MINIMALISM IN PHOTOGRAPHY: ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
The popularity of minimalism cannot be denied, although it can cause quite mixed feelings. In his article, photographer Spencer Cox shares some of the main reasons for this trend, as well as a few tips for maximizing the use of style in photography.
Minimalism sends your message to the viewer
One of the first recommendations for a photographer who studies composition is to form your own special message. What should your photo bring to the viewer? What emotions or thoughts should arise when looking at a picture? And, most importantly, how can you simplify this message and convey it as efficiently as possible?
For many photographers, minimalism is the answer. Minimalistic photographs most often have several things in common. Firstly, their color palettes are not distracting; usually there is only one or two primary colors that attract attention, or the photograph is generally monochrome. In such images, as a rule, rather large areas of negative space – empty areas in the image. Secondly, the main objects are most often small. They are not always detailed or clearly defined, with sharp transitions that separate the object from the background.
In macro photography, whether you like it or not, minimalism in the final frame is indispensable. This is due to the fact that many of the above elements are present in the macrocosm – uniform colors, significant negative space (due to the shallow depth of field) and very clearly defined objects. Not every macro photo is minimalistic, but it is a good example of the genre where such a style of shooting is something completely natural.
Nevertheless, minimalism can be found in any genre of photography, the main condition is the presence of negative space. If you want to take minimalistic shots, the first thing you should pay attention to is empty areas that you can use as a background for your main subject. Does your final photograph contain only one or two objects on an unobtrusive background? Then you hit the right target!
Minimalism works on small screens
People use phones to search for content more often than ever before, and many photographers have changed their style to meet new demand. On small screens, the minimalistic style of the images works just as well as there is not so much space for complex details on them. One object on a monotonous background in the photo will stand out much easier.
On the one hand, this is a little sad, because in this way the viewer is deprived of the opportunity, for example, to view a detailed landscape in close-up – and this, I must say, is a unique experience. At the same time, people will always change, and it makes sense for photographers to keep up with the times.
Great Symphonies – Complicated
Think of the greatest works in history. From Beethoven’s symphonies to Michelangelo’s frescoes, almost all of the most famous works of mankind have a huge level of complexity.
Of course, you should not compare such masterpieces with amateur photography, but one thing is certain: minimalism only takes you away from this. Of course, a minimalist photo may look good on Instagram, but its simplicity complicates the process of conveying a much deeper thought than you “read” from the surface.
How many great photos can you remember right now? And what about minimalism in them? Of course, some amazing photographs, say, “Afghan Girl”, are clear and understandable, but they can’t be called simplified or minimalistic. If they were all the same, they would hardly have had the same deep emotional impact on the viewer.
There are documentary series of shots, with one or two minimalistic photographs, and this is almost always done in order to convey one particular moment (object) as clearly as possible. But the apparent lack of information in the image in this style makes it difficult to show a more subtle and complex view of the photographer on the world. And this, of course, is reflected in their success.
Minimalism can quickly become obsolete
With the sheer amount of minimalistic photos posted daily on platforms such as Instagram, it is not surprising that this style of photography is already starting to tire many people. If every second photograph is a minimalist picture with the same composition, how can you expect someone to see in it a magnificent, unique art?
Perhaps this is not entirely true, because the fact that minimalism is becoming obsolete is not its fault – the reason is only because many photographers use it literally all the time. If you are trying to avoid an overabundance of minimalism in your photo project, the situation can be easily fixed. Take some simplified photos if they beat a particular subject well – but don’t forget about photos in some other style too.