Styles 101: Abstract vs. Surreal Photography


Clients often aren’t aware of the intricacies of photography, especially when it comes to the multitude of styles out there that some professional photographers offer. To help them better understand the types of photography that can be illustrated in their carefully created images, this series of posts will provide clients with explanations and examples of every photography style listed in Photographer Central.

Both abstract and surreal photography are very conceptual in nature but are actually incredibly different styles.

Abstract photography gives you a different point of view, where often the entire subject is unseen. This type of photography focuses on details such as shape, form, color, pattern, and texture. Uniformity and symmetry found in nature as well as architecture and mechanical design can be great examples of how abstract photography focuses not on the subject, but on the detail.

In contrast, surreal photography creates a new point of view through shocking juxtaposition and non sequiturs. This type of photography generally requires editing images or the use of special effects to create these unexpected visuals.

Both types of photography are primarily used to provoke thoughts or feelings in a viewer rather than simply display the subject matter. In the case of surreal photography, there may be political or social commentary involved.


Photo Credits: Williams Studio Photography + Design, Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer, Deborah Hughes Photography, Scott Norris Photography


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