Perspective: Contextual vs Abstract

One of my struggles is photographing a space in a wider context to give viewers a frame of reference. My inclination is to go straight to the detailed, abstract version of whatever it is I’m photographing. It’s what excites me most about photography. But, when showing my work to the general public, they often wonder what it is they’re looking at. They have a hard time making sense of what they’re seeing.

Honestly, I think that’s a good thing if you’re creating abstracts, the whole point is to take your subject out of context and make the viewer think. However, it’s human nature to want to make sense of what you’re seeing. So, there is some value in showing your viewer a contextual shot and then what’s possible from a more artistic perspective. This is certainly important when teaching someone how to photograph in a more abstract way. It’s definitely something I need to be better at.

Below I’ll share the progression of wide to detail to abstract of my favorite staircase in the Palmer House Hilton. First, from the top down.

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Now, from the bottom up.palmer house hilton palmer house hilton palmer house hilton palmer house hilton palmer house hilton

What are your thoughts? Do you think it’s best to show the range of perspectives or just go with what speaks to you even if it confuses your viewer and leaves them wondering?

P.S. If this location looks fun to shoot, join us on November 28th for our next photowalk photographing interior locations around South Michigan Avenue, this is just one of the great stops we’ll make!

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