Blog

Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

Making of the calendars

It’s getting to be that time of the year when people agonize over what presents to buy to gift to friends and family. It’s also that time of the year when people procrastinate until the very final Friday before Christmas. It’s why I never visit malls - or even go outside - on that particular weekend: too much frantic, too much mayhem. The danger of an unsuspecting driver too worried about finishing his errands crashing into my car in a parking structure is immensely high.

Best to avoid all that.

In fact I avoid holiday shopping entirely by getting (making) the same present for everyone: a bespoke calendar for the following year, using the photographs I’ve taken in the current year. My friends receive something uniquely special and useful, and I save lots of money because each calendar only costs 20 bucks.

In the past fews years I’ve done this through Apple’s Photos app, utilizing their official printing service. The results are typically Apple, which is to say amazing and proper quality. Unfortunately, this year there’s a bit of hiccup: Apple for some reason have decided to end its photo printing products operation. What a shame; I guess the scale wasn’t enough for a company that sells iPhones in the billions of dollars.

So for those dozens (?) of users, we are relegated to using third-party companies. Two of those - Mimeo and Motif - provide an extension that integrates with the Photos app and offers a convincing facsimile of the discontinued official product. To produce my calendars this year I chose Mimeo, primarily because for first time users there’s a 20% discount. I’m actively saving up for an 911 so every single cent counts massively.

Having since received the calendars, I have to say the quality is surprisingly good. It’s not to the levels of Apple where the font design and layout of the dates is more clean and carries a simplicity, but where it counts the most - the pictures, Mimeo does the job well.

I do still miss the Apple version, but I’m glad there’s viable replacements readily available.

A study in uniformity and scale.

A study in uniformity and scale.

Quality is worth paying for

I’m in the camp of hobbyist photographers who seldom do actual prints. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that the initial investment to procure the necessary equipment is relatively enormous. Why spend thousands on proper photo printer and paper when I can put that towards a new lens instead? Therefore the scant few times I needed to print something out, I outsource to the typical online printing platform (I use Mpix).

Tangent: now that Apple have shuttered their printing service, I’ll need to find another place to print my annual photo Calendars.

I recently went on a family trip, and we took a rather lovely group photo together. Figured it’d be wonderful to hang in the living room, I went on Mpix to order a framed 8x10 print. Even without going too crazy on the options (standard mat board and glass, cheapest frame material), the total price for the single photograph came to around $50, not including shipping. For some reason, I was surprised at how expensive this is.

Me, a photographer, can’t appreciate that a custom framed print ought to cost more than, say, 10 dollars. For shame; I should to be banished from ever selling prints of my own.

Perhaps the low prices of online retailers like Amazon have indoctrinated me to expect things to not cost a lot of money. It has certainly done so to the price of shipping, as in there shouldn’t be any. Adding to my frustration with the price of the print was that I had to pay another 13 dollars to have it delivered. I’ve been so acclimatized to not paying for shipping - and items arriving within two business days guaranteed - that honestly I had second thoughts about completing the purchase, on principle.

As I’ve written before: free shipping is not free, because there is no free lunch.

So I did end up buying the framed photo, because items of quality and craftsmanship are worth paying for. As an artist myself, that is the kind of sentiment I hope everybody carries with them. A race to the price bottom hurts everyone: ask musicians for their thoughts on streaming services. We must fight against the desensitization of online shopping and easy price comparisons, because more often than not, we indeed get what we pay for.

Now  this  is my kind of tranquil living.

Now this is my kind of tranquil living.