To kick off the year right, this photo is from New Year's Day at grandma's house. This was a totally spontaneous, unplanned, undirected, unposed moment (my favorite kind) that came about naturally as the boys were playing before dinner.

I love how little kids are so comfortable playing on their tummies. And at an age where there is still a lot of parallel play, I love this moment of interaction.

Photo tip

Photosanity parents know

I say this a lot

but...

get down low to photograph your kids from their level

. It gives your photo a more intimate feel than shooting from "grown-up level" above.

Join me for a 52 project

Like the idea of a "52 project" of sibling photos? I invite you to participate with me! If you have one child, try a "friends and family" theme with the focus on photographing your child interacting with others.

To join in, post your photos on the Photosanity FB page, or use the hashtag #photosanity on facebook, twitter or instagram. And if you're a member of the Photosanity Peer-to-Peer Facebook page (free with any Photosanity online workshop purchase, past or present) you can share your photos in the group for motivation and inspiration.

Sustain - learning to pace myself and make changes in 2014

Sustain - learning to pace myself and make changes in 2014

The concept of picking a word for the year and using it as a guiding principle or theme seems to be gaining popularity. Last year I tried it for the first time with the word "thrive."

To be honest, the year did not turn out anything like how I hoped or imagined when I picked that word. And at times it felt like I was doing anything but thriving. Drowning might have been a better word.

And yet, as the year came to a close, it dawned on me that I WAS thriving, even if that did not look how I expected.

Favorite photo of Jack from early 2013

My business took some surprising but exciting turns and I have an expanded and even stronger vision of its potential.

I spoke at the Apple store. I have a growing relationship with Mom365. I have fallen in love with brand portrait photography (keep an eye on Rachael Ellison and Yvette Syversen).

I reconciled with a career in architecture that I wasn't sure I would return to and am enjoying my return to the profession and working full time more than I could have imagined.

My parents are here helping with the kids and expanding their world of people who are there for them on a day-to-day basis. (When my sister visited Liam's classroom and asked Jack what his favorite thing there was, he said "Por Por", the Chinese name for grandmother that he calls my mother!)

I've met new friends, deepened existing relationships, and have gained new insights and realizations about myself and the world that will help me for the rest of my life.

Favorite photo of Liam from early 2013

My husband continues to be the best partner I could have picked for this crazy journey called life, and a fantastic father to our boys, who continue to bring me joy and delight daily as they grow and develop into yet more interesting and fascinating little people.

Yes, at the start 2014 I am thriving more than I was at the start of 2013.

Now what?

My word for 2014 is "sustain."

Because I have too much going on. I bet a lot of you reading this didn't even realize I've been working full time for six months.

A common refrain I hear from friends, colleagues and clients is "I don't know how you do it all"... and frankly, nor do I!

Sometimes when I take a look at everything I accomplished in a given week, it is mind boggling.

A year later - photo of Jack from this past weekend

But here are some things I am not achieving - enough sleep, enough exercise, enough time with my family, enough time with my husband, enough down time, enough time taking care of myself, enough time on personal projects.

So this year I really want to look at what I can sustain. What is sustainable for me in the long run? There are years for growth and for taking on new things and seeing how far you can push yourself - hello the last five years of growing a family and a business! - but this is not going to be one of them.

And I feel really really good about that.

What can I sustain?

This doesn't mean life becomes stagnant. It means that I pace myself so I can choose to make changes rather than be forced into them because I can't sustain the status quo.

I've already made a few decisions and changes based on this concept of sustainability and it has been a helpful guiding principle.

A year later - photo of Liam from this past weekend

I have shifted the way I approach the Peer-to-Peer Photosanity Facebook group and engagement is already way up in a way that is more organic and sustainable to me - and I love it. My goal with the group is to make it a fun, supportive and productive environment for all of us, myself included.

I have also decided that after two years of maintaining two separate ShutterCal photo-a-day projects for each of my kids (with many holes that need to be back-filled) it's time to consolidate into one project - already it feels so much more doable and I've posted a photo a day so far (granted it's only been 6 days but compare that to zero photos in either calendar for December!).

I'll be blogging once a week instead of twice at Mom365 (at my suggestion) so I can continue to provide high quality content there while making my blog here a little more personal with a DSLR sibling photo each week as a "52" project I'm really excited about.

I am already really enjoying focusing more on sibling photos!

And instead of trying to do everything at once, I'll be focusing on closing out work with my current one-on-one clients before taking on anything new.

Plus all of the above. Which is still a lot I know. Hey, it's a work in progress! Awareness is the first step.

Help with new year photo resolutions

All the Photosanity workshops will continue to be available in online self-guided form so if you need some help with some of your new year photo resolutions, let me help you - all purchases include complimentary membership in the private Photosamity Facebook group and we would love to have you join us.

Happy new year and all the best for 2014!

Capture 365 days on one canvas

As you know, my photo-a-day project has been one of the most rewarding projects I have done as a parent AND a photographer. Photosanity parents love this project too and ever since I shared my one year canvas that I made with all the photos from Liam's first year, I've had a lot of interest in making this available to others.


So I am very pleased to announce that the 365 canvas is now available from ShutterCal as a result of our ongoing collaboration.

I designed the canvas and ShutterCal figured out a way to make it really easy for you to order. Once you have a year's worth of photos, all you need to do is select the first date you'd like your canvas to start with (it doesn't have to be Jan 1 or even your child's birthday - pick any date that makes sense for you).


Several Photosanity parents have already ordered their canvas and we'll be featuring some of them on the blog in the future. I know others are using the canvas as an incentive to keep up with the project.

If you have a year of photos already, you can order your canvas here (make sure you are logged into your ShutterCal account).

If this is just the motivation you need to start a photo-a-day project, check out the Photosanity + ShutterCal bundles designed to set you up for success.

And join us in the Photosanity Peer-to-Peer Facebook group for added support.


Back to school photo projects


I know some kids around the country have been back to school for weeks now, but here in NYC yesterday was the first day of school for many, and my facebook feed has been hot and heavy with first day of school photos.

Jack's first day of preschool was on Friday, and Liam's first day at his new school for pre-K was yesterday. Both my kids were utterly uninterested in carrying their backpacks and they are so completely unused to posed photos that I satisfied myself with more informal portraits on the front steps before setting off for school.


Jack is doing well settling into preschool (he is only going twice a week) and will have his first full day at the end of the week.


Liam, by the sounds of it, had a great first day. At his old preschool, he was used to getting dropped off at the classroom door so when he saw that I was hanging around in the classroom today, he politely asked "are you going to leave the classroom?" in a tone that meant "uh, you can leave now, thanks!"

And I actually managed to get quite a bit of detail from him about his day yesterday evening!

As I suggest in my Mom355 blog post on back-to-school photos, I've been taking a lot of photos over the past week and will continue to do so over the next few days.

I'm also starting to plan for next year's school photo book!

What new photo projects do you have planned for the school year?

New year new moments, take better back to school photos


Back to school is one of the best times of the year for taking and sharing photos. It’s also the perfect time to perfect your skills so you can capture these special moments.

There really is nothing like a back to school photo to capture the changes, excitement, and enthusiasm of a new year.

For me, this year is back to school for both Liam and Jack and it marks big changes for all of us. I’m getting teary already. Liam only has a few more days at the preschool he has been at for almost three years. Then he’ll be starting pre-K at a new school, and Jack will be starting school for the first time at Liam’s preschool.

In honor of back to school last year, I shared some of my thoughts about the day and capturing the moment and I want to share it with you again now, as a reminder for parents bringing their kids back to school and for all the first timers and new Photosanity parents that are feeling that unique brand of excitement and anxiety that comes with the first day of school.

Tips for back to school photos that capture the emotions


I look at these photos above, taken just as we were leaving the house for his first day of school and wow, my heart is beating a little faster just remembering how brave he was and, truthfully, how brave I had to be.

Read on for my back to school photo tips to capture your first day of school moments.

Celebrate the new school year with a new project


The start of the school year is the perfect time to begin a photo-a-day project.

Changes in schedules often mean new opportunities for capturing the moment and treasuring the time you do have with your kids. Don’t think your work schedule allows for it? Here’s how I do it and how it could work for you, too!


The photo-a-day project is a great way to keep the positive energy that you have at the beginning of the school year going all the way through to the end. It will also show you just how much your child is changing, growing and learning every day.

Take better back to school photos

For big moments like back to school, we parents can get a little ahead of ourselves and become anxious about capturing the right moment the right way.

Follow these tips to overcome those feelings, and when you find yourself yelling “SMILE!” from behind the camera.

Get ready to capture the moment, right now

Get started with just an hour of your time and the gear you currently have. Sign up for your free lesson now, then share those amazing back to school photos!

How I stay connected to my kids when work changes our schedules

I have to admit, I don't always keep up with my ShutterCal photo-a-day projects (one for Liam and one for Jack). I have all the photos and eventually plan on back filling, but I totally get it - it's not always easy to keep up on a daily, or even weekly or monthly basis.

But it's so much easier and more satisfying. The months without gaps look so great!

And I'm pleased to say that I'm 100% complete for the last three months.

I'm particularly proud of this month's calendars as this was my first month as a full time working mom. Yes that's right, I am back in architecture! A great opportunity came up so I decided to give it a go, while still continuing to grow Photosanity and of course bring up two kids.


Yes, I know, kind of insane, and as you can imagine it was a tough decision to make, giving up so much time with Liam and Jack. A little heartbreaking, actually. I've loved having the chance to be home with them for much of the time and I've had some of the best years of my life doing so.

Overall though it's a positive move for me, my family and for Photosanity - you will not see any major changes except for continued growth and development. Further, I am now putting to the test for myself in a much bigger way the concept of making the most out of your time with your kids and staying connected to them through photography. I'll be sharing my experiences and what I learn here, on the blog, with my coaching clients and in future workshops.

Case in point is my photo-a-day project. I'm lucky in that not only are my parents here to help with the kids but my father, who as some of you may remember is a serious amateur photographer himself, has taken over capturing the daily moments with the kids when I am not there. It took some trial and error and adjusting but we now have a system set up involving daily uploads to Dropbox so I can see what the kids got up to while I was at work and keep up with my photo-a-day project using a combination of his and my photos.


For those of you that have help with your kids, your child's caregiver may not be a photographer like my dad, but they can still take and share photos with you. I know many caregivers love to take photos of the kids they look after so you might be surprised if you ask. Or they might already be texting or e-mailing you photo updates and it's simply a matter of incorporating some of those photos into your own collection.

And it doesn't have to stop there. Many day cares, preschools and schools take photos on a regular basis that they share with you (we get weekly photos from Liam's preschool) so you can use those photos, as well as any that other friends and family members take - there's nothing that says that you have to be the sole documentarian for your family!

For those of you working outside the home in particular, I'd love to hear from you. What are your challenges? What have you found helps you stay connected to your kids? Leave a comment below!

Get to know Marcee Harris Schwartz, winner of the PADF Memories Challenge


Marcee Harris Schwartz is a Brooklyn, NY mom of 2 and the winner of our newest PADF Challenge.

She took the very first Photosanity Workshop and learned how to overcome her biggest photo challenges in the twelve week course.

Since taking the course, Marcee has been an active member of the Photosanity community. She was interviewed for the Photosanity feature article on DNAinfo this May and she has started a family blog where she shares photos and updates with friends and relatives.

Congratulations to Marcee on winning the PADF Memories Challenge!

Marcee talks about how Photosanity helped her overcome photo frustrations and embrace capturing the moment with her kids.

Prior to Photosanity, what was your biggest photo frustration?

Where to start?! I didn't take good photos, didn't know how to edit them, didn't have a storage, backup or sharing plan, and I never printed my photos!

What photo project are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the photo-a-day projects that I completed for both of my kids. I love having a year of photos of each of them and I can imagine many days ahead when we will all flip through the pictures and talk about what was going on in our lives and our memories from when they were little.

About the winning photo...


Why is this photo special to you?

We've been doing evening trips to the playground near our house now that it is warm, which is such a fun break from the normal, hectic evening routine.

My son just turned one and, in this photo, you can just see him figuring out how to use the playground equipment. Each time we go, he gets more adept. He looks so proud of himself when he does something new. This photo seems to capture all of that.

Do the PADF challenges encourage you?

It's helpful to have a goal and a focus for the week. Without that, I find myself getting lazy about taking pictures.

How Marcee captured the moment...

Camera: iPhone

Editing tool/App: Camera+ to increase the contrast and clarity of the image

Easy year long photo projects (part 3 of 3)


Last time, I talked about a really easy way to create albums from your facebook photos and before that, I talked about my photo-a-day project and one year canvas.

Today, I have a final year long project to share with you that is the easiest one of all to complete, especially if you have it in the back of your mind all year.

The annual family photo calendar.

Does a photo a day seem daunting? How about a photo a month?!

I KNOW you can do that, and that, at it's simplest, is what a photo calendar can be.


Choose your best photo from each month and make it a page in your photo calendar for next year. It's like a built in time capsule - pick the photo that most represents the month, knowing that a year from now you'll have a whole month to enjoy it.

Put your calendar on your fridge and your kids will love to see the photo for each month as well.

Of course, you can use layouts that allow you to include more than one photo for the month.

And if you have an extended family like I do, you can include photos of all of them throughout the year and give each family a copy for the new year. It's a great family tradition to start that will quickly become legendary and it's fun to know that everyone is looking at the same photo each month.


In this case, though, it's not necessarily about choosing your "best" photos.

Choose the photos that best capture the shared experiences of your family.

As always, knowing the end product that you have in mind ahead of time can help you make sure you get the shots you want for it.

In fact, even my nephews and nieces now will tell me when they think there's a great photo for the calendar in the making!


I use Apple's calendars because they have the largest format, and I've been using them consistently since before I became a mom or a photographer.

(Note - these can only be made in iPhoto. It's the only thing I use iPhoto for these days!)

Similar to making a book, you can choose different themes and layouts.

Mpix also has a variety of calendars as does Pinhole Press and of course many other companies too.

You can also choose from desk calendars, magnetic calendars or notepads by week or month, or even day planners.

If this sounds like a project you and your family would enjoy, DECIDE NOW TO DO IT!

1. Make a folder or album in your photo software called "2014 Calendar" and start collecting potential images from January and February in there.

2. Keep your calendar in mind as you take photos. What is it about this month in particular that you want to capture? Is it the weather, a birthday or special event, a trip you have planned?

3. Come December, you'll want to take your December photo early (or use a photo from this past December instead) and then get your calendar ordered in time to get it for the new year. Lead times vary but put "order photo calendar" on your schedule now for December 10th. Go on, do it!

Easy year long photo projects (part 1 of 3)


Last week I kicked off the year on the blog by talking about my "word" for 2013: THRIVE. I announced that I would be writing a series of weekly blog posts on easy year long photo projects, and first asked you what your three photography projects or goals are for the year.

Reading your responses was so fun and inspiring, and gave me lots of fodder for future blog posts. I can't wait to send out postcards and handwritten notes to all who responded and to do this every month to keep you motivated and inspired in your photography!

So let's get going with this, the first of three blog posts on year long photo projects.

When I first became a mom, I knew I was going to be taking a lot of photos, but I had no idea how overwhelming and time consuming my self-appointed job as my family's documentarian would be.

Before I knew it, I was drowning in thousands and thousands of photos that I just couldn't keep up with, and it was partly out of my resolve to figure out how to handle all these photos and make it easier for myself that I came up with the idea of helping other parents do the same.

To be honest, I'm still not there as far as creating all the albums and wall galleries I would like out of my personal photos. There is definitely an element of "the shoemaker's children have no shoes" here. Indeed, I'm just working on the seventh set of annual photo albums for a client and have yet to do them for my own family. I wish I could hire myself!

However there is one project that I have been hands down more consistent in keeping up with with than any other personal project and that is:

My photo-a-day project

photo-a-day calendar

Those of you who have taken The Photosanity Workshop or watched my free video lesson will be familiar with the photo-a-day project, and even if you haven't, you may have seen me talk about this before.

But if you haven't, this is a project that I started the day that my first son Liam was born almost four years ago, and aside from a few missed days here and there (mostly in the first couple of years), I've been going strong ever since, and even started a second photo-a-day project for Jack the day he was born just over a year ago.

I know what you might be thinking, because many parents before you have told me the same thing - a photo-a-day project doesn't sound easy! It sounds like quite a commitment, rather overwhelming, and kind of like overkill. Do you really have something to photograph every single day?

And the fact is that yes I do.

The first week of Liam's life:

The first week of Jack's life:

I love my photo-a-day project. It's the single most rewarding project I have done as a parent AND a photographer.

  • I have an amazing day-by-day record of my kids' lives.

  • When I wonder, as I often do, where the time has gone, I can literally see each day that has passed.

  • Liam has had so much fun this year looking at photos of him at whatever Jack's current age is.

  • But beyond all that, my photo-a-day project has been a daily reminder to look for the moments that I want to remember... and to more fully experience and enjoy them now.

My photo-a-day project reminds me of all I have to be happy and grateful for now.

And I know I'm not alone because I hear all the time from Photosanity participants about how glad they are that they gave it a try too, and how they have been surprised and grateful at how their project turned out and what it has brought into their life.

"I just want to say thank you. I thought a photo a day was a little much and a lot of pressure to come up with a "moment" everyday worth documenting and instead I started to realize how MANY moments there were each day with my boys that I was passing by - that I did not even realize were photographic moments and so even if I get nothing else out of this seminar I have gotten all I wanted by week 2... the appreciation for the everyday moments of my boys - the moments that make them who they are and moments that we share EVERYDAY and being able to document them! Thank you Alethea!" - Rachel Dreher

"I agree. Thank you! As a working mom I started feeling down that I was missing so many special moments with my daughter during the daytime. Then as I started the photo a day project I realized that I have many moments when I get home in evenings and the mornings before leaving to work that I need to just enjoy those times! What better way to capture it then with a photo a day! Thanks Alethea!" - Avanee Patel

Thinking about starting a photo-a-day project?

Here are a few tips that will help make your project successful:

1) Use ShutterCal to organize your project. ShutterCal uses a calendar format to store and display your photos, so it's really easy to see which days you have photos for and which days you're still missing. I'll be honest, I always take photos daily for my project, but I don't always get to select and upload daily. ShutterCal makes it really easy for me to go back and fill in the gaps.

2) Try and keep your project up to date daily or at least weekly if you can. It need only take a few minutes each day to upload a photo but it takes much longer to backfill. This year I'm newly resolved to keep up daily if I can, or monthly at the very least. It's very satisfying to get to the end of the month and complete the month!

3) If you have an iphone, consider using mostly iphone photos for your project - I do. It makes it more informal and fun, plus ShutterCal has an iphone app so I can upload right from my iphone. I do occasionally use DSLR photos but I never would have kept this project up for almost four years on my DSLR.

4) DON'T BE A PERFECTIONIST!!!! Yes, I am putting that in caps because, as a perfectionist myself, I know this pitfall only too well. This is not about uploading a masterpiece every day, or even a "good" photo. Think of this as "photographic notes" - you want photos that remind you of what you most want to remember about the day. It doesn't have to be anything more than that. This is about experiencing and remembering.

This past week of Liam's life:

This past week of Jack's life:

"But Alethea!" I can hear you saying. "I thought you were going to talk about EASY year long projects - this doesn't sound easy!"

I know. And reader Ruth Topless pointed this out in her survey response also. This project is not for everyone, and it does require a certain level of persistence and commitment.

But this is the project that I have found "easiest" to keep up, mostly because the format is really simple and consistent and it's become a habit. I've stuck religiously to the tips I give above, plus many more in the workshop, which helps to keep things simple.

Most importantly, I REALLY enjoy it and I find it incredibly rewarding. It's the payoff that makes it easy for me to keep up with it.

In fact, I thought I would only keep two separate calendars for Liam and Jack for a year and then I would combine them, but I've found I'm not ready to do that yet, so I'm going into a second year with two calendars!

Plus I am DEFINITELY a better photographer and parent for having done it. My photography benefits from playing around and being creative on a daily basis with my iphone photos, and as a parent, I have the peace of mind knowing that even if I never do another album or wall gallery, I have this as the photo documentation of my children's lives.

Try it for at least a month and see how it goes.

Before you know it, a year may have passed and you can make something really cool like this one year canvas I made with the first year of photos for Liam.


And if you find daily photos are too much and just unrealistic for you, pick a number of photos per month that is realistic and go for that. Ruth took inspiration from my one year canvas that I created for Liam and created a canvas of her own with twelve photos per month for an entire year and it looked great!

Also make sure you check back for the next two blog posts where I will share other ideas for easy year long projects that don't require as many photos!

And oh yeah, if you've been doing your project for a year now, stay tuned as I'm going to be offering the one year canvas as a product you can purchase and create with your photos very shortly! I will also be sharing more about the 8x8 albums I am planning to create from my photo-a-day photos.

Links:

View my ShutterCal photo-a-day project for Liam and for Jack. (There are gaps for the last two years but I'm working on going back and filling in.)

See the first two years of my project for Liam.

See more on my one year canvas for Liam.

Photosanity+ShutterCal

UPDATE

Photosanity and ShutterCal have partnered to give you the motivation, inspiration, support and tools you need to set yourself up for a successful photo-a-day project. Our exclusive Photosanity + ShutterCal bundles pair Photosanity tips and strategies with ShutterCal membership.

Learn more about the Photosanity ShutterCal bundles now.

And for current ShutterCal members, ShutterCal has worked with Photosanity to offer the one year canvas at an easy click of a button! Several Photosanity parents have ordered theirs already and have been thrilled with the results.

Already have a photo-a-day project? Link to it below in the comments!

What would it take to thrive in your photography?

Happy New 2013!!!

I have to say that I love the new year. Though some may say it's somewhat arbitrary, I love the idea of a fresh start, of new beginnings, a clean slate. It's a good opportunity to put the past behind you and to do something that I think is good practice any time of the year which is to "start with now".

Last year, Keith and I didn't even make it until midnight… but then, Jack was only two weeks old so I'd like to think we were simply being smart!

This year, our plans were only slightly more glamourous - stay up until midnight and split a bottle of champagne.

Well, we achieved both goals, and Keith surprised me with a beautiful box of chocolates as well. It was a great way to ring in the new year and then, the next morning as I was waking up, my "word" for the year came to me:

THRIVE

THRIVE

I read about the "word" concept a few years ago and I think I've tried it a few times but could never remember the word I picked! The idea is that instead of making a long list of resolutions that you'll never keep, you pick a word for the year, a theme of sorts.

So this year I'm making it official. If it's in an image, I'm more likely to remember it, and if I announce it here, I will definitely remember it, right?!

Thrive.

For me that means doing more than surviving. Doing more than getting by. It means growing and gaining and progressing and flourishing. It means the whole being more than the sum of the parts. It means everything compounding together to create something greater. It means momentum.

This year my goal is to thrive, in my personal life and my business. I want my relationships to thrive. I want my family to thrive. I want Liam and Jack to thrive. I want my friendships to thrive. And I want all my clients, customers, subscribers and anyone who I can reach and help to thrive as well. I want the communities I'm in to thrive. I want my neighborhood and my city to thrive. I want us all to thrive.

Thrive.

Like so many things, I believe that I can choose to thrive right now. I AM thriving.

But I also want each decision I make, each goal I set, each move I make, to be made with the intention of helping myself and others thrive.

With that in mind, I'm going to be kicking off the year on the blog with a series of weekly posts about EASY year long photo projects that you can start now that will make YOU feel that you are thriving as your family's photographer right away.

And don't worry, "year long" doesn't mean that they are time intensive and all consuming. Each project is simply an approach to documenting a year of your family's life just by setting up some quick systems and habits.

But first, I want to hear from you:

What three photography projects or goals would you like to set for yourself for this year that would make you feel like you were thriving?

And, I have something really fun I'm going to try out.

Fill out the short survey below by Friday January 11th and you will receive the first of twelve custom designed Photosanitiy postcards that I am creating exclusively for you!

Yes, each month this year I'll have a theme, and I'll be starting out that theme with a survey and a new postcard for all those who respond.

Yes, that's right, snail mail!

Intrigued? Fill out the quick survey below and get something fun in the mail for a change! And if you're not already on my mailing list, you will also be signed up to receive FREE updates with exclusive offers and reminders about new blog posts and videos where I share a ton of tips, secrets and inspiration for taking better photos of your kids.

Not sure what goals to set? Here are mine:

1) Photo-a-day project. a) Get completely up to date with my photo-a-day project and stay up to date on a month by month basis going forward. b) Create my one year canvas for Jack and hang both Liam's and Jack's canvases side by side in the living room. c) Create an 8x8 book for each year of photos for each child.

2) Make a first year album for both Liam and Jack.

3) Create a new wall gallery featuring Jack.

Now it's your turn - just writing your goals down is the first step towards accomplishing them and will make you feel better!