Custom Calendar Ideas That Give Your Calendars a Professional Look
Before I had cute kids of my own to take photos of, I used to like to borrow my niece to practice on. Plus, the little darling was probably one of the most photogenic kids ever. So years ago, I decided to do a custom calendar for her grandma using photos from one of my photo shoots. I was a total novice, but over the years I have learned a lot and come up with lots of custom calendar ideas.
That first year, the calendar was a hit and her grandma cried her eyes out. A tradition was born. For the past several years, I do a custom calendar for her for Christmas and she cries. I am obsessed with gift giving and love finding the perfect gift for people, so if somebody is going to cry, it is basically the jackpot for me. I can live off that high for days.
Her grandma now has a gallery wall where she has hung all the calendars from previous years. Periodically, she flips the pages to rotate through the different photos.
I usually create a theme for the calendar and take the photos all in one photo shoot. It gives the calendar a cohesive look and really makes it looks professional. If you are using snapshots taken during the year, changing them to black and white can also give them a more unified feel. Also, don’t forget to take your photos in landscape format if you want it to cover the entire page like professional calendars do.
Custom Calendar Ideas
Eight years after that first calendar, I have spent a lot of time coming with original custom calendar ideas so that the calendar is a little different each year.
Dealing With Limited Equipment and Experience
When I first started doing this, I only had a point and shoot camera and limited experience with photography. The colors on the photos weren’t that great and neither was the lighting. But I was able to disguise my lack of experience and proper equipment a little by going black and white. Taking the photos outside on a cloudy day also helps a lot. The clouds act as a natural diffuser for the light. Also, don’t be afraid to get up close. Photos that focus on the face are some of my favorites.
For this calendar, my sister and I brought a bunch of props that went with each month of the year. Even at three-years-old, my niece was super cooperative and we were able to get everything in one photo shoot. I had her wear just a plain, white t-shirt and jeans so that we wouldn’t have to worry about major wardrobe changes. My favorite is the photo of her as Mary. Her face is angelic!
This year, I was still working with a point and shoot and a lot of the photos were done inside, so the lighting wasn’t great. So I went black and white again and played with the contrast to get what I wanted. We decided this time we would document my niece’s milestones and accomplishments now that she was 4 years old. So we had photos of her brushing her own teeth, helping with dishes, stacking blocks, doing a handstand, etc. Although my photography isn’t great here, I loved the theme on this calendar. What a wonderful way to keep track of your kids’ milestones as they grow up! And my niece loved showing off all her accomplishments!
This year, I finally got a DSLR camera, so I decided to go full color on most the photos. I also got a new nephew! He is as wonderful at taking photos as his sister and I loved getting photos of the two of them together. Again, we went with white t-shirts and jeans and simple props. I like to keep the clothes simple in photo shoots because they are more timeless. Looking back on photos of my family, often the corduroy jumpsuits and pointy collars distract from the faces. Faces are timeless, so I like to make those my focus. We were able to take these all in my parent’s backyard which was really nice when working with a baby because we had everything we needed close by.
This one is probably my all-time favorite idea. Grandma loves the beach, so beforehand, I found a bunch of quotes about the sea from everybody from e.e. cummings to Emerson. Then, while the kids played, I staged the photos to go along with the quotes. I went black and white with this one because the quotes didn’t show up as well against the color photos.
This year, I was blessed with a brand new niece in November! So we decided to use the calendar as a way of getting my sister some newborn photos. I don’t do newborn shoots and don’t have any experience with some of the more elaborate staying they do. So we kept it simple. I went black and white with this one too because my poor niece was pretty jaundice. Even her eyes were yellow! I didn’t have time to try to edit her skin color in all the photos, so I just got rid of the color all together. Haha! I love this one because the facial expressions on all the kids are priceless.
Last year, we decided to take some family photos and so killed two birds with one stone by making it the calendar’s theme. I think this is a great way to display your family photos. So often we spend so much work and money getting them done, and then most of them just sit on our computers where nobody ever looks at them. Putting them in a calendar is a great way to enjoy them all year long.
If you have any fun custom calendar ideas that you have come up with, please share them below!