Abstract Photography avoids symbolic representation, rejecting the notion that something identifiable must be depicted by a photograph. Instead, its object is the image itself and the process of its creation.
Though examples of abstract photography can be found as early as the 1830s, it did not become a self-conscious form of image making until the early 20th century. It generally ran in parallel to abstract art, both in response to Realism's decades-long ideology that photography must be documentary. The first publicly exhibited abstract photographs were Erwin Quedenfeldt's Symmetrical Patterns from Natural Forms, shown in 1914.
From Chistian Schad's cameraless photography, called photograms, to other experimental techniques like solarization, multiple exposure, photomontage, Surrealism and other art movements in the first half of the 20th century embraced abstract photography.
The second half of the century brought people like Otto Steinert who made photos that explored the concept of an images' essential being. The 1960s saw the beginning of technology's integration with abstract photography, with computers, digital imaging, and microscopes producing astounding abstract images. Yet the most revered works of abstract photography come from real people behind the camera, notably in the works of Piet Mondrian, Saul Leiter, Paul Strange, Alfred Stieglitz.