DIY Unique Christmas Gifts: Homemade Alphabet Photography Art

Guest post from Erin Odom

Looking for a new way to add life to your home? Why not try do-it-yourself alphabet photography art? Photography can be a cost-effective way to add personality to your home if you have just a few skills (or a great digital camera) and a little creativity.

Letter Art

The recently popular alphabet photography can also make unique homemade Christmas gifts that your loved ones will treasure for years to come.

My husband and I tackled our first photography art project while visiting Asheville, N.C. for our 5th anniversary. We spent our days trekking around the city and seeking out each letter of the alphabet.

Whether it was a curlicued “y” we spotted on a fancy light pole, a “m” from a church’s arched windows or an “o” left from a cut-off tree limb, we enjoyed our letter-hunting scavenger hunt around the city.

What is Alphabet Photography?

If you’re new to the concept, check out my pictures. Basically, you look for the letters of the alphabet “hidden” in the everyday. Cities are full of the lines and arches that make up various letters, but farm settings and even small towns are as well.

Telephone poles, stop lights, fancy doorknobs, old buildings, trees and other objects–both man-made and from nature–can yield the entire alphabet in just a few hours.

What Exactly Do You Do With the Letters?

Once printed, the photographs can become any word you want them to be! Many people combine them to form the names of loved ones, but you can also put together the name of your favorite city, your alma mater, an encouraging word (like “believe” or “love”) or the classic “ABC” for a child’s nursery or home school classroom.

We put together our children’s names, as well as our last name in a collage photo frame. We also gave our extended family members their last names framed as gifts for Christmas 2010.

Will it Save Money?

Yes! Making your own alphabet photography art is not only fun, but it also saves you money. Many retailers sell letters for up to $5 each, and that can really start to add up if you have a long name or special word you want to display. Considering that you can print many photos yourself for mere pennies, you could realistically pay less than a dollar for each word.

Taking your own pictures may require a time investment, but if you turn it into a date night, a girls’ night out with your friends or even as a field trip with your letter-learning children, the time spent won’t be time wasted–at all!

You can print your pictures at any local or online photo center or print shop. (Hey–take the opportunity to use those free credits!) And you can purchase the frames at a price that fits your budget.

Tips for Successful Photography Art

  • Before you seek out the letters, try to form an idea of the words you want to form. That way, you can frame the pictures in your head as you’re taking them.
  • Leave some space around the edges of the letters in case you need to crop or re-size the pictures.
  • Don’t just settle for the first letter you spot. If you see two of the same letter, by all means, take both of them! You may have a word that has two “o’s,” and having two different versions of the same letter will keep things fresh.
  • Check thrift, consignment and discount stores for bargain frames.
  • Use a different frame for each letter or use collage frames for an entire word. Be creative!

Have you ever made your own alphabet photography art? Would you consider giving homemade alphabet photography art as a Christmas gift?

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  1. Kristal says

    I did this for my niece last year for a birthday card that my Mom gave her {she asked me to make it}.  My Mom and her loved it so much that this year my Mom framed the letters for her Christmas present.  I also did it for my son’s 13th birthday and found letters that had something to do with him – like a J from a John Deere because he loves them and I used the whole in his guitar for his O.  Love them and the challenge to find letters!

  2. says

    Erin, how funny! We, too, started photography art on an anniversary trip. We were in Charleston, SC. We abandoned the project, as we are prone to do. But reading this has re-motivated me. I love my camera. I love taking pictures. Why have I not started again? Thanks for the reminder. I’m soooo doing this for some Christmas gifts this year. Now to find where I stored my letters I’ve managed to take…we need a post on how to organize photos! Sheesh!

  3. says

    I LOVE this idea! I have seen it before but never thought of doing it myself! What a great idea! Not sure if I have time to pull much together. But, maybe I can do one universal and gift it to many people…
    Thanks for the idea and tips, Erin! :)

  4. says

    What a beautiful idea! I have never seen anything like this before! I am a novice photographer (so novice I believe I should not be called a photographer) but WILL BE TRYING THIS FOR SURE. I can’t wait for my girls to be older and able to help me find the letters!

    • Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker says

       I am a terrible photographer…I spot the letters and hubby takes the pics! LOL! :) I can’t wait until the girls can help spot the letters, too!

  5. Stacy Makes Cents says

    We’ve done this for gifts as well and now we’re working on one for our new home. :-) I like the rustic look, so we are going to nail our pictures to a piece of old barn wood and put plexi-glass over it…hang it by some rope. :-) 
    Fabulous post Erin, as usual! 

    • Erinodom says

      I love the rugged idea with the old barn wood! I think you are about as crafty as me–doesn’t surprise me you’ve tried this. :)

    • Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker says

      Thank you, Mary! If you enjoy taking photos, you would really like this–and your boys are definitely old enough to help you find the letters!


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