keeping a photo journal

by Melissa Stottmann

For my entire life I have been a documenter.  In an effort to remember every tiny detail I have scrapbooked and journaled.  In fact, I picked up a camera for this same purpose.

My journaling habit began the moment I learned to write words and in high school I really began preserving memories. I wanted to remember every little moment, emotion, and ahem, details… way too many details… ask my mom.

Journaling began to taper off around college and scrapbooking became too messy for me.  Alas, after I gave birth to my chiIdren I felt the itch to begin documenting again. I wanted to remember everything about my children’s lives. I simply can’t rely on my memory anymore.

My Current Journals

1 small moleskin journal for funny things each kiddo says and does that is memorable…

keeping a photo journal photo

Homemade growth books…

keeping a photo journal photo

A “Mom” book – each child gets 1 page to write in on Mother’s Day and My Birthday in lieu of a card…

keeping a photo journal photo

A Peel and Stick Album that I add to with 12×12 prints instead of a scrapbook…

keeping a photo journal photo

2 (and growing) photography journals…

keeping a photo journal photo

About My Photography Journals

Last fall, when reading through Julia Stotlar’s Breakout, Cultiviating Creativity and Vision, she mentioned a photography journal.   Why had I not thought of this?  I suddenly realized how messy this could get though and I do not like mess.  As I began my journal, I also started a Table of Contents.  As I began writing, I numbered the pages, and added each title to that Table of Contents.

keeping a photo journal photo

My journal inspired me to start keeping track of foliage and my locations for shooting.  Every fall comes and I’m left wondering what each park looks like so this past fall I started scouting and making notes based on the dates. Next year, when someone wants to book I can tell them that the week of October 24 the leaves at {insert park} switched over to a vibrant yellow and have some example images I took that week last year. Of course, there will be variations and through time I will continue to keep notes and refer year to year changes but it’s so helpful to have this information at my finger tips.  When Spring began I was excited to document tree growth and blooms. For a period of about 4-6 weeks I do a loop around to all of my favorite areas and make general notes.

keeping a photo journal photo

keeping a photo journal photo

keeping a photo journal photo

Inspirations are also something that I love keeping in my photography journal.  When I read a quotation, have an idea that I love, read a photography book, work through a course or Breakout I begin a new section.  This journal serves so many purposes and can even just be a ‘brain dump’ when I’m overloaded.   When I daydream I like to draw doodles and bring a touch of chaos to my organization.  My first journal was filled in about 6 months and I recently began a second.

keeping a photo journal photo

keeping a photo journal photo

Some other things I have journaled:

  • Notes from my mentorship
  • Classes I have taken
  • Pricing Ideas
  • Inspirational Quotes
  • Ways to Keep Families Engaged During a Shoot
  • Breakouts
  • Branding Ideas
  • Goals
  • Books I have Read
  • Artist Studies
  • Photography Project Ideas

I love having all of my ideas, inspirations, and new things I have learned in one simple place that I can reference!

keeping a photo journal photoMelissa Stottmann, Delaware
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Melissa Stottmann is a portrait photographer residing in Wilmington, Delaware. She loves shooting family sessions with a carefree style and capturing interactions. With a heart for the Earth, Melissa is constantly working to preserve every bit of it- while learning to eat vegan. She also loves design of any sort and repainting a room in her house is usually on the weekend agenda with her two little kiddos running around under foot.

Read all photography tutorials by Melissa Stottmann.

giveaway from melissa!

Since Melissa loves journaling so much she is doing a giveaway for the retro mini eco journals from the  CMstore! This set of journals marries her love of journaling and all things earth friendly!  To win, write a comment below telling us if you’ve kept a journal before and what it was for, we’d love to hear all about it.  One random winner will be drawn next Friday, August 9, 2013 after 12pm EST and make sure to come back here to see if you’re the lucky winner!

winner update!

Congratulations to Candice M who said, “I used to journal all of the time when I was younger and always want to go back to doing it. These are some great ideas that!” on being our random winner!  I will email you shortly on how to claim your prize.

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62 Responses to “keeping a photo journal”

  1. Aug 05 2013 at 9:49 am #

    I LOVED this post. A love of memory keeping is what led me to photography too. I have many stops and starts as far as keeping a journal but now that I’ve incorporated digital memory keeping, I’m doing a better job.

    The Mom book is pure awesomeness and I plan to implement it with my kids. I’ll also be sharing this idea with others!

    Thanks for the article and the chance to win!

  2. Aug 05 2013 at 10:19 am #

    Before I had a smartphone, tablet and laptop, I used to regularly journal. I have oodles of journals that begin back in elementary school. I would love to get back into the habit. Thank you for the opportunity.

  3. Autumn
    Aug 05 2013 at 11:01 am #

    I used to journal a lot but haven’t in a very long time. Life gets busy! Going to start soon though!!

  4. Shauna
    Aug 05 2013 at 11:06 am #

    I used to journal a lot when I was in my 20′s and still trying to figure out “who I am/was”. I haven’t journaled in ages though – particularly because it’s hard to find quiet time with a family in the house! I do LOVE the idea of a photography journal though! :)

  5. Erin Portch
    Aug 05 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    I kept journals in high school. When I moved in with my husband, I went back through them and relived the memories and then ripped them up and tossed them in various trash bags so no one could ever know the whole story if the pages were ever found.

  6. Aug 05 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    The Mother’s Day journal idea is BRILLIANT!!!

    I used to keep a journal, but abandoned it for my personal blog. Now I’m thinking I might go back to writing it down for myself.

  7. Dawn Shiree
    Aug 05 2013 at 8:58 pm #

    Oh, Melissa, we are kindred spirits just as I suspected!! :) In my photography journal, I outline my ongoing projects and what my objectives/goals are for each one. I brainstorm adjectives and phrases that I would want someone to use to describe the body of work when I’m finished and I keep those words in mind while shooting for that project. If I get inspiration for something I’d like to do in the future I jot down the idea right then and there… I now refer to that page as my photography bucket list. Thanks for sharing your ideas and inspiration… loved this blog post!!

  8. Aug 06 2013 at 1:37 am #

    Melissa this photo journal idea is awesome. I would love to see a future post on some of those areas that you have journaled on: classes, ways to keep families engaged on a shoot, etc.

    I used to keep a note journal called a writer’s notebook in college for my education degree. I loved it. I was suppose to carry it with me wherever I went and when I had idea in my head to write, draw or note it down in the notebook. It’s an inspiring place to put your thoughts so you don’t loose them.

  9. Aug 06 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    I have a tiny obsession with journals. I love to buy them, but don’t write in them very regularly! I do however keep a regular photography journal filled with techniques I want to try, tidbits from photography articles, and pictures from magazines that speak to my photographic vision. ( I won’t however cut up my Click photos because I keep them all on my bookcase as references!)

  10. Bobbijo
    Aug 09 2013 at 7:07 am #

    i love journalling too and am finding that as I get busier with life and kids, my “journal” becomes more of a photographic one, with my blog and instagram. I need to think of a way to print out blog posts and put them in an actual book for the kids!

    Great post, you made me want to go home and actually write in the jouirnals sitting beside my bed!

  11. Jessica Reischel
    Aug 14 2013 at 1:22 am #

    awh. this is wonderful melissa! i have two journals as well -and an entire box full of used ones from around 10 years of age. i list all the things that i want to shoot someday amongst so many other things. mostly right now – i write about my journey -the ups and downs, feeling defeated…elated….etc. ;-)

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