How Minimalism is Used In Photography

"Less is more," a slogan credited to German architect and designer Mies van der Rohe, has become linked with anything from brevity in writing to anti-consumerist attitudes, but its roots can be traced back to a certain visual aesthetic.

With this in mind, we'll define photography minimalism using the standard meaning of minimalism as it applies to art, architecture, and design. Minimalism generally refers to visual simplification in these circumstances, reducing all unnecessary components and details to the bare minimum required to communicate the subject.

Allow the phrase "Less is More" to guide you through this exercise in creativity.


When shooting for photographic minimalism, attempt to capture the "cleanest" frame possible, with only one visual focus of emphasis for the viewer. Consider whether there is anything else you could eliminate from the frame (before shooting or during post-production) to emphasise that one area of attention.

Abstract Expressionism, which tried to portray the artist's own feeling and energy via painting, sparked the Minimalist movement among painters in the 1960s. Minimalists retaliated by deliberately avoiding the use of metaphor or message. Frank Stella, a minimalist painter, put it thus way: "What you see is what you see." That should suffice.

Negative space

Negative space, according to some, is a crucial component of the minimalist photograph. One may argue that the white space around the subject is just as significant as the subject itself. How much entirely vacant space surrounding your chosen subject can you include before additional items start to encroach on your edges?


Spatial isolation refers to the separation of your subject from any other elements in the frame. It is similar to, but not identical to, negative space. Isolate your subject as much as possible and avoid collisions with other aspects by leaving lots of breathing area around it.


Artistic minimalism is strongly related with basic geometric shapes. Look for simple rectangles, circles, and triangles in your surroundings. See if you can create a composition that revolves around a single fundamental shape.

If a completely solid background doesn't appeal to you or isn't accessible, try including patterns with consistent repetition that give the frame order, consistency, and predictability.


Vertical and horizontal lines that perfectly mirror the photo's natural margins contribute to the clean and tidy appearance that is a hallmark of minimalist design. Avoid lens distortion or perspectives that produce oblique angles while working with squares, rectangles, or basic lines within the frame, and square off your lines as much as possible.


In many ways, the minimalist aesthetic returns us to the simplicity of elementary art. Seek out possibilities to photograph a brilliantly coloured subject against a solid colour background. Colour pops on white have a modern appeal, colour pops on black have high drama, and colour pops against neutral stone or wood suggest austerity. Complementary primary/secondary pairs (red/green, yellow/purple, blue/orange) can be particularly eye-catching, but a colour pop on white has a modern appeal, colour pop on black has high drama, and colour pop against neutral stone or wood suggests austerity.