Simplicity is one of the Tao Te Ching’s three greatest treasures, and it is at the core of an increasingly popular style of photography called minimalism which focuses on focusing. As the saying goes, silence is golden, especially in a world enraged with audio-visual noise and more and more photographers are embracing a minimal approach to their work. However, that which looks simple is not always simple to achieve, and so, we have put togeather these minimalist photography tips to guide you on your way.
1- Observe and Obturate Once
In Zen Buddhism, there is a practice called enso (circle) in which an enlightened mind is able to draw a perfect circle in one neat stroke. Similarly, many practices of Japanese calligraphy center on executing clear, fluid and decisive marks. This idea is related to minimalist philosophy, which seeks the accomplishment of something perfect through an inner state of simplicity, silence and awareness.
Our minimalist photography tip in relation to this is, stop, look, pick the most adequate detail, the one that sums everything else up, leave everything else out, get your gear ready and take the picture, once.
2- Explore Contrast
Another oriental concept related to minimalism is the ying-yang: two opposing complementary forces that put together create a perfect whole. This same idea can be used in your photography to create balance, or to create tension. Think of contrast not only in terms of black and white, light and dark, but also in terms of big and small, curved and angular, foreground and background, natural and artificial, and so on.
3- Focus Your Senses
A common meditation technique is to focus your mind on only one thing whether it be the repetition of a sound, the flicker of a candle, or breath for example. You can apply the same idea to your picture by focusing on the texture of your subject, or on a color, or it’s contour, or a repeated pattern.
You can photograph strands of hair, pores, steam, drops, knits, bricks, sunlit patches of grass… the sky is the limit, as long as you remember to keep it simple.
4- Give it Space
Everybody needs a little space sometimes, and your pictures do too. Think about what area of the image you are going to fill, and what area you are going to leave empty. Give the image room to breathe, and remember you can insinuate a much larger space by only framing a fragment of a subject and leaving the rest out for the imagination to complete.
To find out more tips and minimalist photography ideas check out photographer Steve Johnson's blog or follow this list of Instagram minimalist photographers! You might also want to head over to VSCO's webpage which has a lot of inspirational images to browse through, and a well worth downloading free camera app.