Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

April 27, 2010

Week In The Life : Bringing It All Together • The Photos


Seven little days in a life. There it went

I always feel a little strange on Monday morning when I wake up and don't start taking photos right away (and a little bit of relief as well). This is an intense, in-depth project. It's a whole lot of work but one of the coolest projects I have created since I started scrapbooking.

Each time I tackle the "putting together" phase of Week In The Life I do things a little different. Today I want to share with you my process for going through my photos
and how I chose which ones to place where, which to enlarge, which
to crop, etc. Some of it will be done after printing, but for the most
part I am going to make a plan before uploading.

This year I'm having print my photos vs. printing them here at home. I definitely considered printing at home, since that's what I normally do, but with this many at one time I think it was easier for me to upload. And as you will see later on in this post, I'm pretty sure it was less expensive as well.

Remember this?


I'm still definitely following my design plan for this album. For each day I have a Daily Opener, a baseball card divided page protector (front & back), and a photo collage page. 


Each night during this past week I uploaded my photos to my computer.
At that time I went through and did a quick delete of any photos that
were obviously not going to be used (triplicates, seriously blurred, mistakes, etc). Since I was taking over 100 photos
per day (and I knew there was no way I would use them all) I was pretty ruthless about which ones I deleted.

NOW HERE'S THE DEAL : I did take around, or over, 100 photos each day of my week. In my experience, 100 photos doesn't really mean "100 photos that I want to frame and hang in my house" or "100 photos that must be crammed into this album no matter what." 100 photos usually means about 20 of Simon & Anna chasing each other and wrestling in the living room…one of which I will use in this project. It means 5 shots of my lunch…one of which I will use. It means 5 shots of Simon and I in the mirror…one of which I will use. You get the point.

Out of 100 photos I average about 30 or less that I really want to use per day. This is the reason that I always encourage people to take more than you think you will use. It's this point in the process that having more is really a benefit because you have more choice when it comes to telling the story of your life at this point in time.

Yesterday I went through all the photos again and got serious. I created canvases, pages, etc (read below) to be uploaded. It took me most of the day to organize, edit, crop, etc. Even though it was a really long day, it is really fulfilling and eye-opening and cool to see a whole week in photos all together in one place. 

I encourage you to make a plan for yourself to get this album done. Set aside some time each night to address your photos. One night for deleting. One night for selecting and uploading your daily openers and collage pages. One night for working on your divided page protector pages, etc.



As I looked through all my photos to select which ones would be my main image for each day there were definite favorites. Through this process I realized that what I wanted for these intro pages was variety – each one showing a little something different about life right now (the black and white image above will be the opening photo for Wednesday). 

I ordered 8, 8×10's that I will crop to 8×8.5 when they arrive (one for each day of the week and one for the intro page).

In years past I have used only photos of myself as the main photo. This year I'm branching out and including a photo of Simon, a couple of Anna, a couple of me, one of food, the one of Chris above, and one with all of us.

There's no right or wrong in choosing an opening photo. If you have a ton of photos you really want to include you might consider creating a collage in the daily opener photo space. For me, I love the enlargements contrasted with all the smaller photos throughout each day.

enough without going through and adjusting every single photo trying to
get it just perfect. Embrace those photos that aren't perfect -
what a great reflection of real, everyday life.



Next I attacked the collage pages. I decided to tackle these second, before the baseball card page protector pages, because of the variety of size and orientation and ability to pick just which photos I wanted to be highlighted.

To create my collage pages I used the 8.5×11 digital templates I created for Designer Digitals. The package includes seven different layered templates. My process for this part was simple: open the template, drag photos into Photoshop, mask them into the spaces on the template, save as a jpg and upload to the developer.

So how did I choose which photos to use on the collage pages? The collage pages are really a collection of my favorites photos and/or ones that fit the designed spaces (like the really vertical shot of Simon swimming above). Again I look to create variety and include different times, places, people, colors, etc.

As some of you noticed throughout the week, when I take photos I take almost exclusively horizontal shots. This is just my personal preference. I know coming into this project that I will be cropping many of them. I also know, from expereince, that part of what I love about this project is seeing the "pieces of life/pieces of the whole" that show through the cropped shots.


After selecting the photos for the daily openers and the photos for the collage pages I worked on rounding out each day with photos for the baseball card page-protectors. 

For uploading to and for printing I decided to create canvases in Photoshop that were 5 inches x 7 inches. On each 5 inch x 7 inch canvas I was able to fit 4, 2.5 inch x 3.5 inch photos.

For most days I ended up with about 12 (there's 18 pockets available) photos which will leave room for the journaling cards and other "stuff" I collected throughout the week.

I tend to follow a pretty simple cropping and saving procedure in Photoshop. Here's a video tutorial that walks you through that process (click to view larger on Vimeo):

Ali Edwards Week In The Life : Photo Crop Tutorial from Ali Edwards on Vimeo.

Here's the written how-to for Photoshop Elements:

  1. Open your photo.
  2. Go to Image/Resize/Image Size.
  3. Change the Resolution to 300dpi and adjust the height to 3.5 inches. This should automatically adjust the width to 5.25 inches.
  4. Using the crop tool, drag a crop box that is 2.5 inches wide (and 3.5 inches tall). I eyeball this. I like that I can move the crop box around on my photo to find my favorite crop. Don't worry that you are removing some of the photo and remember that some photos will lend themselves better to this vertical crop than others – keep that in mind as you are selecting which photos go where in your album.
  5. Go to Image/Resize/Canvas Size and change the size to 5 inches x 7 inches. This will become your new canvas. On here you can fit 4, 2.5 inch x 3.5 inch photos. I decided to go about it this way when I saw that I would need to order 2 wallets (I don't need doubles of all these shots.

Here's a look at a couple of those 5 inch x 7 inch canvases:


I love these 2.5 inch x 3.5 inch photos. They really do round out the album in terms of filling out the rest of each of the days. Again, think pieces of the whole.


One of the questions I am often asked is related to printing at home vs. uploading to a developer.

After uploading my completed photo pages to the total cost was $30.85 (including $3.99 for the shipping option I selected). This cost included the following:

  • 9, 8×10's (I added one additional photo that I want to frame)
  • 18, 5×7's (photos for the baseball card page protectors – 4 to a page for a total of 72 images after trimming)
  • 7, 8.5×11 (the collage pages)

I know that is significantly less expensive than purchasing new ink cartridges for my printer. I'm looking forward to seeing how the pages all turn out and hoping that the sizing is all correct. I'll give you an update on that in a couple of days.

In the meantime, while I wait for my photos to come home, I'll be putting other pieces of the album together. Tomorrow's post will cover that process.


for a complete list of Week In The Life posts.


  • 1.
    dawn said…

    I’m so glad you had this post early in the morning. I couldn’t wait to hear your plans on how to select your photos. I was having the same thought yesterday about 5 pictures of my lunch but only to use one, 7 pictures of kids on the wii but only use 1 or 3, etc. I can’t believe how much you got done in a day. I have most of mine developed at Walgreen’s using their weekly special and in store specials, I’ve already spent $42.33 I plan on keeping the receipts to put in the album. It was nice to wake up and not take any pictures yesterday we were getting a little tired of it. I’m sure today I will get pictures though can’t go too long. I have a couple questions if you don’t mind? Are you using the poems in your album from this week? Does Anna pull off the books on the big black bookcase in living room? How many days does Anna go to her sitter’s?
    I love all your pictures that you just posted they came out great!! Thank you again so much for doing this for us and following along with it together. This was a heartwarming week for my family and I by doing this and having great memories. I hope Chris is feeling better. We get strep all the time in this house, it’s no fun. Have a good day.

  • 2.
    Lissa said…

    WOW !! This is so cool! I’ve loved taking part in WITL for the first time here in Aussie land and now I can’t wait to put it all together. I’ve have just bought photoshop too (never used it) so I’ll been keen to look at tutorials on “how to’s”. I also felt a bit lost on Monday morning. Although it’s Tues night here and I’m feeling relieved now that I don’t have to take my camera/pen & pad EVERYWHERE with me. I think a week is just a perfect amount of time. Thanks Ali. I’m excited to complete it now and of course seeing yours.

  • 3.
    melisa barton said…

    Thank you so much Ali, this is the first time doing WITL and i have really loved doing it! Its really opened my eyes up to my everyday life that i use to think was a little boring. I was totally lost on monday and even today i was thinking about what great shots i could get or thinking “oh i forgot to take a photo of this”, i love the way you have done your photo’s and i will be trying to do it like yours as i think that will be alot easier and cheaper.. cant wait to see more and thanks again.

  • 4.
    cathy said…

    I will have to vouch for sigNIFicantly lower cost to print at, having had to order a new set of ink cartridges (100 bucks) to get through the printing of my own photos and pages.

  • 5.

    Thanks for this very informative post, Ali. I wrote a posting on my own blog last night about the WITL project and I’m chuckling to myself how similar our processes are for selecting photos. I did keep some of the not perfect ones – as you say, that’s just the way life is! I especially agree with your comment about walking up Monday morning and feeling both sad and glad I didn’t have to take any more pictures. Thanks for sharing this fabulous project, this was my first time and I really enjoyed it.

  • 6.
    Lana said…

    Thanks for sharing your process, Ali. I adored all your photos last week. You have an amazing ability to turn ordinary snapshots into things of beauty.
    I was playing along and have now completed my album – and I love it!
    Mine has an opening page using your Story of today overlay + one 6×4 photo (with day and months overlay added) plus journaling about the day in general. Then a baseball card page with 8 or 9 cropped photos (I printed 2up on 6×4 and then trimmed them down to fit) and then remaining spaces filled in with embellished patterned paper collages. And finally the facing page uses the Title + journal overlay and one 6×4 photo to describe a particular moment from that day in detail.
    I would love to have enlargements but my home photo printer can only do 6×4 or smaller! I did however order one enlargement for framing from Snapfish – a photo I took of the cherry tree in our garden which is full of fluffy white blossom.
    Thank you so much for sharing this project with the rest of the world. This is the 3rd time I’ve completed it and it’s still the one that I most love to look through once completed, out of my now vast collection of albums. I am looking forward to seeing your finished album, and as a new PS Elements user, your tutorials too.

  • 7.
    Beth said…

    I am sending my pix to print today. I am so happy I did this – thanks again for sharing.

  • 8.
    Sara Lambert said…

    Ali, I have photoshop elements 7, but have no idea how to use it! I would love to use your collage idea, could you do a quick tutorial please? Many thanks!

  • 9.
    linda said…

    Oh wow, thanks for revealing your process and also how much you spent…that does sound like less than ink cartridges at home. I always have trouble regarding printing with a service or printing at home. I’m also located in Europe, so our printing services here are a bit different and no Costco! Overall I wanted to say I enjoyed the process of recounting my days and noticing the details…the beauty and happiness in ordinary everyday life. I’m excited to do this every year to see how things change!

  • 10.
    Ali Edwards said…

    Definitely! It’s all recorded + just needs to be edited this morning ;) .

  • 11.
    tara pakosta said…

    I sat yesterday and looked through my Week In the Life
    Album from SEptember that I had done. I absolutely LOVE the real life everyday shots and LOVE how this project seems to capture such emotion. NO looking at the camera saying “smile” moments, just all real, even the crabby moments of life. LOVE IT!
    I rarely ever print at home cause of the cost! I use Walgreens, (LOVE LOVE LOVE) and Costco!

  • 12.
    Jakki said…

    i started this project on saturday and I’m really glad I waited a bit before doing it…I can read on tips and how to’s NOW so I can visualize picture placement and photo’s to use with. It also gives me idea on how I want to journal. The best part…after the first day of being snap happy and taking photo’s of everything…my son’s asked what the deal was. After I told them they’ve joined in and started grabbing the camera and taking photo’s too! So I will have a part of what they SEE about our Daily Lives as well…

  • 13.
    Katie Scott said…

    I ordered prints everyday through shutterfly and I probably spent too much and won’t use all of the photos for this project, but I thought that its been a while since I’ve taken everyday pictures of all sorts of stuff & that I can keep the extras in my category drawers and use them for future projects involving connections over time.
    P.S. When I first heard about this project I thought “oh that sounds like a lot of work” and it is but I am loving this project and what its done for my perspective on my everday life right now. THANK YOU!

  • 14.
    Sarah Mullanix said…

    This was all such a huge help. This is my first year doing this project and I’ve been waffling on how to put my album together, so thank you for all of the tips and details!

  • 15.
    Juliann said…

    thanks for all the photo tips – I am going to have some photo collage pages printed for this book too
    I so enjoyed this process and am looking forward to putting my book together.

  • 16.
    AngieS said…

    Ali, it looks like you weren’t too concerned with putting your photos in chronological order…you just put them where you liked them best?!?!? Where they fit according to orientation, etc.. Would that be right? I have been struggling to get them to “fit” chronologically and it isn’t really working for me!

  • 17.
    Jo said…

    Yeah, I love seeing and reading how you have broken your process down. It’s very overwhelming to begin with and now I am encouraged to tackle all those photos this evening. Looking forward to reading how you breakdown your notes and decide what to include on your journaling cards. I pretty much filled a whole little notebook with notes from the week – I’m even more indecisive about what to include and what to leave out. I do plan to keep my little notebook with this project in the album, so maybe that will alleviate the need to journal everything! Thanks again Ali.

  • 18.
    Ali Edwards said…

    My only chronological framework was keeping it on the correct day…other than that it was more based on how they fit (or how I made them fit).

  • 19.
    {vicki} said…

    looking forward to the video…..

  • 20.
    Deb J said…

    It is always so great to see how you go about go about doing things. The info on the set-up of the pictures and everything give me so many things to think about. More and more I am liking the baseball card pages inserted in amoung other pages. Thanks for sharing all of your ideas with us.

  • 21.
    Heather said…

    This tip is a little late for you Ali but hopefully it can help someone else… Instead of putting 4 photos on a 5×7 canvas, you can put 2 photos on a 3.5×5 canvas, and it is much cheaper! I upload all my photos to and they always do a fabulous job.
    I totally agree with you, it was both a relief and a bit of a loss yesterday to realize that I didn’t need to photograph or journal every moment of my day. I am struggling a little bit to get my album figured out though; I have 700 photos (which I think I can whittle down fairly easily) but I also have 15 pages of journaling… which is where I always struggle in editing.

  • 22.
    Jackie said…

    I have a question about your photos. I notice than none of your photos do you use a flash, or at least the flash on the camera. Do you use a bounce or do you set your camera to take the photos in lower light. If so, what settings do you use. Do you meter or just take a few at different settings? Thanks. Love the book so far.

  • 23.
    Ali Edwards said…

    Hi Jackie. I don’t use the flash. I am using a Canon 5D and the lens I use most is a 24-70. One of the biggest reasons I upgraded to the 5D was the ability to go higher with the ISO (I shot AV)…our home is pretty dark. I try to shoot at the lowest possible…but often find myself at 1250 or more (depending on the time of day and how bad the light really is). I have a bounce flash but have rarely used it here at home…I forget that I have it.

  • 24.
    Steph H said…

    I think the thing I love the most about this project is reading your process. I was not able to play along this time due to some scheduling issues. But my plan now is to do my week in the life next month on the week I turn 31. I think it will be kind of neat to document that week in our family. I also think I want to do one the week that A.J. turns one. Maybe this will turn into our family tradition?

  • 25.
    Wendi said…

    Loving it! Thanks for all of you information on how you do this, how you edit, how you put it all together. It makes it seem like we are right there with you taking this class and doing this project with you. What a treasure to have this time on your lives documented. :)

  • 26.
    Molly Irwin said…

    Hey Ali, regarding WITL notes, editing, journaling — the writerly side of me wants to “clean up” my notes, and in that I’m getting wrapped up in the tone, voice, phrasing of my thoughts. I don’t want to overthink this, and almost think I want to maintain some of those raw, punctuated thoughts.
    How much editing do you apply? And am I overthinking this? please be brutally candid. I need it.

  • 27.
    Michele H. said…

    Seriously…this gives me goosebumps! I have enjoyed every aspect of WITL and seeing it all come together makes it even more special. I can’t wait to really get started with mine!

  • 28.
    Ali Edwards said…

    I might use the poems…will decided once I see how much other journaling I have (want that to come first). Every once in awhile she pulls off the books from the bookshelf, but for the most part she leaves them alone. She has a toy basket on the bottom shelf and a basket of books across the room – so far she’s been more likely to go for those. I have childcare (in our home & at a friend’s house) 5 days a week – usually about 8:30am to 4pm.

  • 29.
    Ali Edwards said…

    Morning Molly – I am working on this part today and will have a full report tomorrow. In general I lean towards less editing and more just getting it in the album…I am definitely considering just adding in my notes as-is. There is something very “real life” about those jotted thoughts. I think you can bring that all together by highlighting a few things…maybe a thought or a quote (from you or a family member) as a type-accent.
    My guess is if you think you are overthinking you probably are…but there’s nothing wrong with thinking it through so that you ensure that the story is told that really reflects you and your life.

  • 30.
    Ali Edwards said…

    I think the tradition part makes it even more special :) .

  • 31.
    Christina said…

    I love the process of capturing our everyday life. It makes me slow down and see the little things that I tend to rush past. With small children everyday life (schedules) changes so quickly; from babyhood to preschool to elementary school….One day there is naps and play dates, and then next thing you know they have moved onto soccer practices and homework. So I love having this album to look back to remember what life was like at the different stages of my childrens lives and my life as a mom. Which brings me to a question. This past week, not unlike what you experienced, our baby sitter was unable to come a couple of days and my three year old got strep throat. So our regular routine was completely off. I realize that is just part of life and I want to keep that. But I would like to add a snap shot or a look at what our usual routine is like so that I have a record of that. As I mentioned before, I like being reminded of naps, nursing schedules, daily school drop offs and pick up times because these change. I also cannot imagine not having pictures of our babysitter included in this, she is such a big part of our everyday life. We consider her a part of our family.
    I was thinking of adding, in addition to this past week, a more typical Monday and Tuesday to the album. (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are one schedule and Tuesday and Thursday are another.) Do you have any suggestions or thoughts on this idea?

  • 32.
    Ali Edwards said…

    I think that would be totally cool Christina.
    I am also toying with the idea of just including that information either on a journaling card or as an add-in (maybe another page protector with overall “thoughts from the week”). There’s nothing wrong with adding more to give a more complete “picture” of your life right now.

  • 33.
    Sherry Amorocho said…

    Ali– quick question… I don’t see the option for a 8.5 x 11 printed page from Scrapbook pictures. Do you use the 11 x 14 & cut it down? I love your templates, but I do have problems printing that size on my computer or developing them elsewhere. Ideas?

  • 34.
    Kim K. said…

    I love this project and you make it so doable by posting your progress as well! Thank you so much for the inspiration, tips, and the detailed posts about your overall process! I can’t wait to put my album together!

  • 35.
    Terri said…

    I don’t have Photoshop. I do have other photo editing software. Is anyone else not using Photoshop AND trying do the 2.5 by 3.5 size on a 5×7 “sheet” that is the “canvas” in Photoshop? I have loads of other free programs (Picasa, Microsoft Photo, Ulead, Kodak, etc.) on our desktop.
    I love how Ali teaches us while maintaining her personal perspective on her own album. I love working alongside someone with such heart and great design skills!

  • 36.
    Gina Crowley said…

    Thanks so much for posting your editing process. Very helpful. I love this project.

  • 37.
    Bev said…

    For any Picasa Users, it is very easy to create the 4 photos on a 5×7 image using the ‘Collage’ option.
    Select 4 photos, and choose ‘Collage’, then the Grid option and a ’5×7 page format’ and create the collage – it will create a new image file with all 4 photos on it.

  • 38.
    Ali Edwards said…

    Oh cool Bev!

  • 39.
    Deirdre said…

    Actually printing the photos, and knowing what size I want, is the hardest part for me (at least the place where I most often freeze), so thank you for this!
    I’m excited to get my WITL photos from over a year ago in an album —and plan to add this year’s to the same album and do it again every couple years…do you think the WRMK 8×11 albums could hold twice what your doing? Or do you think separate albums is a better way to go?
    Also a question—love the big statement of the black frames on your wall (as seen in the photo of your husband above). Would you share what size the photos are? 8×10 always seem a little small on walls to me…curious if these are 8×10 or bigger. Thanks!

  • 40.
    Ali Edwards said…

    Hey Terri – just read below that Picasa is a great choice for this. According to Bev (see comment below) you use the “collage” option, then the “grid” option and a “5×7 page format.”

  • 41.
    Ali Edwards said…

    You might need to scroll down a bit when selecting the page size. It came up for me yesterday for my images that were 8.5×11 (when editing from your shopping cart).

  • 42.
    Shauna Ogden said…

    Ali, I read this excerpt of a speech by Orson Scott Card (author of Ender’s Game, among others) which he gave this past weekend in DC and it made me reflect even deeper on the concept of story-telling and the power of the story and your wonderful encouragement to tell our stories. After taking your Yesterday/Today class I’m seeing “stories” in a very new way. Reading this speech helped me realize that our little personal stories really are part of a bigger, global picture. I thought he had some interesting thoughts, surely worth pondering and discussing.

  • 43.
    audra said…

    First, your pictures look great! I am so glad you will be explaining Photoshop in detail, I as well as some of the others are unclear on how to use it, & get frustrated.
    Next, I would love some advice. The last two days of my WITL, I hardly took any photos, (maybe 3 each day) They are not even anything great.I don’t have a reason why I just didn’t. What do you think I could add or do? Because of this I feel like maybe I should not complete it, because it won’t be as good as the beginning of the book… I really do not want this to becoming “another unfinished project” I would love any advice you might have.
    Lastly, if you don’t mind me asking, I would love to know where you found your bedding, I LOVE IT!!

  • 44.
    debra s said…

    Hi Ali, I am really enjoying this project! I am concerned that I won’t be able to finish it this week, and that it will end up an abandoned project. That said, I am willing to try whatever I can to make it easier. Do the templates that you have at designer digitals really make it as simple as you describe. Just drag and drop? I just want to go for it, but at $24.99, I’m hesitating. I know there was a sale at DD very recently, last week or so, but is there a chance these will be discounted again soon?

  • 45.
    kaitlin said…

    This was a great post. I am always torn on printing at home versus ordering and I like how you broke it all down with what you did. It really helps a lot…with future projects too ;)

  • 46.
    Ali Edwards said…

    Give yourself permission to not have to finish it this week…and permission to spread it out…with a COMMITMENT to finish it soon :) . How about that LOL? I do think the templates make it easier if you have some working knowledge of Photoshop or Elements. I am working on a video tutorial so you can actually see the process today. Maybe wait to watch it before deciding about the templates?

  • 47.
    sarah said…

    i love reading about your process ali! thanks for sharing all this with us. it was a ridiculously hard project for me personally (and emotionally, which wasn’t something i expected)…but i just know that years from now i’ll be so thankful i did it.

  • 48.
    Ali Edwards said…

    Why not just do 5 days instead of 7? Nothing wrong with that at all :) . Take what you have and make something with that!
    And thanks about the bedding – it’s from Pottery Barn. They have really great sales in the store that I stalk :) .

  • 49.
    Ali Edwards said…

    Hi Deirdre – those photos on the wall are all 8×10. You know, the album might hold two years worth…it all depends on if you add things that are bumpy or if you are keeping things really flat. The more flat your pages, the more you can fit into one album.

  • 50.
    Sarah said…

    My birthday happened to fall during this week, so I can tell you it’s a pretty cool way to document your birthday. I almost choose to do this during a different week, fearing that the specialness of a birthday would skew the ordinary week I was trying to capture, but it’s just the opposite. I ended up with a super ordinary birthday – one of the nicest ever! I love your idea to make it a tradition!!

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