A Practical Guide to Abstract Photography

A Practical Guide to Abstract Photography

Photographing and creating abstract images is to choose a new approach of interpreting the world around you. In fact, you need to develop a new way of seeing. Because abstract photography is about the distillation of the scene in front of you, it is important that you take a more detailed view of everything you come across. You need to learn to notice shapes, patterns, texture, and colour.

Abstract by Eva Polak

If you have to write a story about your subject, a flower for example, you will use botanical terms such as petal, stamen and leaf in order to communicate your message. When you are photographing, think of these features in abstract terms such as a curved edge, an oblique line, or a pink oval. When your brain thinks like this it helps to free you from the desire to be accurate in a photographic sense. You begin to exaggerate and interpret shapes in an expressive and individual way.

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Bright exploding colours, wild lines and playful shapes flow across the image. What do you see?  What do you imagine?  Step outside preconceived ideas and view subjects as if for the very first time.  Every subject has many characteristic and it is up to you to decide which particular feature you will make most prominent.

You may look at the subject and describe it in terms such as ‘crisp’, ‘white’, or ‘simple’. You might be tempted to add more descriptive words, but they can confuse you and you will lose the main focus. Make sure you stick to these three words and clearly express the idea behind them.

Abstract by Eva Polak

The second option is to start a visual journey of exploration. There may be several sides to the subject’s personality. Look at shapes, study colour combinations, and play with different points of view and compositions. Just remember to be selective, and stress different qualities in a series of photographs, rather than combining many ideas in one image. Think about the background and what kind of light will best describe your subject.

As your photoshoots progress, you will gain confidence and insights and develop new ideas. There is no right or wrong way to interpret a subject. It is a matter of personal taste. Always look for new ways of expressing yourself.

If you’d like to learn more about the visual language and explore the creative process of abstract art, join me in The Secret Language of Abstract Photography, my online course. I’m looking forward to working with you!

Abstract by Eva Polak


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