9 Tips for Better Minimalist Photography

Interested in minimalist photography but don’t know much about it? No matter your experience, these minimalist photography ideas and tips will get you started.

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Minimalism is super trendy these days, whether it’s cutting out every unnecessary possession to live in a tiny home or making over your closet to only hold the essentials. Likewise, minimalist photography trends are probably showing up all over your Pinterest feed. But how do you achieve those gorgeous minimalist pictures that you keep seeing on all of your social media timelines? Minimalist photography may appear simple, but there’s more to the process of actually creating minimalism photography than initially meets the eye. Luckily, we’ve compiled all of the tips that you’ll need to get started on your minimalist photography journey, whether you’re brand new to photography or have been doing it for years.

Minimalist Photography Tips

When you create any type of photography, there are certain elements that come into play to make up your final photo. Minimalist photos require you to think carefully about each of these elements and how they work together to serve your vision. Here, we’ll go over some of the basic elements of a photo and how to apply them to creating your best minimalism photography.

Tip #1: Minimalist Photo Composition

Capturing a powerful image has a lot to do with the composition of your photo, and minimalist photography is all about simplicity and finding the perfect balance. A simple way to think about composition in terms of minimalist photography is to think about all of the elements in your shot, and decide what is actually necessary and what can be eliminated for the sake of the image as a whole.

Composition in minimalist photography refers to the way your viewer’s eyes will move around the photo. As a photographer, you are able to arrange the elements in your composition to suit your purpose, especially if you are working with minimal still life photography or portraiture. You can manipulate the elements of your composition in order to guide your viewer’s eye to the most important parts of your image.

White Building Architecture

Tip #3: Experiment with Camera Settings

You can also make use of your camera’s manual settings in order to experiment with different types of compositions. For example, you can adjust your aperture settings depending on whether you want the emphasis to be on the foreground or background, blurring whatever is not the focus so your viewer’s eyes know where to focus.

Tip #4: Use the Rule of Thirds

While you can edit or remove unnecessary elements after the fact or even use Lightroom presets to set the tone, achieving a successful composition starts with your initial shot. Many photographers refer to the rule of thirds when creating their compositions. You may want to read up on the rules of photography composition so you have a starting point when you’re setting up for your first a minimalist photoshoot.

Tip #5: Isolate Your Subject

Minimalist photography is about achieving a strong impact with only a few visual elements, so experiment with removing as much visual information from your composition as possible without compromising the strength of the image. When you provide ample visual space around your photo’s subject, your viewer’s eye will automatically be drawn to your subject, allowing them to immediately understand what the photo is all about. This can be effective even when the subject is small in relation to the overall composition, as long as it is positioned against a plain background.

Tip #6: Negative Space

When you use negative space effectively, you will be able to direct the way the viewer’s eye travels around the composition. In addition, by providing visual space around your subject, you give your viewer’s eye time to rest, rather than moving continuously all around the image without knowing where to settle.

Orange Red Roses In A Clear Vase

Likewise, when you incorporate texture into your minimalist photography, it may be either your focal subject or your background that is textured. All of these choices will depend on a variety of factors, so while you’re getting started, don’t be afraid to try out a bunch of different things so you can discover what works best for your individual artistic eye.

Tip #8: Lines and Shapes in Minimal Pictures

Just like the other elements of a minimalist photo, lines and shapes are another way to direct your viewer’s eye around the composition. Lines can be made up of architecture, phone lines, the horizon, or mountains, and the way you position them in your composition will determine the way people experience the subject and feel of your final photo. You can also use a repetitive pattern as negative space, like a simple wallpaper or floor tiles, as long as it doesn’t distract too much from your subject.

Tip #9: Following vs. Breaking the Rules in Your Minimalist Photography

Some think minimalist pictures should tell a specific story, while others think it’s more about what you’re depicting than any deeper meaning. There are always going to be rules or guidelines to an art form, but part of being creative is deciding when and how those rules will apply to your work, if at all. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain and get experimental, even if that means breaking some of the rules you’ve picked up along the way. These guidelines will help you get started, but where you take your minimalist photography is entirely up to you.

Examples of Niche-Specific Minimalist Photography

The principles of minimalism can be applied to all of the different types of photography, from portraiture to landscape to fashion, but applying these principles can vary depending on what niche you’re working in. In this section, we’ll go over some of the most popular photography niches and break down how you can make the best use of minimalist photography in each of these situations.

Tree in an empty field
Minimalistic photo of staircase through a white building window
Black and white portrait of a man

Another alternative is to focus on only a part of your subject’s body. For example, maybe you will get super close up to a part of their face framed against negative space. You could also experiment with silhouettes, where the viewer will only see the outline of your subject against the backdrop. An added benefit to these approaches is that your minimalist photo will evoke mystery by not including all of the details of your subject, leaving plenty of room for artistic interpretation. For more ideas on minimalist portrait photography, look through some portrait photography portfolios to see how other photographers are approaching this niche.

Wedding Photo Close Up of Flower Lapel

Another tip for great minimal wedding photography is to play with the colors in post-production. For example, turning a photo black and white can be an easy way to make it appear more minimal. You can also play around with your DSLR aperture settings to make a slightly busier setting fade into the background. Check out the photography portfolios of some professional photographers to get even more ideas.

Dad and daughter walks across the street

Look for areas with simple backgrounds so they won’t distract from your subject, then wait for a single person to enter the shot you’ve already lined up ahead of time. This is also a good opportunity to play with contrast between light and dark or complementary colors, as both light and dark areas can be used as negative space in your minimal street photography. Since your chance to get the perfect shot might be limited to your subject briefly walking through your composition, it’s also a good idea to make use of your camera’s burst mode, so you will have a bunch of minimalist photos to choose from later on.

Plant in vase on white background
Man and woman in white t-shirt and blue jeans against simple grey concrete wall

Now that you’ve got a thorough understanding of the elements that make up a great minimal picture and the various niches you can apply your knowledge to, you should be ready to start building up your minimalist photography repertoire. Remember, the number one thing you need in order to improve your photography is a commitment to working at your craft. You can spend all of your time reading about minimalist photography and looking at photos from other artists, but ultimately, the only way that you are going to see real progress in your minimalist pictures is by continuing the practice and learn through experience. So get out there and take some photos, and don’t forget to add them to your online photography portfolio so potential clients can find your work.

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