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Abstract and Surreal Photography CV


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justanothersomeone's Profile Picture
Artist | Student | Photography
United States
"Any new possibility that existence acquires transforms everything about existence." -Kundera

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Arguably the most important challenge that faces every artist is that of mastering composition.  Artists spend their entire life experimenting with different compositional tools in order to achieve desired effects. Throughout the academic history of art various books and theories have been written about principles and elements of design. The following list is not comprehensive and may vary from other lists that are out there, but I attempted to compile the most useful list of compositional ideas that I could with photographic examples of each of the ideas. Sometimes as artist we can spend so much time on technique and subject matter, that the basic composition of the piece we are trying to create gets overlooked. These powerful compositional tools not only help us to create more cohesive and complex art but they also help us to speak about art. Using the universal language of design, we can communicate with other artist in a seamless and direct way. My hope with this article is that next time you and I sit down to make art or critique art, that we can use these terms and strategies to create a more engaging and thoughtful experience.

Principles of Design


:the quality of something that has two sides or halves that are the same or very close in size, shape, and position

Storm Thorgerson


:lack of equality or equivalence between parts or aspects of something

Shana and Robert Parkeharrison


:the heaviness of a person or thing or the ability of a region or element to draw attention to itself

Nino Migliori


:a situation or condition of hostility, suspense, or unease

Sarah Hobbs


:a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions

Steve McCurry



:an arrangement or classification of things according to relative importance or inclusiveness

Ralph Eugene Meatyard


:something that is made of many parts and yet is somehow more than or different from the combination of its parts

Vik Muniz


:when one object or shape is repeated throughout the composition

Sandy Skoglund


:movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements

Kimiko Yoshida


:the proportion or ratio that defines the size relationships

Keith Carter


:the difference in luminance and/or color that makes an object distinguishable

Dieter Appelt

Negative Space

:the space that surrounds an object in a image

Kelli Connell


:the quality of representing or suggesting motion

Cornell Capa


:combining of parts so that they achieve harmony

Arno Rafael Minkkinen

Shapes In Composition

Another very important tool that can be used when creating a photograph is the use of shapes in the composition. Symmetrical shapes such as the triangle, circle, and square add stability and harmony to a photograph. However, certain shapes like an "X" are more dynamic and create energy and instability in a photograph.


Lalla Essaydi


Emmet Gowin


Mario Giacomelli


Roger Mayne

Compositional Theories

There are many different mathmetical theories that have been used throughout history that aid in the creation of art and architecture. Below are the two most prevelant theories that you can put to use. The rule of thirds is rather straight forward and helps to keep the information in your frame neatly organized so that your viewer can easily approach your image. The golden ratio is a little more mathmatically involved and it has been used to create things like the Parthenon in ancient Greece and also occurs in nature in forms such as the Fibonacci's spiral which is found in plants and seashells.

Rule of Thirds

Sally Mann

Golden Ratio

Joyce Tenneson

In Conclusion

Many of you are most likely familiar with the ideas included above,  but even the most seasoned artists should be reminded day to day about the most fundamental parts of the craft. If you have any photographs that you feel have great compositions post them below in the comments and why you feel their compositions stand out among the rest. Happy creating!

Discussion 12 ~ 2+2=5

Tue Aug 5, 2014, 10:50 AM

The photograph can be many different things. It can come from a quite place and be humble, elegant, and wise.  It can also come from a darker place and be frightening, sorrowful, and debilatating.  A photograph can also be visionary.  It can force us to confront current paradigms in ways that other mediums such as books, music, paintings, and academics never could.  The following artist use the photograph to not only document their current view of the twenty first century landscape, but to speak to us about the potential outcomes of our future.

Beate Gutschow - S

"The S  series is post-apocalyptic, revealing failed social ideals through alienating architecture. Photographing in Berlin, Chicago, Kyoto, Los Angeles, New York, and Sarajevo, Gütschow appropriates buildings, parking lots, stairways, and people. Reconfiguring these elements of architecture from different areas of the world, she synthesizes a disorienting cosmopolitan space with a confused temporality. Despite the utopian ideals behind the modern architecture, cities are less hospitable than we idealize them to be." Source

“The story of evolution unfolds with increasing levels of abstraction.”
-Ray Kurzweil

Lynne Cohen - Occupied Territory

"For more than thirty years, Lynne Cohen has been photographing interior spaces devoid of people – laboratories, health spas, waiting rooms, classrooms. Their décor, sometimes kitschy, often funny, even if the humour reinforces the aspect of suspense, even of uneasiness. By elaborating on the seemingly fictional quality of the spaces, the purposes of which are frequently ill-defined, Lynne Cohen plays up an aspect of social control, one that makes itself apparent in strange ways." Source

“The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.”
-George Orwell

David Galjaard - Concresco

"Fearing an attack from abroad, Albanian Stalinist leader Enver Hoxha had around 750,000 above-ground bunkers built during his time in power, from 1945 until his death in 1985. After the collapse of communism in 1991, the virtually indestructible bunkers were deprived of their unfulfilled purpose, serving purely as an obtrusive reminder of a dictatorship that had had lasted for almost fifty years."  Source

"It's not only our reality which enslaves us.
The tragedy of our predicament -
when we are within ideology, is that -
when we think that we escape it into our dreams -
at that point we are within ideology."
-Slavoj Zizek

Brian Ulrich - Dark Stores

"Over the past 10 years I have been engaged with a long-term photographic examination of the peculiarities and complexities of the consumer-dominated culture in which we live. This project titled Copia, explores not only the everyday activities of shopping, but the economic, cultural, social, and political implications of commercialism and the roles we play in self-destruction, over-consumption, and as targets of marketing and advertising." Source

"You buy furniture, you tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple of years you're satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you've got your sofa issue handled, then the right set of dishes, then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug.
Then you're trapped in your lovely nest, and the things that you used to own, now they own you."
-Chuck Palahnuik

Richard Ross - Architecture of Authority

"There are some places that you never want to see the insides of. These are the places sought out in Architecture of Authority. The photographs capture spaces both notorious and innocuous, from FBI Headquarters to high school corridors and office spaces. Architecture of Authority is a body of unsettling pictures of architectural spaces that exert power over the individuals within them." Source

"Some don't believein what they're watching any more. I miss the cameras. They used to be heavier than us.
Then they became smaller than our heads. Now you can't see them at all.
So sometimes I too find it hard to believe in it all.
Trying to make us all paranoid?
Aren't you already?
I am. Very.
What makes you carry on, Oscar?
What made me start, the beauty of the act.
They say it's in the eye, the eye of the beholder.
And if there's no more beholder?"
-Leos Carax

Edgar Martins - A Metaphysical Survey of British Dwellings

"Shot entirely in a mock-up town, built in 2003, to train the Firearms and Public Order Units of the UK’s Metropolitan Police, this series deals with urbanism in all its contradictoriness and ambiguity. This ultra-realistic specialist training centre is not just a simulacrum of contemporary British towns, it is also a metaphor for the modern asocial city. Nothing moves in or out of these buildings. The urban fabric fades into the twilight, forcing us to fill in the absences that the night relentlessly exposes. An ambiguous game of identity and relation is played out, a game which encompasses an enigmatic assemblage of everyday life, transmission and flow, dislocation, bewilderment and solitude. These images depend on photography’s inherit tendency to make each space believable, but there is a disturbing suggestion that all is not what it seems." Source

"The first step to freedom is not just to -
change reality to fit your dreams -
it's to change the way you dream.
and again this hurts because all satisfactions we have -
come from our dreams."
-Slavoj Zizek

Frank Van Der Salm - Selected Single Works

"Frank van der Salm’s large photographs imbue the buildings on modern-day peripheries with a singular aura. The artificial structures of civilization: patterns made up of glass, steel, and asphalt, enhanced by colorful cars, and illuminated of course by countless artificial light sources. What is there, is there in abundance, creating an almost magical shimmer. But what do we see? We see everything and find out nothing. Frank van der Salm’s photographs are trenchant metaphors of modern visual communication." Source

“But Humanity, in its desire for comfort, had over-reached itself. It had exploited the riches of nature too far. Quietly and complacently, it was sinking into decadence, and progress had come to mean the progress of the Machine.”
-E.M. Foster

Vincent Fournier - The Man Machine

"In this series The Man Machine Vincent Fournier documents current robotic technologies from all over the world. In his works, he is interested in how fiction is become reality. As he states, "My work was fed with the world of childhood, with some sort of buried memory where reality and fiction are becoming confused, even merge somehow, a world in which things don’t even have a name yet. I remember stories which could have existed, stories in which the truth is dangerously flirting with the false, all together serious and absurd, amusing and disquieting, past or future."" Source

“any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
-Ray Kurzweil

In Conclusion

It could be argued that the camera is fated to merely record the present now and by linking together multiple photos and storylines, to tell us about the past.  What if that is not the only roles the camera can fulfill?  What if the press of a shutter not only records a moment in time, but a future.  As photographers, we walk through our world and record our experience of the now, and simultaneously preserve the story of our past.  However, as photographers we must also acknowledge and respect the fact that when we make a photograph, we also create the future.  In the twenty first century we are constantly surrounded by imagery, whether its advertising, art, news, film, or television.  These images that surround us should not be taken lightly, for they shape the very way in which we see the world.  Every billboard, television commercial, and photograph hanging on a gallery wall, influence the way we interpret the world and the way we interact with it through our ideologies and sentiments.  As photographers we are each responsible with what we decide to create and how each individual image builds our social narrative, shapes who we are, and determines the potentialities of the future of our cultures.  
What kind of future do you want to see?


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KizukiTamura Featured By Owner 1 day ago
Conversation by KizukiTamura

Thanks a lot Westley. Glad you like it. :aww: :blush:
justanothersomeone Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Student Photographer
You're very welcome :)
kamakebelieve Featured By Owner 3 days ago   Photographer
Thank you for the kind words and DD! <3 I appreciate it!
justanothersomeone Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Student Photographer
You're very welcome :heart:
Herculanum Featured By Owner 3 days ago
Thank you !!! :hug:
justanothersomeone Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Student Photographer
Vous êtes art est belle et inspirante
ChristineKalliri Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
             Little Pixel Heart by Kawiku
             Little Pixel Heart by Kawiku
             Little Pixel Heart by Kawiku
             Little Pixel Heart by Kawiku
             Little Pixel Heart by Kawiku
justanothersomeone Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Student Photographer
scheinbar Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
:iconbigheartplz: thank you very much
I feel overwhelmed from deviantart in these days, a warm shower of kindness.... thanks so much again and again :)
and I am very glad you chose this one...
justanothersomeone Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Student Photographer
It's really a joy to share the kindness. You're a continual inspiration to all of us!
scheinbar Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ragnar949 Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thanks again
LittleMoth202 Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
thank you for finding my work interesting.
justanothersomeone Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Student Photographer
:D Thank you for sharing it!
doyo Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014
Dear Westley!
I'm endlessly grateful for the recommendation yesterday!
Great thanks!

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