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Online Calendar printer recommendations, and shoot considerations?

JackAllTog Plus
10 5.5k 58 United Kingdom
4 Dec 2018 12:58PM
Hi there,

As its that time of year, and i'm planning a calendar shoot in 2019 for 2020 for a local interest group.

Could you recommend any photo book / calendar printers you may have heard good things about?
It would be a low print run of perhaps 50-100 pieces. (or buyers might even order it directly online with an access code).

And, if you've done a calendar shoot before what might you recommend we consider beforehand?

Many thanks

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dark_lord Plus
15 2.3k 576 England
4 Dec 2018 7:41PM
I use fileprint, which was a reccomendation on here quite a few years ago now. I only have a handful done so other pnline printers may be better for your volume - I await replies with interest too. It depends on what you want to sell them for and if (useful) profit is part of the equation. Calendar size is a consideration.

What sort of shoot do you envisage?
You say a local interest group, so will you be involving them in the shoot (as assistants/contacts/models?).
Will you need access to any locations, or will it be studio based?

Sorry to answer your question with more questions but you did ask 'what would you consider'. These are the details that will help people give you relevant advice.
It's a lot to do with management and logistics, the photography should be the easy part.

sherlob Plus
13 3.0k 129 United Kingdom
4 Dec 2018 8:05PM
Hi Stuart,

I've done my first charity calendar this year for PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide . I've learned a lot in the process.

IMHO its worth working out the economics first. E.g. 50-100 calendars is not a lot and you can expect to pay a premium for the limited print run. I struggled finding a printer that would do 150 calendars for a price that made the venture worthwhile - may online printers wanting more than 13 per calendar. Eventually, I was recommended to look at . TBH the print quality is not as high as I would have liked, but they were one of the few printers that came in under 5 per calendar enabling the venture to become economically worthwhile. Looking on the high-street I noted similar sized calendars sold from about 8 to 12 - I wanted to charge the upper end of this. Remember to factor in envelopes and/or shrink wrapping and printed proofs into your final costs.

I should add that I significantly underestimated the number of calendars I could sell. Had I known I would have ordered more on the initial print run and brought the costs down a little more - as it happened I opted to do a second print run of a further 150 calendars which obviously doubled my costs. In retrospect, whilst I've not had a single complaint about the calendars quality, a more polished reproduction may have resulted in a few more sales.

I underestimated the degree of work involved in producing the calendar. The actual time spent in regards to design was negligible. However, I needed to create a new website in order to take orders for the calendar online (I appreciate many photographers have these already). I hadn't factored in the time needed to gain approval for the calendar from the charity, or the time needed to market the calendar. This became a particularly troublesome issue once the first 200 or so calendars had sold - a point at which sales nearly dropped off entirely. I learned that many people bought the calendar because they already knew of me, my photography or more often the charity I was raising funds for. Once those people had bought the calendar new sales became far more difficult. Features in the local press, on various FB groups, through work news letters, and even local coffee and art shops stocking the calendar generated very few additional sales.

Also factor in the basics. How will you take payment? How will you manage stock? How will you distribute the calendars purchased from a distance (e.g. P&P)? How will you keep your books? A very basic mistake I made was to forget to count the number of calendars initially delivered - I suspect I was approx 20 short as a consequence of changing the order number during production. I can't prove it, but 20 calendars equates to 240 in sales. Not a mistake I will ever make again (curiously, the second print run was approximately over supplied by the same number Grin)

Finally, in terms of design etc. You mention you have yet to take the images. If so, work out the style of calendar you want before you begin the process and bear this in mind when shooting. Many of my images are taken in portrait orientation, but these are no good for a calendar produced in a landscape orientation. Think about how the image may represent the month that you want the image to work for. A snowy scene isn't going to be the best choice for July.

Would I do it again next year? Absolutely. The venture has raised a good deal of awareness about PAPYRUS in the local community. I've had several people who have shared with me their own traumas regarding suicide and these have really brought home to me how valuable the cause is. Similarly, I've been able to help at least one person who was worried about someone they love feeling suicidal by putting them in touch with the charity hopeline 0800 068 4141. Add to this the fact that the sales have so far generated over 1200 in profit (I'm hoping to raise over 2k) and effort has been worthwhile.

Have fun,

JackAllTog Plus
10 5.5k 58 United Kingdom
5 Dec 2018 12:53PM
Hi Keith,

The shoot is for a social club and the premises will feature a lot in the images, its a darkish environment so lighting will be needed. Some more of the members will be subjects for the calendar and other will likely buy the calendar.
They have locations and poses mostly decided. So as you say logistics should be coming together.

Hi Adam,

I'll have them look initially at the 5 option to see if this is good enough as its intended to raise cash for their group. If its order-able online also some may choose to have it printed at a larger / better quality.
For this endeavour i expect the group to sell the calender's predominately within their own members so likely to be cash sales passed straight to the committee.
Either pre-orders will be taken or perhaps they will request a fixed number they mostly expect to sell.

Good luck with your PAPYRUS project - it sounds very worthwhile.

Thanks Guys.
mrswoolybill Plus
12 1.5k 2053 United Kingdom
5 Dec 2018 5:58PM
I do a calendar each year for the Community Partnership, and I've done them for other local groups. I go to a local printer now so cannot advise on online printers. But regarding shooting considerations:
This sort of project is as much about about public relations as fund-raising, a calendar is something that people will look at every day of the year. So look for pictures that identifiably feature the club without being overt advertising.
Using members as models is good, because they'll all buy a copy, plus one for Auntie Doris in New Zealand.
It's good to include some seasonally relevant pictures, that gives a structure. If you want a Christmassy shot for a 2020 calendar you need to get it now!
dark_lord Plus
15 2.3k 576 England
5 Dec 2018 7:17PM
Lots of good advice there Stuart, and lots of food for thought too.

A few more items to consider, not that big in the grand scheme but worth being awarw of.

What software are you going to use to create the calendar?
Does the printer offer pre-made templates? Not always ideal.
Or are you going to use Photoshop or a desktop publishing software (I've used both). More flexible but more time consuming.
The printer may want the output as CMYK. It's also likely they require a pdf.

But all those questions should be available on their website or at least only an email away.

Do you want to include any specific imformation, for example contact details or notes about the group's activity? Any logos?
That's probably getting into post production details but it's something to consider as you organise your shots.
JackAllTog Plus
10 5.5k 58 United Kingdom
6 Dec 2018 8:23AM
Thanks again Dark Lord an Moira,

I like the idea of seasonally relevant pictures and will start thinking of some props to suit. Baubles, wine bottles, flowers, jugs of summer drinks, karoke mics etc.

For an uploaded calendar i was hoping 12 images and maybe a cover image would be upload to thier monthly template.
If not then I'd build a file in Photoshop and turn date and image layers on for each month.
The surround area would have the groups name and colours.

mrswoolybill Plus
12 1.5k 2053 United Kingdom
6 Dec 2018 1:45PM
A few further thoughts - I go to a local printing firm, who give wonderful service - I provide twelve photos plus the cover design, they set everything else up. They also give a discount for local good causes. It's worth checking whether anything like that is available - does the club have a useful contact? For a print run of 100 high quality A4 calendars I paid 3.85 per copy this year including VAT.
BUT - I understand that the paper is imported and there have been eleven price rises over the last twelve months. The printers are holding their prices at the moment, next year could be a very different matter. Which makes planning ahead difficult.
Plus - The cover design is critical, that's what sells. But beyond that keep in mind that you need pictures that a lot of very different people will want to see on their walls for a month at a time.

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