In 2003 the movie “Calendar Girls” came out telling the true story of how a ladies auxiliary in England had done a “semi-nude” calendar using some of its members as models to raise money for their local cancer ward. The calendar was a huge success and not only raised a phenomenal amount of money for the ward, but earned the “calendar girls” an appearance on the Jay Leno Tonight Show.
It turned out that in the U.K., the calendar was so “scandalous” that word of mouth was far more effective in generating sales than any type of advertising. And it seemed that everyone wanted to buy one! With any new product, advertising is a large part of the budget; and the chatter throughout the U.K. essentially eliminated that as an expense.
Meanwhile, the Long Tom Grange (named after a local river) was looking for a charity project to raise money for education where I live in Junction City. The idea of doing such a calendar using the men of the Long Tom Grange was brought up by local vineyard owner and author Danuta Pfeiffer who, along with her husband Robin, were members of that grange. I had done portraits for them before, and so Danuta asked if I would be interested in accepting the challenge to photograph it. I readily agreed – because I was certain that the men (mostly farmers and vineyard owners) would never agree to pose for it.
But I underestimated Danuta, who some have described as “a force of nature”.
And I underestimated the wives who persuaded their husbands that “it would be a lot of fun”.
So, in 2004, we came out with the first calendar. It was an amazing success and sold well throughout our area; and thanks to being featured in a piece on “Good Morning America” wound up being sold throughout the United States. We even had some international sales.
All the wives and friends that worked on the calendar were happy it went so well, but glad it was done.
Meanwhile, Danuta was all revved up.
“OK. Let’s do another one for 2005!” she said.
And so we did; as well as a final one in 2007. In the end, the notorious “Men Of The Long Tom Grange” calendars raised half a million for the local public schools, a local Christian school, and the Junction City library. I can honestly say that in my entire career, I am most proud of my part in that amazing project.