"Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art." ~Maya Angelou
It's that time of year.
We are going on vacation in a couple of weeks, and while my husband has been double-checking all of our rentals and flight status, I have been doing important things like ordering activewear online and taking an inventory of my flip-flops.
In addition, because of my role as chief photographer and memory capturer in the family, I have also been spending time looking through some of our old family vacation albums.
I know...it's a tough job....
I like to do this for a couple of reasons. Number one, it's just a giant warm fuzzy. Seeing the faces of my loved ones, reliving such fun adventures, remembering with awe some of the amazing places I've seen...yeah, I love that. But the other reason I like to look back over our vacation albums is that it sort of gets me in the vacation mindset. It helps me to think ahead to this year's vacation and reminds me of the kinds of memories that I want to capture.
Anyway, as I was flipping through the pages of some of my favorite vacation albums, I thought I might share with you some of the memory-keeping techniques that have really worked for me over the years. From the photos I take, to putting together a vacation photo album, for me it starts before we even leave on vacation.
One of the best bits of advice I can give is to take a little notebook with you. For me, once I get in 'vacation mode', I tend to completely lose track of time. And even though in the moment it feels like the magic will last forever, once I get back home it's like all of those magic memories run together. So even if it's just a few words - a couple of quick notes about where we went and what we saw - I find that keeping a notebook is a huge help it putting my vacation albums together.
Next is a sampling of some of my favorite vacation albums.
New York City - July 2004
As with most of my vacation albums, I nearly always organize them by theme rather than chronologically. And my reason for that is because I'm not just telling the story of our days (like I do with my Project Life album)...I'm also telling the story (or trying to capture the essence of) the place where we are visiting. So for instance in my NYC album, I have sections for the main parts of town we visited regardless of which day(s) we spent there.
The other thing I would like to suggest is to get in the picture with your family. Don't worry about the pounds you'd like to lose or if your hair is flat or your forehead looks like oil-slick. It doesn't matter. Let me repeat that-
IT DOESN'T MATTER
As the family documenter, you are just as big of a part of your family as your spouse and children. And twelve years from now when your daughter is grown and living on her own, and you are wiping away tears as you go through old vacation albums, you will be so very glad you did. So just do it, Okay? Trust me on this one.
Italy - July 2008
Once again, notice that I organized my album by theme - the cities we visited. And the other thing I would share with you is to say some of the ephemera from your trip - maps, ticket stubs, other bits and pieces that remind you that you're not in Kansas (er, Oklahoma) anymore.
Also, even though we were in ancient Rome, surrounded by some of the greatest art in the world, I also took pictures of our little apartment kitchen and bathroom. Because those things are just as important to our story as the city itself. This is where we 'lived' while in Italy...and we shared a lot of great memories here.
In terms of the actual album, I used mostly 12 inch, 4x6 divided page protectors - sort of like a Project Life album (only before Project Life even existed). I had so many pictures, it would have taken me forever to do an album of traditional scrapbook pages. This was so much simpler - I slapped my pictures into the pockets, then added a card on each page with some journaling. Looking at this album now, I could care less about the stickers and embellishments...it's the memories that touch my heart.
St. John - July 2011
I love this album for a lot of reasons...lots of really awesome memories were made on this trip. And as you might imagine, I have a lot of pictures of the magnificent beaches and the crystal Carribean seas. But what was different about this trip was that we went with friends - and those friendships were every bit as beautiful as the island we were visiting. And that was reflected in the photos I took. So keep that in mind as you prepare for your trip and begin putting together your album. Think about the relationships and the connections you want to celebrate and remember.
As with my other albums, I created a table of contents page showing the sections of my album. And once again, I mostly used divided page protectors to make it a little easier. In terms of paper and embellishments, I stuck to a really simple color theme using one paper pack and a couple of sheets of travel-themed stickers. Which is the great thing about this kind of album...you can keep them simple or more decorative depending on the amount of time you have or your particular design sensibilities.
Malibu - July 2014
I made this album through Artifact Uprising and I think this might be my favorite album of all-time.
Like the others, I organized this album by theme, but what stands out to me most is the simplicity of it. And that simplicity - both in putting it together and in finished album - allows the memories to stand out. It's like because I wasn't worried about using this page protector or that paper or that doodad, I was able to focus completely on the stories of that trip.
In addition to the themes or sections of my albums, I almost alway include a little piece at the end that is just a mishmash of photos that didn't make it into the other sections due to space constraints (or whatever). Most of the time they are just details - little things that touch my heart like the way the road ahead is reflected in Tripp's sunglasses or the way the light shines on Kelsey's hair. Snapshots that tell the story of my heart.
Oh I do so love these vacation albums.
Now, as I look forward to our upcoming vacation, this little trip down memory lane is exactly what I needed to get into vacation mode - both in my head and in my heart.
Whether or not you consider yourself a 'scrapbooker', my guess is that if you are a photographer, you are also a memory keeper. And I would highly, highly encourage you to consider making a vacation album. Go to town with paper and embellishments or keep it super simple and use an online service - but either way, get your memories off of your devices and computer and into your hands. It is so. totally. worth. the time and energy it takes to make one. And just like the memories it contains, you will treasure your photo album for a lifetime.
Until next time,