Photographic Abstraction: Using Cropped Images to Focus on the Details

Hello, it’s Sarah and I’m so ready for this season because I want to really start embracing and telling my story. For today’s tutorial, I’m going to encourage you all to go through your photos and play around with zooming in and cropping in interesting ways to create an abstract image that will represent the details of your story.

For me, it’s always the details that make the story. That little bit of information that makes it all the more real. And luckily enough, details are all I remember. I love zooming in when I take photographs. There’s something mysterious, yet simple about only focusing on one small area. I find it’s easier to when photographing flowers, so I wanted to try taking a photo I already had and cropping it.

For my spread I used:

  • photographs
  • paint
  • variety of papers
  • sequins
  • circle punch in two sizes
  • black ink

As I said before flowers are super fun to zoom in to find abstract images. I made the spread below to show off these images and to tell the story of how whenever I call my mother, she’s always in the garden.

Design Tips

The main principle we’re using is proportion, which is all about how the parts fit together to make the whole. It works on the size relationships and we get into that when you start to zoom and crop the image to increase the scale of the image to make it abstract.

Action Items

Find some photos to zoom in and crop.

Use these abstracted photos, in an art journal spread, to write about the details of the story.


Sarah lives in Rockland County, New York. The best part of art journaling for Sarah is that it’s just for her. She can be as free as she wants in the pages and there’s no right or wrong. Her art journals have become more than just a way to try new supplies and techniques, but a way for her to document the phases of her life.


  1. Charlotte Erichsen

    Love the cutting to focus on details! It feels so much like the way memories work!
    What a relief to not always have to tell the whole story.
    Thank you!

  2. Lisa Monconduit

    Absolutely love this tutorial.

  3. Deborah Wittstock

    Loved this Sarah.

  4. Jennilyn Nevins

    beautiful- you’ve absolutely captured that feeling of the bits and pieces we recall!

  5. Maura Flood

    I never would have thought of punching circles out of photos and using them to show the details of a much larger story. You’ve shown me that small details can make a huge impact. Thank you for this inspiration!

  6. Patricia Shimozo-Allen

    This is simply beautiful Sarah.

  7. Julia Bethmann

    Can’t wait to try this Sarah!

  8. Chelsea Corbett

    Wonderful tutorial – excited to have a go this weekend!! Well done Sarah <3

  9. Emma louise szostok

    I adore this ! Thank you for sharing !

  10. Tammy Murdock

    I love this fragments and details lesson! I know seeing little details brings back memories when I look in the backgrounds of photos of when I was little, so for sure taking out pieces of photos will do that same thing! Super cool!

  11. Clare Etheridge

    Great idea, I love the circles from the photos.

  12. ginnistonik

    Sarah, I love the way you take this very abstract idea of memory and make it into this tutorial and art piece. Such a rare skill and such a great tutorial!