Photo Essay

minimalism - a style that uses pared-down design elements


Minimalist Style

This is a style that i personally love, but like my students on the monthly mentoring program found out, is a lot harder to achieve than you may initially believe.

So what defines minimalism? It's a blurred line in my view because you can search for that genre and find many shots that could easily be classified as just:

Close-up, Macro or Abstract

Wikipedia - In the visual arts and music, minimalism is a style that uses pared-down design elements.

See Barley Swirl

See Chesterton stubble

Pairing down, to me, means reducing the elements in the frame to simplicity. That is to say, can i reduce the colour palette down, can i reduce the tone and textures and most importantly does the space dominate the frame but still give a focal point to the subject.

So scale is clearly important, otherwise the shot could easily just slip into being a close up rather than minimalism.

How do we deal with colour? Where there are to many colours which distract from minimalism then a mono conversion can really help improve the image.

See The Photographer colour and mono

I, like my mentoring students, found this month's assignment hard to evaluate objectively - I had to think - is this more about what matches my taste, rather than what qualifies as a minimalist photo

Given the wide interpretation of minimalism, it's not easy to give more than general guidance about improvements that could be made to each image or general points about challenging the style between close-up or minimalist. I certainly don't set myself up as the judge of what qualifies in one camp or the other, so for me I look at each image uniquely and ask myself does it have that "magic" something about it that's hard to explain but is clearly minimalism.

Ultimately one doesn't look an image and define it by it's genre - we either like the picture or not - the style may suit our own preference for space and sense of being clutter free or it may be to sparse for your own taste - that's the beauty of art - there is no right or wrong - just opinions.

I would be interested in others thoughts on this topic and the images in this blog - so please feel welcome to comment and add to the discussion.

See sledging

See sea neighbours

Take a look at the student's photos and see if you agree?

I am sure you will agree some great images from the mentored students again this month on a style that was difficult but was chosen to encourage them to work harder at simplifying composition down to the basic elements and using space more creatively in their framing of subjects. From that perspective I saw vast improvements in most peoples images and the ongoing mentoring is really starting to produce some great results for individuals.

If you are interested in receiving a monthly photographic assignment with supporting notes, examples and tips then why not sign up to the online mentoring program. It doesn't matter where you are based in the world, the type of camera you have or your experience and level - the assignments are suitable for everyone.

Details of the program here:

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3 responses

  • Donald Garrett

    Donald Garrett gave props (17 Aug 2014):

    VOTED. Well done

  • Rey mos

    Rey mos gave props (27 Aug 2014):

    Nice story... minimal with dramatic impact.

  • Deborah King

    Deborah King said (29 Aug 2014):

    Love your work and your minimalist concept. Wondering if you carry this into your everyday lifestyle.

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