Born at the start of the 20th century, Aaron Siskind was a leading abstract photographer of his time. The subject of his photos is very hard to identify, and he is known for capturing the detail of objects. He likes to magnify the texture of different objects and directs the focus of the audience towards the texture rather than the object itself. Aaron Siskind began to take photos in 1932; he snapped shots of his neighborhood at that time. Approaching the 1940s, he changed his style and began to take abstract photos of different objects such as walls, trees, sand, footprints, and much more. Aaron Siskind’s photos changed from documentaries into poems that were beautiful but required a lot of interpretation. The texture of these objects that have been around everyday has been magnified and their beauty has been presented through Aaron Siskind’s photos. Aaron Siskind experimented with different ideas such as decay, fragmentation, and regeneration of organic and inorganic objects. His late pieces mostly focused on walls and trees, which solidified his style and made his photos well known to the world. When I photograph, I will remember the style of Aaron Siskind’s photos and look carefully at the textures of ordinary objects or what people think of as “decayed and fragmented” objects. I will try to take ordinary objects that directs people away from the subject itself and study the details, they could be bad as a whole, but the details could be appealing.
My favorite photograph by Aaron Siskind is this one above, it was taken in 1948, when Aaron Siskind started experimenting with abstract photography. It is possible to see that he is experimenting with decay and fragmentation in this photo because the material on the background is crumpled and there are a lot of little particles gathered on to them, the audience should be able to make an inference that it is decayed, but it is hard to tell what the object really is, which is what Aaron Siskind is trying to do here; he wants people to focus on the details rather than the object itself. The fragmentation comes in because the textures are not concentrated, but it is rather fragmented and presented in several different pieces. Aaron Siskind uses the formal elements very well, he finds photos that present several different types of textures that contrast from each other, I am very interested in his use of texture and it really presents things that the ordinary eye will not see. Another element Aaron Siskind likes to use in his photos is tone, there is very sharp contrast between light, shadows, and dark spots in the photo. This gives the photo a lot of mood, which is presented very well in this photo. Another reason this photo really appeals to me is because it is very hard to guess what is decaying, it looks like paint from one view and it looks like leaves from another, Aaron Siskind is trying to drive me off from the subject, which is the beauty of abstract art in my opinion; there are many more things to focus on than the choice of the subject.
In conclusion, the reason I chose this photo is because of Aaron Siskind’s use of tone and texture which really fascinates me. He weaved his own mood into the photo and the details of this photo is a good example for abstract photos that focus on texture, it is one of my favorite photos.
The images below are inspired by Aaron Siskind’s photographs focusing on the textures of different objects, I experimented with different objects in my neighborhood; walls, fences, trees, and even inside the heating pipes. My objective was to capture the texture of objects many people ignore and record my journey as a photographer capturing them. I looked at Aaron Siskind’s work and found out that he mainly focused on the colors, tone, and texture. My main focuses were trees and walls because they are the best for capturing Aaron Siskind’s main elements of texture; decay and fragmentation. Because my neighborhood is quite old, many of the walls are starting to peel off, which is perfect for my photoshoot. Also, there are many different types of trees in my neighborhood that I took pictures of. I looked at the locations with the most decay or contrast. However, there weren’t a lot of experiments with the difference of tone due to the tall structures behind my photos, it was very hard to get photos.
In the photos below, I will label photos with blue, green, and red based on how well the photos fit into my story of photos. My goal for the next set will be to try new things such as light and shadows to create tone in my photos.
I colored this one blue because it is my first experiment with trees, Aaron Siskind took a lot of photos of trees because it had a lot of different textures and details. However, the left side of my photo was a bit out of focus, so I can only give it blue.
I experimented with color and texture here, there are many different types of textures that create contrast in this photo. This is a photo of a tree outside with the bark peeled, it provided a contrast of color and created different patterns. There were also a lot of bumps that created dimensions in the photo, the irregular patterns gave the sense of nature, which is why I chose to take this photo.
This one is a different perspective from the photo above, I labeled this one red because my vision was better in this one and I found a location with decay (see top right). I experimented with color and I looked at the decaying element of texture. I explored more textures in this photo and found other layers, it was more fascinating than my other photo because all the areas had things interesting about them.
This one did not have a lot to do with the story but it had different textures and it had a lot of lines that cut the photo into pieces, it is a good photo but it doesn’t fit the style I am working on
Although there is some different textures and lines, it doesn’t tie with the story which is why I didn’t give it a tag
This one is very similar to the one Aaron Siskind took because it had many different colors and textures and there were major elements of fragmentation and decay. However, it was very hard to get the tone because there wasn’t a lot of light contrast in the area.
This one is a zoom-in of a different area of the same wall, it is a closer look at the textures. The outer layers look like sand paper and the inner layers look like stone, it would be very hard for people who didn’t know about this photo to identify the subject, it is a very good photo based on Aaron Siskind’s style of abstract photographs
I experimented with tone in this photo, there is some color contrast and I labeled it green because it had something to do with Aaron Siskind’s use of tone. I need to perhaps zoom in more to get the texture.
This is the inside of the heating pipes, I got this idea from this time when I looked in and found that it was very broken, so I took some photos of the decayed walls inside. In this photo, there is some texture contrast and there is tone, it is evidence of me combining these two elements. It is one step to my story which is why I gave it green.
This one is an experiment with fragmentation but there is something blocking at the bottom left corner, which is why I gave it blue (I could do better). It captured many different layers and they all had different textures which provided contrast and directed my audience to where my photo is centered at.
This photo captured many different textures and colors but it didn’t have a lot to do with Aaron Siskind’s work, but it is one of my footprints so I gave it blue.
The red photos that I chose presented things that are very similar to Aaron Siskind’s style of abstract photography. It had a lot of connection to my inspiration because it showed his elements of texture; decay and fragmentation. My red photos worked because although they were taken of different things, they provided strong contrast and different layers. The bark and the peeled wall both displayed different layers and had unique textures and patterns on them. Something that worked well was that I managed to find the best colors by using my camera to adjust the lighting and the shades when taking my photos, I also tried my best not to shake so that they won’t be out of focus. The different shapes and layers attract the audience and will make them think of the details rather than the subject, which is something I find when looking at Aaron Siskind’s photos. I hope the viewers feel different about their surroundings and I hope that it changes their vision of ordinary things beside them and I hope it helps them find the beauty of things around them.
In conclusion, my intent is to look at Aaron Siskind’s work on abstract photos and branch off from his style to create my own photos. Here is my statement of intent from the start of this project: The message of my triptych will be to find the beauty of ordinary things. People are normally ignorant about the details of their surroundings; they are not aware of the beauty that is within them. I focused on objects in my compound that are seen every day and are often held on to or studied closely, but no one realizes the potential of them becoming photographs. I want the audience to be able to see the surroundings through my perspective and appreciate the details that they don’t always find when looking at them. To do this, I will study photographers such as Albert Renger-Patzsch and Aaran Siskind who has transformed some boring subjects into great photos through their use of techniques such as patterns, shadows, and textures. Albert Renger-Patzch has taken many photographs of boring subjects but have transformed them all through the unique perspective he captures them in. For example, he used glassware to create patterns on the table through the angle of light, he found a good use of this object through his creativity. Aaron Siskind took many photos of decayed walls and natural objects that are often seen as “worn-down” or “normal” such as items like trees. He finds the details of these objects and presents several different textures in one photo, each containing many details. In my opinion, anything inside the eyes has its own beauty, even the items that look plain has unfound greatness, only waiting for someone to find that perspective.
In the end, I chose Aaron Siskind because he had more to do with the textures and details of ordinary objects, I found many ideas from his photos and it sharpened my vision for potential photographs