Using the Bokeh technique to Create Minimalist Photos

Minimalist photograph of a feather on a pond.
Minimalist photograph of a feather on a pond.

Some Tricks to create Minimalist Photos

To create minimalist photographs, I reuse the same techniques. I apply the following simplistic rules to implement the purpose of minimalist photography.

  • I always try to find a composition that brings out the unique element that I would like to illuminate.
  • I focus on patterns when they are present in the scene, whether for the point of interest itself or for the negative space.
  • I use the creative technique of bokeh to highlight the shapes and volumes of the point of interest. This is used especially in my animal photographs.
  • In my light and colors photographs, I often use a dominant color to detach the minimal subject in the framing.
  • I sometimes utilize the creative technique of black and white in my shades of blacks and whites photographs because this technique is well adapted for the minimalist approach.
  • For my photographs of landscapes, I like to use the creative technique of long exposure because it accentuates the creamy and dreamlike effects of the scenes.
  • Also for photographs of landscapes, I use the technique of symmetry or reflection. These are interesting reading reinforcement elements that accentuate the messages being conveyed.
  • The isolation of the point of interest is an important principle for me. This is not always easy to implement in wide-angle photography because disturbing details are often present. But this is where the right choice of a point of view comes in.

Minimalist Wildlife Photography

As wildlife professional photographers, I like to apply the minimalist approach. I must first choose the scene and a negative space that is neutral and free. Meadows, snowy areas, or lakes are ideal locations. It is necessary to remove from the frame all elements that may distract the eye from the viewer. In Europe or the United States, I often use the technique of the blind either for mammals or birds. I choose the place and I wait for an animal to move through the scene.

It is for this reason that when I approach this photographic technique during my workshops, I always recommend that trainees learn about the habits of the animals and their behavior. For example, when photographing mirrored bluethroats I know where the singing or mating areas are. For deer or wild boars, I know the areas of passages and flows.

The knowledge of the biotope is the fundamental element to choose the scenes that will be used to support minimalist animal pictures.

Minimalist photograph of a red deer during the rut season in Charente-Maritime in France.
Minimalist photograph of a red deer during the rut season in Charente-Maritime in France.

Minimalist Underwater Photography

As underwater professional photographers, I sometimes use the minimalist approach, although it is very difficult to practice. Indeed, the underwater environments are often exuberant in forms or colors. In the desert spaces, there are few interesting centers of interest to photograph.

When I photograph underwater with a wide angle, my privileged place is undoubtedly the caves of the Red Sea or in the cenotes of the Yucatan.

My minimalist underwater approach is incredibly focused on close-up or macro photography. As with wildlife photography, it requires a thorough knowledge of the biotopes and behavior of underwater animals. My favorite subjects are gobies, blennies, seahorses or crustaceans. I often use the technique of patterns to highlight the subjects.

Underwater photography is a difficult photographic discipline due to the lack of air. Air tanks generally limit the diving times to one hour for a depth of 20 meters (60 feet). In addition, you can only do 3 dives a day without being too tired. Finally, changing immersion times and the frequent rotation of diving sites are unfavorable factors for a minimalist approach.

Minimalist photograph of a manta ray during a night dive in Maldives.
Minimalist photograph of a manta ray during a night dive in Maldives.

Minimalist Landscape Photography

As landscape professional photographers, I often create minimalist photos. As I have explained in previous paragraphs, I use the long exposure technique quite often, as it is straightforward to implement. However, it is up to the nature photographer to use this technique to create beautiful minimalist photos.

On one hand, it is possible to return without stopping to photograph the same scene at various times or seasons. Time does not matter. It is a matter of patience.

In landscape photography, choice of scenery is decided by the photographer. This is not always the case in animal photography or underwater photography, where the photographer remains heavily dependent on the surrounding environments and the animals’ habits.

Landscape scenes which are perhaps easiest to photograph are deserts and wetlands. Indeed, these areas are uncrowded with superfluous details. The main difficulty is to integrate a motivating subject, or focus, into the scene. It is the imagination and the originality of the photographer that will create an impact on the viewer.

Minimalist photograph of a jetty.
Minimalist photograph of a jetty.

Post-Processing: An Effective Ally

During my nature photography workshops, I often repeat that shooting is the essential act in photography. Even with computer tools for correction and retouching, a bad photo will always be a bad photo. A good photo must be 95% successful when the photographer decides to trigger the camera. Post-processing consists of accentuating details and clarifying even more clearly the photographer's artistic vision. In this article, I place myself in the noblest definition of photography. I do not place myself in the photography which consists of taking several shots to create one.

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The development in black and white, for example, accentuates the feeling of minimalism. It is a creative technique that allows highlighting the point of interest of a photo.

The ability to crop a photo by removing disruptive elements is also a technique for creating minimal photos.

The high key and low key techniques also help to reinforce the minimalist vision of a photographer.

Computer tools are essential today to create interesting artistic photographs which will have a firm impact on the audience. Despite their utility, they should only be used to reinforce and deepen a vision.


Even though the making of minimalist photographs may seem simple and easy at first glance, it is not a discount style of photography. It is necessary to be very vigilant in the construction of the photographs. The photographer should be very careful in the choice of point of view, framing, composition, and in transmitting the message

Creating beautiful minimalist photographs requires decent technical mastery, for example, in shooting with the use of filters. Technical mastery of photographic development is also required for creations in high-key or low-key.

Minimalist photography is an approach that requires a certain way of thinking and a Zen attitude. It takes time, patience and self-sacrifices to succeed in interesting, creative pictures that transmit good messages expressing the artistic vision of the photographer.

Be humble, patient, constant, persevering, and persistent because the road to excellence is long.


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