Found Footage: the Numbers Challenge

It was on a bicycle path near the fortified town of Hellevoetsluis that I got a brilliant idea. Or let me rephrase that: just a good idea.

At regular distances, I estimate about a hundred meters, nummers were written on the asphalt with yellow paint. As I got closer to the ramparts, the numbers counted down, until I arrived at 1. I took the following picture of the peeling paint on the rough tarmac, with some clover and withered grass by the side of the path.

Photo project

That was the beginning of a new photo project, which I refer to as the numbers challenge. The assignment: photograph all numbers from 1 to 100, in order of appearance.

The number 1, painted on asphalt with yellow paint


A few months have passed since then and it’s a much bigger challenge than I expected. The modern world is full of numbers; I see them around me all the time when I’m out with my camera, just not the ones i’m looking for.

I often see the digit that I need as part of something bigger: the 2 in 1628. But that is not what I had in mind: they must be stand-alone numbers.

I could, of course, create a schedule from 1 to 100 and then check the numbers that I shoot as soon as I see them. But that would make it too easy, so I work my way from one through hundred in the right order. Here are the first twelve.

Collage of the numbers 1 through 12, photographed on house numbers, traffic signs and other found footage


There is of course a shortcut to get to 100 in an easy way: just photographs all house numbers in a street. But I have imposed another restriction: they must be different numbers. I aim for the greatest possible diversity of fonts, colors and uses.

With the first batch, I think I managed to achieve that variety. They include a road surface, a mooring post, a license plate, a train, a traffic sign, a bicycle route number and a scaffolding post. And okay, five house numbers, but very different ones; I strive to further reduce the number of house numbers in the remaining 88.

Gold leaf

I conclude this blog post, for the time being, with my number 12: two gold leaf digits, a little crooked, with rusty screws attached to a white lacquered wooden doorpost, with some remnants of cobwebs on them. I’m looking for a pretty number 13 now; I will post updates in the course of time to show the progress.

And of course everyone can join the numbers challenge. Number 100, here we come!

The number 12 as gold leaf house number on a white lacquered wooden background with some remnants of cobwebs on it.

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