Fine art photographer Brian Hallas presents a striking collection of botanical images. See more of his work by visiting his website.
I haven’t taken the direct route to being an abstract photographer. My path at best has been meandering and sinuous, with several detours along the way. Early in life, I discovered the bewitching world of theater. Later on, I studied acting in both Boston and London. But I spent most of my adult life as a sound designer in New York City.
In the 1980s, I learned to play keyboards and began writing songs. I played in a couple of bands in my hometown of Newport, Rhode Island. I released an album of original music in 2006, which led me to become a video maker for several years. In turn, it led to teaching, a path I followed until the pandemic of 2020. Currently I work in a local retail nursery, tending to trees, shrubs, plants, and flowers.
Amid all of these various pursuits, I’ve had a consistent affinity for photography, and an itch to capture things in a certain frame. As a teenager, I played with a Kodak Instamatic and had a vague idea of what to look for. Later I wended my way through various cameras (like the Ricoh AF-40 and assorted Canon Elphs) until I was taking myself more seriously as a photographer. I subsequently owned a succession of Canon DSLRs.
From early on, I understood that I wasn’t at all interested in making realistic photographs. The world is filled with far better true-to-life photographers than I could ever be, so I turned to abstraction. To that end, I learned to shoot differently, while discovering different subject matter. I realize I was training my eye/camera coordination to capture things that others might miss, and to see more obvious things more obscurely.
I simultaneously learned Photoshop on my computer and experimented with color, texture, shape, and the like. As the images lost their obvious identity, the entertainment value became much more satisfying.
It wasn’t too long before I was using my smartphone to take pictures, since I invariably have it with me. Despite the fact that nearly everyone owns one (and that we all use them more to take pictures than to make phone calls), it gave me both an alluring challenge and an inviting opportunity.
After a while, I started to improvise with assorted apps like Snapseed, BeCasso, and especially Photoshop. Combining their results in layers, I then transformed those layers into new images. I loved that I could do everything with one device!
I finally landed upon the roost that I happily call home through applying an old sound designer trick to making photographs. Through layering and distortion (for want of a better word), I’ve arrived at a place in my photography where I feel utterly comfortable.
Things emphatically changed again during the pandemic. I was forced to turn my gaze toward the vibrant variety of flora that occupies my world, creating what I like to call “hallucinatory blooms of the imagination.” This is what I now present to you.