How to Create a Found-Numbers Photo Book
For anything from celebrating a significant birthday or anniversary to showcasing a lucky number, creating a photo book that features a single number found in random places can be loaded with hidden meaning and unexpected beauty. And the very act of making it combines all the excitement of a kids’ scavenger hunt with the fun challenge of curating a collection.I got the idea from my cousin Alex who collaborated with a friend when they were living in Japan after college to create a book to commemorate a 25th birthday. To mark the occasion they decided to take 25 pictures of the number 5 found in unexpected places. When I first saw the book I was inspired by the way the very form of the number 5 was elevated in status simply by being framed in interesting ways. I came away looking at numbers differently, noticing when my favorite number 3 presented itself as a part of a noteworthy composition.The act of looking for something typically utilitarian and turning it into art enriches everyday activities, sparking your imagination to find interest where you might once have found none. To showcase your collection of photos, choose a simple theme like white
portfolio for a simple backdrop.
Pick a Number
…or a letter or symbol. It can be random, sequential or significant; as long as you pick one and stick with it you can curate your own study in form and function. Pick a letter from a hat, pull a number from a deck of cards, or choose a symbol you love. You can also simply start with the letter “A” or the number “1” and progress through the natural series in a methodical manner. Or, pick a number that relates to an age or anniversary—or one that’s just plain lucky.
Make It a Game
Whether you’re embarking on the project alone or with a group of friends, it can be fun—even a lighthearted competition—to find the most obscure or surprising examples of your chosen number and snap a photograph. It’s amazing how quickly you can become giddy with excitement upon finding a good one.
Frame Shots Artfully
Resist the urge to center your lens on the number every time. Play around with composition by placing your numeric subject at the fringe of the frame or even snapping a slightly blurry or partially obscured shot. Consider shooting through windows, screens or other natural scrims for an ethereal effect. It can also be a challenge for the person flipping through your photo book to find a number that’s been hidden within the picture.
Create a Series
Make it a tradition to create found number photo books for every number in a series, or every birthday or anniversary. Whether you’re on vacation or tooling around your hometown, it can be a fun project to always have a number to find. Use the same Mixbook trim size and format so the volumes can sit in a neat collection. Your eye for seeing beauty in the everyday will move anyone who flips through your found-number photo books.