Keep it Simple – A Guide to Minimalist Photography

Minimalist photography is quickly growing in popularity with many photographers, and it’s easy to see why.

In today’s visually-saturated world, the simplistic style of minimalist photography offers visually-soothing results – with plenty of breathing room. Minimalism provides a refreshing visual break from the constant flood of information, and visual noise that we face every day.

image by Sodanie Chea

What is Minimalism Anyways?

Minimalist photography draws inspiration from the concept of minimalism in art – a style of art that was used by many 20th century artists. Artistically speaking, minimalism depends on high simplicity and involves using a minimal amount of compositional components such as shape, color, and line.

The goal of minimalist art, or photography, is to convey a concept – or an idea – provoke an emotional response, or provide a unique visual experience. Compositional elements must be kept to a minimum, and the ones that are left should be essential for conveying the overall idea, or symbolism, of the photo.

As with any photographic style, minimalist photography has its own set of challenges – mostly due to the fact that minimalism is based on simplicity, and it can be a challenge to eliminate all but the most necessary elements of a composition, and focus only on a limited number of objects and elements when creating a composition. Minimalism forces you to view the world differently, and will challenge you to look beyond the obvious for hidden photographic opportunities.

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Read on to see how you can employ some of the techniques of minimalism to benefit your photography, and find out how you can get started with minimalist photography.

Learn to See

Learn to See
image by davide ragusa via Unsplash

Photographic opportunities are all around us, but they are all-too-easy to overlook. Learning to think outside the box, and look for hidden opportunities is the first step towards mastering minimalist photography. When you’re out with your camera, look for open spaces, bright blocks of color, interesting geometric patterns or lines, and subjects that stand alone against simplified backgrounds – all excellent opportunities for minimalist photography.

Keep it Simple

Keep it Simple
image by Jon Phillips

When it comes to minimalist photography, less is more. Minimalist photography attempts to explore how much information can be taken away from a composition, before it loses its impact. Remember to keep it simple, and make it powerful. When it comes to minimalist photography, the more outstanding and eye-catching an image is, the better. Your goal is to include only the information that’s required in order to show the message that you want to convey.

Create a Strong Composition

Create a Strong Composition
image by Dyaa Eldin Moustafa via Unsplash

Minimalist photography relies upon simple compositions, but this doesn’t mean that it should be boring – minimalist photography allows a lot of room for creativity. The challenge is applying the concept of minimalism, and keeping all distracting and unnecessary details out of the photo, allowing all of the attention to be brought toward the concept, or subject of the photo.

Strong Leading Lines

Strong Leading Lines
image by Andrea Boldizsar via Unsplash

In art, as well as photography, lines are a common compositional technique used to draw the viewer into a composition, or to convey a sense of depth or distance. When it comes to minimalist photography, strong lines play a major role in many compositions. Lines can show isolation, separation, connection, distance, proximity and depth. Strong vertical or horizontal lines can also act as a central element, providing a solid structure to the composition.

Geometric Patterns

Geometric Patterns
image by Georgie Pauwels

Look for geometric patterns when composing minimalistic photos. Architecture is a great place to find geometric patterns, as you can often find entire walls of patterns to incorporate into a shot. Staircases, park benches, bridges, windows, and brick walls are all excellent places to find interesting geometric patterns.

Negative Space

Negative Space
image by JoshuaDavisPhotography

Negative space is the valuable breathing room that’s an essential part of minimalist photography. Look for negative space, walls of color, and simplified backgrounds to incorporate into your photos. Angle your shots up and using the blue sky as a simplified background, or capture your subjects in front of a wall – just be sure to incorporate plenty of negative space into your photos.


image by rekre89

Contrast is one of the most important qualities when it comes to eliciting an emotional response. Contrasting colors, shades, patterns, shapes, or even contrasting ideas are effective ways to create compositional tension that grabs the viewer’s attention and makes them think – or to convey a powerful message.


image by Romany WG

Good use of color and interesting textures are both key elements to minimalist photography. Some minimalist compositions even feature texture as the key component. Try to use light to improve the texture and bring out the colors and contrast. Your goal is to capture an image that the viewer can almost feel.

Light and Dark

Light and Dark
image by Susanne Nilsson

The importance of lighting in minimalist photography cannot be overstated! Both light and shadow can both be used to create minimalist photos. Try to look for opportunities where the light really brings out the colors or textures in a scene. Or look for dark shadows to feature as a central part of your composition.

Tell a Story

Tell a Story

Minimalism attempts to use as few details as possible to convey a concept, create a unique visual experience, or to tell a story. By incorporating an interesting subject, the right elements, lighting, and angles, you can create a photo that tells a story, and provides the viewer with a glimpse into a moment in time. Remember, simplified photos can have a powerful effect when they are well-composed.

The next time you’re out with your camera, look for opportunities to create simplified and powerful images. Learning to look for hidden gems of opportunity where others wouldn’t find anything is an exciting challenge – and lots of fun.

Challenge yourself, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Minimalism is a very subjective style, open to interpretation, so don’t be concerned if others don’t see things exactly how you do. Just remember to enjoy the learning curve, and have fun.

Incorporating a minimalist perspective into your photography style will inject new life into your photos, and will help you to transform everyday moments into unique photographic works of art.

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