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ABC Project for Photographers: A Creative Photo Challenge

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As a photographer, I spend most of my time photographing people. I love it of course, but sometimes, for sanity sake, I need to photograph something different, just for me. It allows me to see things in a different way, and in turn, I think it makes me a better portrait photographer for my clients. Sometimes I have an idea in my head before I go out and shoot, and other times I let the environment speak to me. I am going to share a recent project I did, one where I let my environment speak to me, and how you can use this project to create your own challenge for yourself.

Some friends and I were headed to Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, GA. I knew there would be a lot of historical subjects here, the glorious oak trees covered in moss, famous headstones, unique grave sites. But I wanted to capture something a bit different. As I was walking around, I noticed the engravings, what was being said. Then I noticed how many different type sets there were. As a former early childhood teacher, I am very familiar with ABC books. Every year I would have my students create ABC books of their own, so I decided to create a Bonaventure ABC collection!

As I was walking around, I knew it would be important to find the tricky letters first. Every X, Q, Z I saw, I photographed.

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I used my 85mm f/1.4 lens on my Nikon D300, as it was the longest lens I had in my bag, and I wanted to stand as far from the headstone as possible as to not disturb the area. You want to fill the frame as much as possible. For the more common letters, I was looking for unique.

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When I got home, I brought them into PS, chose the fonts that spoke to me, cropped them square, did a quick boost in curves and called it a day. Now…what will I do with these you ask? I mean, they came from a cemetery! Well, living in Savannah, GA, I am enthralled with the history, so my plan is to make some wall art using my letters to go along with some prints of Savannah I have hanging in my house. For example, I could put my letters together to make…

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Now, if I had this specific word in mind, I may have collected various A’s and N’s to give it a bit more uniqueness.

Time to challenge yourself. Next time you are out and about, look around. Capture those unique type sets, unique fonts that catch your eye. Perhaps you are at the fair. Can you imagine how many colorful letters you could find? Putting letters together to create a wall gallery for your child’s name for example.

Some great places to capture some unique letters:

Museum
Amusement Park
Cemetery
Main Street, Anytown USA
County Fair
Zoo

Let me know what you come up with, I would love to see your letters! Please attach your letters and wall words in the comment section on the MCP Blog post.  We hope this helps you get more creative!!!

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Britt, the author of this post, is a former teacher turned photographer. Formerly of Savannah, GA, Britt Anderson Photography will be coming to Chicago, IL soon!  Britt loves all aspects of photography from maternity to newborns, tots to teens, couples to engagements.

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  1. Aparna E. on July 20, 2011 at 10:05 am

    I love doing this!! Always fun to see what you can come up with!

  2. Janie on July 20, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I love this idea and will definitely try it. I did the same thing with numbers once and it was a fun challenge

  3. bdaiss on July 20, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Hello Britt! (Are you a “just-Britt” like I am?)I lovelovelove this idea. One of my favorite childhood memories is going on cemetery scavenger hunts. It’s a history lesson wrapped in fun and I can’t wait to pass it on to my kids. I also grew up outside of Chicago (Plano) and there’s a great old (think pioneer era) cemetery by Silver Springs State Park. It’s near the Glass House, another great photography spot.Welcome back to Illinois – take a ride on the Demon at Great America for me!

    • Britt Anderson on July 20, 2011 at 12:24 pm

      Hi Britt! Yes, I am “just Britt” 🙂 and I haven’t been on the Demon in years…I might have to check it out again!

  4. Michael on July 20, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I was taking a Continuing Ed class at RISD and this was my final project! You can see the set here:http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=8AYt2TdozYuWxq

  5. Carri Mullins on July 20, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Britt has such a fine talent, and great creativity. We are proud to call her part of our elite group of photographers. ;D

  6. Azure on July 20, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    This is something I really enjoy doing! Here is one I did for my son a while back. I need to get back out there and finish the one for my daughter. 🙂

  7. Rani on July 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    I love this idea!! What a great way to capture letters and have fun with them!!!

  8. Becky on July 20, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Britt!! I love this and I love that you captured Savannah this way. So proud to say I know you. 🙂 Ditto what Carri said.

  9. elizabeth s. on July 20, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I think this is a great idea! I hadn’t thought to go to a cemetery for letters! Brilliant.I’ve seen some really great framed letters on folks’ walls. Often times, the letters spell out their family’s last name, but I love the reference to your hometown.

  10. Karen P. on July 20, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    What a fabulous idea! I’d thought about looking for random shapes that resembled letters and trying to build an alphabet that way but gave up after a couple of months. This is a great substitute for that.

  11. Renee W on July 20, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    I love this project idea Britt! I’ve done a little of this finding letters in nature, etc. but never did all the letters or did anything with it. Hopefully you have inspired me to do it again. And I agree with Carri 110%. Britt is an awesome knowledgable photographer and friend!

  12. Alli on July 21, 2011 at 7:57 am

    I usually try to capture a place’s alphabet when I go somewhere new. I even had my pictures discovered on flickr and added to a book called Focus on Letters. It is such a fun thing to do! I have tried to make up words with my letter pictures as well, for fun signs and such. Great tip!

  13. Alice G Patterson on July 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Love what you did with your letters… very inspiring!

  14. Karen on July 29, 2011 at 4:30 am

    I love the idea…I have been taking pictures of any sign that have my name on..but this is a brand new thing to try

  15. rockchic on October 13, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I love the idea of doing this. I am new to using Photoshop elements 9. My only query is how would I bring my letters together to form the word after amending each letter?

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