Everything Has Been Photographed, So What Can I Shoot?
I have been taking photographs for about 35 years, and in that time I have seen a lot of changes. The most obvious one was going from film to digital. There have also been a lot of technological advances in auto focus and exposure metering systems, as well as newer ideas like image stabilisation, auto exposure bracketing, HDR, multiple exposures, wi-fi, GPS, and mirrorless camera bodies. However, one thing which is not purchased in a camera shop, but has influenced the photographic industry and changed how we view, buy and sell images is the internet. I remember taking my rolls of film in for processing, waiting three or four days and then collecting them, hoping that at least some of the pictures were half decent. Then I could show the best ones to my friends and family. Now I just look on the rear screen of my camera or wait until I get home to have a better look on the computer. Any images I want to share can quickly be uploaded to the various photo sharing or social media sites. Also, a lot of people don’t even use a dedicated camera at all, but use a smartphone instead. This makes the process even faster, and leads me onto the next issue.
Everyday millions of photos are uploaded to the internet, either onto photo sharing sites like Flickr, social media sites such as Instagram or stock libraries where people hope to make a bit of money. Anyone who uses the internet knows how easy it is to find an image of virtually anything or any place on the planet. If you go to Google and search for the Eiffel Tower, not only will you get pages and pages of great photos, but you will see the Tower taken from every angle, in colour, in black and white, in every season, in all weathers, in the day time, at night, with people, without people and many more besides. So if you go to Paris, do you bother taking a photograph of the Eiffel Tower? You might for your own satisfaction of getting there, or to share on social media so your friends know where you are on holiday, but what about the serious hobbyists or those trying to make money by uploading to stock libraries? It can be quite difficult to find a “new” image that doesn’t look like the other 10,000 or so online.
I have recently tried to get back into photography after not having done much for a few years. I like the challenge of trying new genres and enjoy the more technical ones such as macro. However, over the years I have photographed a lot of different people, places and objects, and now struggle to find something new to shoot. After reading some old photography magazines and watching various YouTube videos for inspiration, I decided to try abstract.
So, what is abstract photography? Well, if you ask ten different people, you will probably get ten different answers. I guess my own definition is “an image of a person, place or object that is not representative”, or in other words if you can’t tell what you are looking at, it is abstract. However, because the image is often fairly simple, or black and white, or both, the composition is very important. The use of textures, lines, patterns, light, shadow, form and reflections are all features which can be used to make the photo aesthetically pleasing. But as we all know, art is very subjective, and some people hate all abstract images.
How to create an abstract photo
Like all photography, there is more than one way to take abstracts. In fact it is probably the one genre where there are no rules and you can try anything to see what works for you. I guess this is why I like it, as I can experiment with different lenses and settings to try and make an image. I am no expert, but here are a few ways to create abstract photos…
- Use a macro lens and take a photo of something small that is not normally seen.
- Use a zoom lens to isolate part of a scene in the city or countryside.
- Use a slow shutter to blur a moving object.
- Move your camera around while taking a photo to blur the scene (intentional camera movement or ICM).
- Take a photo of a reflection in water or glass to distort the image.
- Take photos from unusual angles or viewpoints.
- Take a photo slightly out of focus.
- Use multiple exposures.
- Use your editing software to crop an existing photo.
- Use your editing software to artificially distort the colours.
Hopefully this will prove useful and may even get you out of a photography rut like it did for me. Good luck.