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The History of Alphabet Photography

The History of Alphabet Photography

Interestingly enough the idea behind alphabet photography started with an illustrated children’s book. In 1999 Stephen T. Johnson put together a wordless book that featured still life pictures of everyday objects that looked like letters of the alphabet. The School Library Journal review of this Caldecott Honor book said, “While parents or teachers might assume from the title that this is a traditional alphabet book, they should be encouraged to look at it as an art book. It’s sure to inspire older children to venture out on their own walks to discover the alphabet in the familiar objects of their own hometowns.”

One Canadian woman was inspired to do just that. “Through my travels I was able to photograph hundreds of objects, found completely in their natural surroundings that resembled letters of the alphabet. A bridge became the letter ‘T”, an arm on a park bench a “G” and railway tracks an “E”. Jennifer Blakeley didn’t just stop at taking alphabet pictures though; she turned alphabet photography into a household name and the latest home décor craze in Hollywood.

Celebrities such as Ryan Seacrest and Oprah have lauded the unique creativity of using photographed letters to decorate their space. Other entrepreneurs soon followed in Ms. Blakeley’s footsteps and now you can find alphabet photography not only of natural, outdoor objects, but of individual letters in famous signs or from famous architectural locations all over the world.

What makes alphabet photography so popular? Part of the appeal of alphabet photographs is the simple appeal of personalization. Everyone likes to see their name – the bigger and flashier the better. Having creative, unique pieces of art on your wall that also spells your name appeals to many people’s egos. The variability of this exceptional art choice is another attraction. Almost any and every occasion you can think of is an appropriate time for letter art. Not only individual’s names need to be used, for example, an office building could decorate with words like “teamwork” or “success” or “performance”. What about a dentist’s office with “teeth” or “smile” in their waiting room? A wedding gift with “love” or the couple’s last name would be a fun gift. Or a graduation gift that spelled “dream” or “achieve”. As you can clearly see, the sky is the limit when it comes to combining words and art. As the age-old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. How much then are they worth combined?