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I know that EVERY mom has her own things that are important to her. Some moms want to make their baby a blanket or take pictures of their bump EVERY single week during pregnancy. Once the baby is here, some mommas care more about writing letters than they do about taking pictures. Some moms care a lot about having “real” pictures… like scheduling photo sessions! Some just want to use their own big camera to capture memories! Others are fine with the iPhone.

Some parents care more about capturing their little one’s life on video and some don’t care about it at all…. it stresses them out to think about documenting every new stage and so they just enjoy the moments and don’t worry about it!

There is no RIGHT or WRONG!

However, for me, I knew I needed a system for this.

I didn’t want to get to the end of YEAR ONE and feel like I had a hot mess of RAW files and thousands of iPhone photos that were never printed. It just stressed me out even thinking about it!

So, before Evy was born, I started brainstorming about the BEST system for documenting her life! Here was my thought process:

  1. I want pictures printed…. but how? Like actual prints? Or BOOKS?
  2. I know it’s not realistic to constantly print books each month with REAL DSLR images in it. That’s just not going to happen. But I am going to TAKE pictures with my real camera so how am I going to organize that?
  3. What do I do with my iPhone photos? I know I’m going to be snapping like CRAZY and so how do I sort, save, and share them in one place??
  4. I care about videos… but if I’m being honest, I probably won’t ever make an “end of year one video”. It’s just not my gift! So I want to capture little moments and save them… but nothing too crazy.
  5. How am I going to actually make my REAL camera pictures happen? People say they never get their real camera out…so what is going to make that any different for me??
  6. How will I keep these family pictures straight CF card wise? How am I going to store them and know what’s edited, culled, or needs to be edited?
  7. How am I going to get images to our families? Everyone is going to want copies of stuff… so how is this going to work?
  8. I DON’T want Evy to have a massive baby book and other future kids not have one. I know that’s the most common reality… so how can I do it differently?
  9. Speaking of baby books…. what are we going to do about that? We have been gifted so many that I LOVE! But I can get overwhelmed with the thought of them!!! I don’t want to start one and not finish it!
  10. Journaling…. I want to write to Evy! So how do I make that happen? Make her an email account? Start a journal?

SO. MANY. THINGS.

I mean…. how complicated can this be!? Just take pictures right?!

Well, because of the career I’m in, I know just how complicated this can be. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had random folders of unedited family pictures sit on my computer for YEARS and never get touched!!! Embarrassing! I didn’t want that for Evy’s first year… or even our family picture for the future! So, I made a game plan and here it is! :

  1. FAMILY CF CARD : We keep one of our camera bodies in the living room with a battery and our 128gb “Family” CF card inside of it! This allows me to grab real photos whenever she’s doing something cute or is smiling big with friends or family holding her! I know, we have lots of natural light in our house which makes a huge difference.
  2. FAMILY HARD DRIVE : I upload the RAW files to my 2tb “Alsop Family Adventures” external hard drive, and I categorize the images by MONTH and then by EVENT. So under “June 2017” I have a folder titled “June 2017 UNEDITED > Nanny’s Visit”. Then I have a “Culled” and “Edited” folder as well. This keeps family images in one place!
  3. IPHONE PHOTOS & “CHATBOOKS” : I started an “Alsop Family Adventures” instagram account that is linked to Chatbooks! I automatically get THREE printed books for every 60 photos I post! (I upgraded to get THREE because each grandma gets her own copy!). This takes care of the need to print and save my iPhone photos that I love most! This is automated, and I post once every day or two while I’m nursing.
  4. MONTHLY BLOGS & ONE FAMILY YEARBOOK : I blog a monthly “Evy” post that makes me go through my images from each month and edit my favorites! At the end of the year, I’m going to take all of my edited monthly pictures from my DSLR and create a family YEARBOOK. This will ensure that Evy doesn’t have a massive first year book and our future kids do not. Because think about it… what do you do when you have multiple kids!? If you have a picture of the two of them… whose baby book does it go in?! If you just do a family yearbook, it’s even for everyone and easier on me!
  5. “PROMPTLY JOURNALS”: I heard about these journals from Jane Johnson on Instagram! They aren’t overwhelming. There is one picture to add per month and a space for me to write her a letter. It prompts you to write once a month and then once a year after the first year… so when Everly graduates from high school, she’ll have her entire childhood history in one book. I love it so much!!
  6. INSTA-STORIES: I have my insta-story videos automatically saved to my phone so that’s how I’m saving videos of the little moments of her life!
  7. ONLINE FAMILY GALLERY: I have an “Alsop Family Adventures” online gallery for 2017 that I can update and add photos too for family members to see! This backs them up, makes them always accessible, and creates an easy way to share them!

So! There you have it! That’s how we’re documenting her life!!! It may sound complicated, but it’s really not! Think about it, I’m taking pics on my iPhone, and I have an automated system for sharing and printing them! I’m taking pictures with my real camera, and I have a system for preserving those as well! I’m excited about it and proud of myself for sticking to the system! Sticking to the system has ALWAYS served me well in the past and so I plan to make these habits stick as long as possible! I know it will get harder with two or three kids down the road, but I’m trying to be realistic with what I do now so that I’m not disappointed that I can’t keep up in the future!!

I’m not able to keep up with the baby book idea. I love it so much, but I know that I want a TON of images saved in a family yearbook, and I’m writing down all of her memories and big moments in her “Promptly Journal”!

I think it’s important to do what makes you happy. Making multiple styles of baby books happen just felt like a mandatory thing that we had to do… it didn’t seem fun. Just like taking the obligatory “bump” picture didn’t seem fun to me while I was pregnant! So instead, I did it a different way, and I’ll have to share that with you one day!!

I’m learning to have a new level of grace with myself. In a lot of ways, Evy’s pictures and documenting her life have taken priority over making our house feel like a home. Sure, it looks put together in instagrams and all, but we only have TWO pictures on the walls and STACKS of frames downstairs! :) Documenting her new little life is more important. I’ll have years to enjoy her pictures on the walls when she’s off at school all day and I miss her! :)

I hope this is helpful and maybe gives some of you new and seasoned mommas out there some ideas!

The hard drive is a LACIE 2 TB drive! We love them! 

xoxo, Katelyn
12 Comments Blog, Ask Anything
  1. Deborah Zoe reply

    Keeping a camera loaded with a Family card in the living room is such a GREAT idea!! We’re going to have to adopt a similar system around here!!

  2. Taylor Kaderly reply

    I’m so glad you decided to blog about this Katelyn!! I’ve been wanting to email you and ask if you had a system for documenting Evy’s life, because I’m 28 weeks pregnant and a little scared at the thought of my baby’s first year flying by with only a bunch of unorganized RAW files and iPhone photos to show for it! This really helps me have an idea of where to start in creating my own system! :)

  3. Laura Foote reply

    I loved reading this SO much! It’s funny how you and I are organizing things so similarly– great minds :) Thank you for sharing the journals, though! The writing/organizing for her has been a question mark for me and I’d really like to get one of these! Love seeing your life as a family. Xo-Laura

  4. Sara reply

    I love this Katelyn! You’re family is so sweet! I’ve been a mom for six years and I’ve tried multiple things (I do write in a baby book, have photos printed, etc) but the best thing I’ve done is to keep a blog for my boys. It’s what I go to all the time now that I have a second child and I think, “What was Tyler doing when he was Brady’s age?” and all I have to do is make a few clicks to read all about it. :-) I love your systems! I strongly suggest (once your sweet Everly is talking that is!) that you have a way to keep track of her funny quotes…because kids say the cutest things!! One year for Christmas I made a photo book of all of my favorite pictures of my son (from his newborn years to age three) and then I had all of his funniest quotes throughout the photo book. I got this idea from Young House Love, and I made copies to give to the grandparents that year too! :-)

    • Sara reply

      I meant “Your family is so sweet!” I taught seventh grade English for nine years so I had to fix my typo!!! :-)

  5. Hannan Wazwaz reply

    LOVE all the ideas!!! she’s going to love them and appreciate you so much when she gets older!

  6. Jill reply

    This honestly is something I have struggled with for all my 5 years of motherhood and I appreciate these ideas SO much! The family memory card…GENIUS! And so much more! Have you decided who you will use for your family yearbook? Thanks! <3

  7. Ashley Ziegler reply

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who has separate files for UNEDITED, EDITED, and more!! I love being organized in my photos, brings me peace! Haha, I love that you post once a month and go through all of your favorite photos & edit them to share. I also super love that you have a camera at home always ready to take photos… :) Being photographers & moms are like, the greatest callings ever! ;)

  8. Kathryn reply

    This is so helpful, Katelyn! I’ve just received my Promptly Journal and can’t wait to start using it. I’d love to know if you have a company you’d recommend for the photos to use in the journal. Also, like someone else asked, if you have recs for where to print your family yearbook? Evy is just the sweetest!

  9. Tracy reply

    These are such great ideas! I loved reading this post and seeing what works best for you. I’ve looked into making a family yearbook for our family as well. Any recommendations? Thanks for sharing! :-)

  10. Karen reply

    *tip for folders on HD – I label 01.January.2017 … b/c if you go by file name, the months aren’t alphabetical! :) I also label dates, in addition to event names for the sub-folders :)

  11. Brittany Davis reply

    I love all of these ideas! My baby is two now but I still have tons of pictures so I can definitely implement some of these. Will you pleeeeeease pretty please post photos and details of your family yearbooks?? I’m working on my right now for last year and would love some ideas!

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