| Written by Ronnie |
This story book is a new memory keeping endeavour of mine, and this first volume was a true labour of love. It all started last year when I realised I’d forgotten so many of our daily and weekly rituals as a family before we moved to our present home. What did our week look like back in Angus’ first year when we lived on campus at college? What did our days look like when Pete was first born and I was struggling to cope with two children? What did the mornings look like? What did the afternoons look like? And how on earth did we ever get through dinnertime, bath time and bedtime after Jamie was born and we had three little boys under two and a half? The things I never even thought were worth documenting suddenly became things that I wanted to remember.
It made me feel really sad that I couldn’t recollect many of those details, and it got me thinking that these everyday rituals, whilst seemingly mundane at the time, are what ultimately makes up the story of us, as a family. The things that we do every week. The things that we do every day. Without even realising that we are doing them.
I’d always been drawn to Ali Edward‘s Week in the Life project, but I never managed to successfully document a week in its entirety. Plus, I would often have a hard time trying to pick a week to document because I knew I wanted to choose a week that resembled a ‘normal’ week. It was until I wrote our feature article for Fete magazine last year in which I answered questions like ‘What does a normal weekend look like for your family?’ that I realised I wanted to do something similar for our own memory keeping.
Inspired by the beautiful format of Fete, I decided to put together something akin to a magazine. But it would be all about us. It would not be about events or special occasions (which are documented in our life albums already), but it would solely be about the things we do over and over again as a family. The weekly and daily rituals. The small details that essentially make up the bigger story about our family life. In terms of what to call this project, I used the name of a mini series that I did on the blog last year: Our Story Right Now. I thought this would be an apt title, seeing as this is exactly what I’m aiming to do: documenting what our family life looks like at a particular point in time.
The next thing I had to consider was how regularly I wanted to do this. It didn’t make sense to just do it the one time, as I knew I wanted to capture and document our family life over the years. Monthly would be overkill, so I decided on quarterly, and following from there I knew immediately that I would want each volume to coincide with the seasons. This would allow me to use seasonal imagery in each volume, to help give each of them a strong visual impact, and it also meant that there was a beginning and an end to the period of time that I was document. And so I called the first volume Our Story Right Now, Autumn 2013. (I should point out that since the beginning of this year, I’ve concluded that it’s unrealistic to try to produce something like this four times a year. So instead, I’m aiming to do one for Autumn and one for Spring each year.)
With the ‘magazine’ concept in mind, I quickly settled on Artifact Uprising’s large vertical soft cover book, and even now as I flip through the book, I’m so happy with my choice. So happy. It’s beautiful. And it really does have the feel of a magazine.
For the cover, I knew even before I began the design that I didn’t want to use a photo with people in it. Instead, I wanted the cover to be slightly abstract, with a simple image that alluded to the season. Part of the reasoning behind this is so I can easily create a series of these books over the years and have them bear similar covers to each other. The other part of the reasoning is simply that I love the photo. The fern – just gorgeous.
In terms of the structure, this book is divided into three sections:
1) Our weekly rhythm: A recount of what we do as a family for each day of the week.
2) Our daily rituals: A description of what we do as a family every day.
3) A day in the life: A documentation of one particular day.
I preceded each of these sections with a gorgeous double-page spread (inspired by the likes of Kinfolk) featuring a nature photo that I took during the Autumn season. The name of the section is typeset in a small white box in the centre of the right hand page (for example, Part 2, Our daily rituals).
All the imagery for this book was captured on my iPhone and processed with VSCO Cam. This was a deliberate decision on my part, because I felt that my iPhone photos have a certain mood/style to them that’s very different to my DSLR photos. Plus, this means that this particular story book looks and feels consistent with the other story books that I’ve created, like our winter holiday story book.
The other benefit to documenting our family rhythms and rituals in this way was that I didn’t come up short on any photos for any of the sections since I had three months worth of photos to choose from, and it also meant that I got to pick and choose my favourite photos. Yes, some of the photos overlapped with the ones already included in our family's life album, but this didn’t matter to me in the least because this keepsake had its own specific purpose.
I kept the layout of the images as simple as I could, as I wanted to keep the focus on the images themselves (and the stories that they told) rather than the design of the book. At most, I had about eight different layout templates in Adobe InDesign set up for image pages, and I stuck to these for the entire book. Pages of text were always placed next to full page images.
Even though this book was a lot of work, I’m confident the subsequent ones will take much less time seeing as I’ll know exactly what I’m doing. Without a doubt, it was the brainstorming, thinking and planning that constituted most of the work the first time round. I’ve already written up the text for the Spring 2013 edition, and I’m planning to start working on it next week.
I can’t begin to describe how precious this keepsake is to me.
Ten years from now, this will be the keepsake that I’ll pick up and read to find out exactly what our daily/weekly family life looked like back in Autumn of 2013, when Edward Bear entered our lives.
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If you are interested in creating something similar for your family, this 8.25x11 story book template is now available in the shop.
This post was originally published on Pink Ronnie.