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Day In The Life™ 2021 | Words + Photos + Thoughts On Documenting

Thank you so much to everyone who joined in for our first  Day In The Life™ community documenting day for 2021. 

In this post I'm going to share my words + photos with you and then next week I'll share how I'm bringing it all together in my album. 

To start off I'd love to share an article that Jane recently shared in our One Little Word® Facebook Group:  Finding Beauty In Everything, Through A Camera Lens. As I read through it I was nodding along because it resonated so much with my experience of photographing daily life. 

Taking pictures has changed how Reivich sees the world. “When I started, I worried whether I’d see anything new, but I’ve come to understand and trust that, whenever I go for a walk with my camera, I’ll notice something I didn’t see before, even when I’m walking the same street day after day,” she says. “That stuns me still, and it’s meaningful. I think that’s true of everything, if you just allow yourself to be curious and open—about other people, the literal path you’re walking, yourself—there’s always something to spark curiosity and wonder.”

I loved her perspective so much. Yes, yes, yes. There's always something new to see even in the basic routines of everyday life - it's one of the big reasons why I come back to these documenting projects again and again. Looking through the lens of our cameras gives us a huge gift if we are willing to be open + curious about the stories of our lives. 

I took around 100 photos of my day using my iPhone and my DSLR. I will use a small fraction of those for my actual project (this is a personal choice and part of the way I "craft my story") and the rest will be available to me to support other stories I might want to tell about our everyday life right now. You don't need to include every single photo to tell the story of your day. Many of the photos I took are similar angles to photos I've taken over the years and I adore that aspect of this project - some things are the same and some things are different and that's what's real. Of course there is a photo of Simon in his bed - I've been taking that shot since we moved into this house over ten years ago (now I need to locate all those photos so I can tell that particular story + show the passage of time). 

For some reason this particular documenting day experience felt different for me. I'm still not sure exactly why but I was feeling a whole lot of joy as I went about my day with my camera in hand and a goal of capturing what's real about our life right now. Everyday life photos will always have my heart. I think that I've been taking fewer photos in my daily life overall and that might have contributed to the joy of feeling like an explorer in my own home with my camera. 

For this first documenting day I used the lens "around here" as I took photos. In my head I kept thinking "around here we do this" and "around here we do that." My plan is select nine of the following photos I'm sharing below and use those as my guide for telling nine stories about our life today. For today's post I'm including more journaling than I might in my actual album or it will be consolidated to work with my the nine photos in my album. Today I'm just letting myself write. 

Here are a few things I thought about while I was editing and narrowing down my photos to share in this post. 

  • Let the dark parts be dark. I continue to work on not equating light and bright photos as "better." If the room was dark or had dark areas when I took the photo I want that to be evident in these photos so I'm working on not over-editing them. It's a work in progress. 
  • I loved using the camera app on my Apple Watch as a remote to start the self-timer on my phone. I've known about this feature for awhile but yesterayd was the first time I actually used it multiple times throughout hte day. It is so easy and such an awesome way to set up shots with me in them. 
  • Most of the photos I took were shots that included a person and stuff around that person. I'm really interested in capturing people doing whatever it is they are doing. When I look back at past Day In The Life™ photos there were many times I took more photos of "stuff" - this time I was more interested in the what my people were doing. 
  • I used my iPhone camera for convenience and my DSLR for a few other shots throughout the day. Using my big camera in this way for these kinds of photos always makes me want to use it more. I'm excited to use it more for Week In The Life™ coming up in May. As always, the best camera is the one you have with you. 
  • I intentionally took my photos horizontally this time knowing that I was going to be using them in the 4x6 size in my album. 

PHOTOS + WORDS

Here's a look at my photos along with some writing from the day (I used the Notes app on my phone to capture words throughout the day). I'm also including some thoughts/details/ideas about the photos themselves in italics to help you think about the kinds of photos you might want to take in the future. 

Let's dive in: 

Around here my mornings go a little something like this: Up at 6:00am. I listen to the geese coming home for the warmer months as I open the door to let Ernie outside. I stand there for five minutes and they just kept coming + honking as they make their way across the sky. I think of Mary Oliver + how she was so excellent at the art of noticing + documenting what she saw in the natural world and then writing about it. I stand on the porch as I pick up the rolled up newspaper and take a deep breath in the crisp air. I am awake and alive and I give thanks. The noise of the coffee grinder for my first cup. The sound of the cat food hitting the bottom on the bowl. The gentle rattle of the thyroid med bottle as I shake one into my palm. The overall quiet of a time of day when I’m the only one up in the house.

Photo Details/Ideas: This shot was set up by planting my phone on a chair and then using my watch as a remote for my camera. 

Around here the first daffodils are starting to open up. I know this because I’ve been looking at them every day as I take a little walk around the yard waiting for them to say hello. 

I still love a classic looking down at my feet with drink in hand photo. As I look back at all the photos I took I also really appreciate the simplicity of this shot. Lots of my everyday photos are full of the stuff of life - which I treasure - but I also like balancing that out with some shots that are more visually simple/close up like this one. 

Around here if you walk outside and shut the door you are likely to lock yourself out which is exactly what happened to me on this particular morning. I got the gift of walking through the wet grass in bare feet around to the front of the house to let myself back in via our keypad lock on the front door. 

Around here this cat is treated very well. We've tried a cat water fountain for him but this is his obvious preference. This is another sound of my morning: the faucet running in the downstairs bathroom and a cat lapping up the running water while sitting on the sink.

Around here Anna is the first kid up and the only one in in-person school right now. I hear the sound of the bathroom door closing and know that she is up and will be downstairs shortly.

Around here I'm back to driving Anna to school on the weeks she is at this house. She gets out of the car at precisely 7:56am - it’s become a joke. I am thankful she has the opportunity to be in school. After I drop her off I drive over to Molly’s for our Tuesday morning walk. I listen to NPR’s Up First + The Daily on my drive and think about the full day of work ahead. Molly ends up needing to reschedule after talking to some contractors who were working at her house. On my drive home I call a couple friends to check in. One of the gifts that Covid has given me is a deeper appreciation for checking in with friends in quick + simple ways. I want to hear their voices.

Around here some of the ski stuff from this past weekend is still on the big table in our family room. It will probably be there until the kids head to their other houses on Friday. 

Don't forget that you can adjust the height of your shot - meaning I use my body and crouch down lower so that the pile on the table is straight in front of me vs. shooting down onto the table. 

After the morning drop off I head straight upstairs and make myself a cup of mushroom coffee in my office and start working on deliverables for upcoming product releases. 

I took this shot as an example of how I was using the remote on my watch to click the shutter on my phone. I set up my phone on a shelf on the opposite wall in my office to take this shot. A couple things I love about this photo: (1) it shows more of the story - literally and (2) I don't clean up before I embark on this project - keep it real people. 

I head downstairs around 10am to have my first interactions with the rest of the family. Simon was on his way out the door to get his passport photo + go to an apportionment to get his passport renewed (no travel planned just getting it taken care of). Elliott, who shaved his head last night to support a friend, walked through the kitchen on his way out to the music room and we were all joking about the experience all over again. Aaron was making himself breakfast (toast with bacon + avocado) and was planning to head to Costco. We confirmed that we would be buying a car from Katie for Issac (kid driver #2) and he was stoked to learn the news. Audrey was the last to come downstairs around 10:15am (her school starts around noon) and asked about what to do if she has a sore throat.

I took about six photos of Simon walking toward me after he said what he said to Elliott (which was super funny and from a movie of course but not appropriate). This was the best of the bunch. I love that he's in motion and that you can see Aaron grinning. I also love that there are dishes all over and the dishwasher is open - it's what's real especially on a day when I have deadlines.  

Capturing them as they are is the goal.

Around here I'm working on Story Kit projects for the next theme. 

Around here people eat at a variety of times. Generally everyone makes their own breakfast + lunch and then Aaron or I will make dinner. Issac, Elliott, and Audrey are all in online school at this time. The boys start at 8:30am and Audrey starts at noon. Simon has a couple online classes at the Community College and then goes flying with a flight instructor a couple times a week. We've finally seemed to find a rhythm with online school (just in time for the transition back to in person coming in the next few months). The boys have really thrived but it's been more challenging for Audrey. I'm constantly reminded over and over that there is no one-size fits all approach to any of this. 

Around here Simon has gotten into Star Wars video games. My favorite is when he plays with his friend Jeffrey. 

Around here I still get the paper and often read it at lunch. 

For this shot I knew I wanted to include a photo of what I was eating and decided to set up the shot with the paper underneath. I like how it grounds the photo in a piece of time/adds context vs. just seeing it on the black table. 

Around here during the day my people are all engaged in their own stuff - school or otherwise. I love walking around the house and peeking in and seeing what they are up to and what's happening for them in their own individual stories. I also love that the McKercher kids get it and let me take a photo of them doing whatever they are engaged in when I knock on their doors. I’m thankful for their trust.

My approach with photographing teens is to knock on their door and ask permission to take a photo of them engaged in whatever it is that they are doing. I generally snap one or two and then say thank you and move on to the next thing.    

Around here the Kramer photo is still on the wall in the Simon's room and this continues to be one of my favorite ways to capture Simon. It's the best. When I took this photo I was very aware that there might not be many more opportunities for me to take this photo of Simon. He's got some plans for the fall that include an independent living set up - I am so excited for him to get to enter a new chapter in his life.

Around here I've been doing the TEAM Plans Full Body Fit workout. I do it three times a week for about 30 minutes. I'm on week four of the first round and I honestly feel really good. It's just the right length of time for me and three days a week is really doable. No excuses. I just go out to this small space in our very messy garage and get it done. 

Picking up Anna from school in the early afternoon in the middle of a downpour. SHe's in 6th grade now and the middle school kids are able to walk from school to a little market. It makes for an easier pick-up and I get to wave at my friends or stand outside their cars and chat for a few minutes. Flower crown + uniform + sour candy + Doc Martens are basically Anna right now. 

For Christmas this past year we set up loft beds for the girls. It's been a really cool change in their room. They've also got these LED lights that change colors. I regularly walk in there and have to cover my eyes because the lights are a little too much for their old Mom. 

Around here Audrey is working extra hard to stay caught up with online schooling. It's been a challenging transition for her all around but she's really starting to find a rhythm that works for her and I'm proud of the ways she's worked at finding a system that works for her. It's hard because it's hard. 

Around here I know I will miss when this season has passed. Obviously there are things that I won’t miss about this past year, but for our family I feel like we’ve grown stronger as a team and that is a gift I don’t take lightly.

Around here when the kids are at this house we both work in the moments we can in between checking in with everyone (are you caught up/what are you working on/do you need any help/did you brush your teeth/did you do your job/have you done anything today that doesn't involve a screen/etc). 

Around here Aaron and I have been pretty committed to doing yoga together just about every day before we transition to dinner stuff. We've been doing Yoga With Adrienne videos - usually less than 30 mins - and I have come to really value this piece of our day. Not only do we get to move our bodies together but we also get to have a general check in about the day as we move into the evening. 

After multiple conversations about what to have for dinner we decide on taco soup. Around here most of the time I cook because I like to cook. 

Around here Simon is the master of unloading the dishwasher. It started as a way to earn his phone a few years ago and now it's just something he does every morning or other times during the day when the dishwasher has finished. I love these kinds of shots - especially for stuff like the single piece of bacon that someone left on the counter from the morning (the story is that it fell on the ground and someone planned to feed it to the cats at some point). 

Around here people are often on different schedules. Sometimes we eat all together and sometimes we don't depending on who is doing what and when. 

Around here my picture taking during this project slows down in the early evening hours. I laughed to myself at that realization because it makes so much sense considering how I experience my day: early to rise + early to bed (happily). I’m almost always the first of all of us to go to bed - I get in bed even earlier than the girls most nights now + Aaron continues to own the title of “best tuck-ins.” I took this last shot downstairs right before I headed up to get in the bath + open up a book (+ maybe watch an episode or two of Adventure Time with Simon once his evening zoom class is done). I’ll be out by 9:30pm at the latest.

Around here Aaron makes the bed most mornings and it's one of my favorite things to come to this space in the evening and climb into bed. 

Around here Simon and I have been making our way through all the episodes and finished season 3 tonight. 

Around here she's in the in-between years of child and teenager. I'm here for it. 

Aaron took the last couple of shots. I texted him as I started to fall asleep and invited him to take a few of what happens after I fall asleep. 

It was a full day and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to capture it as part of this project. It always grounds me in what's real for us right now and helps me remember to embrace and celebrate each of the different seasons we experience. 

As I mentioned above I'll be sharing my process for bringing my words + photos into an album mid-late next week. 

Download the March 2021 Day In The Life™ title word art here.

If you'd like to learn more about finding your own photo vision + voice be sure to check out my Lens Of Joy workshop. 

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11 thoughts

  1. aguilarmom says…
    03/11/2021

    Love these photos! I'm going through my photos now and didn't take a whole bunch but enough to get a snapshot of what a typical day looks like. I like your advice on keeping the dark parts dark....I too tend to brighten my photos - can't wait to see how you put the album together.

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. audmac says…
    03/11/2021

    Ali-your pics are great!!! I used my watch timer for the first time for a couple of pics however it seemed like they had a burst of 10 per pic any thoughts on what I did wrong?

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. AliEdwards says…
      03/11/2021

      Mine had that too - you can just choose the one you want from the bursts.

    2. Londerella says…
      03/11/2021

      Burst is default for timer photos with the Apple Watch. You can turn on ‘live mode’ or turn on the camera flash to disable it. But then you lose Apple ProRAW with enabling live mode and flash tends to distort images/flatten in certain settings too. Swings and roundabouts really. 😊

  3. jambajuice57 says…
    03/11/2021

    The prevailing and consistent sound I “hear” in your “voice” is some combination of contentment, delight, wonder, joy and peace. What wonderful “one little words” those are. I am so inspired by the way you approach it all. Thanks for letting us come along.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. AliEdwards says…
      03/11/2021

      Thank you so much. That actually made me tear up a bit because I honestly feel like that right now.

  4. Phineartist says…
    03/11/2021

    And this is why I've been reading your blog for so many years... posts like this that show your life, love of family, human connections. Thank you for being you Ali! xo Jana

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. kellyharper says…
    03/11/2021

    I was 'today years-old that I learned I could use my Apple watch to trigger my self-timer on my iPhone. Game changer. Thanks, Ali for all the tips and tricks.

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Amandainuk says…
    03/11/2021

    So many photos I can relate to - the teenage son standing in front of the open fridge, the dishes on the bench, kids in front of screens. A lovely reminder that despite all our differences, there are so many things familiar in our lives.

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. mom2bigtom says…
    03/11/2021

    I love all of this. I am especially thankful for the reminder that you take the photos of the “stuff” around your people. The reminder to be authentic in what your real life is. I have a real appreciation for that reminder knowing I struggle with that “Instagram worthy” life. Thank you so much for continuing to inspire me in my life.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. chp97 says…
    03/16/2021

    Oh Ali, I’m always so inspired by your photos. Love the way you capture the people you love. So thankful you share so much wisdom with us. I found your photos a long time ago because I loved Tara Whitney & found you both so real & genuine which is hard to gather through the internet. So love what you do & the community you share with us. Thank you for being You ❤️

    Reply 0 Replies

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