On Photographic Alphabets


So for my first Alphabet challenge post I thought I’d just pluck a random word starting with A, and try and make up a post around that – because I didn’t have anything specific I wanted to say that started with A.

As soon as I thought that, my brain started shouting ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK! Which is all well and good but I know next to nothing about it (I even had to google the spelling), nor do I have anything interesting to say about it – other than I hope no one reading this has experienced it as it sounds really scary.

Unfortunately after it had vomited forth this word, my brain could come up with nothing else. Seriously. And I call myself a writer. After good amount of blank page staring, I got apple (top marks for originality) and then Alphabet (where you do you reckon I got that idea from eh?)

But then it reminded me of a project that I did a little while ago that I thought I’d share with you because it was really interesting.

To give you some context I had recently moved to Hong Kong with my brand spanking new husband (we had been married for all of 2 weeks when we moved. Imagine the stress of planning a wedding, and move half way across the world all within two weeks of each other. Fun times.)

Along with a brand spanking new husband, I also had a shiny new SLR camera and I was getting quite into taking photos. One afternoon, I decided to take photos of each letter of the alphabet, but trying not to photograph letters. In other words, trying to see the letters in my environment. My Hong Kong Alphabet is below.

More than a photographic exercise, I found that it forced me to look at my environment in a completely different way and I picked up on all sorts of little details that I’d never seen until then. I saw people that I would normally not have noticed (although I am still far too shy to ask to take photos of people, a shame as I’ve missed out on many good photos because of this), colours, textures, I paid more attentions to smells and sounds, it just completely changed the way I looked at what was by then a very familiar part of Hong Kong.

Urban Alaphabet


Urban Alaphabet1


Urban Alaphabet2

Urban Alaphabet3


After I finished with this little exercise my head was crammed with little snippets to write down, and I had a wonderful sense of having discovered something new right on my doorstep.

It’s a couple of years later now (3 to be exact) and I’ve moved to a new area. I have yet to do an Alphabet of this area but I plan on getting to it next time the weather is fine. This first Alphabet really stayed with me, and the effect it had on how I looked at things around me. Those little snippets, by the way, have proven to be really useful in my later writing.

If you like the idea of photographing an alphabet of where you live, do leave me a link to your blog or show me the photos on email – I’d love to see what your Alphabet looks like!


18 thoughts on “On Photographic Alphabets

    • Yes, it can be so easy to fall out of the habit of taking photos. I used to take loads when we first moved to Asia, not so much any more. I’m definitely planning on doing a new alphabet soon to get myself back into it. I’ve never been to Philadelphia – would be great to get a glimpse of it through your alphabet!


  1. Love love love your photos and the creativity of utilizing your environment for each letter of the alphabet. Oh, and anaphylactic shock is not fun at all (my son has an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts), so I much more prefer your “alphabet” for “a.” Great post!


    • Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear that! I had to google it after I came up with the word as I knew so little about it, sounds quite scary. Yes the alphabet is a much nicer word 😉


  2. Anaphylactic shock is a tough word to write about too LOL Nothing comes to my mind too! And I like your photographic alphabet idea, very creative and something that I may try 🙂


    • Haha, yeah I can’t believe that was all I could come up with at first. I’m useless at those games where you have to come up with a word starting with a letter…. I hope you try the alphabet thing, it’s really fun. Be sure to let me know so I can see what your part of the world looks like!


  3. Pingback: W is for ….Where’s the W ? | Forty, c'est Fantastique !

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