We all may be out shooting fall foliage here in New England, or capturing other scenes on these crisp, clear fall days, but it's not too early to think about how we can use our photos as gifts this upcoming holiday season. Nik Fiore of Hanover, NH shoots a wide variety of photos, but what caught my eye on his website was his 2008 photo calendar. I asked him to write a bit about it.
Making a Photo Calendar
By Nik Fiore
Photography, for me, is a great way to get the right side of my brain a little exercise. As a professional civil engineer, things can be a little heavy on the analytical side. The creative process of photography provides a channel to think of things in a different light, so to speak. The numbers involved (f-stop, shutter speed, ISO, etc.) may have helped make it an attractive hobby.
I started shooting consistently a few years back with a Canon PowerShot S30 point-and-shoot. It was a nice learning tool for two reasons: It was affordable, and it had a full manual mode. I was able to learn the basics of photography and learn that I really did like it, without dropping huge coin.
After a year and a half or two years of shooting with the S30, I realized that I had a lot of photographs stored on my computer doing nothing. Some of them I actually really liked. My family always had nice things to say about the photographs I shared with them through e-mails, so I thought I would be fun to give them a calendar featuring my photos for Christmas.
Choosing the pictures for my first calendar was fun process and an excellent opportunity for self-evaluation. For the first few calendars I put together, I was strict about using a photograph taken in each month it represented. In subsequent years, I loosened that little rule in favor of selecting photos that showed the spirit of the season.
Now the process starts by grouping photos by seasons and then by month. I could end up with three or four photos for each month before weeding them down to just 12 photographs. Once grouped by month, I’ll typically choose each month’s picture by its merits rather than how well it represents that month.
The 2008 calendar that is posted here was particularly fun to put together. At the time, I was living in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, so amazing landscapes and wildlife were always right out my door. I was also fortunate enough to travel a little bit during 2007. Trips to Banff National Park in Canada and Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah offered excellent opportunities to photograph new areas. Sorting through the photographs also rekindled many memories of the trips.
I’ve found that putting these calendars together has helped my photography. By the way, I now shoot with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT. The Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC is my go-to landscape lens, followed by the Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM. A Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM rounds out my bag and sees quite a bit of use as well.
Having put together calendars in years past, I always keep half a thought on the next calendar. Also, since I prefer to shoot nature, landscapes, and wildlife, looking to put together calendars keeps my motivation up year round. So while it may be a miserable day in February, I may remember a scene that called for such conditions and I’ll get out of the house instead of succumbing to cabin fever.
I've used both on-line and local shops to produce the calendars. I prefer the local shops because you can see and feel an example of a finished product, and the quality is better than that of the on-line shops I've used.
And finally, the response I’ve received from friends and family has been fantastic. Yes, friends and family are supposed to flatter you, but it still feels good, and that feedback helps keep me in a photographic mindset.
If you use your project as an opportunity for self-evaluation, and you’re a harsh self-critic, putting a calendar together can be a rewarding project -- lengthy, but rewarding.
Nik and his wife recently relocated to Hanover, NH. You can find lots of his shots on his SmugMug website. He's happy to be back in New England: "The foliage is peaking, so it’s time to explore the new area and find that classic New England fall photograph," he says. "Being October, it’s also time to start organizing photos for the 2009 calendar."
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