Welcome back! This week, we’re looking at abstract photography! And I have some wonderful photographers lined up.
First though… What does Abstract Photography even mean? It sounds cool, right?!
But for reals… Let’s talk about abstract art and photography for a minute. Personally, I think ALL photography is a form of abstraction. Photography is, and always will be an abstraction of reality. Photographers have always been lauded as seekers and capturers of truth. However, merely composing a scene, you as the photographer have by definition abstracted it from it’s context, and defined a new context.
Simply clicking that shutter, you fracture reality. It can never be reality again; only a representation (through your eyes) of the reality that happened.
Well, “Photojournalism is true photography!” some might exclaim.
Look, photojournalism, and its rules are all just fibs that are designed to make photojournalists feel better about getting a killer shot in the face of someone else’s tragedy. When in fact, photojournalists are always looking for the most compelling and provocative angles (anyone remember that news crew tripping Syrian refuges?).
Facts can not surmised from these photos…. Personal stories, and out of context conjecture can only be born from them.
“Wait… How’d we get to Photojournalism?”
Because people place too much weight on what is real or true, when it comes to photography. When in actuality, none of it is reality. None of it is truth.
This is our medium’s holy war.
But, just imagine… if you didn’t have to place labels on your photography, what could you create? What fascinating worlds could you conjure up with a camera if you weren’t bound by rules?
I have a feeling this week’s Follow Friday Five don’t worry about those rules or labels.
If you’ve seen my Low Light series, you’ll understand why I am in love with Nils’s work. His work is predominately focused on the line between the surreal wash of long exposure seascapes and the infinite skies above. It’s something that has fascinated mankind to no end. Made famous by photographers like Hiroshi Sugimoto and Michael Kenna, the horizon draws us all in. I suppose we all have our own reasons for the appeal. Mine is texture, the falling of light. For Nils, I think it’s something more innocent. He approaches his work with film, lending a pastel, airy quality to his images. They’re jubilant and fresh, an altruistic morning to walk out into and breathe in life.
Dark, moody, time passing. I feel a claustrophobic, scary world when I look at Nolan Lister’s work. His work varies from all-day sun trails that somehow look as if shot at night, to female body forms, and stormy seascapes straight out of Shutter Island. Each is tackled with a sensuality of tone and depth.
Like Nils, Nolan chooses to shoot film for an effect. However, he chooses an opposite stock, and explores the murky underworld unseen by others. It’s here that Nolan’s work finds a home base.
Even when he shoots in color, there’s either an inky richness, or a distortion from reality. Blurred forms reflecting others over long shutters. Each one, further down a different rabbit hole.
You’re probably already following Michaela, I think the whole continent of Australia, already does. Her world exists underwater with whales in Tongo and Tahiti, and sea lions, and turtles and sexy elvish mermaids of the deep.
She occasionally comes up to breathe and walk and photograph on land with us humans too. Apparitions of horses in ebon and mist filled mornings, landscapes, somber heavens, and even a new series she’s posting lately on icebergs in Antarctic sunsets creating red hell-scapes!
Prolific, creative, and profound. You’ll fall in love with @mishkusk’s work.
His work is chaos, ordered by a thread drawn by Michael himself. He moves you, makes you think, makes you dive into his complex and weighty compositions. His subjects are as chaotic as his images, and there’s plenty to explore.
While most of his work is playful studies in eye delight with historic photos, overlays and photoshop magic, he goes deeper with other subjects. The devotion he has to his mother is demonstrated in his thought provoking series My Mother’s Garden and My Mother’s Light, which explores the changes brought on by dementia.
As a bonus, every photo Michael posts comes with a free poem written by the artist himself.
If Nolan’s work, above, conjures up Shutter Island, then unworn’s is a Tool video meets an M. Night Shamalan movie. While he (or she), hasn’t created much content so far, unworn already has a pretty solid following due to these incredible compositions.
The imagery is sinister and cryptic. Depression, loneliness and the Paranormal seem the recurring theme. The figures all appear to be on some journey though. Some are winged, some appear to be demons. But there is an undertow current. A theme that each is after something, and maybe, just maybe they haven’t yet unlocked the keys to their escape or path to their destination.
These characters that have been created have no identity, which gives the viewer the freedom to create identities for them. The characters could be someone you care about, someone you hate, it could even be yourself you see.
Maybe your own barriers become metaphorized by these images. Maybe these are the demons you must persist and overcome. What do you think? Who are they? What do you see is their purpose?
Thank you for reading. Please contribute your own thoughts, or suggestions of whom to follow.
And follow these artists! As always, I’m @williambahiabay. Feel free to follow me too.
See you next week with another Five.
Also published on Medium.