Minimalist Photography: Less is More

Minimalist photography emphasizes the power of simplicity and stimulates imagination through simplicity as opposed to standard photography. Therefore, minimalist photography can have profound meaning if you understand its underlying principles. Successful minimalist photography can be achieved by following the simple rule of less is moreThe minimal photographer transforms simplicity intro art and is a master in the craft of subtlety.

However, creating minimalist photography is as much about feeling and having an artistic sixth sense as it is about having at least a basic understanding of photography techniques. In this article, we will focus on a balanced approach to minimalist photography and we will try to use an eclectic approach on how to get started. Thus, let’s take a look at some basic principles you will need to become familiar with before you begin.

Keep it Simple

That’s why it’s called minimalist photography. It’s very easy to get carried away and want to include more elements in your minimalist photos. However, the artistic purpose of minimal photography is to say a lot using very little.

Sony DSCW830 20.1 MP Digital Camera with 2.7-Inch LCD (Silver)

  • Panorama Shooting: 360 Sweep Panorama; Minimum Illumination: Auto: 22.0 lux Shutter Speed 1/30
  • 720p MP4 HD Movie Mode ; This product is compatible with Final Cut Pro X and iMovie.
  • Optical Steady Shot image Stabilization with 2-way Active Mode. Dimensons(W X H X D)(APPROX.)- 3 3/4 x 2 1/8 x 29/32 Inches (93.1mm x 52.3mm x 22.5mm)
  • Picture Effect: Still images: Toy camera, Pop Color, Partial Color, Soft High-key, Panoramas: Pop Color, Partial Color, Soft High-key, Movies: Toy camera, Pop Color, Partial Color, Soft High-key
  • 20.1 Megapixel(effective) Plus 8x Zoom and number of pixels (Gross)is approx. 20.4 megapixels


Sony DSCW800/B 20.1 MP Digital Camera (Black)

  • Super HAD CCD 20.1 MP sensor
  • Sony Lens with F3.2 (W) – 6.4 (T) Maximum Aperture
  • In the box: Battery (NP-BN), AC AdaptorAC-UB10C, Wrist Strap, Multi USB cable, Instruction Manual
  • Reduced blur with SteadyShot Image stabilization.Recording Format:Still Images: JPEG , Movie: AVI (Motion JPEG)
  • 5x Optical Zoom

Thus, the most important thing you have to learn in the beginning is how to experiment with simple pictures and reduce the number of elements to an absolute minimum. For instance, if your object of interest is a building, you must focus on one small part of its architecture in which you perceive the most artistic meaning, like the corner of a window or a rusty doorknob.

minimalist photography
Image source: Christian Wöhrl on


True minimalist photography uses the power of contrast to highlight a certain element of artistic or spiritual significance. As such, one must achieve a very strong level of composition within the photo. You can do this by spotting conspicuously strong shapes which form a contrast with the surrounding objects. Therefore, deciding what your minimalist photos will contain is equally important to deciding what you should leave out.

Nikon Coolpix B500 Digital Camera (Black)

  • Nikkor f/3.0 6.5 millimeter ED lens
  • Iso 6400, 7.4 fps continuous shooting
  • Full HD 1080p video recording at 30 fps
  • 3 inches 921k dot tilting LCD. Highest ISO sensitivity: 6400
  • 22.5 900 millimeter (35 millimeter equivalent)

Canon Digital SLR Camera Kit [EOS Rebel T6] with EF-S 18-55mm and EF 75-300mm Zoom Lenses - Black, full-size

  • Comes with a large, 3 0-Inch LCD monitor with 920, 000 dots shows fine details and provides easy viewing
  • The 18 0 Megapixel CMOS Image Sensor and the DIGIC 4+ Image processor that can capture images with high resolution with an is 100-6400 (expandable to H: 12800)
  • Polished Full HD videos with our easy manual control of exposure, focus and live view features
  • Equipped with built-in Wi-Fi and NFC to make wireless sharing of photos and videos between compatible devices Easy and convenient
  • Use the EOS Utility Webcam Beta Software (Mac and Windows) to turn your compatible Canon camera into a high-quality webcam

The photo should focus on its subject, but must immortalize a contrast in both color, field depth, and shape for optimal effect.

minimalist photography
Image source: marcosreisjornalismo on

Master the Colors

Use strongly contrasting colors to create a powerful artistic effect. Every color has different human feeling associated with it, many of them subconscious. Black is a bleak reminder of mortality, green underlines the omnipresence of life, and blue has a connection to transcendence. Make use of such combinations and create an incredibly expressive photo. Black and white minimalist photography is one of the most challenging and, at the same time, satisfying areas you could try!


Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ70 16.1 MP Digital Camera with 60x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3-Inch LCD (Black)

  • Dimensions (W x H x D) 130.2 x 97.0 x 118.2 mm / (5.13 x 3.82 x 4.65 inch)
  • Experience Full 1080/60i HD Panasonic Video recording with auto focus
  • Zoom focused Dolby quality sound recording locks out ambient noise for enhanced audio quality
  • Bring the action in super close with category class leading 60X optical zoom (20mm-1200mm)

Nikon Coolpix S7000 16 MP Digital Camera with 20x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom 3-Inch LCD (Black)

  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Near Field Communication technology allow you to wirelessly share photos to a compatible smartphone
  • Target Finding AF for accurate, intelligent autofocus
  • Full HD 1080/60i videos with stereo sound
  • 18 Scene Modes
  • 20x optical zoom and 40x with Dynamic Fine Zoom, an enhanced digital zoom function that effectively doubles your reach

Also, remember that minimalism in photography does not exclude the use of some landscape elements. The contrast between the roof of a building and the sky can, thus, be a great starting point.

minimalist photo of a wooden bench
Image source: Markus Spiske on

Related: If black and white minimalist photography sounds appealing to you, we also recommend reading our tips for black and white photography.

Use Lines

Use clearly defined lines to build sharp contrasts and surprising differences. Lines are a key instrument used by photographers to attract the viewer’s gaze towards the center of the photo. The contrast which lines create, alongside the opposing colors, can give a sense of sadness and nostalgia. You can do this by carefully calculating the right angle.

Nikon COOLPIX L32 Digital Camera with 5x Wide-Angle NIKKOR Zoom Lens

  • Smart Portrait System
  • 720p HD video with sound
  • Large 3.0-inch LCD
  • Runs on regular AA batteries
  • 5x wide-angle NIKKOR zoom lens


Nikon D3400 w/ AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR (Black)

  • Expeed 4 image processor
  • 24.2mp dx format CMOS sensor
  • No optical low pass filter. Bluetooth specification version 4.1. Wi-Fi functionality eye fi compatible
  • Native ISO 100 25600; 5 fps shooting. Compatibility information: c firmware v. 1.10 and later ( released august 31, 2016 )
  • Snap Bridge Bluetooth Connectivity

The idea behind relying so closely on lines is to make the eye follow a certain path around the picture until it reaches the desired area. The journey your eyes take across the seemingly simplistic picture will trigger a type of artistic catharsis which is unique to minimalist photography.

minimalist photography
Image source: Chad Krusenstjerna on

Use Your Surroundings

To begin your journey into minimalist photography, look no further than a few meters around you. There is a good chance that you are right now surrounded by potential frames for minimalist photography. A forgotten coffee cup, a lonely book on a desk or a burnt out cigarette are all potentially great subjects.

The diligent minimalist photographer always searches for hidden contrasts, unexpected shapes, and unlikely colors. In addition, keep a camera close at all times. Who knows when the perfect frame might reveal itself? Minimalist scenes are virtually everywhere – you just need to pay attention to what’s around.

minimalist photography
Image source: Emi Lija on

Get Emotional

Photography is, by definition, a highly emotional form of art because it has the ability to freeze time and emotions. It thus becomes a way of escaping mortality. Capturing this with standard photography is easier, due to the wide array of frames and images which you can immortalize.

Kodak PIXPRO Friendly Zoom FZ43-BK 16MP Digital Camera with 4X Optical Zoom and 2.7" LCD Screen (Black)

  • 16 Megapixels;Compatible with PC or Mac.Focal Length 4.9 mm (Wide) — 19.6 mm (Tele). Shutter Speed: 1/2000 – 4 Seconds
  • 720p HD Video
  • 4X Optical Zoom
  • 2.7" LCD Screen
  • 27mm Wide Angle;Compatible with PC or Mac

Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera 24.3MP SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD (Black) w/16-50mm Power Zoom Lens

  • Up to 11 FPS continuous shooting. Battery Life (Still Images): Up to 360 shots. Metering type:1200-zone evaluative metering
  • Anti-dust system: Charge protection coating on optical filter and ultrasonic vibration mechanism
  • In the box: Rechargeable Battery NP FW50; Shoulder strap; Eyepiece cup; Micro USB cable
  • Advanced 24.2MP back Illuminated 35 millimeter full frame image sensor
  • ISO 100 25600 (expandable to 51200). Lens compatibility: Sony E mount lenses

However, in minimalist photography, the sense of stopped time and eternal memory takes a real artist to pull off. A rusty bicycle handle next to an old brick wall, for instance, is a stark reminder of a lost childhood. Consequently, the hidden theme of your minimal photography can be the ephemeral nature of what we perceive and define as happiness.

minimalist photography red wall
Image source: Thomas Leth-Olsen on

Use Pictures to Tell Stories

A really great minimalist photo doesn’t just remind us of forgotten emotions. It also hints at a greater and more complex story which unfolds beyond the picture’s edges. An old window left open hints at a once happy house now left in ruin. Thus, the main theme can be the fleetingness of youth and joy. Fully immerse yourself into such interpretations to produce a lasting emotion in your audience.


The Minimalist Photographer

  • Johnson, Steve (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 144 Pages - 04/13/2013 (Publication Date) - Rocky Nook (Publisher)
minimalist photography
Image source: LIMAT MD ARIF on

Minimalist Photography and the Art of Less

Excellent minimalist photography always looks to capture hidden meanings. In other words, it explores how the simplest of objects can stir the deepest emotion. So, if you want to excel in minimalist photography, remember to stay in touch with your idealistic side.


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