Signage Photography: The Words Around You | Monica Galvan | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Signage Photography: The Words Around You

teacher avatar Monica Galvan, Designing in San Francisco

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (29m)
    • 1. Introduction to Signage Photography

    • 2. Examples of Signage Photography

    • 3. Flamingo Hotel Sign

    • 4. San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury

    • 5. Editing: Black and White

    • 6. Editing: Color

    • 7. Final Selections

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Create a series of 3 photographs by capturing the words you see in your environment with an emphasis on signage. The goal is to become more aware of the language around you and how you can make art out of it. 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Monica Galvan

Designing in San Francisco


Check out more tutorials and design on YouTube channel: Monica's Design process

My website:

I enjoy capturing the beauty of San Francisco: Instagram

See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction to Signage Photography: My name is Monica Galvin, and I'm a designer and photographer in the Bay Area. This course focuses on signage photography. The project is to go out. Observe what you see on the streets of your favorite city or your hometown. Capture the words you see. It's mostly focused on mobile photography as often times when you see a great sign. The only camera you have with you is your phone will go through editing and color and black and white and selecting final images to create a Siri's. This class is for anyone interested in street photography or anyone who even appreciates the written word. If you've ever stopped yourself on the street to look at a sign twice in this class is for you. 2. Examples of Signage Photography: Now we'll get into examples of sign inch photography. I've shot myself. You'd be surprised by how many types of signs air out there already and all the different ways that you can photograph them. There's neon signs at night script type faces you can play with. Focus, maybe shirt. A sign on a building too far script. Big bold shapes in store sign egx shooting on a window. Maybe you live in another country, and there's other languages. Big, bold marks isolated on a background. More windows with nut whites reflecting iconic signs. Black and white textures such as brick vertical signs. Maybe you want toe. Incorporate people in the foreground or focus on short words. Modern, minimal, monochromatic shooting from above. Maybe you want to focus on your favorite coffee shops, cropping in typefaces with personality numbers and addresses on buildings, more windows, creating transparency and layers of colors. Maybe you want to create a message with your signs. Major brand names. Commercial, well known landmarks. You can play with shadows at night, script in one color and, of course, texture. 3. Flamingo Hotel Sign: One of the signs I wanted to photograph for this skill share course is the Flamingo Hotel sign in Santa Rosa, California I chose the sign because it's one I drive by quite often, and it's always caught. My attention from afar also felt it would be a bit of a challenge, as it's a highly vertical sign with the word hotel rotating above, which introduces things like timing and composition. How are you going to shoot this when you first arrive on the scene? Start by taking a few establishing shots. The first pictures you take won't be your best ones, but the purpose is to get you to start seeing words and sign Ege in a new way. You may realize that there are distracting elements, such as a tree or part of a building in this image that I took so recompose your frame until you can eliminate them. Another thing I realized with this particular sign is due to the amount of light. Some of the images were a bit grainy. The word hotel was glowing and not really in focus, and I also felt the background of this guy didn't complement the sign Well, so Instead, I waited about 15 or 20 minutes for the sun to go down to give a darker background to the individual. Letters would really pop Signs like thes tend to photograph better at night rather than during the day. With a vertical sign like this, your first choice might be to capture it in portrait mode centered from the bottom. But I encourage you to experiment. Rotate your camera little to the left or the right, so the signs at an angle to create more interest also shoot the sign in landscape mode and experiment with cropping, maybe cutting off some of the letters. One of the reasons why I like this shot is because you can't see the bottom of the sign. It almost looks like it's floating when I get into the editing phase. This is something I look to exaggerate. 4. San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury: here we are on location at the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco, which is most well known for its hippie culture in the 19 sixties and the Summer of Love. Some of my favorite places to photographs linage our cities as I'm more drawn to the urban side. San Francisco in particular, has so much personality from one district to the other. There are amazing signs everywhere you turn. This sign is for a vintage clothing store on Haight Street. I love the sixties vibe of the type face when the stars were a nice added element. The long phrase like this you may want to try photographing it in sections to draw attention toe one word in particular. You really want to walk around and look at it from one angle to the other is he might see something different. This is another cool sign on Haight Street for a burger restaurant has a lot of shapes and different layers of colors, adding a lot of interest. It also has an abstract feeling to it as well. This is the storefront of the clothing store American Apparel. I love this sign because it's pretty simple and white and black. There's a nice outline to it. And, of course, it's in the Hell Petricka type face. This is a bar on Haight Street. It's a much more sophisticated type face in comparison to the others, and it's also more subtle, with the yellow glow coming from behind the letters. 5. Editing: Black and White: The first thing you have to dio is open up. The visco can app. Add your photos with the plus sign here at the top. I've already added my photos and you'll want to review the ones that you've taken. See which ones are your favorite and that you'll want toe edit for your Siri's, like how this one crops part of the star off. But the glare on the glass underneath is a little distracting. I really like this one. This one's interesting because it highlights the stars. This one's not bad. Here's one from the other angle. I like this one, but it's a portrait mode, and I know that with the other photos that I've taken, I'll probably want to stick with landscape mode for the Siri's. So I think I'll start with editing this one. I'll start by editing this one in black and white, and then I'll choose a different version for color. So for black and white, there are a few different presets you can start with. You can start with 123 Then there's the B Siri's, and there's also a few in the X Siri's as well. I'm gonna go back to the B Siri's. I like how dark these ones make it, but this is a slightly less darker background, so I'll start with B five. Go into further refinements when you're first starting out. You'll just wanna play with these settings to figure out what they do and what works for you. So I usually like to go to extremes so I can see what it is. But I'm changing and then no pull back when necessary. So actually, like how it how it becomes more of an outline more you under exposed contrast again. Just move the slider so you can see what it is that it's doing. I'm actually good with the contrast as is. You can straighten it, Um, in this case, something that's heavily horizontal. You'll want to make sure that it's pretty straight. Just move it a little bit until it lines up. You can also crop into different aspect ratios, but I prefer to keep keep the photo as is, so that I can preserve as many pixels as possible. No, there's also sharpen. I don't happen to use that, but you can play around with it and see if it's something that you like saturation, you can see there's a little bit of a difference. You would see more of a difference if this was for color, but it seems to effect. This gives an inner shadow almost in the light, so we'll just keep it. As is really important are highlights and shadows. So if if you see that there's too much white light, you can adjust that by moving the slider up. And if you felt the background was too dark, he'd be able to go in and adjust the shadows. But I like the shadows, as is temperature again. This is something that you would see more of an effect if it was in color Tent. I don't really use this one that much, but if it was in color, you'd be able to shifted around skin tone more for Portrait's the VA netting I feature I love to use, whether it's just a little bit or dramatically, so again, just move them around until you get the effect that you want for this image. In particular, I actually want a pretty heavy even yet, to draw more attention into the middle of the photo. There's also grain attention is stay away from the grain for mobile images because sometimes it creates a natural grain on its own. There is a fade. Usually when I use this feature, I'll just go up one or two levels and shadows and highlights can give you, ah tint of a color in whichever place you prefer. So, for example, shadows. Since there's a lot of dark shadows in this one, you will see the dramatic differences and the colors. You can also adjust the capacity of this. You know, maybe you do want to have a blue cast, but only slightly. Same for the highlights. You can change the color as well. This is a little more subtle, so it kind of gives an outline, which could be a really cool effect if that's what you're going for. But I'm gonna stick with just black and white, and I'm actually pretty happy with this image. Um, it actually would look good if it was cropped down into this more horizontal version. But yeah can use the rule of thirds to help you align things. So, yes, I would call that one. Done. Click the check mark. You can export it to your camera roll and then move on to the next photo. Keep in mind for your project that you'll want Teoh create consistent images. So, for example, if you want to do all black and white or all color, keep the same Ah, aspect ratios when cropping. So I'll continue with black and white, and I'll go with this image. I like this one because of the angle and where crops off in the bottom right hand quarter. So you'll want to be consistent and use the use the same at least the same family of presets. So when I did this one, I used be five. So I'll go again with that as a starting point and then going for more adjustments. So here this one had a lot of background shapes, so if I adjust the exposure, I can see more of those shapes. But then again, I'd also be able to see more of the background, which I don't want, and then same in reverse. I like how it creates a subtle background, so under expose it a little bit contrast, Um, I didn't use the last time, so just to be consistent, I actually used the 3 to 2 aspect ratio to Teoh Crop, the other one. So I'll be consistent and do that for this one. Highlights are good Shadows air good, too. After you've done your first image, you. Actually, it'll make the whole process of editing a lot quicker cause you already know what you've done before. You just wanna do minor adjustments to keep everything consistent. So go out have been yet to this one, the same as I did for the other. And then it's done. Another thing to consider when you're reviewing your images is you'll want to zoom in and make sure that it's really in. Focus Does. He may have a lot of images that look similar, but one might be more sharp than the other, so be sure to go with that one. So again, for the black and White I'll go with the same preset start to start because this one is slightly different. There's more white. It actually makes sense to choose a different version. I don't have a lot more adjusting to do to get that black background that I want so under exposed to help get that black background can do the same with the contrast, Same cropping. This one will want to put an even stronger than yet so that it can make the debt of the background darker to be consistent with the other ones. Now, if you made the background to dark and you wanted to lighten it up, you could do that. With Fade, you can continue to go back and forth and make adjustments to see how something might affect. So after I've made these adjustments, Aiken, move temperature and help get that darker background, too. 6. Editing: Color: we decided to go with color for your project. Siri's. You have a little bit more freedom won't necessarily need toe stick to the same presets if you if you don't want Teoh, especially since each sign is going to bring its own personality. So when you're first, starting out may just want to you click around, discover what it is that you like, you know? Do you like having a colored background? Do you like staying true to the colors of the original sign? Do you like manipulating it so that it's something completely different? These are things that you'll find out more photos that you take, and the more that you add it, you'll discover what it is you like. What you're your t's are what your style is. So for me, for a sign like this, I feel like it's begging to be different and its color, especially since you know it's the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco. It's has the sixties typeface. So, um, one of my favorites is the P Siri's, so I'll start with that. The peace Siri's is it changes. The colors dramatically has a Polaroid effects sort of vintage like each one is completely different, and I actually like about one best. I really like the colors and, you know, again the really dark background. So we'll go in and adjust it some more. Bring down the exposure a little bit more and keep the contrast, as is as because it's pretty bright. Here is where you'll be able to see a difference in saturation. Do you want to be more subdued or much more vibrant? It's actually pretty vibrant, as is for me, so keep it there again. Highlights on Shadows Here The highlights, um, give a little bit more interest so we'll keep that high temperature. If you wanted something to be much more warmer or colder, you can change that here. I'm going to make it just slightly colder. Yet, since I'm going with those dramatic colors and changing things, I'm going to do the same for this this image. So I'll use the P syriza's again and see how it changes this one. This this, um, photo doesn't have as many colors in it. Originally, it's, you know, the signs white, black, so it won't be quite as dramatic, and I tend to be more attractive. Teoh colder tones versus warmer. So I'll go with P for change exposure Contrast a little bit. I like how it looks when this this saturation has brought down gives a monochromatic feel to it. You wanted to emphasize the coldness and, you know, bring out more blues. You could do that in the temperature, but if you really wanted it to be one color you this would be a good opportunity to use the shadows. You know, just how you how you like it. Same thing with highlights. Um, I like the image, but I'm not completely happy with it as is, so may go back and change things again and see what happens. And, you know, after changing it, yeah, I start to get a different look. Um, that I am I like much more so going to keep the exposure up this time. And now just make a few minor adjustments. The highlights are a bit bright now, so bring them down a little bit, Bring up the vignette. And now now I'm happy with it. So onto the next one for the third and final image in the Siri's have chosen this one Another portrait mode image and no, the colors again are different in this one. There's there's really only one color, the orange and the dark background. So we'll see how that, um, same Siri's looks here and again. Like I said, I'm more attracted to cold, darker, um, photos. So menace stick with P for I. I like it pretty much as is. So just make a few minor adjustments to see if I can enhance it. - As you go, you may change your mind. You know, maybe you maybe wanna change things a bit when I wake. You know, I like the drama of this one as is. So now that we're finished editing our images in both black and white in color, we can put them together and see how they look in a Siri's. 7. Final Selections: Now that all the editing is done, we can step back and take a look at all of our images together and see how they look in a cohesive Siri's. I love how the black and white turned out black and white tends to be my favorite, and with these signs in particular, they all had really interesting outlines. And, you know, it was also interesting that there was a different angle and each photo you. No one was horizontal. One was, you know, to one side and the other to the other. So there was There's a lot of interest, but they're also cohesive and that they're all in black and white and they look like a complete set. I also love how the color Siri's turned out to each image is very different in its own way . Different color palette, different type faces. But what's interesting is, and I didn't realize this still, after editing them is, they all were shot at the same angle, and also they're all portrait. So you know there's there's that consistent element in it. Now you don't have to do both black and white and color. You can, you know, experiments. See what it is that you prefer. Maybe you want to mix and match images, but you'll find that the more photos you take in, the more variety you'll have. Maybe you do want to create a separate set of images, but whatever you choose, pick your three best images, upload them to the project on skill share and leave a little note about, you know, where were these photos taken? Maybe why you're connected to them or why they're your favorite and share that with everyone.