If you’re tired of taking regular photos and want a different type of challenge, then smartphone abstract photography might be just what you need.
If you’re new to abstract photography, check out our complete guide here.
In this article, we’ll show you a few techniques to help you create your first abstract photos that are visually stimulating.
More importantly, we also want to teach you ways to communicate different moods to your viewers through your work to give it more impact.
Reimagine Your Subject
If you look at a few abstract photography examples, you’ll see a lot of regular objects as the main subjects. The primary goal is to make everyday items look like something else in your photograph.
When you photograph an object, pay attention to the details that make it different. Does it have imperfections or strange artwork on it? Focus on its peculiarities and use those as your primary points of interest.
The photo you see above is of a burning light bulb filament. It probably didn’t take you that long to figure out.
Nonetheless, it’s refreshing to see something you always encounter from a different perspective. So keep in mind that way of thinking once you start taking abstract photos of your own.
Experiment With Perspective
When doing abstract photography, it’s essential that you look for new ways to photograph a subject. Shoot from a perspective that completely changes how people perceive an object.
After all, that’s the whole point of taking creative photos.
One of the most effective techniques to try when taking abstract photos is to get close to your subject. Doing so allows people to see shapes and patterns that they would otherwise miss.
You should also try shooting from angles that your viewers aren’t familiar with. Since people are so used to seeing at eye-level, then take photos from a high or low point of view.
You can even flip or tilt your camera to make them second guess what they’re looking at.
Look for Patterns
Since your abstract concept can be difficult to interpret, you’ll need to tap into people’s psychology to make them understand your art on an emotional level.
And one of the most effective ways to do that is by using patterns. As long as people see visual repetitions, they’ll naturally gravitate towards them.
However, you also have the option to break the pattern to make your photo even more interesting. People will just pay as much attention if you include an object that makes everything seem out of order.
Why? It all goes back to how much we like to keep everything in line. Whenever something looks off, we tend to notice it right away.
Just like patterns, lines also bring order to your image. If your subject appears chaotic, all you have to do is include some lines to give it structure.
There are many ways to incorporate lines into your image, and framing is among the most common one. The technique involves you surrounding your subject with lines to “frame it.”
It’s an excellent method to use when you want people to focus on a particular aspect of your photo.
Also, when people look at lines, their instinct is to follow them. Therefore, you can use them to lead your viewer’s eyes towards the subject.
All you have to do is compose your photo just so the lines converge where your main point of interest is located.
Add a Splash of Colour
As mentioned before, when tackling abstraction in photography, it’s essential to keep people interested in your work by tapping into their emotions. Using colours in your photographs is another highly effective way of doing just that.
Colours are known to affect us psychologically. In fact, artists and even advertisers have employed them for years to invoke certain reactions.
For instance, yellow is typically associated with happiness (that’s why smileys are yellow), as well as danger (warning signs). Meanwhile, red is often used to display passion (red hearts) or even aggression (the colour of war).
Include colours in your photos that you think will help people feel a certain way. If you want them to feel happy, then use yellow. If you want them to react more strongly to your work, then perhaps red would be ideal.
However, you don’t have to learn about colour psychology to use tones in your images correctly. Just focus on how specific colours make you feel and let that influence you when you take photos.
Shoot in Black and White
We’ve discussed how much colors influence how we feel, but black and white can be just as potent. By depriving your viewers of what they see in real life, you persuade them to pay more attention to your photo.
One of the best benefits of abstract photography black and white is that it’s less distracting than color. Since your viewers only see various shades of black, grey, and white, it’s easier for them to process the image.
Everything also looks more dramatic in black and white. Because of the absence of colors, you’ll notice how the light interacts with the surroundings. For instance, the contrast it produces highlights your subject’s form and gives it more dimension.
Apart from that, its classic look evokes a sense of nostalgia, adding another emotional layer to your work.
Experiment With Prisms
We’ll also show you how to hack a phone camera with a prism. Because of the way it diffracts light, it’s capable of creating all sorts of surprising effects.
That’s precisely why they work well for abstract photography.
So how do you create a prism photograph? Simple. All you have to do is place it in front of your camera and let it do its magic. Turn it at different angles while you’re taking a photo to help you produce different looks.
Apart from producing reflections and rainbow-coloured glints, you can also use it to create strange kaleidoscope effects. It not only appears to “multiply” your subject, but it also produces a hazy look.
If you want your work to appear psychedelic, this should be on the list of photography hacks you need to try.
Snap on a Macro Lens
Earlier, we mentioned that reimagining your subject allows you to create beautiful art out of everyday items. And one of the best ways to do it is through macro photography.
There are a lot of objects that may look ordinary from afar. However, if you look close enough, you’ll realise that they actually contain beautiful and intricate patterns.
However, since most phones can’t shoot macro, you’ll need to use a macro lens attachment to mount on your phone.
Thankfully, this useful iPhone camera hack costs less than 20 dollars. It’s cheap, especially considering how much you can do with it.
Once you attach your macro lens, all you have to do now is to look for an object that looks interesting up close. Plants and flowers are good subjects because of their bright colours and patterns.
However, even regular objects such as textiles and toys can yield exciting results as well.
Download Apps to Apply Effects and Edits to Your Photos
If there’s one factor that makes smartphone photography better than regular photography, it’s the photography apps. They not only let you edit your photos straight from the phone, but they also allow you to apply complex effects that may be difficult to execute on a computer.
One of the most common techniques used in abstract photography is double exposure. It involves merging two images together to form one photo.
And the best app to try this method is called Fused. It lets you blend either pictures or videos seamlessly to create a new artwork.
If you want more versatility than Fused, then you might want to try Mirror Lab. It has dozens of presets that let you create anything from glitch art to kaleidoscopic effects.
You can even customise each effect to create something truly unique.
Of course, there are plenty of apps you can use for abstract photography other than the ones we mentioned.
Feel free to browse through your app store to see which ones you might find useful for your projects.
What makes abstract photography fun is that there aren’t really any hard rules to follow. These tips are merely guidelines to help you create the best images possible.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should stop experimenting with other techniques. You need to open your mind when it comes to this type of photography.
The more you try different ways of photographing, the more unique the results you’ll get.
Check out our post on different smartphone photography themes to try for more great ideas.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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