2020... What a year it has been. Through everything I am grateful that I have come out the other end healthy, still working and the proud (sort of co-owner) of a brand new home. With everything else that the year produced my photography got a bit sidetracked - places I would usually visit to take photos closed their doors due to repeated lockdowns and my normal work routine completely changed what with partial school closures alongside the idea of 'working from home'. Lets just say I have become very adept at using Zoom.
One thing that I did decide I wanted to do this year was to produce a photography-related Christmas gift for my mother and my nan. Given that they are on the more mature side of the age spectrum, I thought what better than a old-school calendar that makes the need for me to (once again) teach them how a smartphone can be used to schedule life events, obsolete. I have never produced a photographic calendar of my work before and did a lot of preparation prior to deciding what style and format I liked. I browsed through multiple websites and researched numerous other photography calendars online before finally deciding on the website www.colourcalendars.com.
I wanted a calendar that you could write on as, for as long as I can remember, mother has constantly written up birthdays, dentist appointments, work shifts, holiday plans, bin collection days etc on the wall calendar hung in the kitchen. I also wanted one that looked 'professional' (no Comic Sans font thank you) and ideally one that could display portrait and landscape images. This last point was the one I struggled most to find, and I eventually abandoned this idea, having fallen for the exceptional templates on the Colour Calendars website. The website allowed for the complete editing of each page (I could add in my logo, include my social media accounts and you could add any extra event details to any day of any month).
The only downside with Colour Calendars as a company is that they print using the CMYK colour profile. Without going into too much technical detail, I always edit my photos in a colour profile known as sRGB (as it is the one used by my usual colour lab for prints and displays best on electronic screens). If I had just uploaded my sRGB edited photos to my calendar template then they would have printed in slightly different colours to what I had wanted. The solution? I had to re-edit all 13 images I had selected for use in my calendar. Since I was wanting these to be the best edits I could achieve, this took a bit of time. Each one took me about 30 minutes to complete and so, after a few endless nights having also been working at school and thanks to lots of encouragement from my best friend, I managed to get everything edited the way I wanted.
Once my design was complete, I submitted my order. At this stage I realised that it was a lot cheaper to bulk order calendars as opposed to buying individually and so I place an order for 12 - with the thinking that a lot of friends and family were now in line for a calendar Christmas gift...
When they arrived, I was so happy with them. They were a good size (A3), the photos had been printed excellently and the overall look of the calendar was one I was very proud of. I set one aside our home, one for my mother and one for my nan. We then saved another two for other grandparents but this left me with an extra 7. Whilst I could have hopefully found people to gift these additional calendars to, I thought that I would explore the idea of selling them to people in the local community.
I have never before advertised anything on Facebook but I discovered an excellent community of local group pages on there who I thought might be interested in my work. I quickly introduced myself and included a link to my website as well as one for my calendars. The response was absolutely overwhelming. I received numerous positive comments about my photographic skills and people loved seeing my interpretations of the wildlife that they could find within their backyard. I quickly saw orders for my calendars mount up and the seven spares that I had very soon were sold. With interest still coming through from Facebook, I ended up ordering a further 15 calendars to ensure that everyone could satisfy their James Yates Photography fix. At the time of writing this I have just one calendar left for sale (can be found here in my online shop) and I have been so grateful for everyone that has visited my website in the past month or so.
Since most of the people looking at my work lived locally, I was able to hand deliver orders and have been fortunate to meet some lovely, likeminded people through my latest venture. This in itself created a number of new opportunities for me and my photography including the very rewarding chance to run my own market stall at a local Christmas market (before tier 4 restrictions came an ruined everyones Christmas).
I will definitely be looking to produce a calendar again next year following success this time around. I am also looking forward to 2021 and the opportunities it hopefully brings for my photography work. I just want to end my saying a huge thank you to everyone who has recently purchased some of my work and to anyone who has visited my website in the past month or so. I really appreciate the support and hope you all keep enjoying my work moving into the new year!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!