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Minimalist Photography: A Powerful Medium That’s Not as Easy as You Think

powerful-minimalist-Photography

Do you want to make more powerful minimalist photography? Then this is the article for you. Here, I’ll clarify what minimalism is, and more importantly, what is not. I’ll also give you some tips and tricks to improve your own images and share some quotes and links from the masters on the subject to get you inspired.

What is minimalist photography?

I find that some people use the term minimalism to describe a kind of photography, for example, when they are replying to what type of photography they do. That’s why it’s important to clarify that minimalism is a style of photography that you can apply to any genre of photography from landscape through to food photography.

Powerful minimalist photography

1/1000, f8, ISO 200

Actually, minimalism is a style that not only exists in photography but in everything from paintings through to design. It is even a way of life that has recently become popular. The one thing that minimalism has in common, no matter where you use it, is the idea that less is more. Because of this, the details are very important.

Know-how

While minimalism is simplistic in it’s visual aesthetic, it is not always easy to achieve. In fact, it can be more difficult because there’s really no place to hide. If it’s not a good photo, it will be fairly evident. One of the first rules of powerful minimalist photography is to isolate the subject and let the background be just that, a background. You can achieve this by using neutral backdrops or a shallow depth of field.

Image: 1/320, f11, ISO 400

1/320, f11, ISO 400

An isolated subject on a neutral background is not yet enough to qualify as minimalist because this description could include product photography from an e-commerce site and, of course, we are not talking about that.

So to achieve minimalism, you also have to give a message or emotion. Michael Kena, the great minimalist photographer says: “For me, approaching subject matter to photograph is a bit like meeting a person and beginning a conversation“.

Composition

You can use composition to give more impact to your image. There aren’t many elements in a minimalist image, so you have to be sure they are well-positioned and distributed correctly. You want to use composition to create a harmonic image and emphasize the subject. Always keep in mind the message and not just the aesthetics.

Composition for minimalist photography

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Using composition rules can really help you to master minimalist photography. Once you’re comfortable with them, keep experimenting because breaking the rules can sometimes be equally helpful.

Colors, shapes, and textures

You can try using only one color to emphasize the message or create an atmosphere and a feeling. There’s a long history in the arts about the cultural meaning and the psychological impact different colors have on the viewer. Use this to your advantage when doing minimalist images.

Urban powerful minimalist photography

1/640, f4.5, ISO 250

You can also go the other way and use bold, contrasting colors to create more compelling photographs.

Lea De Meulenaere said in an interview that she lives in a place that is not very colorful, so she does more profound research to use other characteristics of the minimalist style. Keeping this in mind, you can also use shapes and textures.

Constructing images

Minimalism can be found during long walks in the city for urban photography or nature for landscapes, but you can also construct it in still-life, food photography, advertising and other genres.

Image: 1/60, f11, ISO 400

1/60, f11, ISO 400

Some big brands like Disney or LG are using minimalism for their printed advertising. You can follow the creators of such campaigns on Instagram for inspiration. I particularly like Anna Devis and Daniel Rueda under the account name anniset.

Why you should give it a try

  • Trying new things will keep your photography improving. Going minimal doesn’t require you to buy any new equipment. You have nothing to lose and much to gain.
  • It will exercise your mind and creative process to give a clear and concise message with your images.
  • There’s such a big variety of minimalism that you can find your own. You can go about it as a meditative state or as a fun creative project. The choice is yours.

In conclusion

It’s not by chance that advertising is using minimalism. An image that clearly communicates what you want is something that stands out in between all the images we see every day. To make powerful minimalist photography is a skill that can take your work to the next level.

Powerful Minimalist photography monochrome nature

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Try it, practice it and most of all, enjoy it. Share with us your results in the comments section to get other readers inspired!

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Ana Mireles
Ana Mireles

is a photographer and artistic researcher. She has been awarded and exhibited in Mexico, Italy, and the Netherlands. Through theory and practice, she explores the cultural aspect of photography, how it helps us relate to each other, the world, and ourselves. She has also a passion for teaching, communication, and social media. You can find more about her and her work at her website or acquire some of her works here.