Typography Photography Vol. 3, 10 more great photos of found type

*EDIT: This post has been getting a lot of hits recently, thought I’d point out that you can see all my typography photography posts here including Vol 4 in this series.*

I’ve decided to establish a running feature on my blog that I will call “Typography Photography”. In this case, “Typography Photography” is defined as being a photo of typographic work in context. Of course, the type work and its environment must be interesting, but the actual photography must also be well done. This is kind of like the previous posts about found type photos I have done, but from now on I will try to write a little about each picture instead of just posting them.

Previously: {Vol. 2} and {Vol. 1}

Here’s 10 photos I’ve recently loved. Click on the images to be taken to their respective Flickr pages if you like them and want to leave a kind word to the photographers.

Typography Photography - Capri Lanes

Capri Lanes” is my current favorite of this bunch. The muted colors of the photo enhance the overall mood of the type. Everyone knows that sun damaged pastel look that reflects an almost sad memory of times when kids would rather play on bumper cars than play video games. I especially like that this is available in a size big enough to be my desktop wallpaper (which it currently is).

Typography Photography - Alaska

This is a photo of the word “Alaska” on an old railroad boxcar. The distressed white on the lush textured red is beautiful. I find it interesting how the washing out and fading evokes a strong sense of the effects of the elements on the paint, it’s quite fitting for the word Alaska.

Typography Photography - Amusements

Black and white was the perfect choice for this photo of the word “Amusements“. The text is laid out in a playful bold black letter type and each letter is bound in a white box. The photograph composition successfully plays off of the theme of black and white boxes through high contrast and creative cropping in order to complement the type treatment.

Typography Photography - I have great desire

The words say “I have great desire” and the fantastic title that the photographer gave the photo is “Me too, pal. Me too.” The choice to set this personal phrase in such an impersonal typeface as Helvetica is interesting to me. It creates a tension between the meaning of the words and the way they are displayed that gets the viewer to stop for a minute and really think about what it means to them. I love how the repetition of colors and lines tie the top and bottom half of the photo together without interrupting the generous negative space around the type.

Typography Photography - Distressed Type

This photo is called “Distressed Type“. The letters used to say “Ticket Office” but somehow most of them got knocked down and the others are struggling to stay upright. When type is made into 3-d objects they seem to take on little lives, as if they are puppets or stuffed animals. With their clean white appearance they seem like they have fallen far before their time. Call me a nerd, but I almost feel sad for these once proud letters.

Typography Photography - Is...

I’m not sure what the meaning is of this giant “is…“, but maybe that’s the point. What I really like about this photo is the contrast. The big, white, smooth, and curvy type really pops out from the small, brown, rough, and rectangular brick that is lies on. Also, I like seeing the way neon lighting tubes look in the daytime where you can see the curved tubes inside the letter forms.

Typography Photography - 1938

The rounded square shapes of the numbers for the address year the building was built, 1938, seem to echo the architecture of the building. The brilliance of this photograph lies in the way the blue sky is allowed to just peek in over the top of the building. The blue of the sky is almost exactly the same shade as the numbers and it balances the photo in an interesting way.

Typography Photography - Yoklubi

I don’t know what “Yöklubi” means, but this image is still striking on a visual level. The rubbed texture of the distressed wood background and the twisted metal of the type and flourishes would normally scream grit and brawn, yet the flowing forms of the lines somehow create an overall elegant feel to the type installation. The detail in this photo is amazing.

Typography Photography - Create

The parking lot at Disney’s Epcot Center is telling us to “Create“. I love how they used a format that is typically telling us negative things like “STOP” and “NO PARKING” and wrote something positive and inspirational. The parking lines also make for a great photo composition.

Typography Photography - Fate sign

Finally, I really liked this photograph of a highway sign that points to the city of Fate, Texas. The name of the city is odd and makes for a surreal looking scene. It seems weird to be seeing such an abstract notion signed on a factual informational sign. The dusk backdrop, the leafless trees, the brown grass, and the view through the black dots of a tinted car window create a thick atmosphere and obvious mood. There is no question about the uneasy feeling that the word “fate” creates in this photo, and it’s a perfect example of how great photography can reinterpret typography.


  1. Franz
    Posted June 12, 2008 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    You should make a book!

  2. Richard
    Posted June 12, 2008 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, that would be fun! Maybe someday…

  3. Ashleyv1016
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    NO, seriously. Make a book. I’d buy copies for all by design friends.

    These type captures seriously moved me. BEAUTIFUL.

  4. Posted August 7, 2008 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    This is a very interesting project. It’s interesting how we can find art in the ordinary if we just look.

  5. Posted August 9, 2008 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    I suggest George W buy that place called fate (can’t be too far from Crawford) so he can go and meet his.

  6. Posted August 11, 2008 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Yöklubi means “Night Club” in Finnish.

  7. Jessica
    Posted November 24, 2008 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Hi. This series on typography photography is beautiful. I totally stumbled upon your blog by typing in typography photography in google — that’s pretty cool that your blog is at the top of that list.

    I want to ask you: where did you first find inspiration to photograph words? I’m trying to find the historical roots of this type of photography.

    Let me know if you get the chance. Thanks.

  8. Posted August 20, 2010 at 6:52 am | Permalink


    Really nice work, out of interest please may I ask what camera you use?


  9. Rosana
    Posted October 21, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Loved them all, my favorite: the sign on the road to Fate, Texas

  10. Posted April 29, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Great post! Love the others too! the “1938″ is fantastic.

  11. Posted September 22, 2011 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    IT’s popular ’cause it’s good. :-) Maybe there is a book in it for you? You are capturing history. This stuff isn’t going to be around for ever.
    Thanks for sharing.

  12. Posted August 19, 2014 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

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  13. lucy
    Posted October 27, 2014 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    looking back at this, it inspired me to take up photography :)

  14. Posted April 13, 2015 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

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  18. Posted December 17, 2015 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

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7 Trackbacks

  1. By » links for 2008-06-26 on June 26, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    [...] Typography Photography Vol. 3, 10 more great photos of found type | Gentle Pure Space (tags: photography typography) [...]

  2. [...] for some interesting compositions. I was actually just thinking about posting a new volume of my Typography Photography series, but I just saw this set and I know it’s going to be all over the design blogs this [...]

  3. [...] homes on Flickr if you wish to let the photographer know your appreciation. Previously: {Vol. 3}, {Vol. 2} and {Vol. 1} And now, the [...]

  4. By Great photos of found type. — Some Random Dude on February 6, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    [...] Great photos of found type. [...]

  5. By the mehallo blog. beta. » is  . . . on December 21, 2011 at 8:45 am

    [...] here. [...]

  6. By Found Type | B: The Blog on February 13, 2014 at 9:00 am

    [...] from Hijiri @ Heartfish Blog Richard Roche @ Gentle Pure Space Calinago NYC [...]

  7. [...] and more. OK, sit back, relax and enjoy. First up is some beautifully photographed found type. Richard Roche has scoured the Web for the very best found type photos. This stunning shot was taken by David John [...]

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