landon // ABC lifestyle

Two years ago, I was shopping for a christmas gift for my little nephew, I walked into a book store looking for a fun book for him. We found a great little baby book, the kind with the fabric swatches that imitated the fur or skin of all different types of animals. That’s when the idea came to me: a photographic baby book. I had never enjoyed the baby photos that were popular at the time (the fufu sleeping babies, dressing them up in clothes they never wear, doing things babies would never do, all for the sake of a pretty “cute” photo). Naturally, the idea kept on churning in my mind for weeks, but I filed it away as something that I would get back to in the future. I wanted it to be ultra simplistic, a creative medley of colors, activities, emotions and expressions. Great photography combined with great graphic design would be the focus of my next big creation.

Well, about 2 months ago, I finally had the opportunity to create what I had originally set out to; except what I actually ended up producing had truly exceeded my wildest expectations. I had an awesome family that trusted my vision and gave me complete creative license to call all of the shots (pun intended). We used some online collaboration tools as a single place to dump all of our ideas about every single letter of the alphabet. I stressed to them that I wanted the photographs to represent him as a boy, his personality, his likes, what really makes him happy. This is a main element that I always focus on with all my portraits, and I wanted it to stay true even for a 1 year old. After a few weeks of planning out hundreds of ideas for a 26-letter ABC book, we sat down and finalized what we were going to do. I had conceptualized every single shot in my mind, and tried my best to write it down on paper so I would remember. Then it was only a matter of planning locations and props and wardrobe. For each letter concept, I set him up with the composition I wanted, then just let me him do what he would do; watch, observe and then hoping I would photograph the right moment. Some were pretty easy, some were extremely difficult (mind you, asking a 1 year old who doesn’t really understand you, and asking him to do something specific can be pretty difficult and frustrating), some we had to redo, and some just didn’t work at all. But in the end, everything flowed together perfectly. After 3 days of shooting, it was complete. The graphic design came intuitively for me, and only a few days after we started photographing the entire book was done and ready to be printed.

So, here is my latest project. I don’t really have an official name for it, but let’s go with ABC :) Needless to say, this is an artistic creation that I am probably most proud of.

WANT TO SEE MORE?: If you love this idea and want it for your own child, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to send more information about this project, show you the amazing albums featured in the video and get the ball rolling as well. I’m really excited to start doing more of these projects!

TO PHOTOGRAPHERS: They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Whoever said it is wrong (at least for art). While we are all free to be inspired by everyday things, blatantly copying artistic creations is not imitation; it’s copying and it’s not cool. Find your own vision, style and passions, and make them your own. Be creative, be unique, think for yourself. If you do create something similar to what I have done, share with others where the inspiration came from (like a link back to this post!), you owe it to yourself and others.

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3 Comments

  1. January 18, 2011 at 8:25 pm ·

    What an exceptionally beautiful, touching gift! I LOVE it! Lucky, lucky little boy to have an uncle like you.

  2. Steve Anderson
    January 22, 2011 at 7:09 am ·

    Very very excellent Spencer! Well done on finding another amazing way to capture life beautifully.

  3. Beth
    February 25, 2011 at 5:41 pm ·

    Hi Spencer-saw your book at WPPI at the Black River booth. Awesome! I just loved it. I am working on a similar project for my son’s preschool class. Thanks for the inspiration to be more creative with an otherwise common assignment!

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