During this coronavirus pandemic I’ve spent months organizing and reorganizing pretty much everything around the house, a la Marie Kondo. I’ve also become interested in minimalist living (not the extreme kind) and, in the process, realized that I’ve always been a minimalist to a certain degree.
Recently, I’ve also discovered that there is such a thing as “minimalist photography.” So, what exactly is minimalist photography?
There are several characteristics that (loosely) define the look of a minimalist image:
- plenty of negative space (or copy space) or a small positive/negative space ratio (in contrast, the positive/negative space ratio in a headshot is quite large, for example)
- oftentimes but not always, there’s only one subject (one tree, one bird, etc)
- isolation of the subject – the subject appears small and oftentimes isolated, surrounded by all that negative space
- simplicity, in part but not only because of the small positive/negative space ratio (think the opposite of a busy image)
- rules of composition that, together with a small positive/negative space ratio are used to achieve that simplicity and isolation: the rule of thirds, color (for ex. for the subject to stand out), leading lines, etc.
- all of the above work together to help focus the viewer’s eye on the subject
- in addition, minimalist images can in color or black and white, oftentimes high-key or low-key (bright/dark background) images
- also, the subject can be pretty much anything, in motion or not
Here are a few examples:
Now, as an example of an image that might or might not be considered a minimalist image:
In the above image there’s plenty of negative space, and yet, the negative space, itself–the background–is quite dramatic (stormy clouds) and, hence, it could be considered as balancing (rather than only enhancing or isolating) the already dramatic subject. Hence, in this case, categorizing these kinds of images as minimalist images could be open to interpretation.
As always, hope this finds you well and thank you for stopping by.