Types of Signage Photography

Types of Signage Photography

Signage Photography: The 12 Shots You Need to Capture

12 types of signage photography

Signage, the words around us, is a new genre of photography emerging. I’ve shared about my love affair with signage photography. I studied graphic design in art school where typography is a core focus. You’ll notice several mentions of typography in this post so I’ll quickly define it first.

Typography is the style, arrangement, or appearance of letters. These letters can be on a printed page like a book or a poster, or digitally on a screen like a webpage or an app. It’s the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing when displayed.

My love for design is a key influence in my style of photography. I notice it wherever I go and I love capturing it in new ways. Today I’m diving deeper into the types of signage we see in our everyday lives. My goal is to show you how diverse the signage around us is and give you ideas along the way for you to capture on your next photo adventure.

Script signage

Probably one of the most popular lettering types, everyone loves a good script. Script can be simple with one fluid stroke or decorative and full of flourished embellishments. Formal scripts began their debut in the early 1700s by writing masters and engravers such as George Bickham, George Shelley, and George Snell.

The letters originated from a quill or metal nib pen forming thick and thin strokes. There are plenty of wonderful script typefaces out there but the most intriguing include original letterforms. Check out these examples of script signage photography.

Types of Signage Photography: ScriptTypes of Signage Photography: ScriptTypes of Signage Photography: Script

Elegant serif signage

By definition, a serif is a small decorative line added as an embellishment to the basic form of a character. One of the most common serif typefaces is Times New Roman, usually included in every word processor on your computer. But don’t be fooled by this common typeface, there are many examples of elegant serif signage out there like those shown below.

Types of Signage Photography: Elegant SerifTypes of Signage Photography: Elegant SerifTypes of Signage Photography: Elegant Serif

Vintage signage

Antique and vintage signs are quite popular these days, entering a new trend. They advertise anything from soda fountains to household appliances and more. This type of signage tends to be more creative in mediums such as porcelain, wood, tin, and neon.

What’s most intriguing about this type of signage is when you see it you’re immediately transported to another time and place. People always yearn for times of the past and it’s one reason we connect with vintage signage. Take a look at these signs for some inspiration on your vintage hunt.

Types of Signage Photography: Vintage Types of Signage Photography: Vintage Types of Signage Photography: Vintage

Big and bold san serif signage

Big and bold sans serif signs are the complete opposite of the elegant serif signs shown above. A typeface without a serif is called sans serif, from the French sans meaning “without”. In print, most headlines use sans serif typefaces while serif typefaces are used for body copy. One of the most common san serif typefaces you’ll find on your computer is Arial.

It’s modern, it’s hip, and always good for a statement. See if you can spot examples of big and bold sans serif signage in your city like these.

Types of Signage Photography: Big and Bold Sans Serif Types of Signage Photography: Big and Bold Sans Serif

Helvetica signage

Speaking of Arial and other sans serifs, Helvetica is arguable the most popular typeface out there or at least the most well-known. There’s even a documentary on the infamous typeface and clever merchandise all over the internet. People either love it or hate it. Here’s a few examples of Helvetica signage out in the open.

Types of Signage Photography: Helvetica Types of Signage Photography: Helvetica

Script and sans serif signage

Most of the above examples are based on one typeface but the magic happens when you combine two styles to create something new. When you capture the elegant and unique qualities of a script and add the bold and modern qualities of sans serif, you get dynamic signage like those included in these shots.

Types of Signage Photography: Script and Sans SerifTypes of Signage Photography: Script and Sans SerifTypes of Signage Photography: Script and Sans Serif

Decorative signage

Decorative and display typefaces in signage are playful and fun, just about anything is fair game. They became popular in the 19th century in posters and advertisements. The trick is to use decorative typefaces sparingly so as not to lose their artistic and eye-catching effect. They’re perfect for an accent, a heading, or title. Take a look at these distinct decorative styled signage.

Types of Signage Photography: Decorative Types of Signage Photography: Decorative

Vertical signage

Rather than based on a single typeface, vertical signage relates to the orientation they’re displayed in. We’re used to seeing most signage in a horizontal format like a billboard but many buildings (especially theatres) use vertical signs for interest. Signage with vertically stacked letters are ideal for shorter names to ease the reader’s eye. They’re also easier to see from afar like these beauties.

Types of Signage Photography: VerticalTypes of Signage Photography: Vertical Types of Signage Photography: Vertical

Modern signage

The term modern is thrown around a lot these days and can posses several meanings. Here we’ll use the definition of “relating to present or recent types as opposed to the remote past”. These examples of signage shown modern characteristics for their style in typography, use of materials, and minimal color palette.

Types of Signage Photography: Modern Types of Signage Photography: Modern

Marquee / theatre signage

A favorite genre of mine is the marquee and/or theatre signage. A marquee sign is commonly placed over a theatre to present the play, movie, or artist appearing at the venue. Since the turnover is quick, these signs need to adapt easily, sometimes daily. Like the Scrabble tiles you use in a game, letters can be moved around to form new words giving a cut and paste aesthetic feel to your photos like this one.

Types of Signage Photography: Marquee / Theatre Types of Signage Photography: Marquee / Theatre

Painted signage

Sign painting is the art of painting on buildings, billboards, or signboards to announce or advertise products, services, or events. Original, hand painted signs are also making a comeback with a huge demand for lettering artists. For this genre the sky is the limit, no two signs are the same.

Types of Signage Photography: PaintedTypes of Signage Photography: Painted

Informational signage

Last but not least is informational signage. By far the most important type of signage as it helps guide us in the right direction. Whether it’s a street sign for which freeway to enter or exit to take, we depend on clear signage to avoid getting lost.

Types of Signage Photography: InformationalTypes of Signage Photography: Informational Types of Signage Photography: Informational

 


 

Want to download the checklist for the 12 signage photography shots you need to capture? Fill in the form below and I’ll send it to you!


 

And here’s an infographic to summarize these 12 types of signage photography:12 Types of Signage Photography

 


What do you think of this list of 12 different types of signage photography? Which ones have you already tried and which will you try next?

Paris, Las Vegas signage

Paris, Las Vegas signage

Paris, Las Vegas: Signage Photography

Paris, Las Vegas

Paris Las Vegas is one of the many hotel and casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. Previously I’ve shared some of the amazing views from the top of the Eiffel Tower of Paris, Las Vegas, a story told through bursts of light and color. Today I’m sharing another piece of the Paris hotel/casino, the iconic Paris sign inspired by the Montgolfier balloon.

Related post: Night Aerial Views: San Francisco to Las Vegas

Paris, Las Vegas: Signage PhotographyParis, Las Vegas: Signage Photography

What’s the significance of the balloon?

The sign is a representation of the balloon, the Aerostat Réveillon, that was used in a demonstration that took place in Paris before King Louis XVI on September 19, 1783, conducted by the Montgolfier brothers, Joseph and Étienne. This demonstration was the first lighter than air flight with passengers, a rooster, a duck and a sheep. The balloon reached an altitude of more than 1,600 feet and went just under two miles.

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Looking for a little inspiration to get you out there shooting and improving your photography skills? Check out Fall in Love with Photography, a free 7 day photo challenge to kickstart your photography! Every day for one week you’ll receive a new photo challenge right to your inbox. Each challenge features a theme with plenty of tips and ideas to get your creativity flowing. Enter your name and email below to get started!

Ready to fall in love with photography? Join the free photo challenge today!

 

Downtown Hollywood signage at night

Downtown Hollywood signage at night

Downtown Hollywood signage photography

Downtown Hollywood signage at night

This is part two of a photo series for Downtown Hollywood (check out part 1 here). I love photographing city streets but I love it most when the sun starts to dip into the horizon and a layer of golden light hits the city. This is called the golden hour.

The golden hour in photography

The golden hour is one of the best secrets and easiest ways to shoot great photography on location. I explain more about what the golden hour is and how to use an app to help you figure when it is in this tutorial post. But here’s the key points. Golden light happens twice a day everyday (before sunrise and before sunset). Golden light is soft with less intensity than the direct light in the afternoon, especially high noon. It’s dimensional, it’s flattering for just about any type of photography especially portraits.

Golden light and signage

Another reason the golden hour is the best time to shoot in cities is this is when the lights begin to shine and add bold color to your photos. Take note of how the light transitions on the photos below until it’s completely dark and all you see are the bokeh effects of neon signage. Interested in learning more about capturing cities through street photography? Click here to see the 16 shots you need to capture in your city.

Hard Rock Cafe signage

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Hollywood bokeh

The work “bokeh” comes from the Japanese language and means “blur”. Bokeh is the quality of out of focus or blurred parts of a photo rendered by a camera lens. Here are some examples of how to get creative with bokeh style photography using colorful city signage as your subject.

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Have you tried shooting during the golden hour? And what about bokeh, have you experimented with this style of photography?

 

 

 

 

Downtown Disney signage photography

Downtown Disney signage photography

Downtown Disney Signage Photography

Downtown Disney: Sparkling lights and neon signage

Last week I shared photos and a short film on Flying over California. Today I’m sharing more of the photos from this trip. I stayed in a hotel in Garden Grove, about a 10 minute drive from Downtown Disney. I highly recommend visiting during the evening so you can walk around and see the sparkling lights. Watch the short film below to get a glimpse at Downtown Disney at night.

A sparkling sandwich

I was drawn to this one sign in particular. It’s a funny name, Earl of Sandwich, but the lights of this restaurant are enchanting as they sparkle in the evening.

Signage Photography: Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CaliforniaSignage Photography: Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CaliforniaSignage Photography: Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CaliforniaSignage Photography: Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CaliforniaSignage Photography: Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CaliforniaSignage Photography: Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CaliforniaSignage Photography: Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CaliforniaSignage Photography: Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California

Always look for the light

I fell in awe of the purple lighting of the Disneyland Hotel (you can get a better feel for it in the video above). The silhouette of the palm leaves added to the mood of the moment. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, always look for the light and capture these moments. I look at this photo and I’m immediately taken back to the moment. I can hear the kids and their parents walking by. I feel the crisp cool air breeze through my hair. I see the colors, the light, and time stands still.

Signage Photography: Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CaliforniaSignage Photography: Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CaliforniaSignage Photography: Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CaliforniaSignage Photography: Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CaliforniaSignage Photography: Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California

Charismatic jazz

Despite the christmas colors, I love the charismatic nature of this sign.

Signage Photography: Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CaliforniaSignage Photography: Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CaliforniaSignage Photography: Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CaliforniaSignage Photography: Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California

 

My love affair with signage photography

My love affair with signage photography

My Love Affair with Signage Photography by Monica Galvan

Why I Love Signage Photography

If you’re following me on Instagram, you’ll notice I post a lot on signage photography. My background is in design, I studied graphic design at an art school in San Francisco. I learned a lot, it was an amazing experience, one not many get to have. But above all, what I learned and took way most from those 5 years of design study is to notice the details.

Notice everything

What do I mean by that? When you study design you begin to understand the mechanics behind the visual language that surrounds you. Everything from the type on restaurant menus, the logo of that boutique clothing store, to that billboard you see every day on your way home. You notice everything.

After studying type for so many years (4 consecutive courses on typography!), I’ve grown to love type. Well, I may not have liked it then. In fact sometimes type was the devil, having to stare at it all day, every day! But I appreciate it now and see it in a new light. Visual language, the words around me, can be beautiful if you notice the details.

Everywhere I go whether it’s traveling near or far, I give special attention to the signs around me. If you don’t believe me or understand how someone could be so fascinated by such a trivial form of communication, I urge you to explore the signage photography section of my website and on my blog.

Expose a hidden world

It’s about taking something apart. What do you see? How can you capture it in a way to create art? This is how I approach photography. I don’t take photos to cloud the world with more imagery, we don’t need more noise in our lives. I do it to share a new point of view, to expose a hidden world. That’s what this business of image-making is all about. I’m giving you a glimpse into my world and and in turn you share yours with me. It’s the best way to know and understand each other more and what could be better than that?


I’d love to know what it is you do, what do you create that shares the world you see? How do you express yourself?

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