Very Impressive Abstract Photography of Chris Friel

Chris Friel (born 1959) is a British color-blind photographer noted for his abstract photographs shot with multiple long exposures or intentional camera movements. Chris worked as a painter for many years and turned to photography quite late in his career in 2006. Since then he’s shot thousands of images, sometimes shooting more than a 1000 in a day! His archive at Flickr is so big that we couldn’t decide how to select his best images for this post.

chris_friel_photography (1)In the beginning, Chris took only B&W images due to his color-blindness but most of his recent work is in color. He does minimal post-processing in computer and mostly relies on in-camera tools. We love to look at play of movements, gradation of color, and experiments with composition in his work. Certainly not a taciturn, Chris gave very to-the-point and pithy replies to our questions that help us understand his work and learn from his inspirations:

chris_friel_photography (2)How did you become a photographer? In what ways did your background as a painter help in your work? How do you view your accomplishments as a photographer?

I started photography in 2006 after being a painter for many years. I actually bought an early Canon digital SLR to photograph some painting for a catalogue, and got excited by what the camera was capable of. I haven’t painted since.

chris_friel_photography (3)Painting taught me some rules which I now just ignore in photography.

I am still trying to generate some photographic accomplishments to view.

chris_friel_photography (4)How did you evolve as a photographer and what made you focus on the style of work you do?

Over the years I have used tilt shift lenses, long exposure and multiple exposure techniques- all with the same aim of interpreting rather than just representing the subject.

chris_friel_photography (5)Do you think photographers need to have an artist statement of their own? Do you have one? Has photography made some lasting impacts on your outlook or personality?

No, I don’t think so and I don’t make an artist statement. There aren’t any noticeable effects of photography on my personality.

chris_friel_photography (7)How do you draw a line between art of painting and photography? What is your critical assessment of these genres?

I don’t draw a line between them. Art either elicits a response or it doesn’t. I’m afraid that such a critical assessment is beyond my capacity to make.

chris_friel_photography (8)What equipment and settings do you use? What do you exploit the technique of MLE (multiple long exposure)?

I use a Canon 5d Mk-III with a 50mm prime most of the time and use Lightroom for post-processing. I have done a lot more MLE work in the last couple of years because I can now do it all in camera.

chris_friel_photography (9)Your work has a very distinct abstract flair. How and when do you decide that you’ve got a desired (perfect?) shot?

The unpredictability of the whole process is the key to my photography, you never know what will show up. My work is just a continual attempt to produce an image that excites me the following day.

chris_friel_photography (10)What other themes and projects would you like to cover in future?

I’m still trying to get my current themes right.

Do you have a favorite photo?

My favorite photo is always the one I just took i.e. it’s usually my last photo.

chris_friel_photography (11)Tell us about your future plans and inspiration. How do you keep yourself motivated?

So far I have visited 150 of the 195 countries in the world. If someone sponsored me I would be happy to visit the remaining 45 with a camera.

There is a list of 200 of my favorite photographers and painters with links to their work here.

chris_friel_photography (12)Alcohol helps me stay motivated.

Many amateur and aspiring photographers call you a great influence. Say something to them, please:

Take 1000 photos a day for 10 years and then reassess the situation. I’m off this landmark for a couple of years and still have no idea what I’m really doing.

chris_friel_photography (13) chris_friel_photography (14) chris_friel_photography (15) chris_friel_photography (16) chris_friel_photography (17) chris_friel_photography (18) chris_friel_photography (19) chris_friel_photography (20) chris_friel_photography (21) chris_friel_photography (22) chris_friel_photography (23) chris_friel_photography (24) chris_friel_photography (25)All photos © Chris Friel : Website | Flickr

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About Nishant Mishra

Nishant studied art history and literature at the university during 1990s. He works as a translator in New Delhi, India and likes to read about arts, photography, films, life-lessons and Zen.

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