The abstract has long been a potent source of inspiration for creative minds for both traditional and digital art. Whether it’s exploring shadows, playing on colors or picking out shapes and lines, abstraction encourages creative minds to see and show the world differently. In the case of London fine art photographer Connor Daly, it also allows him to explore his creative and individual sensibilities.
According to Daly, he began taking photos at 16. Despite his creative background, he struggled to draw or paint. But photography, he noted, provided him with a convenient way to create images that responded to his creative and conceptual ideas.
“Since then, it has become a productive and efficient process that allows me to continue to explore my creative and individual sensibilities. I am not particularly interested in traditionalism within the context of art, only in how an image communicates an idea or feeling.”
Fast-forward to present times, he now works alone, with minimal equipment across multiple locations. He also does so over a period of years, shooting several projects at once. He describes his style as flowing between “sensual and sensuous, real and imagined, literal and metaphorical.” This broadness, he added, allows him to “communicate to a wider audience, which ultimately is the goal of any artist.”
From paint to photos
Interestingly, Connor Daly took inspiration from the painters of the Colour Field movement — Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Kenneth Noland, Josef Albers and Frank Stella, to name a few — for a series of the same name. “The general idea behind this body of work is presenting images that are deeply sensuous and vivid and overall interesting to look at,” he explained.
The series is both a vibrant color study and an ode to the painted forms of the movement that inspired him. Guided by this inspiration, he was able to transform his chosen locations into artful simplicity. There’s very little clue to what and where they really are, but that doesn’t take away the impact of each photo and the series as a whole. That, for me, is one of the main strengths of this short collection.
Meanwhile, as with painters, use of color is of primary importance to his work, as he believes that “our color perception is how we perceive the world.” The color effects that he incorporates in his abstract photos, he noted, are “used to create a particular sensation or experience that hints at the overall meaning behind the work.”
Also, by turning to photography, Daly was able to incorporate various textures and shapes into his tribute to the movement. For me, this allowed him to bring an extra dimension to his work, and not just make a simple reference to the abstract painting style.
Finding Colour Fields
Daly scouted the locations for Colour Fields during his usual explorations, walking around the area to get a look and feel of the space. If the conditions are viable, he returns to take photos. While this series took him about a week to shoot, others took much longer. “‘Courts’ took two years, ‘Spatial Visions’ took five years and other ongoing projects like ‘Phantasmagoria’ estimated to take between 3-6 years,” he added.
However, finding fitting locations for his projects seems to be a lesser concern for Daly. The biggest challenge, he shared, is finding new ideas and inspiration to drive his photography forward. Despite the minimalism present in his series such as Colour Fields, he refuses to define his work solely with this aesthetic.
“I’ve somewhat gained a reputation for a minimalist aesthetic in my work, and I am forever denying this fact. My work is not tied to one type of visual aesthetic, and I have more to offer. I try not to be repetitive when I work, and reveal the small and finer details of objects and surfaces.”
On abstract photography
In a similar manner, Daly sees photography itself not as a creative process restricted to traditional and literal applications. As such, he treats it as his medium of choice for exploring the many different ways it can be used to communicate in our universal visual language.
“While I recognize photography’s power to communicate information about the world, I do not necessarily believe that it is limited to this singular function. Edward Weston is one of my greatest inspirations, as he pioneered the use of photography in an abstract context, with his ‘Pepper’ being a prime example of this. What it comes down to is that I am an artist and photography is the medium I have chosen to work with.”
Lastly, he advises those who want to explore abstract photography to “feel first, think second.” As an art form, it’s still about communicating your own emotions and sensibilities as a creative.
“The most human aspect of art is the part that shows the artists emotions and sensibilities. Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko are good examples of this. It’s important to remember that while photography has many applications, it’s a very limited process in a literal and metaphorical sense. It cannot show universal truth, only your own.”
Don’t forget to check out Connor Daly’s website to see more of his impressive abstract photography.
All photos by Connor Daly. Used with permission.