Calendars Case Study Photography Success Series

Photography Calendar Design with Shenandoah Treasures

Reading Time: 7 minutes


Imagine capturing the untamed heart of Shenandoah National Park with just a click, each image a timeless whisper of the wild. Enter the journey of ‘Shenandoah Treasures’ where each calendar embodies the very essence of artistic photography and calendar design. It’s a harmonious blend of vision and timing, where each page turn reveals a new chapter of nature’s unscripted splendor. Join us as we explore the journey behind the lens and the dedication it takes to design a calendar that celebrates the beauty of Shenandoah through the seasons.

Now, let’s unfold the story.

Crafting Visions into Reality

‘Shenandoah Treasures’ began as a shared dream between two individuals: an avid hiker with an eye for photography and an economist with a flair for marketing. Together, they envisioned a calendar that would do more than mark days; it would invite people to explore the park’s hidden beauty. Together, they’ve turned a love for the park’s hidden gems into a thriving calendar business, partnering with PrintingCenterUSA to bring the spirit of Shenandoah into homes year-round.

The Creative Pulse Behind ‘Shenandoah Treasures’

‘Shenandoah Treasures’ is more than a calendar; it’s a portal to the park’s soul, offering a glimpse of Shenandoah beyond the overlooks and well-trodden paths. The creators, an economist and a photographer, began their journey in the early 2000s, driven by a shared desire to showcase the park’s lesser-known trails. The photographer’s eye for untamed beauty and the marketer’s strategic mind culminated in a product that awakens the explorer in each of us.

“My husband and I self-publish a calendar (Shenandoah Treasures) of original photographs taken in Shenandoah National Park.  I am the hiker and photographer.  My husband handles marketing and sales.  We sell the calendar wholesale to small retailers around Shenandoah National Park.  We also sell the calendar wholesale to the Shenandoah National Park Association (SNPA).  SNPA sells the calendars in its stores in the two visitor centers in the park.  See https://snpbooks.org/shI op/calendars/2023-shenandoah-treasures-calendar/.  SNPA is our largest customer.  Our calendar is the only calendar sold on Skyline Drive, which runs through Shenandoah National Park, that features photographs taken in the interior of the park on its 500+ miles of trails.” 

What sets ‘Shenandoah Treasures’ apart is its dedication to authenticity. The calendar is a narrative of the park, with each month revealing what the park genuinely looks like at that time of year. From January’s snowy mountain sunrises to August’s lush green waterfalls, each photograph is a promise of Shenandoah’s natural diversity.


A Calendar for Every Trailblazer

The ‘Shenandoah Treasures’ calendar speaks to hikers and dreamers alike.

Who is your target audience?

“Our target audience includes both hikers like myself and others whose visit to the park never extends beyond driving Skyline Drive and enjoying the views from its many overlooks.  I hope to encourage the “overlook” crowd to venture away from their vehicles and to explore a bit of what the interior of the park has to offer.”

What are some unique aspects of your business that set you apart from your competitors?

“There are/have been other calendars dedicated to Shenandoah National Park.  However, those calendars tended to include photographs from overlooks and Skyline Drive or photographs from the most popular, bucket list hikes in the park.  I hike throughout the park and try to feature scenic spots on less well-known, less-hiked trails.  I also select photographs for the calendar that represent what the park typically looks like during each month.  For example, a photo for January might be a snowy mountain scene at sunrise while a photo for August might be a lush green gorge with a small waterfall.” 


Marketing Strategy for Photography Calendar Design and Sales

“My husband and I both work full time, so our ability to market the calendar is somewhat limited.  We focus on building personal relationships with small business owners (or their buyers) who sell our calendar.  We stay in touch with our customers to find out what people like and don’t like about the calendar and what we can do in future years with the calendar to help the calendar sell better.  If our customers do well, we do well.”

What actions contributed most to your success, and what lessons did you learn from the process? What did you do right, and what did you do wrong?

“Initially selling the calendars to the SNPA was a hurdle.  Nothing can be sold on Skyline Drive unless approved by the Park Service.  Getting approval from the Park Service was a challenge at first.  Once we figured what type of photos to include (and not include) and how to write textual photo descriptions, selling the calendar to the SNPA was much easier.  Once we were able to get the calendar on Skyline Drive, selling the calendar to retailers around the park was easier.”

The Tangible Touch of Nature: The Importance of Print

With photography calendars, the tangible feel of high-quality prints hold a special allure. For ‘Shenandoah Treasures’, the choice to use PrintingCenterUSA’s services was pivotal. The print quality brought the vividness of the park’s colors to life, and the physical calendars became a cornerstone of their business, generating glowing reviews and essential repeat business from customers.

“PrintingCenterUSA has printed our calendars from our first calendar in 2021.  I also hand out business cards for the calendar and pamphlets from SNPA to interested hikers that I meet on the trail.”

How have these printed products added value or contributed to the growth of your business?

“We wouldn’t have a business without the calendars. We get good reviews for the calendars.  More importantly, we get repeat business from our customers.”

What specific goals did you set when you planned your print projects?

“We are fans of German calendars.  The photography is generally superior to anything in an American calendar, the printing quality is superior, and the calendars are often sold as wire-o and not saddle stitch.  We also wanted a printing done in the US, although we knew that would add to the cost of the calendar.  PrintingCenterUSA provided us with the printing quality and options for which we were looking.”


The Online Design Tool: A Revelation in Photography Calendar Design

One of the highlights of the creators’ annual journey is PrintingCenterUSA’s free online design tool. This intuitive platform has been their creative ally, streamlining the transition from raw, captured beauty to a polished calendar layout. The design tool’s simplicity is a boon, allowing the photographer to focus on capturing Shenandoah’s splendor without the need for complex software like Photoshop.

Year after year, the online design tool has played a crucial role in the calendar’s evolution. With each new edition, the tool’s flexibility and user-friendly interface have enabled the creators to effortlessly refine their designs, ensuring that ‘Shenandoah Treasures’ remains a collector’s item for their audience.

Are you a photographer seeking an affordable, user-friendly alternative to Adobe for your calendar projects? Discover how our free online design tool can transform your stunning images into beautifully crafted calendars with ease.


The Bindings That Tell a Story

Over the years, ‘Shenandoah Treasures’ has been bound in three distinct styles—saddle stitch, spiral, and wire-o—each with its own narrative.

Saddle Stitch: The saddle stitch calendars embody simplicity and tradition, reminiscent of a classic photo album. This binding’s straightforward aesthetic complements the calendar’s purpose—unveiling the simple, raw beauty of Shenandoah.

Spiral Binding: The spiral-bound editions offer a practical elegance, allowing each month to turn with ease. They lay flat, inviting the park’s admirers to linger over each image, each trail once tread by the photographer herself.

Wire-O Binding: The wire-o calendars are the epitome of durability and grace. Their sturdy construction reflects the enduring beauty of Shenandoah, a fitting tribute to trails that have withstood the test of time.

Growth Through Quality and Commitment

The calendars have become a cornerstone for the Shenandoah National Park Association (SNPA) stores, resonating with customers and leading to consistent repeat business. The photographer’s dedication to revisiting locations for the perfect shot and the marketer’s strategic prowess have ensured that ‘Shenandoah Treasures’ calendars are not just products but cherished collectibles.

With dreams of seeing their calendars in additional gift shops and on platforms like Calendars.com, the creators of ‘Shenandoah Treasures’ are on a path to expand their reach. Their commitment to quality and personal touch in marketing has laid the groundwork for future success.

A Testament to a Fruitful Alliance

In what ways has working with PrintingCenterUSA added value beyond just printing your materials?

I particularly appreciate the free calendar design tool.  With a full-time job, I generally only have time for shooting and then editing the raw images.  I edit the raw images in CaptureOne, not Photoshop.  The free design tool allows me to focus on getting the best photographs in the calendar and to avoid the time and expense needed to subscribe to and learn Photoshop.

Why did you choose PrintingCenterUSA for your printing needs?

We selected PrintingCenterUSA for the following three reasons:

  1. Printing quality and options
  2. Printed in the US
  3. The free calendar design tool

Choosing PrintingCenterUSA for their printing needs has been a decision rooted in a quest for unmatched quality and a preference for American-made products. The free design tool has been a particularly valuable asset, simplifying the process and empowering the creators to maintain their full-time careers while pursuing their passion.

As the final leaf of ‘Shenandoah Treasures’ turns, we are reminded of the power in preserving moments that echo the splendor of the world around us. Your visions, too, can be immortalized in print, bridging the gap between the fleeting and the eternal. Don’t let your photographs linger as digital ghosts; bring them to life with a calendar that tells your story. Contact PrintingCenterUSA.com today and transform your creative dreams into tactile treasures.

It’s time to turn your artistry into legacy.

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