Graffiti – The Art Within the Art

Graffiti Detail Photograph

Graffiti Detail
70-200mm @135 mm, 1/320 s, f/6.3, ISO 400

When others do the original artwork (or architecture, or landscape, or …) and we think the creation makes for a cool subject, it’s not enough to simply take a picture and call it a done day.  As photographers, we must bring a fresh view to the subject.  Otherwise, taking the picture is an act of photojournalism, at best, and plagiarism, at the worst.  I wrote about this after my day in London, last year, where I focused on sculpture.

Ann Arbor Graffiti Photograph

Ann Arbor Graffiti @ Argo Dam
70-200mm @160 mm, 1/250 s, f/6.3, ISO 400

Graffiti presents its own opportunities for photographers, as in the example above taken at a popular graffitists’ spot on an Ann Arbor Railroad bridge abutment near Argo Dam.  Yes, it can be fun to grab a full image, like the one at right, and like the ones in my graffiti gallery, many of which were found on the sides of moving rail cars, but the real excitement with graffiti comes with the details.  By getting close, I can make an abstract image by focusing not only on vivid colors of interest, but also on surface texture, paint spatter, and even layers of earlier graffiti seen behind peeling paint.  Here, within the intended art, is a whole new world of art not intended in the original composition.

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