September 11, 2014

Ohrn Images: Abstract

Ken writes:
I was pleased to see your post “Original Public Art“.  You certainly are right that it is everywhere.
Abstract photos have been a fave of mine for decades, and I have a few thoughts to share, for what they are worth.   To quote Dorothea Lange:  “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
Abstracts helped teach me how to use some of the fundamental tools of photography, without getting caught up in the larger meaning of the subject.  These photos just are, and are not about anything.  Making abstracts sharpened up my awareness of light, composition, colour, framing, selection and all the other tools that are available to a photographer.  The scope is endless and everywhere is where they are.


Phron abstract


Interestingly, once I became more aware of these tools and how to use them, it became apparent that all of them are applicable to the task of making other photos more memorable, whether portraits, street scenes or any other genre.  For me, all these tools are (hopefully, still) buried in a subconscious level, and I rarely think overtly about them.  I’m often surprised by what I see in my photos.
The best example of what I mean is the work of Fred Herzog, whose photos are ostensibly “about” the streets of Vancouver.  And they are, in one sense. But he is a master of these tools, and his photos can be appreciated for the genius that resides in his “eye”, and for me, in particular for his use of colour and composition.  Other masters I admire are Steven Shore and William Eggleston, whose work has the same surface content, and the same depth.

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