5 Tips To Help You Create Better Minimalist Photos


I’m sure every photographer strives to avoid making boring photos. But what is boring?

There are numerous ways we could define that word, but unfortunately, there are times when the concept of minimalism is misconstrued as a synonym for boring.

Of course, a photo that employs minimalism can be boring, but if the photo lacks interest it is a result of choices made by the photographer, not because of an inherent stylistic flaw. Minimalism works because it provides the viewer with a relaxing visual experience.

It’s not that minimalism is better than other styles, it’s just different — easily absorbed, intentionally uncomplicated. You will have to put forth some effort to create good minimalistic photos, however.

Here are 5 tips to get you going.

Search Out Simple Scenes

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Don’t make things harder on yourself by trying to extract minimalism from decidedly busy scenery (though it can be done with some clever composing). Small hills and lone trees. Open fields and blue skies. A solid background and a single prop. These are just a few of the scenarios that lend themselves to minimalistic photography.

Photo by Rucksack Magazine on Unsplash

Find A Strong Focal Point

Minimalist photos aren’t visually barren — they don’t leave the eye to wander aimlessly around. Every good minimalist image includes a focal point to the draw in the eye and put the rest of the scene in proper context. This can be a person or an animal, a building or a rock formation. A minimalist photo works best when it includes a main subject.

Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

Incorporate Negative Space

Empty space in a photo doesn’t necessarily equate to wasted space. Used properly, this empty space around a subject — or negative space — helps further define and emphasize the subject. It is visual breathing room. Walls, the ground and the sky are three basic examples of things might be used to create negative space. The source of your negative space doesn’t matter nearly as much as how you frame your subject within that space.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Add A Splash Of Color

Minimalism rests heavily on uniformity. You’ll often find that a single color dominates the frame — a clear blue sky, a rolling green hill, a snow-covered field. This is indeed in line with minimalist philosophy, but it doesn’t mean you can’t inject more color to liven up the shot.

The easiest way to accomplish this will probably be to use a colorful prop or a human subject wearing colorful clothing so you position it/them wherever you need to within the scene.

Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

Compose For Maximum Impact

Simplicity may be the ultimate goal, but you can’t toss composition aside as if it doesn’t matter. In fact, a well thought out composition will only enhance the strength of your minimalistic work.

You can incorporate any compositional style into your photo but, not surprisingly, you may find that two of the simplest are most effective: using the rule of thirds can help maximize the effectiveness of negative space while leading lines can serve to add depth and symmetry. 

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Final Thoughts On Getting Started With Minimalism In Photography

Creating more visual impact with fewer elements isn’t as easy as it sounds, so take all the ideas above and experiment with them. The underlying message is that, even though your goal is to strip things to a bare minimum, you can’t sacrifice creativity in the process. It is, however, a fun process that will ultimately be an invaluable addition to your craft.

About Author

Jason Little is a photographer, author and stock shooter. You can see Jason’s photography on his Website or his Instagram feed.

Dear Jason,
Thanks for this article. A lot I have learnt. I also read through all the linked articles and together gained a lot of insight into minimalist photography. each and every point you made is very valid.
On a lighter vein, though seriously, you are doing proud to your last name!
My many many thanks, once again.
Sincerely yours,
Ravindra Kathale.

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