8 Techniques for Creating Minimalist Photos

I like to create minimalist photographs because it fits perfectly into my artistic vision. This photographic approach may seem simple and natural at first glance, however, it requires a lot of patience and a special state of mind. I have incorporated this photographic approach into my methodology. I always use the same criteria for framing and composing.

For me, the creation of minimalist photographs is above all a therapy, a way to find myself alone in a fast-moving world where the words "fleeting", "speed", "instantaneity" and "forgetfulness" seem to dictate their laws to every moment. This approach allows me to formulate firm photographic foundations.

Minimalist picture of a bighorn sheep in Yellowstone in winter.
Minimalist picture of a bighorn sheep in Yellowstone in winter.

A Little Bit of History

It is always important to situate events, the evolution of principles, and techniques. Every story has a beginning and an end. Minimalist photography does not deviate from this rule.

In general, minimalism is a form of contemporary art, appearing during the early 1960s in the United States. This name was given in 1965 by the English analytical philosopher Richard Wollheim in the magazine "Arts Magazine" about an exhibition at the Green Gallery in New York.

Two facts characterize the hatching of the current minimalism. While Richard Wollheim did create minimalism in opposition to the figurative tendency of Pop Art, he is also the heir of the modernist movement, the Bauhaus. One of their maxims was "less is more". Minimalists sought purity and efficiency through painting.

Photography viewed as an artistic discipline has also been affected by this phenomenon. I do not know when this approach began impacting photography, but I believe that minimalist photography was born around the same time that the minimalist tide swept through society, in the mid-twentieth century.

Today this world is turmoil; most people have difficulty finding benchmarks. Thus, minimalist photography has become a true artistic form to describe nature.

Proposal for a Definition of Minimalist Photography

Quite strangely, defining minimalist photography is difficult. Rather than trying to define it, I will provide its main characteristics. Although trying to categorize minimalism into merely a few properties limits me, it is nevertheless how I conceive this artistic approach.

  • A minimalist photograph seeks to minimize the elements necessary for the viewer's understanding.
  • The message to be passed must be done with as few elements as possible. The photographer looks for the simplest form possible.
  • It is a simple photograph that does not require a complicated analytical reading.
  • A minimalist photograph shows a unique point of interest. It can be presented alone or in repetition, in the manner of a pattern. But in any case, the subject is unique.
  • When it is alone, the point of interest of the composition occupies a small place. The compositions are very refined.
  • There are no elements of reading reinforcement. The photograph does not present any frills.

If I was to give a general rough idea, I would say that a minimalist photograph is a simple photograph. It shows only what needs to be seen.

But as I always repeat during my wildlife, underwater or landscape photography workshops, "It is very difficult to do simple things".

But be careful: minimalist photography does not mean simplistic photography. Creating a minimalist photo requires a lot of thinking, a defined artistic approach, methodology and time.

An Artistic Vision Above All

Artistic photography is an artistic discipline. As I described in this article, it exists mainly to show a vision or unique perspective of the world. The minimalist vision is one of the ways to project this vision. It is a personal, and often, an artistic approach.

My everyday environment, be it sensory, visual, or olfactory, is full of details, shapes, and structures. Each sense is different from the others. The material world created by humans is often noisy. The ambient brouhaha is like all the repetitive information that I am delivered daily: it becomes inaudible.

As far as I am concerned, in recent years, I have wanted to find true values ​​by immersing myself in calm and serene environments. More and more, I crave the solitude that one finds in the great natural spaces. Minimalist photography has become a necessity for me, a vital need to find deep values, whether human, relational, or ethical.

I wanted to come back to an essential photograph, with no frills or apparatuses. When I was working for online photography stocks or for magazines, it was certain that it was not a very sought after type of photography. For that specific type of media, one needed sensational, exceptional, and brilliant photos. The more details, the more sales. After years of photographic work based on the orders I was given, I wanted to return to my true core values ​​and pursue a photography for which I was truly passionate.

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Minimalist photography is a translation of a vision of the world and the emotions that a photographer desires to convey through his works. If you like exuberance, shimmering colors, and very detailed photographs, do not engage yourself in the minimalist approach. You will not be able to create interesting photos that resemble you and your personality. Stay true to who you really are. Your photos will have more impact if they are a true representation of yourself.

Minimalist photography does not need to describe the world or nature realistically. It has no importance in that sense. The most important are the suggestive and emotional power of the approach to convey the personal emotions of the photographer. Like any artistic process, it is ultimately an interpretation of the real world.

The Value of a Minimalist Approach

For me, minimalist photography is an elegant artistic approach that evokes class in the noblest sense of the term. By going to the basics, I try to convey simple, straightforward messages. I enjoy creating ethereal and dreamy scenes when I contemplate nature. Whether in the mineral landscapes of the United States, the forested landscapes of France, or in the wetlands, I always try to find simple scenes with well-organized environments, thus representing my perspective and love for nature.

The minimalist approach reflects tranquility, serenity, introspection, and self-seeking. The interest of this approach is to allow me to refocus on my core values by returning to the fundamental criteria of my life.

For me, the minimalist photo is like a therapy. My profession of independent professional photographers is a stressful and nervous activity. It can be very difficult to live daily. Between communication activities, administrative activities, photo workshops, and appointments with clients, I have little time to create pictures within my busy schedules. I do up to two or three projects each year. Moreover, these projects are often customer orders that require special art photographs. It is for this reason that when I was on the field, I was looking for simplicity and quietness with evanescent scenes that make me dream.

For me to create minimalist photos, I fulfill a longing within myself; a longing to project myself into scenes where I find freedom by evolving in spaces without any constraint, without any walls. These are scenes where I find time to breathe and relax while shooting. When the photos are printed on paper, perhaps decorating a wall, I revisit that same calm emotion of relaxation.

Some Tricks to create Minimalist Photos


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