Abstract Portraiture

I started thinking the other day about portraiture while doing some retouching, and how fluid the process is. You start with an idea but more develop while you are working. It’s often a collaboration between you and the person you are photographing. The creative process bounces between you in rapid fire the further you get into a session. It’s not always like this, but it happens often enough to take a lot of pictures you hadn’t previously considered. This is when I like to look outside the norm and get a little bit abstract with my photography.

This can be a bit hit and miss but it’s a great opportunity to experiment. After all, isn’t that how we learn? Over the years I’ve come up with a number of interesting shots this way (as well as a whole battalion that will never, and should never see the light of day), and they all tell their own story in their own unique way. The secret, I think, is to not be afraid to mess up. We’re not paying for film anymore and memory cards are cheaper than ever, so keep shooting and keep experimenting. Take pictures from behind, or from a lower or higher angle than you normally would. Get in closer than you’re used to, or just photograph parts of your subject. Photograph the hands, the hair, or a close-up of their tie, anything that defines your subject and tells the viewer a little about them. This is play time so anything goes. Experiment and have fun.

Putting something in front of your subject can have an unusual and often striking effect.

Putting something in front of your subject can have an unusual and often striking effect.

Try photographing from behind...

Try photographing from behind...

... or focus on a single detail. There are no rules here.

... or focus on a single detail. There are no rules here.