Making Abstract Photos – An Overview

Summary – This series on abstract photography began with “what is an abstract photograph?”. With that as background, it’s time to consider how to make an abstract photograph. The overall process is similar to that for any image – but with a few special considerations.

001JP Knock-offblog

Jackson Pollock Knock-off

Lines, tones, texture – no shapes to speak of nor color

The previous posts in this series

Defined what is & isn’t an abstract photo

The next set of abstract photography posts

Look at the actual making of abstract photos

As I’ve written many times, making an image involves the 4-C’s

Craftsmanship, Composition, Creativity & Communication

This applies to any image, not just photos

Are there differences among these steps as

They apply to abstract rather than representational images?

Not really, but a different mind-set may be required

One example follows in the next section

(to be explored further in a later post)

A difference when making abstract & representational images

Communication is what sets one image apart from

Otherwise equally well done images

All well crafted, composed & creative

but – They fail to “sing” to a viewer

Communication usually requires an emotional component

Before it “sings”

Emotion is often cited as a requirement for art

A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art

[Paul Cezanne]

Here’s the communication problem (abstract vs. representational)

An abstract, by definition, has no immediately recognizable subject

How do you evoke emotion from a viewer in this case?

Emotion most often arises from the “human condition”

As in these two photographs

11-21-2013 1-40-34 PM

Migrant Mother, 1936, Dorthea Lange


11-21-2013 1-44-32 PM

Napalm Girl, Associated Press


How can emotion be evoked in an abstract

With its unrecognizable lines, shapes, colors and textures

That’s the real challenge if you want to

Separate your abstract from the rest

Peeking ahead at Abstract vs Representational Images

Craftsmanship – Much the same camera skills & technique

Composition – Abstracts are 100% about design

You must know visual design for consistently good abstracts

Less forgiving than in a representational image

In abstract there’s no subject to speak of to bail you out

Get the design right – or else

Creativity – it should go without saying that

Creativity is extremely important when making an abstract

IMO, especially true for a found abstract (vs. created)

Where it’s all about seeing (creatively)

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