As It Happens

Seattle man not entirely sure why he took photos with all 346 blue mailboxes in the city

In the past, amateur photographer David Peterman has shot "artistic nudes." But for his latest project, he wanted to do something "a little different."

'I guess my objective was just to see through this silly idea that I came up with,' says David Peterman

David Peterman has achieved his goal of taking a photo with every accessible blue mailbox in Seattle. (David Peterman/Tumblr)

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David Peterman says there's no good reason why he photographed himself with every public mailbox within Seattle's city limits.

The idea just popped into his head one day, he said.

"I guess my objective was just to see through this silly idea that I came up with," Peterman told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

"And that is as deep as it got."

The business consultant says it took him almost a full year to hit all 346 publicly accessible mailboxes.

He embarked on the journey in March 2017 and shot his last mailbox in February 2018.

"I kind of like the fact that they were all over the city, they were something people were familiar with and kind of took for granted," he said.

"Once I started this, I started realizing how they are disappearing from the urban landscape."

He estimates the number of mailboxes in Seattle dropped by 10 to 15 per cent during the year he was snapping photos.

The project, which he documented on his Tumblr site Mailboxes of Seattle, is a departure from Peterman's previous dalliances with photography, which included nude portraits. 

"I've done a lot of very arty projects that involved people and those are fun and I'll probably still do those," he said.

"But I did want to do something a little different, and it's hard to think of anything more different from an artistic nude than a mailbox."

The fact that he took pictures for no apparent reason doesn't necessarily make them meaningless, he said. 

"That's up to whoever's looking at it if they want to consider it art or not. Me, I considered it an interesting project to do," Peterman said.

"Some people, when they view something like this, they might consider that there is some artistic merit. I don't want to claim that there is or isn't."

While several images feature Peterman simply standing next to a mailbox, he sometimes spruced them up with props or costumes or gestures. 

"Whenever I would think of it, I would try to do something a little different," he said.

"Sometimes I would put my arm around the box to make it feel good, you know? Anything just to break up the monotony of 346 pictures of me standing next to mailboxes."

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview produced by Katie Geleff.