40 Excellent Examples of Typography Photography

Typography is an unusual subject to photograph. That’s partly because it’s so commonplace, making it easy to ignore. Even when letters or words do catch our attention, we sometimes only read the message and miss the photo opportunity.

If you spend time actively looking at typography, you’ll discover how striking it can be as a subject. With the right composition, you can turn everyday, unremarkable words into eye-catching images.

jordan parks – Untitled
jordan parks thank you sign

In this post, we’ll look at a few types of typography that can be interesting to photograph. These ideas should give you a good starting point for discovering and capturing great typography photos.

Graffiti

Graffiti typically has a gritty, unsettling atmosphere. It can give anything, including words, a different vibe than you’d expect. For instance, the phrase “Have a nice day” looks different graffitied on a wall than printed on a plastic bag.

Besides this twist, the typography of graffiti is often artistic and worth photographing in itself. Some consider it true artwork that deserves respect as well as copyright. For this reason, when photographing graffiti, be mindful of how you compose the photo so you’re not breaching copyright, especially if you aim to sell your photos.

Avoiding copyright infringement is simple: just make sure you’re capturing more than the graffiti alone. Make it part of the scene rather than the sole focus on your photo. Broadening your focus will likely lead to better photos, anyway. Your photo will tell more of a story if you include more of the environment.

Otherwise, if the identity of the graffiti artist is known, you can ask them for permission to photograph their work. This approach takes more time and legwork, but it will give you the most freedom.

James Drury – STATE OF MIND
writing on walls

Dave Adams – Untitled
Dave Adams graffiti

Christopher – The Wall Says It All
have a nice day

Gilbert Mercier – New-Orleans post Katrina Sept. 2005: “I am sleeping inside with a big dog, an ugly woman & two shotguns…
Gilbert Mercier - New-Orleans post Katrina Sept. 2005

James Drury – no…I am sofa king
sofa king graffiti

Paul’s Pictures – Photograph Me Please
graffiti

Otacílio Rodrigues – Underpass
Otacílio Rodrigues - Underpass

Curly Phil – Mixed messages
Hipstamatic Snapseed

Interesting/Funny Messages

Next to graffiti, funny messages are the easiest to notice. You see a sign that makes you smile, and you can’t help but grab your camera. In these situations, you might snap a quick photo without thinking about composition or lighting. It’s a spontaneous shot, not a masterpiece, and your main goal is simply to capture the message.

Sometimes, though, the cleverness is in the photo’s composition. Instead of shooting the sign alone, you can include more of its context, giving the photo more ambiguity or a stronger narrative. Focusing on composition takes more time and thought, but it can make your photo more striking and humorous.

Gilbert Mercier – Cross, Sign & US flag:”The Devil Does Not Take Time Off”
Gilbert Mercier - Cross, Sign and US flag

David Willis. – the disappearing dead sea (16:9)
dead sea

Gregory Moore – Just read the sign…
Gregory Moore warning sign

Gilbert Mercier – Advertisement for Red Rhino & Black Cat firecrackers
Gilbert Mercier - Advertisement for Red Rhino and Black Cat firecrackers

Steve Stanger – Times Square #3
Steve Stanger - Times Square

Marina Buric – All men are dangerous
Marina Buric - All men are dangerous

^ Missi ^ – Sponge Bob’s other job
Soho Road, Birmingham

Handy Andy Pandy – 32/365: Limbs May Fall
warning limbs may fall

Shamini – Sign
two wheelers parking

n b – NO
no smoking sign

Ben – Hungry…?
Lick the plate

Texaselephant – Texas Diesel Fried Chicken
Texas Diesel Fried Chicken

Jack Nobre – Almost Legal
marijuana shop

CindiK. – Seriously?
elevator instructions

Harvey Smith – On the sixth day!!
On the sixth day, god created manchester

Travel Photos

A lot of travel photos are of landscapes, wildlife, and people, but typography can be a great addition to a travel portfolio, too. While a single sign won’t have the same awe-inspiring effect as an epic landscape, it can be an excellent complement to other photos. It’s like photographing wedding decorations. They’re not the main point of the event, but they help capture the experience and atmosphere of the location.

Photographing typography while traveling is also a good idea if you’re working on improving your Instagram feed. On Instagram, the quality of your photos is as important as how they look together. If you want to improve the overall look of your feed, you need to include a mix of subjects. In other words, if you only shoot amazing landscapes during your trip, your feed will look dull. Try adding a few typography photos, as you’ll immediately notice the difference.

Vikas Sandhu – Beware of the trains
Vikas Sandhu - Beware of the trains sign

Brandon Chambers – Open sign
Brandon Chambers - Open sign

Steve Stanger – Joe’s PEACHES
Steve Stanger - Joes PEACHES

Daniel Kulinski – Do Brasil
coffee bag

jordan parks – Untitled
jordan parks art studio

Orbmiser – Neon Open Reflect & Drops
Neon Open sign

drop photography – Untitled
ring bell sign

Echo Wash – Untitled
strictly private sign

Steve Stanger – stop and listen
stop and listen for the locomotive

Everyday Objects

You don’t have to travel far to find interesting typography to photograph. Once you start paying attention to words and letters, you can find a whole set of cool photos to shoot in your home. Everyday objects like keyboards, newspapers, and books are all great photography subjects to explore.

Just like with travel photos, everyday shots of typography can reveal the atmosphere of your home or the daily experiences you have. They work well with other subjects, either in the same photo or as a separate photo in a set, triptych, or Instagram feed. It’s a fun and simple subject to experiment with, easy enough to shoot on a lazy day at home.

Laurens Kaldeway – But First Coffee
scrabble coffee

The Light Photographer – Musical Numbers
harmonica

Michael Paes – Happiness in colors
bonheur

Vikas Sandhu – Y₄O₁U₁ L₁O₁S₁E₁
scrabble

V.L.GIL – words…are important
scraps of paper

xstc – Magnification
dictionary

rogue3w – qwerty
qwerty typewriter

Many of the above photos were selected from our community on Flickr. Next time you get a cool shot of typography, share it with the group so we can see your work!

aurora

Newsletter