This last weekend, I spent a couple days in Seattle.  I love going to Seattle – or almost anywhere in the Pacific North West for that matter.  But the “excuse” I used this time was to sit-in on Art Wolfe’s new “Photography as Art” seminar which focused greatly upon opening one’s mind to see the beauty in hidden details that surround us – which can lead in many situations to Abstract images.

A few of my local friends have previously debated as to the value of Abstract images/photography.  They have valid questions of whether Abstracts are truly worthwhile, “Are they to be considered as equal in value to more traditional subject photography?” – or are Abstract images just “happy accidents” that we should not really take credit for as having created Art.

I have argued that Abstracts are indeed Art, and not just happy accidents.  I base my opinion upon the fact that I first need to see (or at least plan the image – i.e. when using such techniques as long exposures etc.) the image….  and upon the ability to judge images with many of the same tenants as those I use for other images’ compositions – such as positive/negative space, balance, texture, leading lines, color, movement through the image, etc.  Though a few of my friends may remain dubious – I am passionately convinced that Abstracts can indeed be Art.

So, it was a very interesting, insightful, and relevant seminar for me.  More importantly, it raised two new questions in my own mind.  Questions that I look forward to discussing with my friends…

  • When critiquing Abstract images – how do we objectively and subjectively judge which are superior?
  • Is it possible to develop a “style” of Abstract photography, such that upon review by the public it is easy to discern who is the Artist/Photographer?   We can all pick out a Picasso, Kandinsky, or a Pollock.  But can you look at an Abstract photograph and name the photographer?

I look forward to discussing these questions with my friends – of course, over a few glasses of fine wine or well-aged Scotch!


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