Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

September 26, 2008

weekend creative : documenting a week in your life

Next week, from Monday through Sunday, I will be documenting a week in my life with photos + words and I invite you to play along. (You could even begin today or tomorrow if you wanted – there is no reason it has to be Monday through Sunday vs. Saturday through Friday.)

This is a creative adventure. It requires little more than a camera and a willingness to pay attention and gather up stuff from your daily life.

Even if you have never scrapbooked before you can do this project.

This will be a pared down project from the one I have taught previously. Right now I am most interested in the photos and the words and that is where my focus will be throughout the week.

Some of you out there may be thinking: my life is boring or I do the same thing everyday or what story do I have to tell? As with many of the projects I have created, the preparation process is just as (and maybe more) important than the creative process of actually putting the album together. Most likely you will learn something about yourself over the course of this project. I learn something new every time.

Daily Tasks For The Week:

Take photos. Commit to keeping your camera with you throughout the day. Capture everything. Capture things that may seem silly or dumb. Capture the normal. Capture little things. Capture your environment. Here’s a couple questions I ask myself or I keep in mind as I am going about this project: what’s my daily routine, where did I go, who did I see, what do I do, what does the inside of my home look like, where do I spend the most time, etc. Capture stuff that you use everyday: your computer, a coffee mug, a favorite pair of shoes, a book, etc. Make sure to take a photo of yourself each day. See the list of possible photos below.

Upload photos. Take a bit of time each evening to upload your photos for the day. You can use this time to eliminate duplicate shots and if you are really on top of things you could print them out or upload them to your favorite developer to have them ready to create with the following week.

Designate a place for notes. Have a notebook or a couple sheets of paper set aside to jot down notes, stories, things to remember about each day. Don’t make this complicated. Don’t run out and buy a new notebook. The back of some junk letters, the leftover pages in a journal you have always meant to get around to, etc. You simply need somewhere to write down notes over the course of the day.

Take notes. Once you set up something to write on, do the writing. What should you write? Thoughts you have during the day, things your kids or your boss or your partner say, things you notice (simple and profound), what you ate, etc. Go for the basics. These notes will be transferred into your album when the time comes. See more about recording the story under the category heading below.

Designate a place to store life-stuff. Part of the process is collecting bits and pieces of your life over the course of the week. For this I recommend setting up an envelope or folder for each day. You may use some of this stuff and you may not. I tend to keep things like receipts, handwritten notes, etc. These will be companions to your photos + words.

Possible Photos:

- think about the most basic things/the real life things that you see everyday: those things that are so much a part of what you do each day that they simply blend into the blur of images
- chores
- loves
- dishes
- food you cook
- food you eat
- driving to work
- driving your kids to school/kids at the bus stop
- computer
- what you do for work
- looking down at your shoes
- your front door
- thermometer/temperature outside
- gas prices
- the grocery store/your grocery cart/bags of groceries
- the mess
- piles of stuff
- the funny face your kid is making/funny things they are saying
- laundry
- your child’s room, toys, favorite books, etc.
- document the imperfect normalness of your existence

Check out a couple articles I wrote for my Everyday Life photobook at Shutterfly (these definitely apply to this project):
List of Everyday Photos
8 Techniques for Choosing or Taking Photos

For more everyday life photo ideas check out these Flickr groups:
My Everyday Life
Corners Of My Home
The New Domesticity
Self Portrait Tuesday


To prepare for my journaling in the past I have designated categories: food, gratitude, work, stuff, etc. You can totally implement something like this for yourself – it helps keep you focused on what you need to document in a written format – or you can be more free-flowing. This time around I am going for more free-flowing word documentation – capturing bits of my life in words rather than giving myself specifics – either way you go will be just fine. Just make sure you write something as you go along. It is way too hard to try to remember what the heck happened on a specific even a few days later.

A couple things to note:

(1) This is not a class. I do not have a finished project to show you or specific instructions to follow. I will be working alongside and adjusting and going with the flow from Monday through Sunday. It’s a journey we can embark on together. One of the big reasons I am doing this on my blog is so that I will actually do the project. You are making me accountable. This project is worth all the effort you will put into it…but it does take work.

(2) This does not have to be a 12×12 album. It can be smaller or larger. You can include tons of stuff or just photos + words. Part of the process will be figuring out how to showcase your photos + stuff. One of the things I am excited about in relation to sharing this journey is the variety of different albums that will result. Part of what I will be thinking about as I go along next week is how I want to put the album together. I am envisioning a hybrid combination of paper and digital elements. Other than that I will be using things I have on hand here at home. I will post some ideas for supplies/formats for putting the album together on Monday or Tuesday next week.

(3) Take this one day at a time. If you take a ton of photos on Monday and only a couple on Tuesday – no big deal. Let’s get rid of that pressure before we even begin.

Special Request:

I know there are a bunch of veterans of this project out there. If you completed this album in the past, would you post a link in the comments section to your album if you have it posted it in an online gallery or blog? I would love to give people who are considering this project a peek at how some have turned out in the past (there have been more than one design for this album and lots of variations).

Also, if you have photo suggestions from your experience that would be great to share as well.


My friend Tracey over at Shutter Sisters is highlighting this project today and is planning to do a book giveaway with all four of my books. Click on over to enter and check out the Shutter Sisters blog.


A complete list of posts related to the week in the life project can be found here.


  • 51.
    Lawren Coope said…

    Ali, I am so excited that you are prompting us to revisit A Week in the Life. I LOVED doing this project at CKU Orlando 2007… here is the link to my album

  • 52.
    Jen G said…

    I am starting today! this is a great week for the project and I can’t wait to see what happens.
    Thanks for the inspiration,

  • 53.
    sara said…

    This is going to seem silly, but is there anyone out there doing this that has a “smaller” life? I’m young (35) but homebound and sick. Literally can’t step outside my house. I’m having a hard time thinking of what I would photograph. I can’t do much and what I do is the same every day. Any inspiration for me? Because right now all I can think of is multiple photos of my cute dog. :)

  • 54.
    tania said…

    this is more inspiring than anything i’ve read about in a looooooooong time. i’m definitely playing along!

  • 55.

    very COOL!
    i am going to do this!

  • 56.
    Sandy said…

    Can we start a flickr group to share what we come up with at the end? I would love to see how other people showcase their weeks!
    Just an idea!

  • 57.
    margie said…

    my darling…
    several of the Making Memories product designers have taken your challenge! I have been dying to do it! It will be such a great project and bonding exercise for us as scrapbooking product designers!
    kiss kiss

  • 58.
    Megan Taylor said…

    what a fabulous idea. i’m going to start today. i was worried when i was thinking about this week being too busy, but then it hit me… the busier the better! who would want to scrap a week where nothing happened…
    and my biggest tip, is use your tripod (if you have one.) if you dont, set your camera on a table and prop it up where you want and set the auto timer on. take pictures of yourself doing things, like cooking etc. it will look like someone else took the pictures.

  • 59.
    Barbara Hoover said…

    There is nothing everyday about my current living situation but I am certainly dreaming of that “normal day”. Perhaps “a week in the life of deployment” is just the thing to bring me home. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • 60.
    Tina said…

    Hey Ali – it’s been a while since I stopped in for a visit – absolutely refreshed my creativity! I will join you on the journey via the digi-scrap!!!

  • 61.
    kerry said…

    I took this as a class at CKU years ago. I thought my life was too boring to document a week. BUT this is still one of my favorite albums to flip through, as now a few years later my days have changed so much now that my kids are a few years older and out of toddledom, I have moved, my husband gets ready for a different job each morning now… etc.
    If you think you can’t do this project because of a ‘boring’ life, you soon realize your life isn’t boring!
    I hope a lot of new people are on board to try this project out! :) It’s soooo worth it!

  • 62.
    Tammy said…

    Hey there, Ali! I did take this class with you at CKU Detroit, and I’m ready to do it again! Little changes do happen when you aren’t looking and I want to try to make a point of doing this every year – your invitation to go along with you is just what I needed to spur me on. I think I’ll try a completely different layout size this time and see where things take me – go with the flow, right?!

  • 63.
    Val in Ohio said…

    You know what? I think I’m gonna play too! I’m not sure if I’ll have a chance to actually get my project into an album, so I was thinking of turning it into a one page collage. Thanks for the motivation!

  • 64.
    Wendy Davis said…

    Thank you, Ali. I soooo wanted to take your class at CKU last June but couldn’t figure out the registration process quickly enough so this is perfect! Count me in!!!
    I’ve never done an album about me so this will be a perfect start. At 47, I think it’s time. I think about how much I would have loved to have had a snapshot of my mom’s life and am hoping my two kids will be happy I took the time to do something like this. They may not appreciate it now, at 9 and 6, but hopefully they will.
    Thank you again, Ali, for sharing this with us!

  • 65.
    gena said…

    I am in! I have been doing p365 and have been thinking about doing a day in the week project, key word is *thinking*. i was excited to get your newsletter with a preview. this is will make me accountable to actually get it done! :D

  • 66.
    carolb said…

    Sweet. I’m in. I’ve got the perfect journal for this project, too. I’ve been participating in a photo a day for a year on flickr (I’m on 267/365 now) so I’ve got a good habit of taking daily pics going. Yay! This is going to be fun.

  • 67.
    Annette said…

    I took your class at CKU Anaheim in 2006. I loved it, haven’t finished yet, but I’m going to play along with you anyway. I loved the idea!!!!!!!!! I’ve challenged a few of my scrappin friends to play too!!! Thanks for sharing. :)

  • 68.
    Annette said…

    ooops I guess it was 2007, seemed so long ago :)

  • 69.
    Christina said…

    I’ve started this twice already but sometimes forget to collect stuff or take pictures and neither week has been completed fully yet. I’m hoping to get started again with you (+ everyone else) on Monday. Can’t wait to see what I can accomplish.

  • 70.
    Dana said…

    Count me in! Thanks for motivating me to do this.

  • 71.
    Shannon said…

    Hi Ali,
    I was wondering what type of album I would put this in, and I really didn’t want to put out the money for a baybox album. I remember that I bought some cool page protectors at staples that have different size pockets (I’ve seen you post a few of these layouts) and I thought they’d be perfect. Just an idea to share.

  • 72.
    Suzanne said…

    I’m so excited you’ve decided to bring this back! I can’t tell you how many great memories I have of that weekend back in Sept of when? 2005 was it? I don’t remember. But it was in Stamford CT and it was the MOST amazing experience. I wish there was another CKU in the East again!!!
    Thanks again for such a great time
    One of the ‘Recreational Liars’…remember us???

  • 73.
    Margalyn H said…

    I’m going to go for it as well! I recently bought a Nikon D40 and I have been wanting to get some more practice with it, what a great little project to get some varied pictures. Thanks for the invitation to join!

  • 74.
    Anne-Liesse Ankeny said…

    I’m in. This sounds like fun. Thanks for the inspiration and ideas.

  • 75.
    stacie said…

    thanks for the encouragement again Ali! I am actually going through with it this time. I took the pics last time but never carried on with the documenting. I WILL THIS TIME! And to Jen G…all lives are BIG! Even if you are in your house…we all have day to day same old same old routines that if we looked at a little more carefully we might see a lot more of how we live! i bet you have a great story to tell! maybe take pictures at a differnt time every day but in the same place…out a window or of a particular way light shines in a window. tell your dogs story…make your life grand!

  • 76.
    Linda said…

    I was thinking of not doing this because my life is so crazy right now–but decided what better time!!! I am going to start tomorrow cuz I have some fun things planned this weekend–thanks for the challenge!!

  • 77.
    D'Nese said…

    I am so very excited to do this-that you suggested this. Thank you also so suggesting things to take photos of cause I was kinda wondering what would be some of the best objects. Your wonderful Ali, I hope you truly believe this!!
    I was wondering, where do you find most of your products? They are so very simple and just perfect for the everyday photos.

  • 78.
    Débora said…

    I didn´t do this project before, but I saw the CKU album, and it´s amazing! I´m starting monday, and I have a group of friends here in Brazil that are with us on this journey! I´m helping with translation for the girls that don´t speak English. This is going to be fun! Thanks for sharing!

  • 79.
    Juliana said…

    I would love to participate & play along with this “class”. I have always wanted to do this, now I have the motivation to give it a try! I do have a question though. I work full time in a hospital as a physical therapist. What would you suggest about how to photograph my day? I really can’t take photos of what I do each day, even though I would love to be able to do that. Any suggestions would be great! Thanks!

  • 80.
    Ali said…

    Hey Juliana – can’t you take photos of non-people things in the hospital? Machines, office area, where you are in the hospital, signs, paperwork (respecting confidentiality of course), lunch, elevator, etc. I bet there is really a lot there you could capture that does not involve your clients :) .

  • 81.
    beck said…

    I think I’m in! :)

  • 82.
    Mrs Geek said…

    I’m so in. I need to get out of the creative rut. I’ve always wanted to take this class! Glad I can play along at home.

  • 83.
    cori in wa said…

    Thanks for doing this… inspiring us…. and joining in. Bless you!

  • 84.
    Susan said…

    sounds fun Ali! thanks for opening this up and motivating all of us to do this along with you. You can count me in :-)

  • 85.
    Tran Quach said…

    Thanks for doing this Ali! I really, really wanted to take your album track for CKU, but it was soooo hard to pick from! :-)

  • 86.
    april said…

    Hi Ali,
    This is going to be a challenge! And a fun one too! I started scrapbooking about a year ago, most of my layouts are 12×12. I did one mini album few months ago, it wasn’t easy (it was the ‘star’ shaped album from Love, Elsie) but I had lots of fun completing the 40-page album. I had ordered a few mini albums, going to use one of them for this new project. Feeling excited already…

  • 87.
    Linda said…

    Hi Ali and everyone else!
    This is just so awesome, love the idea and love all the examples posted here! I started yesterday evening when I broke my favorite coffee mug. Instead of freaking out (as I normally would do) I yelled at my husband: WHERE’S THE CAMERA!!!
    This will not be a normal week for us either, since mom is moving today. After 20 years she leaves the house we grew up in, where we laughed&cried and where my dad died from cancer nine years ago. This is a big deal for her (and, to be honest, for us too). I am so thankful this project came along just now, since this is a day I want to keep alive for the rest of our lives.
    Thank you so much Ali, and thank you to all for embracing this project and sharing your ideas!

  • 88.
    Marilyn said…

    Oh Ali! This sounds like a lot of fun! It seems interesting, challenging, and fulfilling all in one emotion. I am sooo going to play along with you! Thanks for the inspiration, and I can’t wait to get started!

  • 89.
    Nala said…

    I have never done scrapbooking before. I didn´t know where to start :) (ok, I have your books and some papers and supplies which I bought but I never start) I like the idea of one week very much! And I will try!
    Thank you so much.

  • 90.
    Terri said…

    Ali, I just want to say thank you for doing this. I look at your projects and want to do them but for some reason I just get stuck or intimidated and never get past the first step. I need to take one of your classes but never have had the opportunity so this is perfect for me. I now have no excuses!

  • 91.

    I really like this idea! I think I just might do it.
    For all of you doing this, I have made a notebook that is easy to make, and was inspired by Ali. It fits wonderfully in an apron pocket! You can find directions here:
    God Bless!
    Miss Emily Rose

  • 92.
    ria nirwana said…

    Wow, Ali! This is like taking a whole week class with you at CKU that I may never have! How can anyone miss this? No way!
    We are here in Indonesia is going to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr’ next week, so starting Monday we are going to have a looong holiday. Perfect time, because I plan to do many new things with my kids and plan to record this.
    I am so in…
    Thank you Ali for the inspiration you are always giving us.

  • 93.
    Steph said…

    Oh, I loved this class when I took it at CKU in 2006!
    I’ve put photos on my blog if anyone’s interested in seeing part of my album.

  • 94.
    betsy said…

    This is so amazing that this project cropped up this week. I did my own version of this in 2004 during the DNC and have a copy of the Obama speech included in my album-I didn’t watch the Convention just heard it on NPR. I made my kids listen to the radio then and reread the transcript to them the next day! Also a big deal that week was that my oldest daughter had to go to the emergency room with an eye infection and this week my youngest is battling an eye infection. (The only 2 eye infections we have every had). Can’t wait to do this project.

  • 95.
    Molly I said…

    I’ve admired this project, Ali. I won’t be joining in right now — my creative focus is putting together the story of my travels this week — but I’ll definately reference the posts sometime in the winter, to do one for myself. I look forward to seeing the range, too. Thanks for the prompt.

  • 96.
    Jessica C said…

    Hey! I did the album at CKU in Orlando, and here are the pages I posted on my blog:
    I didn’t really like stamping at the time, so I made lots of substitutions. :) Still one of my favorite albums ever!

  • 97.
    Mary said…

    Thanks Ali. I will join in, but I need to buy a new camera, so I will start probably the following week.

  • 98.
    Sara said…

    I’m hopping on for this one! I’m excited. Thanks for the kick in the pants!

  • 99.
    sarah said…

    I can’t wait to get started tomorrow! I never scrap about myself–always my two little boys, so this will be a challenge :) Thanks for the challenge Ali!

  • 100.
    Samara said…

    This is such a fantastic idea. Your ideas for putting it together are, as usualy, fabulous. Good stuff!

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