Not just the “who, when and what”, but the “why”

I spent an entire week taking everyday pictures and writing down notes about my day to day life, and now I’m left with the task of putting it all together in some sort of comprehensive collection, like an album. This has got me thinking. I haven’t done many layouts for me. I’ve made a travel album for my mother from our big trip to Italy last year. I did a friendship mini album for a friend a while ago. I have made very few layouts for myself, and certainly nothing close to an album. I think mainly because it’s felt kind of scary. The Week in the Life project is a big change for me.

Why scary?

Well, let’s get through the general stigmas, here we go:
It’s selfish and egocentrical. It’s just me, it’s not interesting to anybody else. It’s not realistic to spend so much time and money on something just for me. It’s just a silly little hobby, it’s not that important. And of course, the never ending self-consciousness: I don’t dare be so personal, what if anybody were to actually see it, what would they think?

Those are all bullshit reasons, of course, but certainly real from time to time, and probably reasons as to why I have hundreds of beautiful photos sitting on my hard drive that I would like to use to tell a story and use to document my memories, but somehow stopped me from doing and album about my own life and experiences, even though I’ve been scrapbooking and purposefully crafting for almost 5 years now.

But one reason that I think might have stopped me is this: I want to tell a story. It’s not just by pure coincidence that I’ve been an avid reader and creative writer all my life, that I’ve studied languages and literature at university, and that I keep participating in NanoWriMo year after year even though I’ve ever “succeeded” once. Neither is it a coincidence I struggle as much with this issue in my photography as I do in my crafting. I love story. I need story. Story is my crack.

I want to have a reason for drowning myself in pretty paper and shiny decorations and glitter and fun tools and vintage ribbons. Yes, a picture is worth more than a thousand words, there are definitely photos that speak volumes by themselves, they only need the one simple word in the title and it doesn’t matter that it’s just straight and descriptive. Those emotional money shots, that one photo that sums up an entire event or trip. A little story, just by their lonesome.

But some photos are just… what they are. Like: “This is a picture of a birthday cake”. That is pretty interesting, really. Think about it: Someone chose the picture, because it’s a part of someone’s memory. This is where the problem hits me. I don’t just want the typical descriptive  “who, when and what” with a big and clear title. I want the “why”, too. And this is where it get’s personal and narrative. This is a fantastic reason for pretty paper and shiny decorations and glitter and fun tools and vintage ribbons.

Which brings me back to feeling egocentrical and self-conscious. It’s actually something that needs to be overcome. It’s a bit of a leap. Something to overcome. A little bit like writer’s block. Scrapbooker’s block?

But now I’ve gone and done this project, see? It really was an eye-opener on so many levels, and shame on me if I let it fall flat. There is a reason I took those pictures of my everyday life, and a reason I felt that impulse to take a photo of, say, the rails at the train station or my coffee cup or the self-portraits in the lift every morning. By choice. And of course I have a story, and being human, of course I want to express it.

I wholeheartedly recommend anybody and everyone to try it out, even if you’re not a scrapbooker. Take photos of your life everyday for a week, with your camera, with your phone, whatever. Make notes about what’s going on during the day, even if it’s just keeping tabs on what you have for breakfast, lunch and dinner and how many cups of coffee you drink. But take photos. Of yourself, of your surroundings, of mundane items in your home. Collect it somewhere so you see it all laid out before you. Collect it somewhere so you can go back to it. Blog, make a folder on your computer, paste it into a word document, make it into a digital photo book at some online photo store. Whatever, it doesn’t matter.

Because, how often do you take a step back and just look at your story? It’s not just for scrapbookers, you know.

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