One of my favorites techniques to use in abstract photography is multiple exposures. Many cameras have the ability to take multiple exposures including using phone apps.
While I haven’t done much with phone apps, my Fuji cameras are capable of double exposures. And my Ricohs can make 5 exposures in one.
In a way, making multiple exposure photos is like making a collage. However, with my cameras you need to take each of the photos within a short amount of time. I like the element of chance that this limitation imposes as with the photo above.
I understand that with many DSLRs you can also take multiple photos in one and that you can do that well after the fact.
I have also made a number of multiple exposures taking photos of my photos from computer and also using books and other kinds of images. The above photo is an example.
I strongly believe that there are very few limitations when it comes to creating abstract and abstract street photography. And it’s always fun.
Photography, like the arts in general, is open to many different styles and techniques. I am consistently discovering new techniques for using photography creatively.
While many people have a preference for making or viewing ‘straight’ photography, that shouldn’t dissuade you from exploring different methods of creative photography.
Creative techniques have been used since the very beginning of photography. These techniques include; collage, photomontage, cyanotype, sonography, scanography and many more.
Many photographic techniques require expensive equipment or studios and lighting or for that matter, the ability to go out and shoot the streets. As we have been in lockdown for a number of months now, I have noticed many people producing more creative photography.
I have also had the time to work on more creative techniques. In upcoming posts I will be discussing a number of different creative techniques and I’m in the process of making videos on how to create them.
For the moment, I am sharing with you a scanography image that I recently made. No camera required!
Repetition in art can be a very powerful technique to draw the viewer into your work. Andy Warhol is one of the first artists that comes to mind when it comes to repetition. Have a look at his Marilyns or Campbell’s Soup cans.
You can search for repeating patterns in the outside world and you may come across many such opportunities as shadows (as shown in the photo above) or other objects. It’s especially good for minimalistic and abstract compositions.
You can also create repetition on computer using Photoshop or a number of other computer or phone apps, as shown here both above and below.
In spoken or written words, repetition can be a tool to place more meaning on what’s being said. To place an emphasis on it. The same can also be true in the visual realm.
Repetition can also create a sense of movement and rhythm. A composition that utilizes repetition will frequently use color or shapes as a dominate element.
And repetition in repeating the same process over and over again can create boredom. That is why I am forever looking at new methods to create works. Try repetition, you might like it.
There are many kinds of street photography. They don’t all feature full frontal images of people. I have written and spoken on street photography tips that are really designed to be some form of that larger group of styles with or without the face being seen.
What I haven’t really spoken about is what might be called abstract street photography. My guess is that most people reading this newsletter know that my favorite photographer is Saul Leiter. He didn’t call himself a street photographer. We don’t really need to go down that path.
Rather, I should say that if you want to explore that style of street photography you can throw all the tips that I have provided out the window. You don’t have to use a wide angle lens and you might find it to be an obstacle to achieving abstract street.
If you look at abstract art you will see how an artist uses color and space. That is really what abstract photography is in a sense. But in the art world, many artists confine themselves to either figurative or abstract art. There are however some who combine both.
Saul Leiter was a painter first as were many photographers who were later categorized as street photographers. The point being that the field is wide open to interpretation and creativity. It’s possible that labels are not always the best method of thinking about photography as they can of course be restricting.
So everything from shadows and reflections to color combinations to even going so far as to intentionally blurring a photo are a few possibilities. I will be writing more about these in upcoming issues. Check out Saul Leiter or do a search for abstract photographers to get some ideas.
The key is to have an open mind and realize that with practice and determination you can get better at it. I’ve tried to learn how to paint a few times. It’s easy to think that you have an idea in your head that you would like to recreate. However, in practice is another thing. That’s why they call it art. It often looks easier than it easy.
Those brush strokes you see on paintings definitely take practice. Yes, the same is true in photography. But you might even find that it’s fun to do. If you are passionate about it, you will persist in it. Happy abstract street shooting.
I shoot with film and digital cameras. I have never thought that you have to choose one over the other as so many people seem to do these days.
The reality is that they are both valid tools and one does not cancel the other out. There is a definite difference between the results of the two.
Perhaps you could say that it’s like the difference between oil and acrylic paints. When a photo is viewed on paper, the difference between film and digital becomes more apparent than when seen on computer.
I make it a practice to make the occasional print of my digital work and to compare what I see on my computer monitor vs what I see on paper.
Can you see the difference between the two? In part two I write about the difference between shooting analog and digital.
What is abstract art? How do you decide what’s abstract and what isn’t? These of course are great questions. They are also open to interpretation. Mostly, abstract art leans in the opposite direction of representational art.
Using lines and shadows in a minimalistic fashion is one form of abstract art. The eye is drawn into the movement of the work. To the shapes and colors or lack of color.
Abstract and minimal art can easily be found in the everyday. If there is light and shadows, you’re already off to a good start. If you’re not used to this kind of work you can look at the work of the photographer Aaron Suskind. Also, they are many painters who work in this style.
This photo was taken with a film camera during the pandemic lockdown on my daily walks. Film photography has a way of making you take your time to look at and study your environment. There’s always something to photograph and sometimes it’s there in your front of your face to shoot.
For some, photography is about truth. Perhaps I should say Truth with a capital T. They insist that their photos represent reality. As if there’s only one truth for all. And their reality must be shared by all. With that they will state that they don’t process their photos and they rant on about the state of photography. As if some pure state exists. For others it is only real photography if shot with film cameras. As if digital photography is cheating or of lesser value.
While I’m hopeless taking photos with my phone, I don’t deny that it is a valid tool for shooting. It’s just not as substantial in my hands. I think that it’s rather unfortunate how elitist some people who call themselves ‘photographers’ can be about which tool you choose to use.
A photo is a photo is a photo. No matter how you make it. Can we just get over the divisiveness? The important thing is the end result. Period. And of course, art is in the eye of the beholder.
Photography, like the arts, is amazing in its ability to break down boundaries across languages and ethnicity. So long as you have sight you can view photos made by people from around the world.
It is possible that the only things that you have in common are human existence and a camera of some sort. Photography allows us to share our vision of the world we live in and how we experience it.
While looking at photos of a city that I haven’t been to before isn’t the same as being there and experiencing it firsthand, it does allow the mind to attempt to fill in the blanks about what it would be like to be there.
Can you imagine telling someone the raw details of the place that you live and thinking that they may find it interesting without them being able to see images? That of course also assumes that you speak the same language.
There are of course certain authors that are able to write in a language that creates images in the mind. And of course there’s always painting. But perhaps you don’t find the picture postcard photos appealing.
Do picture postcards ever really reveal the things about the city that you would find appealing? Perhaps if your main interest is architecture.
I am always wondering what the world is because of photography and what it would be without it. Certainly it would have a major effect on the travel industry. But also on the way that we view the parts of the world that we haven’t seen.
Is photography a bit like magic? And have we ceased to wonder how important it has been on how we think and live? Sorry to leave you with so many questions. If I discover the answers I will write the book. Thanks for reading. Your responses are always welcome.