Friday, October 14, 2016

The End of an Era

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.
                           -- John Muir
When I created the first letterboxing calendar, I had several hundred photos submitted by several dozen different people. Interesting in the calendars has been wanning in recent years, sales have dropped dramatically, but I've kept them going because I know some people still like them.

But this year, looking through the submissions, I have a problem. I like to narrow down my favorite submissions to the "top 100" photos--on my administrator page, it'll show up to 100 photos per page. So I'll whittle down the submissions until there are about 100 photos.

Then I start widdling down people. Some people submit a lot of really good photos, and while a "Yiker Calendar" (for instance) would be really awesome, it's not really a "letterboxing calendar." Ideally, I'd like to use a maximum of one photo per person, and one photo for a state. Spread out the love.

So I'll go through all of the photos and group them by photographer, then pick my favorite couple of photos by each photographer. Then group them by state and pick my favorite couple for each state. Then I'll go through and try to find thoughtful quotes to go with the various photos and group photos into what months they might be appropriate for. I'd usually wind up with a couple of photos for each month at that point, at which point the deciding factor might be which quote I like better for which photo.

In recent years, as interest in the calendars wane, I've started allowing myself to use up to two different photos by the same person, and two or three different photos taken in the same state. I had to to fill in all 12 months. It wasn't as diverse of a calendar as I would have preferred, but it was still a nice-looking calendar.

But this year.... A total of 75 photos were submitted. I can't even whittle down the number of photos to 100--I didn't get enough submissions! And I can (almost) count on my fingers the number of different people that submitted photos--which happens to be very close to the number of states represented in the photos.

Many of the photos, I'd like to add, are absolutely wonderful! They just don't have the diversity of people and places that I feel a letterboxing calendar should have. And given the severe drop in sales of the calendars in previous years, and find myself wondering if it's even worth it. And this year, the answer is no--I've decided not to create a letterboxing calendar for 2017. After an 11 year run, I'm pulling the plug on the AQ letterboxing calendar.

But thank you to those who've submitted photos--both past and present! I'm going to hang onto this year's submissions--for awhile, at least--to think about what else I might do with them.

If you have suggestions for other uses for these photos, let me know. I'm kind of toying with the idea of trying to turn some of them into "letterboxing bookmarks" or "letterboxing notebooks" or muggle cards or something. Maybe build some new themes around some of them. What would y'all like to see?