Below: David Fussell selling the 2022 MYLONDON calendar in Spitalfields Market. The annual calendar sales returned to Spitalfields and Ealing Broadway and Liverpool Street Stations this year.
Sales numbers for 2022 calendar: 100% of profits go to participants affected by homelessness
With face-to-face calendar selling on again, and strong online support from the UK and overseas supporters, we were able to pay out more than £13,000 - all the profits - to photographers and calendar vendors affected by homelessness.
This came from the sales of more than 4,000 calendars online and in Spitalfields Market and in TfL Rail Stations following a successful launch in late October.
Last week a snap survey of online buyers helped us focus on what we did right and where we can improve on this year.
Covid-19 impact: digital pilot in 2021
Covid-19 impacted our annual MYLONDON Photo Project again in 2021 in several ways.
A shortage of Fujifilm QuickSnap single-use cameras in the middle of last year prevented us from handing them out to people affected by homelessness. Fujifilm UK stepped in and lant our Photography Mentoring Group (run by RPS volunteers) 10 X-T30 digital cameras. The mentoring group started in 2015 when they were given a set of digital cameras.
Another reason for the digital contest last year was the difficulty in meeting participants because of the pandemic. Homeless charity art groups in London were affected by lockdowns, with several not even happening.
We decided to try something different. Instead of the usual "100 cameras, 100 people affected by homelessness, 7 days to take the photos", we made the MYLONDON project a digital project. In early August 2021 we asked all past participants, and a few new ones, to upload 10 photos each. The photos could be taken on any device - camera or smart phone.
The result was a huge success. Most of the winning photos were taken by members of the Cafe Art RPS Photography Mentoring Group run by Julian Rouse, a volunteer from the RPS. Above is the group in Alexandra Palace last summer.
Because of Covid-19 lockdowns last year the calendar selling was limited, with fewer selling days. The face-to-face selling was helped by TfL Rail (soon to be called the Elizabeth line) staff helping with selling between early November and mid December. This support helped us in a huge way. Thank you again TfL Rail Ambassadors!
Online sales hold up as market and railway station selling return
The 2022 MYLONDON calendar was pre-sold from our website from early October and we managed to sell enough to pay for the main expenses. Thank you again to the online buyers who were instrumental in helping us print the calendars, cards and photographs. Calendar sales also help pay for banners, certificates and the prize money paid to the winning photographers. Pictured below is Wayne Chin who had a photo in the top 20. Wayne also had another 4 photos in the top 50.
While online sales were down 7% on last year, last year they were 300% up on previous years. From the online sales we were able to pay the photographers more than £2,000 in prize money. We also paid the printing bill (around £5,500 for 5,000 wall and desktop calendars and 4,000 greetings cards and envelopes), the postage costs (which has been more than £2,000 to date) and other production costs including the graphic design, the promotional videos and website costs.
The selling programme in Spitalfields Market and two TfL Rail stations (Ealing Broadway and Liverpool Street Station) resulted in more than 1,600 calendars and 500 greetings cards being sold.
Calendars are sold for £11 each and the cards for £2.50 each and 50% goes to the vendors. We are grateful for the free table given to us in Spitalfields Market. Fifty percent of face-to-face sales were in Spitalfields Market this year. The numbers of shoppers was a lot less than pre-Covid years, as there were still very few international tourists in London and there were fewer office workers visiting the market which is located near the City of London. For the same reasons, there were fewer people buying calendars from the railway stations than in 2019, especially after the Omicron Variant hit London in early December.
However, between early November and mid December we were able to help the vendors earn almost £10,000. With prize money and commissions from photograph sales included they total earnings for the participants is more than £13,000.
Last year we had two exhibitions: the first one was the MYLONDON exhibition in Brixton's Minet Library.
In early January the Cafe Art RPS Photography Mentoring Group had another exhibition, this time it was held in the main Brixton Library. Called "My Work", it featured sets of four photos taken by members of the group. Above is a shot from the opening event.
2022 calendar survey results
Last week we sent out a survey to 550 online buyers. London buyers who are on our email list but bought from Spitalfields, Ealing Broadway and Liverpool Street Station were not asked to do the survey which reflected in the fact only 29% of the feedback came from London. Another 40% of the survey feedback came from the rest of the UK, 16% from the EU and 14% from the rest of the World. We have strong support from overseas buyers of which we are grateful!
What do people think of MYLONDON?
Here are some of the highlights:
Where did you hang your calendar?
Home office (desktop) 3%
Living room 7.1%
I haven’t put it up 3%
Gave as a gift 31.3%
Dining room 2%
Just under 50% of buyers realised that we are setting up a new charity called MYWORLD this year. The charity will be called MYWORLD Creative Projects and has representation from people affected by homelessness on the board of trustees. Trustees come from three cities that have run the project: London, Sydney and Toronto.
MYWORLD has a mission to "connect people affected by homelessness with the wider community through art, photography and entrepreneurship" and MYLONDON is the flagship project.
Should we talk about personal experiences of homelessness?
This year we asked the participating photographers what they wanted to speak about in the calendar. Do they want to talk about their experience of homelessness or not? We found out that many of them would prefer to put their experience of homelessness behind them.
We know that by sharing real life stories we can build up understanding of the issue of homelessness, so we asked our calendar buyers what they thought:
34% of calendar buyers want more focus on the issue of homelessness in captions/text: “I am happy with the theme being about London (and not focusing on homelessness) but I think the captions should try to focus more on the issue of homelessness to create empathy and understanding of the issue.”
69% of calendar buyers agree it’s OK to not mention homelessness: “I am happy with the theme being about London (and not focusing on homelessness) and I'm also happy for the photographers to not talk about their experience of homelessness if they don't want to. “
Here are some comments:
“The reason I bought the calendar is the photos, not the reason behind the calendar, and I am happy to support the cause with this purchase, and if the photographers wish to expound on issues that is fine, if they don't that's also fine.”
“I think your photographers should decide what they want to do.”
“It's important to state how you arrange the calendars with help of the photographers, and I think you should give a reasonable mention about homelessness and the photographers to say something if they want to. I understand privacy is important too.”
“For me it is important that the photographers are not forced to talk about their experience with homelessness if they not want to. I am on the other hand interested in the experiences, but would not recommend to make it conditional that the photographer talks about her/his experiences to be part of the calendar.”
“I buy the calendar for me, I know how it's come about and why and I support the Big Issue, Shelter, CRISIS and Centre Point, so I don't need to read about homelessness, but if any of the contributors wants to describe their situation I'm happy to read about it. Thing is, I'm 80+, eye-sight's not what it was, so words need to be in big-enough print otherwise I can't be bothered to read it.”
“It should be up to the photographers to decide what they want to focus on in the accompanying texts.”
“I love the small info about the photographer.”
“I like to read about the photographers and how they have benefitted from the project.”
“All of the above! I’d be happy to learn more about their experiences to educate myself if they’re happy to share, but absolutely also respect if those involved would like to focus on their art.”
“Just happy to support - do whatever suits/supports best!”
“It is important to know that the project is about homelessness, but perhaps not intruding into individual photographers experiences.”
“It should be the photographer's choice on whether or not they'd like to talk about their homelessness. But I think the overall mission of the calendar and it's ties to homelessness is important - however, I'm not and have never been homeless and so don't know if linking the calendars so closely with homelessness is something that can be disempowering.”
Size of the calendar
The size of the calendar is liked by 58%, twice as many as didn't like it.
For us this is good news as the postage costs for a larger calendar would have been a lot more and could have threatened sales of the calendar to some of our markets, especially the United States, where in 2020 a new £5 tax came in on the larger size but not on the smaller size. A calendar measuring 12" x 12" (300mm x 300mm) would cost more than £15 to post compared to £5.30 for the current size. Americans paid £16.74 ($22.59) for one wall calendar including postage. If it had been the old size (12" x 12") it would have cost them more than £27 ($36.44).
In the UK it's £1.53 for the smaller size compared to £3.55 for the larger size.
We also have to compete with Amazon who often don't charge shipping costs.
We had huge problem with our EU sales this year. We charged £5 postage and packaging for an £11 calendar this year. Unfortunately the German postal service brought in new customs regulations and the buyers were charged 8.47 Euros to pick up their calendar from the local post office! We have however resolved the problem by valuing the calendars at a nominal price.
Here are some of the comments about the size:
“it is a perfectly adequate size for me!!”
“Happy with either size.”
“Maybe you could offer an option of both sizes, so people can choose.”
“For the office wall it’s a bit small, so would prefer it bigger.”
“The text accompanying the pictures is too small! If I don't happen to have my specs with me, I can't read it! Can you make it a bigger font?”
“I understand the handicap of overseas postage rates.”
“Will still buy whatever you do - just keep doing it.”
“The desk calendar boxes have shrunk and now are a bit impractical to use. I buy to support but I also use it and this will not be possible next year.”
“No comparison, bought it for the first time.”
The final question was a general one about calendars. We know that people don't need them as much as they used to as technology gives everyone a free calendar on their phone. We also suggested that a book of photographs might be popular. Here are some of the comments:
“Yes, please try to go on and maybe I would buy a book of photographs.”
“I like the calendars, but also think a book would be cool too.”
“I prefer a paper calendar for making notes on/planning /household stuff. I also bought as a gift. Please continue to produce calendars!!”
“I like the calender, it symbolises for me happy times in London and meeting many homeless people there. I love the project, merging art with the support for homeless people. I would consider to buy a book, because I love photography and art and I love to support meaningful ideas.”
“I think this is a difficult question. There probably needs to be a move away from the calendars and a book would be a good idea - would it be possible to transition from calendar to book by producing both in 2022? Perhaps pre-ordered to avoid wasted printing costs?”
“I still find a calendar useful, so support you continuing to print! I also like the option to buy some of the individual cards. I probably wouldn’t buy a book.”
“I'm more likely to buy calendars than a book of photographs.”
“I think you should continue with the calendars and may buy a book of photographs.”
“You should continue to print calendars and I don't think I would buy a book of photographs.”
“I like them. As long as you sell them , why stop ?”
“I might be old fashioned, but I like a wall calendar! I have one in my work office, one in my spare room at home and another in my kitchen. I also still use a diary, though, so perhaps I'm a bit unusual! I buy photo books, but sometimes wonder if it is a wise investment as I only look at them from time to time. I like having a calendar photo on display for a month, then moving on to the next.”
“Old git so calendars still do it for me.”
“I rely on the wall calendar each year and would be sad to lose it. I also found the cards very attractive. I would be less likely to buy a book of photos.”
“Keep the calendar! It is easier, sometimes, to flick through a calendar to find something than tying to find it on your phone.”
“The printed calendar is a good idea and makes a great gift.”
“Yes - both as a photographer and someone with a concern for homelessness.”
“I love an old fashioned calendar, I never really use it as a useful date thing but it's really nice to turn over the page and see a new month. Would be equally happy for it to be something else each month, like something you could do to be more aware of homelessness or something you could visit in London!”
“Still need the visual on the wall to get an instant view of the month! I love the photos but like to have them with the usefulness of the calendar. I do try to use the pictures for art work (water colour painting) but doubt I would just buy the photos.”
“Yes to a printed calendar...like the visual view of a month etc.”
“I usally don't even use my smart phone calendar and exclusively use a printed calendar (even a few, in different forms). I also know that my friend, whom I'm always gifting this calendar to, also prefers this form and wouldn't use a smart phone calendar.”
“I buy calendars every year because they make good christmas presents. Personally I still like a printed calendar with nice and interesting pictures to put on the wall and I think others do too, and people to whom I give the calendars always appreciate them too.”
“I like a calendar something to look at and write on, I would buy a book I think this could be a better way of the photographers talking about their experience of homelessness I produced a photographic book in 2021 called "Some Kind'a Soho" about Soho characters and there lives and the response was fantastic, we sold 750 books in two months, people are alway interested in people.”
“I would support whatever you do that is most effective to support the photographers and the cause - but I hope you can still do the calendars, and would LOVE to buy a book!!!!!!!!!”
“I like having a calendar, even though I use my phone mostly. I am more likely to continue buying the calendar or cards than a photo book.”
“I would also buy a book of photographs. And I still like to have a 'real' calendar to look at in my office and kitchen. Younger people might have different preferences.”
“I would probably only buy greetings cards as I use them all the time.”
“Please continue with the calendars, I would not buy a book of photos.”
“I love having a print calendar (though I miss the coffee stains!) and will continue to buy one. Yes, I'd buy a book of photographs. I don't use my phone calendar.”
“No, I like a calendar to write on and see.”
“Please continue with printing calenders! They are excellent and I would really miss them. I would probably also buy a book, but I would prefer the calendar”
“I love the calendars and the idea of it and, I would buy a book of photographs.”
“I like a calendar.”
“I would buy photographs - postcards are good- but I buy them because I love what you do.”
“I like to have a wall calendar in the kitchen. I only use an electronic calendar for work. A paper one contains all my birthdays and holidays, all hand written. I like to look back through them at the end of the year. Yes, please continue to print them.”
“Yes and yes .”
“Tbh I probably wouldn’t buy the photos, whereas I see them every day and have pointed it out to colleagues. Whilst I do use the smartphone calendar for booking things I have wall calendars in both the office and the home as you can see what’s what for the whole month.”
“I like calendars!”
“I need calendars, with adequate daily writing space, to, at a glance, keep an eye on what's due and when - getting pills 4weekly from the pharmacy, F1 dates, British touring Car dates, MotoGP, BSB, WSBK races, trips to the movies, visiting kinfolk, etc.. It's on the wall in the kitchen, so I see it all on the first of the month, the night before, in the morning on the day, and what I've forgotten the day after - and I don't have to put reading glasses on to look at a smart-phone screen (don't need a smartphone when I've got a calendar on the wall). I'll buy a calendar whatever, so, if not yours, then someone else's, but I'd rather buy yours, because I know it's for a good cause. Please keep on producing it. Not so interested in books of photographs which I'd look at once and then stache in the bookcase.”
“I pretty much enjoy the calendar. Compared to a book it‘s much more present at home and therefore I definitely prefer it.”
“I'm 69 and I like calendars. Sure beats appointments on sticky notes. But I would buy a book of photos (if affordable) as long as the current format of encouraging creativity in those persons whom too often are invisible or shunned by many of us.”
“I prefer a printed calendar as I can enjoy it every day. A book will mostly stay on a bookshelf among other books.”
“I personally enjoy a paper calendar and get a lot of pleasure from the selection of photos. For convenience, I use my phone calendar but it gives no pleasure. I hope that it is still financially viable for you to continue producing it. Thank you.”
“I still prefer to have an “old fashioned” calendar. I enjoy seeing a new picture each month.”
“I really don't need a calendar but I like the pictures of my beloved London (as a foreigner) and this way I can give something back. When the year is over I always give it to my co-worker, she makes handmade cards and stuff and loves to use the pics for her projects. Benefits 2x this way.”
“Please continue, love the calendars and it’s for an amazing cause.”
“Need a calendar so that everyone in family knows what is going on.”
“I am a calendar fan! I like having the great images (the art) with the functionality of something I can hang up as a visual reminder of what I need to do by when! Not sure I would look as much at a book of photographs. Would screensavers or some kind of GIFs work as well, to use on mobiles?”
“I would not buy a book of photographs, I would keep buying the calendars although I much prefer the old, larger size.”
“I still like to use a wall calendar so my family also have access.”
“yes, I still prefer a printed calendar (but I am in my 50s), yes, I would be interested in a book of photos PS, could you sell these calendars in independent retailers e.g. in Liverpool there is News from Nowhere (https://www.newsfromnowhere.org.uk/) and Open Eye Gallery (https://openeye.org.uk/), just as an example”
“I love a good old fashioned calendar and so does my 26 year old son, who I gave it as a present to. I might buy a book of photographs too.”
“I will always use a printed calendar. I am older - 65 - and prefer to use a calendar I can feel and see. Your calendar reminds me of my favorite city in the world and inspires me to revisit year after year, and I appreciate your dedication to your mission as well. I would gladly buy a book of photographs!”
“I love having a calendar hanging in the house. It helps SO much. I doubt I would buy a book of photographs I like being able to DO something with them. I like the cards and I like the calendar. A book would just sit (I'd probably buy it to support your organization, but I most likely wouldn't look at it).”
“I love the calendars. Working shifts it's ideal for being able to put them on so others know what I am working etc.”
“Calendars are brilliant! Please keep them, it is always a treat to reach the end of the month and know there is another fantastic picture coming up. We also mark ours with all the the years appointments/ events so it grows and changes as the year progresses. I’m not sure an annual book of photos would be the same but I wouldn’t rule out buying one.”
“possibly it would depend on the cost”
“Yes, please continue with the calendars. I look on them as a piece of wall art which changes every month rather than having the same old picture all year round. I'm not sure if I would buy a book of photos - if I did, it would be as a present for someone as I have too much Stuff already! ;-)”
“I personally like a calendar don’t want everything on my phone because they can go wrong and I want something I can look at and appreciate the lovely photos each day.”
“Perhaps I’m old fashioned but I like a calendar so useful to scribble on and different members of the family can write down their appointments etc for all to see. Not sure that I would buy a book of photos, but have you thought about producing a pack of Christmas cards based on the photos? Quite like Xmas cards that are not covered in twee robins etc. Or packs of plain cards?”
“Definitely keep on printing calendars. No I wouldn’t buy a book of photographs.”
“I love the calendar! I use it as a decoration rather than writing on it. I would be less likely to buy a book of photos.”
“I love the calendar, whilst I don't write on it and use my phone for plans etc I enjoy having it up in my office and the picture changing each month. I would be less likely to purchase a book of photographs.”
“I really love the calendar, and will continue to purchase them if you decide to continue printing them :)”
“Yes to both those questions. I should have bought myself one! I would like a book .”
“You should continue to print calendars, providing it is profitable. They make excellent gifts too, which helps to spread the word about the project. I hope you will continue to engage with the RPS and its members as they can advise on photo quality and can / could mentor the photographers. Regards, Andrew Saville.”
“I think that calendars are still very useful as calendars but also as genuine decoration objects. And I love the fact you get change views each month. IT is a kind of lovely surprise ! I would not buy a book of photos.”
“I love that it’s a physical calendar! I have loads of digital calendars but I much prefer to also have a wall one especially with the lovely photos actually on display. That being said, I’d be happy to keep supporting you in whatever format you choose.”
“I prefer the printed calanders and bought some cards showing photographs so yes would buy a book.”
“Absolutely continue. Love the photos and we use them as prompts for the whole family.”
“Please continue with the calendar.”
“A book would be a nice addition but I think people do still like wall calendars - I know lots of people who use online diaries but also use a wall calendar.”
“I never really used a wall calendar, I used a small diary that I carried with me before the pandemic but after it stayed mainly blank in 2020 (!) I found a wall calendar is now more useful as I'm working from home mainly. Now I use a combo of the wall calendar and Google calendar and continue to buy this product for myself/as a gift as I like the size and design/layout/images and social enterprise aspect. Keep up the good work!”
“I like having a wall calendar in my kitchen for both functionality and for a splash of fresh art every month. I would not buy a book of photos. I do like the cards and will continue to purchase those when available. Thank you for your perseverance! <3”
“Yes, continue to print calendars! I would be unlikely to buy a book of photographs.”
“Yes please keep the calendars going I use online calendars but this is still Great Wall art and quick old fashioned reference - who doesn’t still want a great calendar like this on their wall!.”
“I like the printed calendar.”
“I am a great fan of calendars for myself and as gifts .I am less likely to buy a book.”
“I really like the calendar for myself and a gift. I wouldn’t buy a book of photographs. I might consider buying cards in future, to send out at Christmas, but that’s not certain by any means. It’s definitely the calendar that has me hooked.”
“Still use a calendar.”
“I personally like to have one or two calendars about my house as they remind me of holidays and also where I used to live – London.”
“I love your calendars! I'll buy it again. I support homeless people in my town and it's a nice way to remind we are all connected... and pics are beautiful and little stories about them moving and inspiring.”
“I like having a visual reminder of the days/ weeks activities in the kitchen in the morning when I am preparing breakfast or packed lunches.”
“Yes, please do print, firstly I need a calendar and wanting to support you while I do it. [Although I've bought the postcards too before] The desk calendar boxes are too small now, I won't be able to use if they are like it again. Plus a few misprints on days/dates being wrong. I will still support but others may feel more strongly about this.”
“I like to have a wall calendar in my kitchen and a small desk calendar at work. Not sure I’d buy a book of photos but cards and postcards are useful.”
“I love paper wall calendars (I use lots of tech btw) and I think many people still do. My mum loves your calendar.”
“The Calendars are lovely as a Christmas gift that is not too expensive, which I can give to friends whilst supporting a very worthwhile cause. I sent four this year.”
“Would not buy a book.”
“I love the calendar and they make great gifts. Being London, they are appreciated by friends abroad too.”
“Please continue with the calendars. So useful for work .”
“I love the calendar, it sits on my desk and is used for my photography projects.”
“I like the calendar very much and would prefer that to a book of photographs but I would buy that instead if the price was similar and it would also support you which is the main reason for the purchase anyway.”
“Calendar preferred, can be seen every day! Books sit on shelves.”
“I like the calendars - I've never bought calendars prior to MyLondon. I personally wouldn't buy a book of photographs.”
“I like the print calendars.”
“I like the Calendar and find it useful. I like to see the images printed rather than viewed online. I wouldn't buy a book to be honest.”
“I really like the calendars. Great gift (well i like giving them at least) and changing the pages each month is a continual reminder of this excellent support for those needing support.”