Calvendo self-publishers in conversation: Richard Sheppard

You could say it was a “lucky accident” that Calvendo self-publisher Richard Sheppard got into photography seriously. What do we mean by that? Well, just read on and it’ll all be explained! Plus, some really good Calvendo tips from a photographer who takes inspiration from what’s around him and never fails to see the humour in a picture.

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Richard, can you talk a bit about your background as a photographer and how and when you took up photography?

I took up photography seriously when I was about 17 – a long time ago now! My dad was a keen photographer (I inherited his Zenith E) and I think I caught the bug from him. When I was 23 I broke my leg while hang gliding and decided, as I lay in my hospital bed, that I was going to leave my engineering job and go to college to study photography. That was fun. I did go back into engineering however – and hang gliding! Now I shoot stock and do the odd commission but it isn’t my main source of income.

The Malvern Hills calendar

The Malvern Hills calendar

From the Malvern Hills calendar

From The Malvern Hills calendar

How would you describe your style and approach as a photographer?

I’d describe my style and approach to photography as scattergun and eclectic! I can never take photography too seriously. I have always looked for humour in pictures but haven’t found a decent themed set of funny shots I could make into a calendar yet. I have never become too sincere about the fine details of image making either – for instance I rarely shoot in RAW and don’t worry too much about having the latest equipment or the quality of the bokeh etc. A picture stands or falls by its content – not whether the right hand corner looks a bit soft.

VW splitties calendar

VW splitties calendar

Let’s talk tools: What type of camera are you using and why?

For the last four years I’ve been using micro four thirds equipment and I love it. I like the fact that I can get so much kit into such a small bag. Having said that, I don’t like to carry too much equipment about with me. A couple of lenses and a body with spare batteries is all I usually take. Last year I was lucky enough to win a Panasonic GX8 and, really, that is all I could wish for in a camera. The only thing I don’t like about M43 cameras is the rather poor battery life. I also use my iPhone quite a bit (maybe I just like equipment that constantly needs recharging). One of my door calendars was taken and edited entirely on an iPhone 4S.

From VW splitties calendar

From VW splitties calendar

What makes a good photo for you?

A good photo for me has to have either a very individual style or a subject matter that makes you stop and think. It needn’t be exotic. It can be mundane and you still think ‘wow, I wish I’d thought of doing that’. There are so many unknown but brilliant photographers around these days and we are lucky to have such great equipment to do it on. I don’t miss film one bit.

Do you have favourite photographers that inspire you?

I can’t have a favourite photographer. I have a little book I bought back in the 90s. It’s called The Photo Book and was published by Phaidon Press. It contains about 500 photos – each by a different photographer from the preceding hundred years or so. Lots of famous photographers there, but most of the authors I’ve never heard of. Each picture in the book is a kind of .. well… a snapshot of another time – and a way of thinking that is no longer with us. That is what’s so exciting about the still image. It has the ability to sum up a moment and a place and the people that have gone forever and one that we never see with our own eyes.

From Doors of Gray calendar

From Doors of Gray calendar

Can you tell us a bit about your portfolio: Which type of photography and motives to you like most? Based on the Calvendo calendars that you’ve created so far it seems you have a particular liking for doors … ?

Doors eh! It happened by accident. In 2014, I took a trip through France and Italy with my wife and kids. We stopped off in Bourge en Bresse and I saw this lovely door and took a picture of it. And then I saw another one …

But like I said, I’m a bit eclectic when it comes to subject matter. That and the fact that I’m a bit lazy! The VW vans are there just because they hold an annual show here in Malvern (and they are something lots of people love). The hang gliding and paragliding shots because I really like flying and the Malvern hills because they are on my doorstep.

Can you talk a bit about your experience using the Calvendo platform. Do you have any specific tips for first timers using Calvendo?

I think the Calvendo platform works really well. When I first started using it I got the impression that it was a bit pernickety and I had to redo some of my layout after it was rejected by the jury. But I soon realised that everyone’s submission needs to be exact in order to set a minimum standard and to comply with copyright issues etc. For first time users I’d say, firstly, make sure you have at least 15 themed images you are really pleased with. Secondly, try to keep a similar style throughout and thirdly, don’t be disheartened if your initial submission gets rejected. Just make the adjustments and resubmit, then it will go through.

Last but not least, what are your general comments on Calvendo as a self-publishing platform: Anything you particularly like? Or things that need improving?

The great thing about Calvendo is that it is a no risk venture for the photographer. And it’s great to see your work on Amazon or wherever. You can be as creative as you like too; so you can do the dreamy landscape calendar and then come up with something more off the wall (but hopefully on the wall eventually!) and if it gets accepted and makes sales then you’re onto a winner. The new templates are great too and effortlessly add more quality to the finished product. I only started submitting at the very end of last year but I made a few sales and I’m hoping for more this winter as the calendar season approaches.

From Campervantastic calendar

From Campervantastic calendar

Thanks, Richard, for talking to us and we look forward to seeing more of your work in our product gallery!

See Richard’s calendars in the Calvendo product gallery

Gregor Self-Publishing Calendar Award 2017

For the second time, the Gregor International Calendar Award will be recognising outstanding self-published calendars in its 2017 competition and Calvendo self-publishers who’re interested in taking part can benefit from an exclusive 40% discount on the registration fee:

•           Fees for submitting one to five calendar titles – EUR 96 (approx. GBP 80) instead
of EUR 160

•           Fees for submitting six to ten calendar titles – EUR 150 (approx. GBP 125) instead
of EUR 250

Calvendo will take over the remaining cost for you!

Deadline for the competition and submitting your calendars is 12 December 2016.

Click here for English-language T&Cs

Click here for English-language registration form (scroll down to page 2)

All details also on the official Gregor International Calendar Award 2017 website.

You can submit calendars in altogether ten categories:

1.    Travel, Landscapes

2.    Cities & Architecture

3.    Animals

4.    Art & Culture

5.    Technology & Transport

6.    Sport & Hobbies

7.    People

8.    Eating & Dinking, Lifestyle

9.    Humour, Satire

10.  Nature & the Environment

A jury made up of photography and design experts will decide on the winners and last year, a few lucky Calvendo self-publishers were presented with awards at the ceremony in Stuttgart.

CALVENDO self-publishers who were awarded with the Gregor self-publishing calendar award in 2016 (Copyright: Udo W. Beier)

CALVENDO self-publishers who were awarded with the international Gregor self-publishing calendar award in 2016 (Copyright: Udo W. Beier)

Winners will be selected in January 2017 and the official awards ceremony is on 26 January 2017. All submitted calendars will be showcased in an exhibition in Stuttgart and all winners will be included in a calendar yearbook that will be sent out to all participants.

IMPORTANT: In order to claim your exclusive 40% Calvendo discount, you’ll have to enter your Calvendo author ID in the field “Customer Number” on the registration form. Your ID number is included on your account statement (“Autoren-ID”, top right) which you’ll find in your Calvendo account under “My Pay”. Should you have trouble finding you ID number, please contact marketing@calvendo.com.

In order to take part in the competition, the following must be submitted by post:

• 3 copies of each calendar title

• 3 copies of the registration form

• Description of calendar concept (max. 1 page, A4, 1,500 characters)

Address:

Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Arbeit und Wohnungsbau
Baden-Württemberg
Haus der Wirtschaft Baden-Württemberg
„gregor award_SP“
Logistik
Schlossstraße 23
70174 Stuttgart

Deadline: 12 December 2016

#BeautifulBritain: Apply your local point of view

Local and regional content is very popular for calendars and a couple of weeks back, we called upon you in our blog here to create calendars that feature the UK’s villages, towns, cities and localities. Here’s a reminder now not to forget about #BeautifulBritain (yes, we thought there are not enough hashtags in this world, so here’s another one!) and show us the country from North to South and West to East.

While certain regions, such as Cornwall or Scotland, are already very well covered in our calendar programme, there are certain parts completely missing:

  • You can check all our calendar content in our product gallery simply by using the search function to find out what’s missing and what’s already there.

Or

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If you’re in need of inspiration how to approach your #BeautifulBritain calendar, consider the following:

  • Buyers expect a local/regional calendar to feature everything that’s typical about ‘their hood’. Even if you think at first that there’s nothing beautiful or worthy to be presented in a calendar, think again: Major sights and world-famous attractions as you’d find them in Paris, London or Rome are not necessary! For the people who live in any given place, it’s their home and therefore of importance. Capture anything that might strike a chord or trigger memories, such as
  • Churches/churchyards, town halls, monuments, memorials, market squares, high streets, bridges, fountains, castles/castle ruins, towers, zoos, lakes, mills, harbours, skylines, etc
  • Historical as well as modern buildings and facades
  • Stately homes, parks & gardens
  • Typical events, such as (historic) festivals, parades, sports events, markets (crafts, food, etc), country shows

In the end, you know your region best – show us your corner of #BeautifulBritain!

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And remember the advantages of this type of calendar: You cater for a niche, so you have a ready-made, dedicated audience that you can promote to directly via local channels, such as your local newspaper (send them a press release!), online forums, local events, your local social circle, your FB page and other social sites. Read more on local calendar making on our blog, plus: feel free to try our new design templates when creating your calendar!

P.S.: Even a big city like London (and yes, we’ve got enough general London calendars already!), provides material for local calendars that can fill gaps in our product gallery: From Tooting in the South to Hampstead in the North, Chiswick in the West to Walthamstow in the East – there are lots of villages in London that don’t have their own calendar yet. The Mayor of London (who happens to be from Tooting) seems to share our ‘get local’ approach and has just started an initiative with the London tourist board to encourage visitors to explore the city’s hidden gems and many different neighbourhoods away from the tourist traps which we (obviously) quite like. So, should you be a London dweller, living in one of the many villages that this huge city is made up of, take your camera and honour your hood with a #BeautifulBritain calendar!

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