Unravel Your Photos: Lesson Six

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The final lesson of Life:Captured Inc.'s Photo Organization with Lightroom class is where you learn how to reap the benefits of all the time you spent importing, renaming, organizing, keywording and rating your photos. Ronnie shows us how to use Lightroom's Collections panel to instantly create a customized collections of photos from your library.

As I delved deeper into the lesson, the more I realized what a powerful tool Lightroom is. As someone who has thousands upon thousands of digital photos and wants to create keepsakes from those captured memories, I am now more willing and excited than ever to invest the time needed to organize my photos. The payoff will be huge as I will be able to easily create photo books and albums without missing photos I forgot about.

Ronnie shares the steps she uses to create photo collections for her photo books and life albums (her stunning version of Project Life albums). Learning about her workflow was immensely helpful for trying to figure out what my own personal workflow should be. 

The lesson concludes with Ronnie teaching us how to export photo files to their designated folders so that your final images are organized and ready to use for your memory keeping projects.

I'd like to thank Ronnie and Trish for hosting this generous boot camp and for this amazing class. I have learned so much from it! After many unsuccessful attempts to learn more about Lightroom, I am finally equipped to tackle and unravel my photos :) 

Unravel Your Photos: Lesson Five

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Now that Ronnie has taught us how to use Adobe Lightroom to organize our photos, she now teaches us how to apply what we learned in a manageable weekly workflow for importing and organizing current photos. Once this weekly workflow becomes established and routine, we can then begin to work on our backlog of older photos. 

I always thought that trying to organize 15 years worth of digital photos would be way too difficult, so what would be the point of even trying? But now that I have learned how to use the powerful tools available in Lightroom, this monumental job actually seems doable. I tend to tackle projects like this by working like mad nonstop, but the enormity of this task will force me to divide it into manageable projects. Ronnie assures us that it's perfectly OK if we don't have time to work on our backlog every month, as long as we continue to work on it at our own pace and above all, be patient with our progress (this I constantly need to be reminded of).

Ronnie also teaches us how to archive older photos when our computer runs out of space, how to manage our existing Lightroom catalog, and how to create a new Lightroom catalog. Lastly, she talks about the importance of backing up our photos. Now, backing up my photos is one thing that I have always been religiously good about doing, since losing my photos has always been one of my worst nightmares. I currently back up my photos to an external hard drive and two online photo storage sites. I used to also back them up to two sets of DVD's, but I stopped doing this a couple of years ago.

I'm a little sad that the boot camp is almost over, but I am very happy with what I have learned from this class. Prior to these lessons, I thought learning Lightroom would be too daunting and difficult, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it is actually easy. The keys were having the right teacher and having the material presented in a user-friendly format. Just one more lesson to go... 

Unravel Your Photos: Lesson Four

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Lesson Four of Life:Captured Inc.'s Photo Organization with Lightroom class is all about keywording. I’ve been looking forward to this lesson since the beginning of the boot camp because for me, this is the fun part of the whole process. In addition, applying keywords to your library opens the door to doing exciting things with your photos.

Ronnie shares her keyword list and provides advice on how to create your own list of useful keywords. Beyond keywording based on people, places, and events, I loved the idea of keywording based on unique features of the photos (like the predominant color) or items in the photos. I learned about keyword sets and saw how utilizing them can dramatically cut down on the amount of time needed to keyword photos. 

Before using Lightroom, I used iPhoto to organize my photos. Beyond organizing my photos into "Events" and playing with the "Faces" and "Places" features, there wasn't much else I could use to search for specific photos.

In addition to key wording, Ronnie also discusses rating your photos and offers a simple way to flag your highest quality photos (photos to be used for keepsakes, photo books, etc.) and your favorite photos, which may not necessarily be the best quality captures but for one reason or another, are special or meaningful to you.

Keywording my entire photo library is a huge undertaking, but Ronnie’s tips and tricks will definitely make the process easier and quicker. This lesson comes at the perfect time as I import, sort through, and apply keywords to my photos from my business trip to Savannah.

Unravel Your Photos: Lesson Three

Thursday, September 24, 2015

In Lesson Two, we learned how to import and organize photos in Lightroom. It makes perfect sense that Lesson Three showed us how to search for and view photos in Lightroom.

Ronnie goes over the different ways to view images in Lightroom, helpful keyboard shortcuts, and explains the functions of the Catalog and Folders Panels. She also goes over the all of the different ways you can search for photos using the filter bars.

I never knew that there were so many ways to search for photos in Lightroom. Combining the different filters (text, attributes, and metadata) along with the folder structure created when photos are imported results in a myriad of search options to choose from. This is extremely helpful, especially when dealing with a massive photo library with tens of thousands of photos.

Next, we learned how to pick and reject files in Lightroom. I suspected that this, for me, will be the hardest part of the photo organization process, as I have always found it difficult to weed out less than stellar photos. Ronnie anticipates that some of her students will have difficulty with this step and offers an alternate workflow to allay those fears about deleting those photos right away. 

Ronnie also taught is how to edit file data, such as the filename or capture time, after files are already imported, in case those were incorrect at the time of import. She also goes over how she handles video files in a similar manner to the way she organizes photos, just somewhat simpler. After all, most of us have far less videos than photos, so a simpler workflow is appropriate.

Lastly, Ronnie went over virtual copies and RAW files. Virtual Copies are useful when you want to try editing your photos in different ways to see which is best for your project.

With each lesson, I am becoming more comfortable and confident using Lightroom. I recently read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and was finally able to let go of a lot of possessions that I have been reluctant to get rid off. After this lesson, I am  excited about applying the same principles to my photo library, organizing and culling my pictures instead of keeping all of the ones I ever took. 

Unravel Your Photos: Lesson Two

Saturday, September 19, 2015

I've just completed Lesson Two of Life:Captured Inc's Unravel Your Photos photo organization class and learned quite a bit! 

First, I learned about Lightroom catalogs. What they are, and how many I should make for my photo library. I learned exactly what Lightroom does when it edits photos and where it stores all of that information. I also learned about the various type of preview files Lightroom can create when it imports your photos.

My favorite part of Lesson Two was learning how to import photos directly from my cameras and phone and how to create a custom file naming preset which automatically renames my photo files as they are imported. I had never imported my photos directly into Lightroom from my camera before, so watching Lightroom automatically rename and organize my photos was quite an eye-opener. I was very excited to learn this and wish I had learned how to do it sooner. But that’s ok, better late than never, right?

Ronnie explained what the end goal of this 12 week photo organization boot camp is, which is to build a single all-inclusive system for all of our photos. A system for both the photos we have already taken and the ones we will take going forward. I’m excited about using Lightroom to organize future photos, but just thinking about the backlog of photos I have to organize seems daunting. Lucky for us, Ronnie already anticipates that we will feel that way and offers a manageable strategy for working on your backlog.

This lesson’s assignment was to import all of the photos on all of my cameras into Lightroom. With Ronnie’s clear and concise instructions, this was a breeze and helped instill in me the confidence that I will really be able to use Lightroom like I never had before. Can’t wait for Lesson Three... 

Unravel Your Photos: Lesson One

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Photos. If you're like me, you love to take pictures and as a result, have thousands of them sitting on your phone, camera, SD cards, computer, and hard drive. 

What have I done with my photos? I love looking at them and reliving the memories they capture, but I haven't done much else recently. I've printed some for friends, family, and our home's gallery wall, plus made a few albums and photo books, but I always yearned to do more with my photos. My newfound love of journaling and keeping a daily diary has only increased my desire to document my family's life in words AND pictures.

Enter the #unravelyourphotos movement by Life Captured and Artifact Uprising. A chance to join other Instagrammers and bloggers in learning how to organize and bring order to our ever growing photo archives. I applied for the 12 week photo organization boot camp, crossed my fingers, and was very fortunate to have been chosen as one of the participants. The class went live on Monday, August 24 and I eagerly dove into Lesson One.

Lesson One goes over the benefits and principles of photo organization, and introduces you to Adobe Lightroom. I've had Lightroom for a few years and used it to edit photos, all the while not realizing that the program could also be used to organize my photos. Reading through the first lesson, I found Ronnie's writing style engaging and  encouraging. She obviously knows her stuff, and the material is detailed without being intimidating. I've found that books on Lightroom and Photoshop often seemed to be geared towards professional photographers, and as a result I would get lost and discouraged by all of the unfamiliar terminology. 

Ronnie also shares the secret to tackling the monumental task of organizing your photos. That key principle is a simple one, but it got me excited about starting the whole process.

The lesson ends with a recap and review to help make sure that you have absorbed the most important points of the lesson. And finally, you are given assignments. The lesson's assignments are easy, practical and help you prepare for the first step of the organization process, which is importing your photos into Lightroom. 

After completing Lesson One, I am happy to say that I am confident that the next twelve weeks of my life that I am about to invest in this boot camp will be well worth it. Are you interested in learning more? Then check out the Unravel Your Photos home page.

Inspiration Lab at Baum Kuchen Studio

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Last Sunday, I spent my afternoon at the delightful headquarters of Baum-Kuchen, a beautiful studio/shop located in Los Angeles, CA. I was there to attend an Inspiration Lab workshop taught by Eunice Roe, the talent behind the amazing Instagram account @thedailyroe.

I left home very early, just in case the horrible L.A. traffic decided to rear its ugly head. So I got to Baum-Kuchen in plenty of time to snap a few photos before the workshop began.

Eunice's collection of letters graced the walls

a wooden toolbox housed washi tape and other goodies from Eunice's personal collection

more of Eunice's personal collection

Eunice's journal pages, breathtaking to see and touch in person

specially curated treasure boxes for the workshop attendees

freshly baked goodness from Lemon Poppy Kitchen

a welcome sign hand lettered by Eunice

another peek at one of the analogue play tables

rubber stamps galore for workshop participants to play with

charming typewritten name tags for the attendees

the second analogue play table

washi tape, Traveler's Factory Stamps, and ink pads

Traveler's Factory stickers

lovely letters and a vintage typewriter 
alphabet rubber stamps, stencils, and ephemera for the participants to use 
Eunice's workstation

another view of her workstation
After everyone had arrived, Wakako and Eunice welcomed us and asked each person to introduce themselves to the group and share a little bit about their journaling experiences and their reason for coming to the workshop. I had never seen so many Traveler's Notebooks in one room! Having no family or friends who journal, it was great to meet other journalers, hear their interest and goals, and get a peek inside their personal journals.

Eunice shared her story as well. She told us how both of her parents were art majors and how she started journaling as a child in elementary school. Eunice shared her earlier journals with us and explained how her style has evolved over the years, from cute to the elegant vintage style she is known for today.

Eunice talked about why she journals and takes the time to create her incredibly beautiful and detailed pages. She went through all the different materials and tools she uses to create her spreads. She walked us through the process of how she creates her weekly pages and shared lots of helpful tips. Eunice even showed us how to make washi tape stickers using parchment/baking paper from Daiso.

Eunice shares her early journals

Eunice demos how to make washi tape stickers
Lastly, Eunice demonstrated how she uses watercolors and a calligraphy nib to hand letter quotes in her Traveler's Notebook. She uses a paint brush to load the watercolor onto the nib, changing the colors from time to time to create the gorgeous color gradients that appear in the letters. A lot of patient and painstaking work goes into those beautiful quotes you see on her pages.

Getting ready for the watercolor calligraphy demo

Eunice shows us how she letters the quotes you see on her weekly TN spreads

Eunice explains how she photographs her spreads for IG

The workshop participants then mingled, snacked on goodies from Lemon Poppy Kitchen, shopped (of course!), had fun with the Traveler's Notebook "photo booth," and worked on their journals using the materials and tools provided at the two analogue tables Wakako, our gracious host, and Eunice had set up.  Eunice answered questions and hand lettered personal messages in the journals of everyone who asked.
Workshop participants try out the goodies at the analogue tables

Eunice lettering a message in an attendee's journal
Many thanks to Wakako and Eunice for a truly enjoyable workshop, and I eagerly look forward to Inspiration Lab No. 2!

A great time was had by all, and we can't wait to do it again!

My Current Toolbox

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The question I get asked the most often is what pen I use for my journaling or lettering. There are so many choices out there, and to be honest I haven't tried that many. When looking to buy anything, I usually do some research and try to find a product with good reviews or recommendations before I decide what to purchase. Then, if I really like something, I tend to stick with it. Life is just simpler that way...

These are my current tools of choice:

From top to bottom, left to right:
1. Sakura Pigma Micron Ink Pen - The first set of pens that I purchased. They write quite smoothly and the ink is nice and dark. The only drawback for me is that due to my heavy handedness, the tips of the finer point pens sometimes break. But I think that's my fault and not the pens. I have also ordered a pack of 005 pens only to find that they were already somewhat dried out :(
2. Sakura Gelly Roll Moonlight Bold Point Gel Ink pen - I LOVE these pens for colored lettering or doodles. My favorite in the set is the hot pink. I also purchased this pen in metallic gold. Pink and gold, what's not to love?
3. Pentel Arts Aquash Water Brush - I bought this for water coloring and brush lettering. It's perfect for painting on the go, just takes practice to be able to control the water flow. It's great fun to play with!
4. Speedball Deluxe Oblique Pen Holder - This pen holder, combined with the Nikko G nib, is great for beginners like me who want to try their hand at calligraphy.
5. Pilot G-Tec-C4 Ultra Fine pen in Black - my absolute favorite pen. It produces the perfect line width and writes like a dream. It withstands even my heavy-handedness! If I could only have one pen to write with for the rest of my life, this would be it :)
6. Pentel Arts Pocket brush pen in black - This is a great pen for brush lettering if you don't feel like dealing with a separate brush and ink. I like to use this pen for the bold titles in my Hobonichi journal entries. The ink is dark and you can make variable width strokes very easily. I go through refills quite quickly as I love to practice with this, so I'm thinking I should try brush and ink to save money and stretch my crafting dollars (we shall see).
7. Uniball Signo Broad Point Gel Impact pen in white - This pen is the best white gel pen I have tried. I love the look of white ink on dark paper and this is a must-have for me.
8. Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens in black - These pens are the most recent addition to my collection. I used these for my Moleskine art journal quotes and have come to like them very much. I also broke the tip on one of these pens, so I guess that's a sign that I need to ease up on the amount of pressure I apply to my pens when I write!
9. Dr. Ph. Martin's Bleedproof White ink - I haven't taken any formal classes in calligraphy, so I had to research on how to use this ink. Basically, you mix a small amount of it with water. Trial and error and lots of testing until you achieve a consistency where the ink will flow smoothly from your nib. This ink is stunningly beautiful on black paper, so I am determined to master mixing this ink (it took me forever the first time I tried it.)
10. Small screw-top Dinky Dip inkwells - These inkwells come in various sizes and configurations.
11. Moon Palace Sumi Ink - This gorgeous bottle is from a calligraphy starter set from Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls, one of my favorite calligraphers. Her style is distinctive and instantly recognizable, and she has kits for sale on her Etsy shop. They are not available all the time, so stalk her Instagram feed to find out when they do become available for sale and pounce.
12. Bic Wite-Out - Because nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes :)

What are your favorite tools for journaling?

My Midori Traveler's Notebook - Quote Journal

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I've always loved quotes. The perfect quote can be that helpful little encouragement, that much needed perspective, or that bright spot of humor on a difficult day.

I started collecting quotes on a Pinterest board. After I bought my Traveler's Notebook, I decided to try my hand at lettering some of my favorites, using Sakura Micron and Gelly Roll Moonlight pens.

Later, I started experimenting with the Pentel Arts pocket brush pen.

I also tried an oblique pen holder and Nikko G nib.

Lately, I've been using Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens, and acrylic paint.

Do you collect quotes? If you do, where do you keep them?

My Midori Traveler's Notebook - Photo Journal

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Memory keeping is such a worthwhile endeavor, yet I have always struggled to find the perfect system for me. I have photo albums, scrapbooks, and Project Life albums (both digital and physical), not to mention hundreds of thousands of digital photos. I often felt overwhelmed by product choices and was searching for something different from what I had already tried.

I first saw the Midori Traveler's Notebook on Analog Paper's blog. I was intrigued by the beautiful leather cover and its unique shape, but when I saw the price, I felt a little guilty about spending that amount of money on a notebook.

A few weeks later, I checked Amazon again and the price had dropped significantly. I took the plunge and ordered my first Midori in brown. When I received it, I instantly fell in love and placed an order for a second one in black. 

This simple little notebook has a cult following, and I have grown to understand why. I love the quality of the paper and how beautifully the leather cover is aging. The design of the Midori is simple and ingenious. Each notebook or insert is held in place with an elastic band. There are different styles of notebooks and inserts available. You can use your Midori as a straight up notebook or planner, or add additional bands and fill it with as many inserts as you can and turn it into a wallet or compact carry-all. I have seen other creative users make their own inserts and folders, but I haven't got around to making my own just yet. The possibilities for setting up a Traveler's Notebook are endless and only limited by your imagination!

I currently only have two notebooks in my black Midori (shown here). Both of them are the Refill 003. I like the quality and thickness of the paper in this refill.  I have also tried Refill 013 but prefer the thickness of the pages in 003.

I use one notebook in my black Midori for hand lettered quotes and the other as a photo journal, which is what I am sharing with you today. It took some trial and error to find a style for my photo journal that I was happy with. I tried modeling my pages after ones I had seen on Instagram and Pinterest, but a lot of them were collage layouts which I have never quite gotten the hang of making.

Them one day I visited Baum-kuchen and that wonderful experience was the jump-start I needed to fuel my journaling. The creative ambiance and charming displays in Wakako's shop inspired me and a few days later, I used the photos I had taken in her shop to make my first ever journal entry that really felt like me.

Baum-kuchen, Los Angeles
At the time, I was also beginning to experiment with hand lettering, so I decided to combine this with my photos. I wanted to keep each layout to two pages but I also wanted to fit in as many pictures as possible, so I resized them to make them much smaller. This also forced me to choose the photos I felt would best tell the story.

Below are the other layouts in my photo journal so far.
Republique, Los Angeles
Solvang, CA
Sutro Baths, CA

Japanese Tea Garden, SF, CA
Point Lobos, CA

San Francisco, CA
Bottega Louie, Los Angeles
Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado

These are my only entries so far. They are a mixture of travel photos and photos of local restaurants in Los Angeles. I have photos piling up that need to go into this journal, but I recently became obsessed with journaling in another Japanese-made wonder, the Hobonichi! More on that in a future post :)

For now, I have decided to continue keeping the majority of my photos in digital albums on Flickr and Shutterfly, while documenting both everyday and special memories in a combination of journals, simple photo albums, and photo books. I hope you've enjoyed this look at my Traveler's Notebook and thank you for stopping by!

pepper and twine. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.