Maria’s Photography Tips: Minimal Photography

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Understanding minimal art

Before we start talking about minimal photography, we need to understand the greater concept. Minimal art emerged somewhere around the 1950s and went on for the next two decades, mostly in America. Minimal refers to a form of art that is abstract, characterized by simplicity and visual cleanliness. This implies deliberately removing any unnecessary details or any forms of expressive content. It’s a form of art built around simple subjects that get all the viewer’s attention without any need for details.

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Minimal photography: Less Is More

This particular type of photography is simplicity at its best. It focuses on one element, while the rest of the image remains as clean as possible. In minimal photography, directing the viewer’s attention to the element of interest is your main concern, but also a challenge, considering the fact that, in the end, you’re working with an abstract form of art. The result should be a unique experience for your viewers, both visually and concept-wise.

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If you’re thinking about experimenting with minimal photography, there are a few basic rules (or let’s just call them tips) you should know. However, the good news is that minimal photography is a free form of art – it all depends on how you interpret things and the message you wish to convey.

Discover What Matters

Basically, it means finding a powerful subject and making it the only element of interest in your composition, even though it might take up only a small part of the space. The subject can be an object or a person, but it can also refer to shapes or colors. Sometimes your subject will not consist of a particular object, but of a concept, a repetition, or strong contrast. It's up to you to decide what's important and capture it the best way you can.

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Lines and strong shapes

As I said before, having an object of focus is not necessary in minimal photography. Focusing on lines and strong shapes is a very popular technique with beautiful results, like below.

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Numbers and letters

Random numbers and letters seem to suddenly make sense in minimal photography. You may often find yourself pondering over the meaning of life and suddenly believing that you've found it in a lonely airport sign that's been nicely photographed.

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Rule of thirds

I'm sure you're already familiar with this from back in the day when you first started discovering photography. Basically, this rule helps you create balanced photographs by clearly dividing your space into 3 horizontal and/or 3 vertical parts and cleverly placing your points of interest at the intersections of the gridlines. Using it in minimal photography will help the viewers get a better understaning of your message and your own interpretation by guiding their eyes to the object of interest. 

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Blocks of color

As I said in the introduction, minimal photography relies very much on strong contrasts and complimentary colors. Using this technique doesn't exclude having a subject, as you can see in the photo below. However, notice how the photographer chose to focus less on the man's expression and more on the contrast between the two colors.

Photo courtesy of Crazy Ivory Brutal simplicity

Sometimes, pushing minimalism to the extreme results in wonderful abstract shots that are pure eye candy. All-white photograhs practically make you focus all your attention on the subject. If you're planning to experiment with this type of minimalism, pay special attention to shadows, as they tend to be distracting if they're not sublte enough, like in the photo below.

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Why not give the viewer a stronger, more complex feeling of your message? Textures send out more information than just a visual one: by adding the extra sense of touch you'll instantly build a more powerful photograph.

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So, why is minimalism so great?

For me, it's the complete liberty of composition, imagination and interpretation. It's the greatness of finding something amazing in the little details of life that most people are blind to. How do you feel about minimal photography?