I Like Calendars     



I remember a life drawing class in which we would all have to hang our assignment for each week on the classroom wall. Then we would all noisily sit around and wait for our colourful instructor, Mario, to make his grand entry. Mario was a tall, dark, flamboyant Italian that always talked loudly while waving his hands around in the air for effect.

As we held our breath he would slowly walk along the exhibition of our talent and skill. Then he would suddenly stop and with a wide sweep of his arm gesture to someone’s drawing and in his thickest accent declare, “This, this, this, belongs on a Los Vegas Hotel room wall!” I remember more than once watching a fragile classmate moved to despair or with a bowed head rush from the room in disgrace. As cold hearted as that life drawing coach was I did get his point regarding art.

We rarely look at the artwork that is always hanging in the hotel room. It is just there to fill space on the otherwise blank wall, and if we did notice, that framed art was quickly forgotten when we left. I can honestly say that although my friends or family might have remarked at the cleanliness of a room, it’s location or the softness of the bed. I can’t remember anyone ever saying, “Gosh, the artwork in our room was marvellous.”

Good art is enduring. We live with it, cherish it, and the longer we do the more we take pleasure in it.

Now comes my delight with calendars. It is not that I need to know what day it is; that is a utilitarian benefit. I like those with pictures.

Calendar pictures must immediately have an impact. A successful calendar picture grabs our attention and quickly tells a simple story. However, unlike the art my instructor was demanding, calendars only have to endure for about thirty days at the most. Each picture only has to artfully work to capture our attention and give us the proper date for one month. Then we get to start all over, and we get to enjoy a different picture with more information on important dates for another month. Hmm…functional art, what could be better.

November is my month to start seeking calendars. I hate searching for calendars in January. There is something wrong in hanging a calendar mid-month. My wife and I have the perfect approach for photographers. We each choose from the photos we have taken during the month and I print a new calendar each month. No rules, no themes. We select a picture we each like and I make an 11×14 print that is half picture and half calendar – side by side, or up and down.

That’s not to say that I don’t get other calendars. If one grabs our fancy while shopping we’ll get that also. Then there are those we receive as gifts. I can’t have too many calendars. Getting to view lots of new pictures each month, it doesn’t get much better than that. We also choose images and have calendars made for us that we give away at Christmas.

My advice to readers like me, that enjoy having their pictures hanging on their walls, is to start putting your own calendar for 2016 together now. Stop by the local business supply store or look online. And remember calendars make great Christmas gifts.

Think about the gift of Photography

My son’s gift to his wife this Christmas will be five framed 16×20 photographs of him and their two young daughters.

I’ll start by saying that although I can’t think of any better gift than the gift of photography, and even though I always do commissions this time of year, I don’t push my photography on friends and family.  They all know I make pictures for a living, and am pretty good at it, and if they bring it up I am ready and willing, but I am tend to be silent the rest of the time.  Photography for me is the same as any other art displayed in a person’s home, and although there are large photographs on the walls of my home I do realize other people might have other tastes as to just what art is.

I could not have been more pleased when my son called me with his request. We decided to meet at our place in Pritchard and stroll through the wooded area across the road, and spend time taking pictures of the two granddaughters and of him. We wandered the trails of my son’s childhood through the woods, climbed on deadfalls, peaked around trees, ran up and down hills, stood overlooking the river valley behind and had lots of fun until we all tired out. The children loved the experience.  Then with the promise of hot chocolate we turned around and counted our steps home.  All this time I took pictures.

When I photograph children I am never in a hurry. I don’t try to coax a smile by saying, “smile at me”, because unlike adults most children haven’t spent any time practicing in front of a mirror smiling. They don’t know what to do and what usually comes is a face with a wide mouth full of tightly clenched teeth. I just talk a lot, get them to talk back, find many different places to pose, sitting or standing, and take enough time; and because I make sure they are having fun getting their pictures taken I will get relaxed poses, laughs, and smiles in my pictures.  I recognize that generally the first pictures won’t be the best, but who cares? I am shooting digital and just delete those I don’t like and keep taking pictures.

I don’t carry lots of equipment, just a camera with a medium-sized zoom lens and I don’t like long lenses like a 70-200 because I would be to far away from my subjects; I want to the session to be intimate and face-to-face, so for my granddaughter’s pictures I used my 24-70mm, and of course, as always, I used a flash.

There are times that I like off-camera flash and there are times when I keep my flash attached with a bracket that lifts it about eight inches above my camera. This was one of those times, as we were constantly moving. However, I easily could remove the flash whenever I wanted to change the light’s direction.

Modern technology is great. When we returned home I loaded all the pictures into my computer and we sat down to quickly review them all and made our selections. I usually do that by having people select the ones they like first. I moved them into another folder, and then I do the same again and again, moving the best to a new folder. Our goal was to end up with five pictures to be converted to black and white with a slight sepia tint, and then make into 11×14 inch prints.  That size fits perfectly in a 16×20 matt that will finally be displayed behind glass in 16×20 inch brushed silver frames.  I think my daughter-in-law will like this gift from her husband.

This is a good time for photographers to think about their personal photography as Christmas gifts.  I talk with many photographers that make statements like “photography is my passion”, but they never do anything with their pictures except posting them online, or showing them to others from their cell phones.  I see photography the same way I see any other artwork and am disappointed when I visit a photographer’s home and don’t see his/her photographs on the walls.

Are any of you planning on giving your photography as a gift?