Abstract photography expresses the indescribable. There’s a focus on shape, form, color, texture, and light. All of these things are important in most photographs. But with abstract photography, they are not means to an end. They are the end itself. This means that the images often perplex and mesmerize in equal measure.
25 Beautiful Examples of Abstract Photography to Inspire You
One of the beauties of digital photography is that you can experiment at no cost. In the past, you might hesitate to “waste” a negative and print an abstract photo that doesn’t “work.” But now we can experiment and immediately see if it works.
So, here are some super-cool abstract photos to inspire you to create your own!
1. Focus on Shape
The viewer has no way of knowing what the structure is. But it doesn’t matter. The image is pleasing in itself. The photographer isolated these components to produce an aesthetic result.
When we “read” an image, our eyes naturally follow lines. We can use this to our advantage in abstract photos, leading the viewer on a journey across the page.
3. Focus On Bright Colors
Turn your lens to focus on bright colors. This is a fun way to create dynamic abstract photography. You’ll find bright colors in all sorts of places, from market stalls to nature.
The complexity of organic life is both astounding and diverse. That’s why it makes such a good subject matter for abstract photography.
The lines of these trees reaching up to the sky draw the viewer’s eye to the center of the frame.
How do you think this image feels to the touch? Soft? Rough?
Often, abstract photography is about playing with our senses. And in this way, you bring a photograph to life.
You add a new dimension to a photograph through the idea of how an abstract subject could or would feel.
The points meet, the dots line up, and the shapes transform. There’s something innately satisfying about viewing a well-executed pattern.
Repetition and patterns in photography can be used to fill a frame with patterns. Or you can use it to highlight irregularities. In this photo, the shapes decorate the image perfectly.
Although you can’t define the source, the effect is one of satisfaction and intrigue.
7. Camera Movement
Camera shake can be the bane of many photographers’ existence. But the deliberate introduction of movement into an image can create intriguing, painterly effects.
Abstract photography embraces experimentation. Don’t be weighed down by the need to take the “perfect” image.
8. Getting Close
When we encounter something of interest, our natural instinct is to physically move closer for a better look. Photography is often the same.
The closer you get, the more detail you reveal. Getting in for a closer shot also generates a sense of importance or intimacy in a photograph.
9. Industrial Subjects
Industrial sites are great for taking abstract photography. The variety of colors, shapes, and textures means that, for an abstract enthusiast, industrial sites are heaven on earth.
Other sites that are easier to access for industrial photography include train museums, parking lots, historic sites, and repurposed buildings.
Architecture is a popular subject for abstract photography.
One of the great things about architectural photography is that it’s easily accessible. And it provides photographers the opportunity to explore form and shape in abstraction.
11. Soft Color
We had a look at using bright colors above. But soft colors lend their own unique feel to an abstract photograph.
Softer colors tend to warm or cool a photograph without overpowering it, giving the subject room to breathe.
The muted palette in this image accentuates the flowing lines of the subject, giving it the effect of a veil.
They may not jump out at you the same way brighter colors do. But soft hues are well worth incorporating into your abstract photography.
12. Black and White
Color photography is beautiful, but sometimes it can be a distraction. Yes, it’s the mainstream of modern photography. But many photographers still choose to shoot or process in black and white.
By removing color, we can cut down on intrusions. Viewers won’t get distracted by the warmth that reds provide or the cold feel of blues.
A black-and-white color scheme also illuminates the subtle tonal differences within the image. This emphasizes form and shape.
Water is both a reflective and a changeable surface. You can use it to reinforce subject matter through reflection. Or you can change it up completely with movement.
In this image, the lines reflected in the water’s surface are disrupted. They take on the form of waves, creating an image with an otherworldly atmosphere.
Minimalism in visual arts means stripping back the form to geometric abstraction. It’s no wonder minimalist and abstract photography often overlap.
Minimalism is about what you leave out of an image rather than what you keep in. Seek out color, strong shapes, and bold lines. Use these to create an effective minimalist abstract photograph like the one below.
15. Light Trails
All photography relies on light. But abstract photography means you can experiment with the concept more than usual.
16. Star Trails
This long exposure was taken to reveal these star trails and record each star’s movement.
The resulting image is abstract, speaking to the nature of time and space itself.
17. Reflective Surfaces
Using reflective surfaces is a simple way to get into abstract photography. Each movement can create a whole new scene to photograph.
Photographing reflective surfaces doesn’t mean you have to stick to mirrors, either. Experiment with reflective textures like foil or puddles to create an interesting perspective.
Go even closer, and you get fantastic abstract images. These are complex and eye-catching. And they reveal details the naked eye can barely see.
The urban landscape is evolving. Its colors, forms, textures, light, and life form fascinating photographic opportunities.
Photographing the details that make up the urban environment documents its history. And it creates insightful photographic images.
Bokeh is a great way to create abstract, creative images. The term bokeh comes from the Japanese word “boke,” which means “haze” or “blur.”
If you want to create a bokeh effect like the one in this image, check out our full guide on how to create a bokeh effect.
Photography and light go hand in hand, but high-key images take it one step further. High-key images create a clean, airy atmosphere.
Some darker tones are necessary for an image to be discernible. But high-key photographers seek to whittle down a subject to its bare bones. This floods it with light and eliminates as much shadow as possible.
On the opposite end of the scale, low-key photographs are dark and dramatic. They convey an atmosphere of tension or intimacy.
They enhance form by erasing superfluous detail. This gives the reader a sense of unease by appealing to our innate instincts.
23. Look Up
It’s easy to get into the habit of looking straight ahead and missing what’s going on above us.
Tilt your head back and assess the surroundings. This can provide a unique and abstract perspective. Especially because most people don’t look up!
24. Look Down
When taken from a high vantage point, the scene below becomes flattened. This transforms it into a canvas of abstract shape and color.
Grab a drone with a camera, and you’ll be able to achieve some really interesting results.
25. Use a Slow Shutter Speed
Light trails, blurred motion, and movement collapsed into a single image. It can reflect the life force of a subject. And the idea that motion can be art is an abstract concept in itself.
Shooting with a slow shutter speed uses the camera as a tool. It creates abstract photography that reveals worlds that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye.
Abstract photography puts emphasis on color, light, shadow, texture, shape, and form. The images don’t have an immediate association with an object. But they evoke feelings and intrigue viewers.
This draws a viewer in and allows them to explore and question the very nature of photography.
Pick one of these ideas and start shooting. These examples of abstract photography will take you out of your comfort zone. They’ll also help you hone your skills.
Check out our Wow Factor Photography course to improve your abstract photography skillset!