Assembling the Right Stuff
I will ask forgiveness in advance for devoting this weeks blog to my experience designing my yearly New England Reflections Calendar. With the deadline for the 2015 calendar coming up next week, I have little time to think of much else. I have been publishing my calendar of New England photography to benefit the Cheshire Medical Center Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program for more than a decade and I hope my experiences will be of some interest to those who publish their own calendars or those who are considering taking on the challenge.
Last year, and for the first time, I actually got my calendar out on a reasonable date. Our goal has been to have the thing in stores by
|The Cover is Critical|
Beginning in 2010 we made the jump to a professional printer and the differences have been amazing. Not only are the images sharper and more brilliant, but the process for me has been much easier. I now do
|May, Peacham, Vt|
While the process is all painfully fresh in my mind, I thought it might be helpful for those considering putting together a calendar of their own work, to provide a short list of the resources I need to assemble for my yearly project and it all starts with the painful chore of selecting the images.
The Big Pictures
My first step is to assemble a collection of potential images for the large monthly calendars and , of course, for the all important cover
|October, Green River, Vt|
|April, Winchester, NH|
|March, Rye Beach, NH|
Of course it is tradition that the images should match the season,
|January, Spofford, NH - Why Not in July?|
The Little Stuff
After the agony, of picking my twelve images from all those I would like to include, I move on to the other graphics in the calendar. I have to switch my vision to look for complementary banners and thumbnails.
Finding banner images that will complement the main pictures both visually and contextually is often a more difficult task than picking the primary images themselves. I have to scan looking for a slice that will work, understanding that even my least favorite image may contain a sliver that will work perfectly. I move candidates into photoshop and, after setting my crop ratio to the needed 11.25" x 8", I move the crop window up and down to see if something clicks.
|August, Port Clyde, Me|
Finally I get to pick images for thumbnail, those little pictures that fill some of the open blocks in the calendar. This is where I get to honor some of the images I would have liked to have included as main monthly pictures. Some of these occasionally show up as big pictures in future calendars.
Once I have selected all my images I have to go back to the original full resolution files and adjust the size, color and sharpness to fit into the calendar. I keep my monitor calibrated and I haven't found a need to apply a separate printer profile to get reasonable color balance.
I have always tried to include helpful information in my calendars.
|My One Portrait for 2015|
"(C)Hanukah". I throw in Groundhog Day, Fathers, Mothers Day and Valentines day (to help out Hallmark), and, sadly for our Native American readers, Columbus Day. Google "holidays" sometime and you will see that it is impossible to include everything and I am bound to piss off lots of very earnest celebrants of National Explosive Ordnance Disposal Day (May 3rd). I do my best. All that is left to add are the phases of the moon and I'm done.
I package all the files onto one or two disks and drop them off at Silver Direct. It usually only takes a week or two to get the PDF
|July, Winchester, NH|
So that's my process. If you want to produce your own calendar, I hope this description will be helpful, and not horrifying. I would only add that the best decision I ever made was to donate the profits from my calendar to a worthy cause. It makes the marketing much easier and benefits some very lovely and needy people. So if you get a chance, buy one (or 10) of my calendars, they make great gifts for a GREAT cause. I could say more, but I am only half way through my banner images and that deadline is freight training its way to my door.