Signs of the Times

You Asked for a Sign?
You Asked for a Sign? (detail)

I like shooting pictures of signs. They are so obviously symbolic, often ironic, occasionally inappropriate, sometimes confounding, and generally worth a quick pic or three.

This post is an ongoing one. I’ll be adding sign photos over time. Perhaps you’d like to contribute one? Contact me.

Consider this also another Photo Project Idea. Signs of the Times provide endless photo ops.

So many times I’ve found myself at a crossroads wanting a clear sign pointing out which way I should go. I’m thinking a ‘Road Runner’ cartoon type sign;  glowing flashing neon arrow in the sky kind of sign; unambiguous, obvious, no debate kind of sign.

I’d even settle, sometimes, for an arrow in the sand sign.

Sign in the Sand
Sign in the Sand

But more often, I get the kind of mixed signals that don’t really help by pointing a direction, but merely point out the lack of direction, as if I didn’t already know.

You Asked for a Sign?
You Asked for a Sign?

By the way, that is a genuine 3 layered complete rainbow – not a post-edited Photoshop revisiting of the time. I actually shot that storm, with a superwide lens, in blowing rain, thinking, “Huh. That’s just the kind of direction my karma provides. Clearly, I can follow the sign!” (The quality of the image is not great due to an early digital camera chip)

Another completely different kind of directional sign is the type that requests or demands a behavior. I sometimes find this type of sign mildly amusing because I’m not much of a good direction obeyer. But, none the less, I want signs to direct me, accurately, pointedly, in the right direction, or to the function I then think I need.

Please, Wait in Here for Service
Please, Wait in Here for Server Sever Service

I want service. I’m not a good ‘waiter’ either, but I will wait (for a time) if I can, in fact, get service. Though, this sign was at a Dim Sum to go restaurant. I don’t think I’ve ever had Take Out Dim Sum.

I can forgive non native language speakers for misspellings, though I still like this sign, but how about English speaking American born citizens?

Trift Store
Trift Store

Perhaps they were saving the cost of lettering the full ‘Thrift’ name?

The following store seems to be trying for a trifecta of signage mishaps: Misspelling; Conflicting Numbers; Bad Syntax. And, it covers multiple signs!

Cheaper Than Elsewhere - Gauranteed
Cheaper Than Elsewhere - Gauranteed - We carry over 6,000 items
The Store That Offer The Best


Many many more In The Bach of the store

Dare I say, with this set of signs my cup runneth over. But does it run over 6,000 or 10,000? No matter, just look to the Bach of the store. How wonderful. And they say classical music is dead.

In keeping with the ‘Signs of the Times’ title, you can’t go too far wrong withsome of the great discount and bargain signs of our times.

Scary $20 $20 $20 SALE storefront in New York City
Scary $20 $20 $20 SALE storefront in New York City

I can’t help but think how many times a day does the salesperson get asked, “So. What does this cost?” I find this store somehow intimidating. Perhaps it’s the certitude of the retail sale. No possibility of bargaining, or further price reductions.


Guest Sign photo submitted 05/14/09 by Lee Root:

One Way - Sign of the Times- photo by Lee Root
One Way - Sign of the Times - photo by Lee Root

“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign,
Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind.
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the signs”

Must obey, even in the middle of the Mohave Desert…………..

Editor’s note:

Thanks to 5 Man Electric Band for the lyrics to “Signs”


Beware - A Guest Sign  - photo by Steven Steinberg
Beware - A Guest Sign - photo by Steven Steinberg

A timely sign from ancient fossil beds – beware of creepy-crawly things.

A Guest Sign of the Times from Steven Steinberg



Protest sign carried by a young man during an anti Sheriff Joe Arpaio immigration demonstration.


As stated above, this is intended as a continuously growing thread. Add your shots to it!

Contact me to contribute your photos.  Go to our ‘Submit Your Work‘ page.

Cheers, Ken Storch

Author: P U

9 thoughts on “Signs of the Times

  1. No comments. Is this a sign of the times?

    Rainbow: The problem with following the sign is that the pot of gold is only at one end of the rainbow. Though I’ve seen this photo before, I always find the timing amazing as well as amusing.

    Storefront, NY: Were the signs for sale? How much?

      1. “No problem, just follow the sign to the correct end!” He says.
        I tried that once and all I got was a lousy wet t-shirt.

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