CLASSICAL PHOTOGRAPHY by Jess Isaiah Levin, Raleigh, NC

l250eddings, portraits, seniors, corporate events, fine art prints.

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June 21, 2007

The realm of abstract art continues to dog my thoughts. Perhaps the fact that most of my "work for hire" involves photographing people, and that most people prefer to be captured in a more or less "realistic" way (not to mention a more or less flattering way) leads me to look for completely different approaches when I'm doing my personal visual explorations.

One property of a "good" photograph that we tend to take for granted is a three dimensional illusion. We don't expect a portrait print to be literally like a holograph, but we don't see it as a flat design on a flat sheet of paper.

One abstract approach is to try to view the world as the collection of shapes and shadings that actually are projected on the retina. That is, we can try to turn off (or more likely negate with some type of reverse mental process) some of the processing that our mind does in order to give us a sensation of the three dimensional world around us. When there are all kinds of cues about relative distances of objects in our view, we can hardly ignore them, but we can use a camera viewfinder to help us imagine how they will look as a flat print. If the goal is a print that looks flat and interests us through it's actual shapes, rather than our appreciation of the 3D objects that we infer from those shapes, then we may be on the road to this kind of abstraction. This is certainly very different from the idea of abstracting a non-visual characteristic of something and finding a way to represent it in an abstract work of visual art, but I think it also qualifies as a form of abstraction.


This image (above) could certainly represent such things as reversed numbers, various simple geometric shapes, a color scheme, etc., but what made it interesting to me was maintaining a strong 3D sense for the numeral and post, while almost completely flattening the shapes below it (which in reality occupied far more front-to-back space than the number 5).

solarized tree

In the case of this image ("solarized tree", above), I haven't tried to eliminate any feeling of depth, but I have, I think, minimized it, because I wanted to draw attention to the divisions of space and the interplay of straight and curved lines.

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All images on this site © Jess Isaiah Levin