A Love Letter to San Francisco: Volume One

A few days ago I released a photo project that had been working on for the last few months: A Love Letter to San Francisco, volume one. You can view the photos on Flickr.

GOLDEN GATE STRUTS - Bright red struts on the underside of the Golden Gate, against a fog backdrop.

I really love this city, and upon moving back I realized how much it mattered to me to make the most of my time here. A Love Letter to San Francisco is an attempt to show the city as I see it. There are two rules for a photo to make it into the album: it has to feel like it was taken here, and it has to make me think “wow”.

Me at the peak of Corona Heights Park, August 27, 2021.

A Love Letter to San Francisco was born in Corona Heights Park, which offers my favorite views of the city. On my second day back in the city after a year in South Bay, a trip to the grocery store turned into a trance-like walk towards Sutro Tower. I ran out of steam due to the heat and lack of water, but felt compelled to climb Corona Heights Park before returning. I cried tears of joy upon cresting the hill and seeing the city laid out like I had never seen it before. The next night I returned, taking the chronologically-first photo of the album, as well as coming up with the idea and name.

STREET GRID - A wide-angle, east-facing view of San Francisco at night. The skyscrapers are lit up, and the streets glow like a lit up web.

The album lives on Flickr in full resolution, under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. You are free is the photos however you wish for personal use. You are also free (and encouraged) to use these photos to create new art, subject to those conditions. If you want to create commercial art that uses these photos, please reach out.

Volume one is the first of hopefully many. One goal of the project was to produce something for family and friends back in my hometown, which turned into a forcing function to have something ready in time for Christmas. I created a photo book of the album and printed a handful of copies, which many people asked me where to get.

The front and rear cover of the "first edition".

Because a bunch of people have shown interest in that book, I’ve made it available to others for limited time. Please understand that this is not me selling the book, this is me letting others order-on demand prints directly from the printer, with no profit or loss margin involved for me. I dream of formally publishing A Love Letter to San Francisco one day, but consider this to be a sneak preview that exists by popular demand. I am very proud of it, but it’s definitely an amateur work (this just in: print design is hard). The full book is (currently) 71 pages, featuring a variety of layouts including 2-page spreads.

Books are available “while supplies last” (for an indefinite of time and as long as the request load is reasonable for me to handle). If you send me a message with proof of a minimum $10 donation to the San Francisco Transit Riders Union, I will give you access to order a book from the printer. I firmly believe that high quality mass transit is a critical part of environmental sustainability, and making cities like San Francisco accessible to everyone. I am a member of the SFTRU, but have no professional affiliation, and they are not associated with this project in any way.

Printing is done by Mixbook. Their prices are somewhat high, and I strongly recommend waiting for one of their frequent sales of approximately 50% off 8.5x11 books. This can drop the total cost to about 60 USD, in the cheapest configuration (I personally suggest Pearl Finish pages and a Hardcover Soft Touch Matte cover as the ideal aesthetic, but your choice does not impact me either way).

Future work will be at alovelettertosanfrancis.co.

Vallery Lancey
Software/Reliability Engineer

I work on distributed systems and reliability.