February is an abstract time…

If you look at a photo and there’s a voice inside you that says “What is it?”…. Well, there you go. It’s an abstract photograph.

John Suler

Taken in a parking lot

I’ve always wanted to spend more time trying out abstract photography. Some of my favorite paintings are abstracts and I have long admired the work of Kandinksy and Lawren Harris, among others. I am also excited by the abstract work of the photographer Freeman Patterson.

I started to play around with abstracts in December when I became fascinated with the patterns and colours of paint I found on boat bottoms.

So when I saw that Kim Manley Ort was offering an online course in February, I signed up for it.

Kim points us to resources about abstract photography and stimulates discussion and exchange in our Flickr group about our experiences with it.

But most of all she encourages us to approach abstract image-making with an open and  exploratory mindset, one that is not limited by thoughts and labels and judgements about what things are and how they should look. It’s like returning to the sensibility of very early childhood, which most of us have long left behind.

It is so freeing to venture forth with my camera, without expectation, allowing myself to be halted by pure perception that delights me, wherever I see it. It might be colour, pattern, light or form, or a combination of all four. You don’t try to explain it, you just respond.

Abstract photography is the same as abstract painting; appreciating a piece means feeling something, rather than struggling to understand it intellectually.

Taken in a state park

I think one of the things I love the most about this form of photography is that it keeps revealing just how varied and mysterious the world really is when looked at through different eyes — there is so much more to see and enjoy than we usually let ourselves. And you don’t have to go far. It is astounding how many surprises you can find even in your own home — in the few feet around you. Sometimes going abstract is just the antidote to being stuck in a photography rut; it can help to shake us loose from habitual ways of seeing that cease to excite and inspire us.

I’ll share more of my discoveries as the month goes on…I’d love to know if you have ever tried it? What have you found?

13 thoughts on “February is an abstract time…

  1. Pingback: Serendipity… | Still and All

  2. These are fabulous Sherry! I love the bottom one a lot. You are more talented about explaining and writing about our class and what we are focusing on. I’m now a bit stuck with the articles to read and coming up with artists I like. The class is very interesting and interactive and will be helpful as I absorb it all.

  3. I love your abstracts, Sherry, especially the first two which are so wonderfully vibrant and ‘alive’.
    For two days now, I haven’t been able to get into Flickr. I’ve written to them and await an answer. I simply can’t access my photos or be part of the group for the time being. Frustrating. I’ll probably start posting my abstracts on my blog! I’ve already started even before Kim’s group.

  4. These are beautiful, Sherry! I just finished the 50mm Project and loved being ‘in class’ with Kim. I’m hoping to take the Simplicity class this spring. Really nice work, though. You seem to have the eye for this.

  5. You’ll enjoy this month with Kim, further exploring abstracts. It’s clearly an aspect of photography that already draws you in, as we see not only here but in some of your other work too. I don’t use my camera nearly enough, but love to capture abstracts — they can be easily found but also easily lost if you don’t take the time.

  6. Beautiful images, Sherry. I especially enjoy the abstract quality of reflections on slow currents of water. I’ll look forward to seeing your future work. 🙂

  7. Sorry I must have hit enter before I was ready, just wanted to finish off by saying love what you are doing for the class and can’t wait to see the rest of the month.

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