More than 3700 photographs from 39 different countries have been submitted to the 2021 edition of the ‘Minimalist Photography Awards’ where Australian photographer, Allen Koppe, has won the overall title of ‘Best Minimalist Photographer of the Year 2021’ with their collection ‘On Route’.
Commenting on the winning collection, Allen said: “For my series ‘On Route’ I wanted to try something new, something different. I wanted to challenge myself and discover a technique that had been sitting in the back of my mind for several years. I wanted to move forward and take what had merely been a concept, an idea, a thought process and make it into a visual reality.”
The Minimalist Photography Awards is a non-profit association, powered by black & white Minimalism magazine and founded by Milad Safabakhsh, which aims to recognize, reward and expose talented photographers all around the world and introduce them to the professional photography industry.
Milad Safabakhsh, Founder and president of MPA said: “The Minimalist Photography Award is the only foundation that deals extensively and professionally with minimalist photography as a branch of photography in which the photographic artistic vision takes the lead, and tries to introduce the best works of minimalist photography to enthusiasts every year.”
Personal style and keeping it simple are key ingredients to strikingly minimalist architectural images. Benedict Brain talks to two photographers to find out more.
Modaser Based in the Netherlands, Modaser studied political science at Leiden University. His interest in photography started in 2010 with his Instagram account @meau. In 2018 he started using the account actively for architectural photography adopting a politically inspired minimalist approach.
For Dutch photographer Modaser, it was a trip to Russia in 2011 that sparked an interest in photographing architecture. Soviet architecture, to be specific. ‘I mostly like to shoot architecture in Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet republics,’ explains Modaser.
However, it’s not just the buildings that interest him, it’s also the relationship between former Soviet Union architecture and politics, another of his keen interests. ‘You can tell a lot about the period in which a building was constructed by reading its architectural style,’ he explains.
Cinema Oktyabr, Minsk, Belarus. Canon EOS 550D, 17-50mm, 1/320sec at f/7.1, ISO 100
He continues, ‘For example, the euphoria about a “new Soviet society” that existed before and after the Second World War can also found in the socialist classicism or Stalinist style of that era. Many of the buildings in this style were quite impressive and were extensively decorated with a lot of ornaments.
After Stalin’s death, Khrushchev came to power and he ordered an end to “architectural excesses”. ‘He needed to solve the housing problem in the USSR and saw the use of concrete and prefab housing as the solution. After Khrushchev there was Brezhnev, and he too left his mark on Soviet architecture. And so, one can easily distinguish between a “Stalinka”, “Khrushevka” and a “Brezhnevka”.’
Courtyard of Schlesische Str 30, Berlin, Germany Canon EOS 70D, 17-50mm, 1/250sec at f/6.3, ISO 200
Modaser uses minimalism as a tool to isolate his subject, the building, or to focus attention on the architectural style. ‘The popular opinion about Soviet architecture is that it’s grey and boring,’ observes Modaser. ‘Nowadays it doesn’t look so good any more because the buildings and their surroundings are not taken care of and the people living in these buildings make alterations to the exterior that deviate from the original design.
A good example of the latter would be that a lot of people in post-Soviet countries chose to close up the balcony of their apartment. They did it with their own design in mind and with different materials. The result is that it looks horrible. That’s why I try to clean up a building in post processing in order to show a bit more of the original design. And when I isolate the building, I can put more emphasis on this design.’
Residential building on Bul Mira, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Canon EOS 70D, 17-50mm, 1/500sec at f/5.6, ISO 100
There is a certain amount of pre-planning and Modaser uses maps to figure out what the best point of view is and how the light will fall on a building. However, he also loves to wander around and shoot whatever he comes across. ‘If I see an interesting building, I pin the location down on my phone so that I can revisit it at a later time,’ he says.
‘In general, I like buildings with strong symmetry, clear use of geometric shapes and an interesting pattern because these work the best with my minimalist approach. I also like to shoot historical buildings that have their own story.’ The subtle colour palette and tonality in Modaser’s images are artfully controlled in post. ‘For the background, I use two hues of blue,’ explains Modaser, who continues, ‘A slightly more vibrant background makes the photo pop more without being too distracting. Also blue is a calming colour so it’s a good way to make the background disappear because I want to emphasise the architecture.
For the building itself, I try to make the colours pop a bit more but mostly it’s just some small tweaks together with my own LUT in Affinity Photo. I try to use mostly white, black, reds and yellows because I like the combination of these colours with a blue sky. For photos on Instagram, I add just a bit more contrast and saturation because I feel that it gets more attention on the platform that way.’
Pink house on Groenhazengracht, Leiden, Netherlands Canon EOS 70D, 17-50mm, 1/640sec at f/4.5, ISO 100
Top tips Find a topic or an aspect of architecture that you yourself find interesting instead of what you think others might find interesting and the creativity will flow more freely. Practice, practice and practice. Try shooting the same image or scene multiple times over long periods of time to see how you can improve yourself and your photography. Preparation is key. Try to visualise the photo, find out what time of the day works best for the photo you want to make and make sure you bring the correct gear.
Jeanette Hägglund Jeanette is a Swedish photographer and artist based near Stockholm. She studied aesthetics, the philosophy of art and language, art, media, film and photography at universities in Sweden and abroad. She works as a commercial photographer and as an artist. See more at www.jeanettehagglund.se Instagram @etna_11.
Swedish-based pro photographer Jeanette Hägglund started taking photographs and making short films at the age of eight. She went on to study photography and then continued to explore the language of photography, experimenting with different films and developing techniques.
‘I try to think outside the box to play with different styles and to stretch the boundaries of photography,’ explains Jeanette, who continues, ‘at one early exhibition in my career, a photography teacher said that my work was not photography but art. So, “good” I said to myself, art-photography it is then!’
Jeanette doesn’t limit herself to photography though and is equally happy drawing and painting. However, the quick pace and immediacy of the photographic process suits the speed with which creative ideas come to her. As a professional photographer, Jeanette’s main subjects are architecture, branding and portraits. Her architectural photography is a mixture of commissioned work and personal practice.
Jeanette’s approach to photographing buildings is relatively straightforward. ‘I want to create my own style where I am concentrating on the essence of a building,’ she says. While there is a strong element of abstraction and minimalism in her architectural work Jeanette strives to capture and highlight a structure’s unique character.
‘I have always been interested in geometry and how it appears in architecture,’ she comments, and continues, ‘I think minimalism highlights what I want to capture. When I make an abstraction, I want to highlight the unique, in a kind of semantic way I’m interpreting the building.’
For Jeanette, the minimalist approach, the use of abstract light and colour all come together to form her unique style. ‘Colours, light, textures, tones and so on are all part of all the image,’ she remarks, and adds, ‘Colours are interesting and have a strong meaning and effect on us. I love colours, but I simply use what I have in front of me.’
Planning plays a vital role in her workflow. ‘I do a lot of research and check the orientation of the building so I know how and when the light will fall on it during the day,’ notes Jeanette. ‘I often have more than one building to shoot. It all depends, there is no typical procedure of which buildings. Depends on the work, or if it’s a project with a special subject.’
Unlike Modaser (see above) Jeanette never uses image editing software to alter her composition and the images are as she framed them in the camera at the point of capture. Many architecture photographers work in the early morning and in the evening, to take advantage of the magic hour, the blue hour and so on; Jeanette embraces this too but also works throughout the day to take advantage of the hard, harsh shadows on the midday light which can further enhance strong, graphic architectural shapes and lines.
If possible, Jeanette will return to a building many times to find her favourite light. ‘I’m always full of ideas and have a great imagination but I want to stay open for changes in my plan,’ she explains. ‘I want to let reality mix with my preconceived ideas, letting the architecture affect me at the same time and mixing it with my ideas. I see my work as interpretations.’
Jeanette works with tilt-shift lenses to correct verticals and keep lines straight. ‘I have many different lenses, depending on whether I’m capturing the whole, parts or making close-ups of a building.’ It’s perhaps surprising that despite the very formal approach to Jeanette’s style she rarely uses a tripod. She concludes, ‘I’m very stable and have my own technique to be as still as possible. Although I will use a tripod in a very low-light situation.’
Top tips 1 Have an idea of what kind of buildings you want to shoot and why you want to shoot them. Once you’ve developed a style, try to stay within it and look for buildings that fit into this mode of thinking. 2 Light is vital and it’s good to choose a day with the right light. If you can, return to a building multiple times over a long period of time to see how the light changes and affects the building in different conditions and from different angles and times of the day. 3 Look for lines and shapes, shadows, patterns, tones, textures and colours and make a note of how they interact with each other and try to capture the spirit of this.
For the most part, landscape photographs are shot using a wide angle lens to capture as much of the scene as possible. Of course, however, that is not the only way you have to approach the genre. A telephoto lens can give a novel and interesting view of a scene. This excellent video tutorial will show you how to use a telephoto lens to take minimalist landscape shots.
Coming to you from Michael Shainblum, this great video tutorial discusses the process of creating minimalist landscape photos using a telephoto lens. The beauty of landscape photography is how one can get many different compelling shots from one scene by varying settings, focal length usage, and more. Telephoto lenses tend to get a bit underused, but they can yield fantastic shots by allowing you to pick out interesting individual elements and render them in abstract ways. Because we are so used to wide angle landscape shots, using a telephoto lens can help your work more readily stand out from that of others. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Shainblum.
Of all of the artistic photography styles, one of the most interesting is also the most basic-looking. However, don’t let that label fool you, there is nothing basic about the process of successful minimalist photography. In fact, it takes just as much skill, if not more, than any other modern artistic photography style, and it requires the same amount of post-production editing as other popular styles.
We can see “minimalism” just about everywhere we look. From today’s stylish clothing and apparel, home furnishings, and modern art, to the latest tech devices from Apple and other leading manufacturers. With the increased popularity the minimalist style is enjoying, capturing it in your photography is an important, and somewhat challenging, feat.
If you are looking for a refreshing visual break from the constant flood of information, and visual noise that we face every day then minimalism is for you!
For those interested in minimalist photography and who want to express their vision through images defined by open space, clear lines, pared-down color palettes, graphic compositions, and simple beauty, the six tips below will help you achieve better photos in this style.
Watch Your Background: Oftentimes, we become so focused on the object that we are photographing that we forget to take a look at the background. This is very important, especially with minimalist photography as a cluttered background could disrupt the entire shot.
Incorporate Simple Shapes: minimalist photography tends to use extremely pared-down shapes like rectangles and squares, which prioritize simplicity, balance, and harmony.
Choose The Right Subject: your subject should be visually strong, and it should be able to stand on its own. This is because minimalist photography uses very few supporting elements to keep the shot clean and simple.
Focus On The Details: just because the minimalist style relies on the “less is more” principle, doesn’t mean that you can ignore the details. Because less is more, those details are more important than ever, and they require a higher level of perfectionism on your part.
Limit Your Color Palette: be sure to use restraint when it comes to the colors you incorporate into your minimalist photography. The colors you use should be complementary to one another including pairs such as blue and orange, yellow and purple, black and white, and red and green.
Play with shadows: Working with shadows can help to direct attention to a specific point in the composition. They can reveal form or hide features that may be better left unseen. They can also be used to add hint of drama, emotion, interest, or mystery to a photo.
Practice: As with anything, practice makes perfect. Be patient, take your time, and practice your skills. With practice, you’ll find perfection in less and your minimalist photography will show that.
About the author:George Griefy is a photographer who splits his time between London and Greece. He has been influenced by both the multicultural city of London and the Mediterranean sea & plant life. He is a man of little ornamentation: his work features simply staged photographs, heavily influenced by minimalism and surrealism. His physical subjects tend to be nude or barely clothed, and his other pictures are clearly and pointedly focused.
George explores art with a spirit of adventure and a love of play. He loves mixing up and changing styles because he finds inspiration in a little bit of everything; plants, daily objects, or atmospheric landscapes.
Minimalist photography is the type of work that sits quietly on your wall and catches your attention from time to time. However, it doesn’t necessarily need to be monochrome, as is shown in this video.
Peaceful and easy-on-the-eyes minimalist photography looks simple at first glance but definitely isn’t that easy to do in practice. This is true for a lot of photographs that look seemingly uncomplicated until you actually try to attempt it yourself and come to the realization that you either need a lot of practice, patience, preparation, or all four and more combined in one. In this video, photographer Mads Peter Iversen takes the viewer through different water-based landscapes in Denmark, explaining his way of working and showing the final result.
Generally, we are used to predominantly seeing, or at least I have, monochrome minimalist imagery, whereas Iversen chose to keep his photographs in color. This style of photography definitely is not for those who are not willing to set an early morning alarm and be prepared to do plenty of walking, especially in the wintertime. You need to put time and effort into planning the locations you want to photograph, but as shown in this video, consider bodies of water as a good choice for this style of photography. Tranquil lakes or seas will give you a beautiful surface to work with, especially when you start incorporating other elements, such as birds, trees, or water grasses. When the wind has died down and the water is still, there are so many photographic opportunities, especially if you want to incorporate the color of the sky reflecting in the water during different times of the day.
Even if you have no intention of going on a trip to scout locations for landscape photography, you can still enjoy Iversen’s cinematic journey and the final images from it to give you inspiration to pull out a camera and go for a walk nearby.
Minimalist photography is all about removing all the distractions so the eye focuses solely on the subject. But what does it take to make a minimalist photo?
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “less is more.” Achieving a minimalist image is not as complicated as it sounds, but it takes careful consideration in choosing the subject and sometimes, a little nudge in post-processing.
Minimalism is quite subjective, as most genres are, but generally, if you can manage to keep the eye focused on one subject without being distracted, then you are successful in creating a minimalist image. The following tips apply to landscape and fine art images, but the general thought is also applicable in most genres of photography.
1. Keep Things Simple
This simply means that you will have to frame a certain subject at an angle with lesser distractions or modify it in post-processing. Granted that there are subjects that can be difficult to isolate, so being creative and taking a photo of it at a different angle can change the way the image feels. Make sure that there are no distracting elements or other objects in the scene that will take the attention away from your main subject.
In the image below, it’s quite difficult to see the subject because of all the other elements in the image.
The image below has lesser elements so your eyes are led to the subject quite easily.
2. Use Negative Space
This is the most common advice you’ll get when shooting minimalist images. Negative space may seem “dull” or “uninteresting,” but it sets up the stage for the main subject to stand out. Don’t think of negative space as something to avoid in photography, but rather, look at it as a canvas you can paint your picture on. When used correctly, it can help your image attract attention.
3. Shoot With Clear Skies or a Clear Background
Taking a photo of a subject with clear skies and background gives the feel of serenity and calmness. It’s also a precursor for creating darker and lighter parts in the image to lead the viewer further into the photo where the tones are the lightest. Keeping the tones surrounding the subject light makes it much more noticeable.
Creating an image with clear skies give a much more solemn look for the image as opposed to an image with moving clouds. However, if the weather is not ideal, practice removing the sky in post.
4. Shoot in Black and White or Minimal Colors
What better way to showcase the simplicity of an image than to edit the shot in black and white for more drama. You can also mute the colors to produce a lighter, more soothing feel for the image. There’s a certain dramatic feel when you display an image using minimal colors. It does not scream vibrancy like colorful images, but it doesn’t show dullness either. It creates a different realm altogether for the viewer.
5. Take Advantage of Vanishing Points for Added Drama and Mystery
One way of taking minimalist images is to give the viewer a direction to look at by using leading lines, and one of the best ways to do this creatively is to use subjects that lead to a vanishing point. Vanishing points are a good way to create drama and mystery in an image. The leading lines help direct the viewer to the point of interest and the vanishing point helps create an endpoint for the viewer.
Creating minimalist images is quite simple, but the shot should complement the post-processing involved to create a more serene feel for the image. Check out the video above and try these tips on your next shoot!
Here we’re going to show you how to create minimalist landscape photography and give you plenty of examples, techniques and tips to get you inspired for your own shoot. Firstly, let’s answer; what is minimalist photography?
Minimalist photography is a form of photography that is distinguished by extreme simplicity. It focuses solely on the smallest number of objects and it is normally composed in a clean, clinical way with very little differences in the colours and tones of the image.
In the example below, we use long exposure photography to create a minimalist effect of a lighthouse out at sea.
Using long exposures in landscape photography is a great way to get that minimalist look. In this shot, it’s allowed the waves of the water to blend together to create this smooth effect. This eliminates the texture and tones of the water which further enhances the minimalist effect.
To view exactly how this shot was taken and the equipment used, check out the video up top.
More Examples of Minimalist Landscape Photography
In the landscape shot below, the minimalist effect has been created by a clever use of composition and by removing the color from the scene. The shot’s main focus is the rock and the majority of the image is taken up by the sky. The shot can be broken up into just 3 parts. Going from the bottom you have the line of water, the triangle of the rock, then a sky with only a graduation of grey.
The image has been broken down to the minimal of objects, colors and tones, thus given a perfect example of minimalist landscape photography.
Here is another example of a long exposure landscape. Again, this effect has smoothed out the water and the color scheme of the shot is harmonious using only blues and purples with an accent color of orange. There is a small focal point within one-third of the frame which helps give the image a bit of interest.
A calming example of a minimalist landscape photo.
Proving again that long exposures are a good tip for creating this effect, here with have a shot made up of very little shapes and tones. If you break it down, you have a triangle in the centre, flanked by the smooth toneless water and at the top of the image a rectangle of blank sky.
As with the others, it’s a shot showing very little color, tones and objects which is creating a lovely minimalist effect.
To learn a few of the basic techniques involved in capturing images like these, check out the video up top. And feel free to share your own tips for minimalist photography in the comments!
There is a tendency particularly with landscape and travel, to want to squeeze a lot of eye-catching subjects into the frame, which can result in cluttered images. If you favour a more lo-fi, stripped-down approach, as exemplified by Michael Kenna, check out the winners of the second annual Minimalist Photography Awards. More than 4200 photographs from 41 different countries were submitted; Australian photographer, George Byrne, won the title of minimalist photographer of the year 2020 and a $2,000 prize for his series called ‘Exit Vision.’ Categories included Abstract, Conceptual, Architecture, Landscape, Night and Portrait.
One of the images from George Byrne’s winning series
‘As an approach in photography, minimalism or minimalistic photography could be taken by the photographer in all genres. No matter your are a portrait, architecture, landscape etc. photographer, minimalist photos are always an option as long as you have a minimal look toward your surroundings,’ commented the president of the awards, Milad Safabakhsh. The top three prize winners in each each category will be published in a book and exhibited at Galerie Minimal Berlin when it reopens.
Hilda Champion came third with this wonderful image from the Landscape category
For the full list of winners, see here. Hopefully it will inspire you to try this fascinating genre, particularly as you can often get great images with the camera you always have on you when you are out and about – your phone.
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