Inspired by: Andreas Gursky
Of all the modern masters of photography, Andreas Gursky may be the one who divides opinion amongst his fellow photographers the most. When his 1999 abstract landscape photograph, Rhein II, sold for $4.3 million at Christie’s in New York back in 2011, there was a fair degree of outcry regarding the price… and the content!
Despite this controversy, Rhein II – essentially a photo of the Rhein under a dull grey sky – helped establish Gursky as one of the most sought after visual artists in the world, and provided a platform for his more typically vibrant images.
The Gursky style
Whether he’s shooting landscapes, shopping centres or large groups of people, Andreas Gursky prefers to take his photographs from a high perspective, looking down at the scene through a large format camera – often from a crane or helicopter. This approach to his work allows him to create otherworldly, abstract images out of everyday scenes that make the viewer see the world with different eyes.
Unlike Rhein II, the majority of his work employs a dizzying array of highly saturated colours and so much detail that the viewer can enjoy the images from very close up or further back. His use of large format cameras and massive prints further enhances the sense of scale and detail.
He's also an avid user of Photoshop to enhance his work – through colour manipulation and the removal of details that are unimportant to the final image, all the way up to compositing images to create a new work of art.
Learning from Andreas
Although it’s unlikely that you’ll have access to the same large format cameras (or helicopters!) as Gursky, there are plenty of things you can learn from his work, and ways that you can employ aspects of his style.
As with all master photographers, Gursky encourages us to look at the everyday world differently, and you can challenge yourself to do the same. Take your camera up the roof of your local multi-storey car park and look down on your town…
Look for images within the whole landscape that might work as a composite – for example, a busy market square or shopping centre car park. Think about how you could enhance the natural colours and knit images together to show these mundane places in a new and interesting light.
By compositing several images together you’ll be able to largely make up for the lack of a large format camera and create grand and imposing canvas prints – Gursky’s are often over 10 feet in length! Once you’re confident that you’ve created something worthwhile, send it over to us and we’ll turn it into a large work of art for your wall – if that doesn’t get your friends and family talking about your impressive photography skills, nothing will!
Andreas Gursky has stated in the past that his concern is primarily with photographing the human species from an abstract perspective, and this is something you can use to take your photography to the next level.