Nat: I also make abstract images, and receive comments ranging from "I love that!" to "It is not real photography."
While I am always on the lookout for an abstraction within ordinary objects, isolated by the camera, I also enjoy starting with a photograph and then manipulating it into an abstraction, using Photoshop. Sometimes the original object is no longer detectable, although I try to keep some visual connection. Years ago, I composed in the Musique Concret style, where recordings of actual sounds were then altered electronically, and I carried that concept into my photo work.
There are many factors that produce changes in art styles. Among them, musical as well as visual, is the feeling that a set of compositional "rules" that actually have come after the practice of artists, have become limiting, cliches, predictable, and generally constricting in what is expressed. What is considered "good form" in photographs can lead to great numbers of beautiful pieces, all with horizons 1/3rd from the top or bottom, the brightest area coinciding with the most important subject, not centered but also at that supposedly magic 1/3rd from the frame edge.
You can page through books of such stunningly beautiful works and the total effect can be boring.
Attempting to break through a given style often results in a period of exploration and freedom, which, if successful, ultimately leads to a codification of new "rules" derived from what the artists in the new style have been doing. Needless to say, this can lead to the next artistic need to "escape" from the newer "traditions."
Fortunately today, because of instant communications as well as being able to record and preserve everything we do, we are in a highly eclectic period when all styles coexist and are practiced. What sometimes amazes me is that techniques of painting and photography that were "modern" from the 1880's through the 1960's, which artists have moved through to other styles, are still considered "out there" and very controversial by many viewers as well as photographers who are not really conversant with much of the art of the last century.
I agree with the advice stated in some of these responses, to:
1) Keep doing what you enjoy and find challenging.
2) Explore the galleries and museums not only for contemporary photography as well as that of the last century, but also paintings and sculpture.
3) Read the various catalogues issued by the Whitney Museum, MOMA, and other sources, that present photographs comprising a given exhibition, complete with statements by the artists as well as critics, curators and art historians, putting the exhibit into context.
This is really a very exciting time to be doing art-based photography.