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How to Create a New Year Calendar From Your Photos


Making something personal to sell or send out as a marketing tool can take time and effort. That might be off-putting, but there are ways to create something original that’s time-efficient and cost-effective. Here, I’ll show you how to create a calendar from a simple template, and explain why you might want to.

Tuts+ author Simon Bray, has created a calendar for the last five years, and shares some of his expertise with us here.

Why Create a Calendar?

If you’re not a professional photographer, it can be difficult to find uses for your photography, which in turn, may lead you to do less of it. As Simon says, creating a calendar that you can share with your friends and family is a great excuse to use your own images and also show everyone what you’ve been up to.

I've put together a calendar each year for the past 5 or so years. It started out as an experiment, I took a gamble, not knowing whether anyone would buy one, but it turned out that as a tool for self-promotion and making a bit of cash, it worked very nicely. It's a great way for my friends and family to have my work on their walls without having to shell out loads of cash for a print.—Simon Bray

It’s a Great Marketing Tool

If you’re a professional, then sending out a calendar to your clients (or prospective clients) is an excellent way to keep them aware of your brand right through the year. I used to receive branded calendars in a previous job, and I’d always keep it, as it was useful.

It's an extremely affordable way of making an impact with potential clients. The thought that they might be looking at your imagery on a calendar on a daily basis is very enticing. Pick your clients carefully, the scatter approach can be expensive. It's all about building up relationships and a gift like a calendar at this time of year usually goes down very well.—Simon Bray

Having your brand sitting around an office that will need a photographer at some point is well worth the time put into making your calendar. Everyone loves a freebie.

You could also use these as a way to create extra value when you’ve completed work for someone. You send over their images and drop in one of your calendars ‘just because’.

How to Select Your Photographs for a Calendar

With the template I used, which I’ll talk about soon, it only requires one image, so that really narrows down the decision process. If you’re using an image per month, then you’ll have to be more methodical about your choices. It’s no use putting a spring daffodil in November’s slot. Simon again:

The image selection is crucial. As a landscape photographer, I work hard to ensure the imagery reflects the seasonal changes through the year. I like to get things printed out, even small 6"x4" prints, so I can physically arrange them, see how they work together, if they flow, or are too similar, and then find someone whose eye you trust to give you their thoughts and you'll be well on your way.

This year, I selected a series of images from a project that I've been working on called The Edges Of These Isles, which meant the work visually felt nice and concise, you want to avoid just picking 12 shots of random subject matter, find a theme and stick with it!

Following our example, choose an image that will roughly suit all seasons. This might be a landscape or it might be architecture for example. If you’re sending out calendars around your local area, then it may make sense to use a well-known landmark. Conversely, you might decide that your local famous landmark is used too often, and go for something completely different.

Remember, everyone has different taste, and you probably won’t please everyone, but you should be looking to select a picture that appeals to the majority of your audience. You could use your social media platforms to get people involved in the selection—if you have enough time in the lead up to creating your calendar.

How to Make a Photo Calendar

In this example, I'm using a Calendar Template for Adobe Photoshop by Perfect Pixel14:


The template comes with two PSD files: a dark scheme, and a light one, so choose the one most appropriate to your image.

You’ll need to pre-install the free font with the link provided by the template author or select a one you already have installed to substitute it. Be aware, if you choose the latter then you may have to re-position or re-size some of the text.

Drag your image to the folder ‘Image Here’ and it will appear as a smart object. Resize until it fills the space and is well composed.

compose your image
Compose your image to fit well in the given space

I’ve chosen this black and white image of some boats as it’s dramatic and fits well in the space provided and the colour scheme.

Add a Logo

Don’t worry if you’re not a business, you can use this space to write a message to your family and friends.

add a logo
Add a logo or a friendly message if it's for your family or friends

I’ve removed the ‘shape’ layers that made up the example logo, and added my own. I’ve then changed the ‘slogan’ layer to a simple message wishing clients a happy new year.

Make Colour Changes

I’m not so keen on the yellow the template uses for Sundays, and also think the whole weekend should be coloured to make it stand out.

Changing these is slightly laborious, as you’ll have to go through each month’s dates, highlight the relevant ones and then change the colour.

colour changes
Adjust the colours to suit your image or branding

I’ve opted for blue here, as it still stands out well against the background and fits better with the existing business’ colour scheme. 

The blue on the lighter sections is slightly lost, but if you navigate to the ‘all shape’ folder, under ‘group 6' you’ll see the black-to-transparent gradient used as the background.

Use the gradient layers to adjust how your image blends with the text

You can adjust this until your text is clearer, or you can use a layer mask on your original image and brush out some of the detail.

colour changes after
After the changes to the gradient layers, the text is clearer

Add Contact Details

If this isn’t for professional use then you can go ahead and delete these layers or add something entirely different.

add contact info
Add contact information if it's appropriate

Remember, many companies will hold on to your contact details and potentially use them for sales lists or contacts in the future, so only put in details that you really want people to have and that you don’t mind being made public.

I recommend you have a dedicated work number, rather than your personal mobile or home one, and unless you have an office address then it’s best not to include that.

The Finished Calendar

finished calendar
The finished calendar

A calendar is a good excuse to get in touch with prospective clients, or existing ones you've not had work from in a while, during a potentially tricky beginning of year. So soon after Christmas, people aren't quite switched on and ready to jump back into work yet, so this is a clever way to make contact, without seeming pushy or like you're selling something.

Alternatively, if you're not in the business of photography, a calendar is a nice thing to send to family and friends to show you're thinking of them.

If you decide you’d like to send out different versions, or even just that you fancy a chance, then it’s really easy to substitute your picture for a new one as long as you’ve saved your template.

alternative design
An alternative design with a quick switch of images

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