Abstract Photography Ideas and Tips

Abstract photography is a way to depict a visual image outside of “reality”.

These images make us question what we see or may even portray another realm.

Below we share tips for taking pictures with an abstract theme. Use them in addition to basic photography techniques to compose your image.

Use the photo ideas below to inspire you to get out and capture your own abstract images

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abstract photo ideas
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CAMERA GEAR FOR LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY

We use a Camera Gear Checklist to help us pack all the equipment we need – that way we don’t forget anything!

We recommend the following camera equipment for taking landscape photos:

1. Camera: You probably already have one, but if you’re looking for something new  → check out the compact travel cameras we recommend!

2. Tripod: Using a tripod is something we’ll always recommend. Take a look at these compact and lightweight travel tripods!

3. Camera Bag: Protecting your camera from sand and water is essential. Using a camera backpack is so nice for hiking too.  → We use Lowepro camera backpacks for outdoor photography.

4. Neutral density filter: There can be extreme differences in light when taking landscape pictures. To compensate for this variance of light you’ll need to use a neutral density filter.  → Check out the Kase magnetic filters we use!

5. Camera cleaning kit: You’ll want a field cleaning kit to remove dust or water that WILL get on your lens. NOTE: this is not for cleaning the sensor.  → This is the camera cleaning kit we use!

6. Memory cards: Purchase name brand memory cards since you’re trusting your images to the card!  → We use Lexar and Sandisk!

7. External hard drive: Don’t forget to copy the photos to a portable external hard drive ‘just in case’.  → Check out these awesome portable external hard drives

8. Headlamp: For the best sunrise shots, you want to arrive at your designated location well before the sun rises. Most of the time this means total darkness. Use a flashlight or headlamp to light your way from the parking lot to your spot. Wearing a headlamp allows you to set up your equipment without having to hold a flashlight. Remember to use the red light setting and keep the beam pointed on the ground in front of you to avoid disrupting other photographers in the area taking long exposure shots. → Check out these headlamps with the red light!

Abstract Photography Photo Ideas

Take a look at these abstract photo ideas shared by members of our Facebook Group, Your Photography Journey.

Use the tips and ideas for inspiration to get out and photograph your own abstract images.

Outside Context

Abstract photography allows the photographer and viewer alike to step outside the overall context of any scene or subject. 

Erik Stone focused on the individual characteristics when filling the frame with a “part of a whole” subject.

Erik Cody Stone abstract photography

Lines, shapes, colors, textures, contrasts, and individual attributes are the primary targets of composition as opposed to the overall scene or subject itself. 

Another great example of the “outside context” nature of abstract images is provided by Alfredo Cruz.

Alfredo Cruz abstract photography

The frame is filled again with a part of the whole subject. The additional tilted composition and edit delivers a visual impression outside our typical point of view.

Realistic Abstracts

Focusing on a particular aspect of a scene or subject that exhibits patterns, shapes, textures, colors or mood, but still conveys to the viewer the nature of the scene or subject, is another way of creating abstract photographs. 

Jeff Hall has captured the abstract nature of the sandy pattern in the foreground.

Jeff Hall abstract photography

The patterns draw the viewer into the image and the crashing waves in the background.

The subject of Kevin Hehl’s beautiful capture is easily recognizable. He filled the frame and used perspective to draw us into the abstract beauty of natural patterns.

Kevin Hehl abstract photography

The macro nature of the image focuses on dynamic lines, shapes and colors that evoke impact and mood.

What Is It?

Abstract photography embraces its defining nature in images that cause viewers to focus in on the capture and ask themselves, “What is that?”. 

In such expressions the photographer has much latitude in artistic composition and the use of equipment, techniques and editing skill become powerful contributors to the final piece.

Steven Sanmarco shares an image that certainly gives pause to casual viewers.

Steven Sanmarco abstract photography

A showstopper, you might say, that leaves a viewer wondering. You want to look away, but you can’t.

Jeff Hall’s interesting capture, created through the use of photographic techniques, bears a similar impact upon the viewer. 

Jeff Hall abstract photo

Though different in mood, like the previous image this composition immediately captures the eye and provokes interest. 

The nature of the elements in the image are not readily apparent. The patterns softly invite study, hinting at possibilities.

Patterns

Patterns in nature are great subjects for Abstract photography. 

Focusing in on a part of the whole featuring lines, shapes, colors, and textures is a good tip for capturing and creating impactful abstracts. 

Roy Goldsberry’s curvy and textural capture of naturally carved rock is a powerful illustration.

Roy Goldsberry photography abstract

The blending of lines, textures and tones leaves a stunning impression on the viewer.

Ron Bendalin focuses on specific patterns in a man-made structure to create this interesting abstract photograph. 

Ron Bendalin abstract photo idea

He also has taken advantage of the lines and contrast of tones in a part of the whole to produce this memorable image.

Human beings are drawn to patterns, which can be perfect subject matter for great abstracts.

Color

Color is a great tool for abstract expression. Daniel Garcia uses deep tonal contrast and perspective to establish an abstract representation of a local structure. 

Daniel Garcia abstract photography idea

Dark, high contrast tones have a specific impact on the viewer. The photograph evokes a dark and somber mood which steps outside the context of the overall scene.

Jim Bigham emphasizes color in his powerful abstract work that fills the frame. 

Jim Bigham abstract image

The lines and colors are randomly placed in this scene which sparks interest and creates an abstract image with no set pattern.

Dianne Kabbeko uses a light painting technique to create her abstract image. 

Diane Leahy Kabbeko abstract photo idea

The moving lights and varied tones evoke a sense of action and excitement.

Light painting is a fun way to create abstract photos!

Were you inspired by these photos?

Every week in our Facebook group (Your Photography Journey), we have a challenge that focuses on an element of composition. Understanding these simple elements will help you improve your photography skills!

→ DOWNLOAD our 52 Week Photography Challenge List!

We also do live video Photo Reviews each week to discuss compositional elements on the photos group members want us to review, similar to the video we included in this article.

Our group members find the reviews very helpful – see what they have to say! We’d love to have you join us!

join free photography group

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