Challenge #14: Shapes, shadows and surfaces   


This Challenge is inspired by the recent talk to the Club by Lebanese photographer Serge Najjar, whose stunning images are influenced by Cubist, Avant Garde, Modernist and Abstract Expressionism movements.

Serge takes ordinary scenes and creates extraordinary pictures, seeking out opportunities provided by a range of architectural features, including windows and ledges, to incorporate simple geometric shapes using light, shadows, contrasts and textures.

No Starlight © Serge Najjar
Soul of the Visible © Serge Najjar
Shape in Square - Ode to Malevitch

Although Serge’s images often make use of bold colours, he also works in monochrome, and textured surfaces can also add a distinctive emphasis. People often feature in his work as a small detail, giving a sense of scale to images that would otherwise be enigmatic abstracts.

The Yellow Block © Serge Najjar
Blue escape © Serge Najjar
The Architecture of Light © Serge Najjar

For more inspiration, please see Serge’s Instagram page.

The Challenge

The aim of this Challenge is to encourage members to explore architectural opportunities that incorporate geometric shapes using light, shadows, contrasts and textures to produce creative, often almost abstract, images.

There are two alternative and equally acceptable ways to approach this challenge, or you may want to try both:

Approach 1: Getting out and about with your camera

This challenge provides an incentive to get out and about with your camera, seeking out new shots that fit the brief. You should find plenty of suitable opportunities around York, or wherever you happen to be.

***Here are some tips, kindly provided by Serge***

“It would be great if the participants try and look at their neighbourhood with a new eye, using light and shadows, contrasts, textures to redefine their message. Their approach should ideally be focused on an intimate way to look at their surroundings with a fresh perspective.”

Approach 2: Using photos from your archive

Alternatively, you may decide to use images from your archives, identifying and re-editing photographs, perhaps taken on holiday where the architecture was suitably minimalist or where the sun was casting interesting shadows.

A few words of encouragement

Try not to feel daunted by the superb quality of Serge’s images – he is after all a talented professional photographer. Looking at his images should act simply as inspiration for you to try something that might be out of your comfort zone. And few of us will feel able to persuade a passer-by to stand in a lift or on a ledge, or a workman to stand at a window, so remember that your images do not need to include a person.

Architectural angles and geometric shapes, light and shadows, contrasts and textures are the ‘key ingredients’ but please interpret the brief in a way that makes for an enjoyable challenge and allows you to create images that you like. Knowing our members, I’m sure we’ll be in for a wide variety of exciting and imaginative images.

Submitting your images 

Please send up to five images to by WeTransfer. The deadline is midnight on Saturday 23 October.

Please adhere to the guidelines for submission as set out for ‘Challenges’ under Submitting Images on the website. In particular, to help the web team, please check the following list:

  • Images are JPEG files.
  • Image dimensions are a maximum of 1600 pixels wide or 1200 pixels high.
  • Image sizes are less than 500kb. If not please save your images at a lower resolution until they are.
  • The ‘title metadata field’ includes your ‘image title’ and ‘your name’ in the following way: A favourite York street, Joe Bloggs or The rain in Spain! Josephine Bloggs.
  • There must be NO other metadata in the caption or description. (Note to Olympus users, you will have to delete ‘Olympus digital camera’ from the caption field.)
  • Your images are saved with file names as in the following example:  A favourite York street, Joe Bloggs or The rain in Spain! Josephine Bloggs ie exactly as in the ‘title metadata field’ (see above).

If you are not sure please ask so that we can help you. We will acknowledge receipt of your images, so please get in touch if you don’t hear from us.

If you’re not a Club member, you are more than welcome to join in this Challenge. Please feel free to send us up to five images and we’ll post our favourites in the Gallery.


We are very grateful to Serge for providing the original inspiration for this Challenge. His interest and enthusiastic collaboration are much appreciated. We also thank him for allowing us to use his images on the website and in this Challenge description.