Minimalist Photography: What It Is and How to Get Started

Minimalist Photography: What It Is and How to Get Started

Minimalism has become quite a popular way to live your life at the moment. People are practicing minimalism in many aspects of their lives. Marie Kondo is a superstar for her system of letting things go. This same effect can be seen in minimalist photography as well.

No matter where this principle is applied, the main motive is to utilise only the right and essential resources. In minimalist photography, the photograph is simple and clear enough to deliver the message the photographer wants.

This category has gained momentum these days as people are unable to pay attention for a longer duration. We are here with some essential tips to help you master this skill and make the most out of it. 

It’s all about simplicity

Minimalist photography is all about simplicity. The birth of this genre is closely related to the abstract sculptures and paintings from the 20th century where they focused a lot on geometric patterns, coloured lines, etc.

The art of minimalism enabled the photo to speak for itself and that doesn’t relate to something in the real world. During that time, the minimalist artists made the best use of simplicity by limiting the number of elements in the photograph. 

You can attain this level of simplicity by including fewer subjects in the image. Remember that you have to reduce the duration of time taken for grabbing the viewer’s attention to the subject.

The occupancy of the subject in the frame should be either very little, say around 5-10%, or most of the image, like 90% or more in most cases. Obviously, rules are meant to be broken and you can play with this based on your demands and requirements. 

Example of minimalist photography using architecture

Opt for a shallow depth of field

A shallow depth of field is a nice way to grab viewers’ attention easily in minimalist photography. When the background has been smoothly blurred, all that the viewers are left with is the subject and hence they are more likely to perceive the subject very conveniently.

There are several ways to do it. You can either increase the size of the aperture to do it or it can also be done by keeping the object far away from the camera and then zooming in. In both these cases, you will be able to attain a nice and smooth shallow effect. 

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Try to find shots with minimalism

It is a thing worth noting in this type of photography. No trick will help you create a unique and nice minimalist photo if you are focusing on the wrong subject. For this, you need to find minimalism in real-world everyday objects. For this, you need to find the right location.

If you are on the street and want to find something of this category, you may find it a challenge. That is why you have to find the right places where less or no distractions are present inside the frame.

Minimalist photography is all about making your subject pop out of the frame so that the viewers will be guided throughout the image in the best and convenient way. 

In case you have to make something out of your city only, there are some ways to do it. You can visit your nearby park and shoot a photo of a tree or something like that with nothing else in the frame with a shallow background.

The same thing can be done with various landscapes, out on the city streets or other places where people hang out. However you should know that the photos with singular subjects work the best in this case.

With the right use of papers and a selection of better subjects, you can create better shots in this category right inside your home. However make sure the background is flat because it works the best in minimalist photography. 

Example of minimalist photography using solid colours

Start playing with the things you have

There is nothing much to prepare in this case. Even if you are sitting in your backyard, you can make the most out of this by picking up simple things like the fallen leaves of plants or you can also use some household items.

There is no end to the list of things you can do to create the best photo. All you have to do is apply your mind in the right way. In case you are not getting any clues, you have to look at some of the work from popular artists in this category. 

Mind the extent of editing your photos

This is another important thing to consider here. Since any project in photography is not complete without a bit of editing. You have to do the same in this case as well. However never edit these photos much.

Even if there is a singular subject, too much post processing can sometimes ruin your efforts. When there are many contrasting things in the same frame, the photo will never be a minimalistic one. So, your editing should be slight and simple. This is the key. 

Many minimalist photos are obtained by turning the coloured photo into a black and white one. Once you have done that, you can enhance the contrast between the subject and the background.

However remember there should be nothing more than two items in this case i.e. the subject and the background. That is all. 

Blend products photography and minimalist photography into one

It may sound a bit strange however this trick works the best in product photography. Product photography is also about grabbing the viewer’s attention down to a single subject and the same happens in minimalist photography.

In this type, you have to replace the subject with a product you want to portray. No matter which product you are concerned about in this type of photography, you have to make use of the background that is in contrast with the subject.

This is the only way you are going to grab someone’s attention through minimalistic photography. 

Product photography and minimalist photography

Final thoughts

Minimalist photography is all about making your subject speak the way users may understand most conveniently. There are several other types of photography however this one is always at the centre when it comes to grabbing the attention of people in the quickest way possible.

Keeping the photo free from distractions by keeping minimum items inside the frame is the main key.


About the Author

Michael Whatley is an amateur photographer and college student. When he isn't behind a camera, he is writing articles and creating videos about improving his own photography skills.