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.
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.
The choices of what to shoot in street photography are nearly endless. Street photography broadly defined is about capturing the human element. Street photography can include photos of people whether they are personally identifiable or not. As I wrote in a previous article, German street photography tends to not show a person’s face because of their privacy laws. I quite like this style. But you don’t have to be German to shoot in this style. Many of the stunning photos by Saul Leiter do not show a person’s face. Street photography can also merely suggest the presence of people.
A large majority of street photography is straight ahead shots of people. I use this style on a regular basis but I also often shoot people walking by my frame. Capturing a side view of them. That’s only two angles and styles that you can do. Regardless of the place where you shoot from, in New York City street photography is legal in public spaces. That includes children, police and everything in-between.
I have my own set of rules about what to shoot. First of all I think that it’s important to be within close proximity to your subject. To stand back at a distance with a telephoto lens is creepy. I know that if someone did it to me I would be suspect of their motives. That is how people naturally respond in this situation.
I shoot children on a regular basis. I realize that’s not always an easy subject to photograph in this day and age. Even for a woman. But no matter who I choose to capture in my frame, I always look at their eyes for a brief second to determine whether to take their photo or not. It’s very possible that I have good intuition on who to shoot and whom not to. Shooting the streets does mean that you may have communication with people. In my experience very few people are upset by having their photo taken. Not everyone will like it and that’s something that you can’t know or control in life.
I don’t take photos of people who clearly look like they have a psychological, drug or alcohol problem because I can’t predict how they will react. I do on occasion photograph homeless people. The world is full of beautiful people living the good life. I think that it’s important to show all of humanity. A beautiful photo doesn’t have to be of a “beautiful” person. I do think that it’s always important to show the subject of your photos with respect no matter who they are.
Street portraits are a different topic and nevertheless still a valid genre of photography. They are not however street photography. In street photography shoot first and ask questions later. It’s not about seeking permission. Photos that are taken after asking for permission are rarely candid. I’ve never liked having my photo taken mostly because I don’t like the way I look in photos. But on a few occasions people have taken candid photos of me that I like. In general, people are too conscious about how they should pose in front of the camera. I rarely like those photos as much as the candid shots. Happy 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.
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.
As a photographer, I am rarely happy with photos of myself. I prefer to be behind the camera rather than in front of it. Perhaps that is a natural response.
So now that we are in the age of the selfie, I have to wonder if I’m alone in my feeling about having photos of myself? It seems that everywhere I go, people are doing selfies.
Not only are they doing selfies everywhere, but it would also appear that they don’t leave the house without thinking about being in front of a camera.
Is this Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame spinning out of control? And all for the sake of showing the world how fashionable you are on Instagram. Am I missing the point? Very likely.
I on the other hand, have quite a few self-portraits that are either shadows or reflections. I especially like abstract self-portraits. It is possible that the viewer may not even be aware that the photo is of me.
If you are aware of a good reason for all these selfies that are going on everywhere, please do enlighten me. In the meantime I will label it narcissism.
I often come across people who want to take the best photo of this thing or that thing. Often it’s to take a photo of something that’s been photographed to death.
Many years ago, I gave up trying to compete with photographers who get paid large sums of money to shoot photos that are used in glossy magazine spreads.
That isn’t my style of photography. My style of photography is to make a photo my own. That is to say to have it reflect the way that I see the world.
It is of course a common method when you first start shooting to imitate photos that you like. It’s really no different than learning to play a favorite song on guitar and wanting to play it “perfectly”.
But at some point it’s time to leave the imitation behind and find your own style. To create that which makes your work unique. If I wasn’t able to create photos in my own style, why would I even want to?