Abstract Photography Guidelines

Abstract Photography Today

Abstract photography can be difficult to define. However, it occurs when photographs focus on a fragment of a natural scene, isolating it from its context. The result is the capture of visual information in a way that it would not usually be seen. Emphasis is often placed on details, patterns, lines, form, shape and colors that complete a subject utilizing those key features to make a non-objective engaging image.

 Abstraction in the photographic arts can be a rewarding fun process of visual problem solving. Shooting this type of imagery is a perfect venue for expressing ideas and emotions. It is an intellectual exercise to capture interesting visuals without the intention of creating a traditional or realistic image. By avoiding and going beyond the usual representations of an object, scene, or any particular element, it reveals details that are normally ignored and triggers the viewer’s imagination.

Although definitions of abstract photography may vary there are six basic commonly agreed criteria used as a foundation for creating strong abstract images:


At first glance, abstract photos may seem a little confusing and cluttered. Understand what “abstraction” does, requires a lot of subtraction designed into the process. Distracting elements may confuse viewers should be eliminated. Because the elements may not be easily recognizable the simplicity of the image is paramount. Final compositions should result in in a clean image to interpret.


Many traditional photography rules of other genres don’t always apply to abstraction. A good abstract photo always has a clear, structural design. A lot of thought is required to see the order, placement, and balance of the picture. Your key tools are the use of basic design principles such as shapes, pattern, textures, and colors. These elements define the visual weight of the photo and help establish a point. As a photographer this allows you to influence how viewers look at it.  

Point of View

Your focal point is an area that demands attention in order to perceive the visual movement of the abstract. The angle you shoot (up, down, front, or behind) determines how the subject will be represented in an abstract image. Choosing the right angle of view involves looking for the best vantage point that will complement your subject and keep distractions out of the frame.  


Lighting is a major element as in all, photography styles. Depending on how it is used, it can emphasize, dramatize, and bring prominence to subject forms, and details in the                       image. The direction and power of the light source can also play a huge part in directing the presentation of the subject and setting the tone for the shot. Some of the most mysterious and intriguing abstract images have silhouettes, backlighting, and interesting shadows.


Because photographic elements in an abstract image tend to be limited, all parts of the artwork should relate to each other and complement each other. Once all the parts are pulled together, they create a whole. It’s often related to creating a photographic jigsaw puzzle. Once all the pieces connect you have the picture. Harmony can be hard to achieve and needs a lot of practice.  


Abstract images trigger emotional responses and stimulate imagination. By creating an element of mystery and intrigue the viewer experiences a sense of wonder, which engages and encourages them to appreciate even the most complex but inviting pieces of art. This is the element that be the most fun and most rewarding type of imagery to create.