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Abstract Photography a Beginners Guide

abstract photography
Photo by: Vinoth Chandar

The word abstract means that is an idea that exists in thoughts and not made of material; abstract art is something that seeks to achieve effect via shapes, symbols, forms, colors, textures etc. in short; there will be something more for a probing eye and mind to perceive. Most commonly it intrigues and gives a feel that it contains more than what you have seen.

Abstract photography is not about creating a literal view of the subject. It appeals more to the emotional side of the brain than the logical side. The intention is to give the viewer an emotional stimulus, and an opportunity to enjoy the feel. It is not about understanding or recognizing the subject; sometimes the subject is recognizable sometimes it is not, that doesn’t matter.

abstract photography
Photo by: Mackenzie Brunson

Abstract photography concentrates on elements like form, color and curves rather than detail and in order to perceive the various opportunities for shooting abstracts one must deviate from the traditional method of looking for details and instead look for form, color and texture.

Why is Abstract Photography Such a Powerful Medium?

abstract photography
Photo by: Tom Marsh

We have already mentioned that through the use of form, color and curves abstract photography appeals primarily to the viewer’s emotional side rather than logical and by default humans are capable of a much more powerful emotional response than logical ones. Human visual system responds strongly to colors and contrast, certain parts of the brain are pre-programmed to respond to curves and shapes. Thus all the elements that are emphasized in abstract photography are individually capable of evoking a wow from the viewer; right combination of all the three elements in an image can be imagined. A good abstract photograph can be in perfect harmony with the human perceptual, mental, and emotional systems and this is why abstract photography often produces powerful images.

The Three major components of Abstract Photography

abstract photography ideas
Photo by: Paul Tomlin

One major advantage of abstract photography over other types of photography is that abstract images can be created anywhere, right at your home, or in your neighborhood.  There is no dearth of subjects and you don’t have to travel far and wide to find them. Only requirement is a good understanding of the basic building blocks, so we will look into detail at each of the three major components of abstract photography namely form, color and curves.


abstract photography subjects
Photo by: Darwin Bell

By form we are referring to the shape of the objects in our abstract images. Form serve as the basic framework which is then further enhanced by use of color and curves. To create a powerful abstract image it is important to choose objects that have pleasing / interesting form. It is essential that the form should be capable of creating an emotional response from the viewer; when people who look at your subject just go WOW!!! You know you have found the perfect form.


abstract photography tips
Photo by: josef.stuefer

Color has the power to stimulate the viewers’ perceptual system as a result it holds the key to attracting the attention of the viewer and retaining it. In abstract photography color could be used in two different ways.  One method is to use very saturated or intense colors to attract the viewers’ attention. Another is to make use of contrasting color to produce dynamic images that attract the viewers’ attention. Both are equally effective techniques, the choice of either is determined by the nature of the subject.


abstract photography techniques
Photo by: Darwin Bell

Curves add an element of interest to an image by directing the viewer’s eyes through an image. Similar to that of colors, curves could also be used in two different ways. One method is to use curves to lead the viewers’ eye directly to the image’s center of interest.

Another method is more subtle in this method the curves do not lead the viewers’ eyes to a center of interest or anything in particular, instead they flow through the image in a graceful way making the viewers’ eyes travel back and forth along the curves.

Though these shapes are capable to capture and retain the viewers’ attention over and above enhancing the overall feel; it is seldom used outside the realm of abstract photography; as they may steal away attraction from the main center of interest (for the simple reason that abstract photo stresses on the overall feel while other types concentrated on the subject).

Though good knowledge in technique is important in abstract photography; imagination and familiarity with great photographs in the field will add much to the capabilities of a beginner. What we have so far covered were just the basics of abstract photography; now it is time to move on to the techniques of creating strong abstract images; please follow our ensuing write-ups; have an abstract day! 
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