Minimalist Photography and Negative Space

Minimalist photography is the counterpart of the minimalism style of arts in the 20th century. Photographers employ this style of taking photographs to express emotion and art at the same time. Better composition is needed to achieve the desired output image.

Minimalism is a style of artists with the aid of minimum amount of components such as color, texture, or subject. The subject would appear like a small dot in a plain canvass. This style shows the openness and freedom. In Minimalist Photography, this attributes are accepted and appreciated by most of people.

Elements in Minimalist Photography

Lines and shapes.

Lines and shapes in minimalist photography

Lines and shapes are two most common elements in minimalist photography. This two elements can be found almost anywhere from the streets to your room. Capturing the whole subject might crowd the frame of your image but trying to capture a part or just a small portion of the entire subject would change the game. In this image (above), the arc which is part of the yellow circle intersects with a perpendicular, the simpleness of the subject made it to stand out. This image shows only two elements and three colors.

Quick tip: Make sure that you frame the image right. Lines and shapes should always be positioned to compliment the minimalist approach. Try shooting more angles to see the best composition.


Color provides the mood in every photograph. Choosing the best color is really a must in every image (different case of course in black and white photography). In minimalist photography, usually contains  one to two color that compliments each other. Lighter colors should be the one in filling the negative space. Vibrant colors could also be part of the image but make sure to avoid very striking colors. However, softer colors are  the most advisable .


Minimalist photography

Look for patterns. This could be anything that provides repetitiveness that is easily observe. Like for example in the photo, the same feature is present in every unit. That is, when brought into a wider view, these features become repetitive and became attractive. Although negative space is absent in this image, the subject remains simple because of only one character of the subject.

Quick tip: Learn when to zoom in or zoom out on your subject. In this photo, zooming out is the best option.

Negative Space

Minimalist photography

In minimalist photography, it is most of the time the main element in the image. Having an area in the image which is plain, simple, and empty adds the artistic mood in it. The main rule in minimalist photography is to make every image as simple as possible without making it boring and dull. Use the rule of thirds to achieve negative space. On the other hand, you could also put your subject at the center.

Be sure to focus on the subject. The subject should always stand out in every image. The negative space provides the plainness of the background which supports the subject. Moreover, the background adds a relaxing mood to help your subject draw the most attention.

What to use as negative space as background?

Walls. You could use large and tall walls with simple colors. Make sure the subject will appear as a minute element in the image. Refer to the image above as an example.

Ground. If you are shooting from a higher vantage point, you could use the ground as the background. A concrete pavement, sandy beach, grassy park, etc could be your backgrounds.

minimalist photography

The blue sky. Who would not love the calmness of the blue sky. A background such as this view is a sure winner. The only challenge is how to position your subject or where to position yourself. I would suggest lowering the camera up to the ground level to achieve this.

Emptiness. When your inside a studio, placing your subject into darkness or a very strong light will also be effective. For example, the subject is the only well lit object and there is nothing else but darkness. Same would go with strong lights. You could also use smoke to be your negative background.

Important Tips

Before you press the shutter, make sure what to include in your frame. Determine whether you need to zoom in or zoom out. Imagine the image in your mind first so that you have a goal or you set the target image. In addition, always check each shot for any adjustment needed. Experiment and explore. Shoot more.

Happy Shooting.

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