Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center.
Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.
This is the time of year that I start getting increasingly nervous about the fact that I don’t have my New England Reflections Calendar done for the coming year. This is why I should be working on the calendar and not slavishly serving the insatiable blog monster. Since I have to Blog, I’m hoping that blogging about the calendar will jump start the project. For 6 years I have been producing a calendar to benefit the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at The Cheshire Medical Center / Dartmouth Hitchcock Keene in Keene New Hampshire. For some time before that I had considered publishing a calendar featuring my New England landscape photography, but I always felt that it would uncomfortable to try to market myself in that way. Then it became glaringly obvious. If I used the project as an opportunity to give back to my community, I would feel less self-conscious about promoting my work. From the beginning I have donated all the proceeds of calendar sales to Pulmonary Rehab and although I frequently donate my work to various nonprofits in the region, it has been the calendar that has given me the most satisfaction. I have been involved in Pulmonary Rehabilitation from the beginning. The program provides an opportunity for patients who are struggling with chronic lung disease to understand their illness and though exercise and education learn to function more comfortably and independently at home. Over the years the calendar sales have brought in over $40,000 to help patients afford the cost of the program and to support supplemental rehabilitation activities such as the annual eager breather’s Fresh Air Day Cruise on lake Winnipesaukee.
2006 Cheshire Medical Center Fresh Air Cruise Crew
So here is what I have to do over the next few weeks. First I must select the images for the calendar. Unfortunately, because the calendar is in landscape format many of my best portrait oriented images are immediately eliminated and, after 6 years I have to be careful to be sure that I don’t absentmindedly include one of the 60 or so pictures that were published in previous editions. I try to strike a fair balance of images from Vermont and New Hampshire while usually adding one Atlantic coast picture. I look for images that are not only attractive but that also tell a story that I can recount in the few lines available at the bottom of each month’s page. I often find myself staring at a nice image while thinking, "What can I possibly say about this picture". I struggle against the urge to simply write "Red Barn in Hinsdale" and instead dive into research to find something a little more informative. Next I have to find banner images that will fit just above each month’s calendar, trying to compliment the large image. I look for thumbnail images to decorate some of the open blocks on the calendar. One of the most challenging tasks is to select a cover image. It is always difficult to settle on the one "hero shot’ that will make my calendar pop off the shelf. After I have selected the images, the next chore is to decide on which holidays to include. Do I list Washington’s birthday and Lincoln’s birthday along with President's Day?, isn’t "Christmas Eve" self –explanatory?, how do I spell "(C)han(n)uk(k)a(h)"? and what do I do about Cinco de Mayo? Happily my new partner is from Pakistan, but even he can’t unambiguously explain to me when Ramadan actually begins. All I want to do is avoid an international incident.
After everything is together in my own mock-up form I can send it to the printer. When the proof comes back I get as many people as possible to review the pages, but, no matter how careful we are, mistakes always seem to slip through. One year we ended up with the Pumpkin Festival on the wrong weekend and last year the designer skipped a day . Seriously! There was no September 26th in 2010! Since the calendars were already distributed throughout the community, I had to go from store to store adding a sticker with the correction to every calendar I could find.
Well that is a brief decription of what I SHOULD be doing instead of blogging. I don't mean to sound negative. Despite the work and the frustrations, producing the calendar has done more to connect me to my community than anything else. I feel strongly that it is important for photographers to give back. Dealing regularly with people struggling with chronic lung disease, I see how valuable a program of rehabilitation can be. It is wonderful that I can use my photography to support that program in some small way.
Now I have several hundred images to review!
You can check out Flickr Sets showing images from the last couple of years :