Field Notes #23 – Once Upon a Calendar

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My First Rodeo Calendar

Howdy gang.
I hope you all are having a wonderful day.
Winter is in full swing where I am at and I am enjoying being inside where it is warm this morning.

I was thinking back to a time, probably around 29ish years ago.
I was in the middle of going through photography school and had been taking a few pictures.
This was during the archaic time of film photography for those of you who don’t remember that far back.
Of course being in the exciting learning stages of photography I was showing off some of my newest images to an uncle of mine. One of my images he acted like he really liked and made the comment that it should be in a calendar.

I was taken aback…I didn’t think that image was that bad.
Recently I had been looking at a free calendar that we had picked up at I think a bank or hardware store or something, and had been looking through it.
I wasn’t impressed at all by the image choices that had been made and had hoped my feeble attempts at photography were a little better.
That was my first thoughts, quickly though I realized that he truly was giving me a compliment.
The point of reference he was coming from was a much better selection of quality than what was most recent in my mind.
A lesson I learned at that early point in life. We all are coming from different points of reference.

Truth of the matter was though, back then I really didn’t have many images that were good enough to be in a calendar, even the one I had been looking at. But it made me realize that I was occasionally getting some decent images, so onward I pushed.

As I traveled the road of my photographic journey I began to look into getting into calendars. In the mid 1990’s I didn’t have very good luck at figuring out how to get my images into a decent calendar. Still young in the craft I didn’t have a big enough image catalog for any stock photography houses to be interested in working with me and from what I could tell that was the best way in to that market.
Being a time before it was easy to “google” how to anything, I didn’t have mentors, or anybody that could really point me in the right direction.

Eventually as time went on, technology began to change and information was more readily available. A few years ago I was able to submit a few hundred images to a stock house and to my mild surprise one of the first two sales that I made was to a company making a calendar.

What do you know, I had an image good enough for a calendar. Haha.

One of the fun things about this current time and the ever changing technology is that now I don’t have to find somebody to pitch my images to if I want some in a calendar. This is a fun time.
Today I wanted to walk you through just a little bit of the process that happens during the creation of my print on demand calendars.

A Step Back in time 2021 calendar cover

When I decided that I wanted to start offering my own calendars I began to look into the pricing and printing options available.
Going through traditional print houses I would have to order 500-1000 minimum calendars to be able to get them at prices that were anywhere near reasonable.
That kept me from producing a calendar for many years. I didn’t have the upfront capital to buy that many calendars and I honestly didn’t have the faith in myself to be able to sell that many. I knew maybe a dozen people I could guilt trip into buying but finding 500+… marketing skills were not up to the task.

A couple of years ago a photographer friend of mine suggested a fairly new service I should look into for printing calendars, she showed me one she had made and it looked really good.
It was a print on demand service, with these services the price point of the calendar was a little higher but there was no minimum order. By not having to carry inventory I realized that I could offer multiple calendars and only make a couple bucks each. That meant the cost to the customer didn’t change much.
Yeah, I wasn’t going to get rich (or even buy lunch) but using these guys I could give people who love my images a way to have a functional, low cost product that didn’t mean I had to get a second mortgage to offer them.
It was a new fun idea.

Colorado Nature Collection calendar cover

Getting excited about this new option I started planning all of the fun new calendars I could offer.
Then I started trying to put together images for a calendar…oh my, the design process wasn’t what I was expecting.
Thinking about what images, in which order, in what layout. Do I need text, story, captions…
Does this series flow together, do these two look good enough…
Oh wait, vertical images….yeah they don’t look good as a calendar selection when the rest were horizontal.
Ok, scratch those from the line up….and those colors don’t look good. Oh my.

Just the process of picking topics and then what images were actually going to be selected for each was a huge job.
Sorting through tens of thousands of past images was a huge task. Not sure what I was thinking tackling this project.

Once I finally made it through the process of picking and choosing images and topics I then started on the designing.
I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of which the company I had chosen software handled.
It was a fairly painless process to layout and produce the calendars (in comparison to what I had just went through to pick and edit the photos).
Nice, launching my first calendar last year was a great feeling.
I know I didn’t have world wide distribution or any big store cranking out volume orders but just having that first calendar in hand to look at was a unique feeling.

This year I put together a few more. I learn more about the process every year and now I find on some of my shoots through the year I am actually thinking about the composition on some of the images specifically for calendar use.

Linked below are the calendar options I have available this year.
Take a look if you would like and if you think you know of somebody that would be interested in what I have to offer send them over.

My online Calendar storefront

Thanks for hanging out with us today. You can click the image above to go to our calendar storefront.

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