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A Beginner’s Guide to Minimalist Photography

By Mike Jones

 Minimalism is splitting the world in two. Love it or hate it, it’s a style with a very defined outline, one that has its roots in in the painted arts of the 20th century and that continued to branch out in other domains. These days, minimalism is especially present in design, fashion, and photography.

Photo by qimono
Photo by qimono

A simple scout around websites such as Twitter and Tumblr will be sufficient to tell us how we’ve gradually distanced ourselves from most things that are complicated and detailed.

But why is minimalism photography so controversial? It’s because of how deeply layered it is. At first glance, it doesn’t look like much thought, effort, or artistic skill goes into capturing a single empty vase on a likewise empty table, right? But as we all know it, the simplest of things can be the most beautiful. And the simplest of things can also be the most difficult to create.

There are hidden meanings, messages, and emotions and, when we really think about it, it’s a lot more challenging to try and tell a story through a single object. As a result, minimalist photography is quite the risky thing and you are essentially always treading between failure and success.

Here are a few general outlines, tips, and mementos that you need to make good use of in order to get the best of what minimalist photography has to offer.

Photo by marcosreisjornalismo
Photo by marcosreisjornalismo

Understand the Phenomenon

We need to understand something before we actually pick it up and start twisting it as our own.

What is minimalism? It’s a movement that started growing curtsy of 20 th century artists who relied on simplistic compositions to introduce a new and unique style. Their simplicity strived from the reduced number of elements in their compositions, elements such as shapes, textures, and colors.

As a result, minimalism creates a whole new perspective and allows artists to share with the world open-ended messages. In other words, every viewer takes out of the work of out whatever it is that they understand and whatever meaning and sentiment they best resonate with. This kind of openness ensures the possibility of having your creation appreciated by a vaster majority of people, but it comes with a clear price.

There are other people who aren’t exactly fond of the openness provoked by minimalism, considering it to be lazy and in lack of a clear direction. If the message isn’t there, then the artist didn’t know it, and the work ended up getting them to scratch their heads. It’s a blade with two sharp edges, really.

Photo by huntrrams
Photo by huntrrams

Make Some Cuts

The key word for minimalism is simplicity. This means, you should avoid stuffing too many elements in one photo and you should always focus on a single subject of your focus. And this is where you begin. Minimalist photography is, most of the time, all about opportunities. Inspiration can strike us when we’re running to the grocery store if we suddenly spot a streetlight that looks like it could make a beautiful capture from a certain angle.

Whatever it is that gives you this influx of inspiration – this is your subject. Focus on it, don’t try to overthink the possibilities and all of the other elements that might “strengthen” the subject and emphasize it even better. The best emphasis is when there are little to no other elements to distract you.

But if said streetlight has a bird climbed on top of it and if there is also a building behind it, this is when you’ll need to make some decisions. You’ll need to cut out some of these elements and trying to determine which one has to go might just be one of the most complicated parts of minimalist photography.

Photo by ruben_gal0
Photo by ruben_gal0

Textures, Shapes, Colors

As mentioned before, minimalist photography isn’t just about focusing on a single object and trying to determine the best angles for it. Important elements in this movement include colors, textures, and shapes, all of which can be pitted one against another, assuming they’re part of the same category, of course. These concepts will be of crucial importance to you when attempting to start your own commercial photography portfolio.

Putting together in a photo two contrasting colors is one of the best ways to achieve a minimalist photography on the first try. To be able to move to more difficult and ambiguous subjects, you’ll need to be able to truly understand the mentality and the philosophical edges of minimalism. We recommend studying the photo you’ve taken and trying to ask yourself what kind of emotions the contrast brings out.

Another important element is texture. Ideally, you want the viewer to be able to actually feel like they can graze their fingers across the photograph and feel the texture. For example, take the clear difference between a sandy shore and the soothing surface of water. One element, however, needs to dominate over the other to avoid making the photograph feel too crowded.

Photo by chadkrue17
Photo by chadkrue17

 Draw the Line

Lines are huge assets for any artist, photographer, painter or what not. When you properly use them, you are able to direct the viewer’s eye to the focal point of your photography. Horizontal and vertical lines can completely change the appearance of a photograph when they’re strongly accentuated.

They can create a feeling of isolation, of separation, of loneliness, and they can greatly aid you in case you want to cut out some extra elements and shift the whole focus to the primary subject.

This is a trick for the eye. It’s a form of deluding and misleading viewers into seeing what you want to see by having them follow a line into the pointed direction. Lines that start in the center of the composition and stretch toward the edges will create the illusion of an open space, giving your subject the appearance of a much smaller and insignificant object. Alternatively, lines that all gather towards the middle will blur out other elements and will empower the focal point.

Photo by omeWillem
Photo by omeWillem

A Storyteller’s Work

We can sit here all day and talk about illusions, tricks, color contrasts, and textures, but, at the end of the day, it’s still photography. And if a photographer wants to tell a story, the minimalism in the frame shouldn’t pose a problem. If you want to add a meaning behind your shot, this is when the human element comes in.

It’s certainly difficult to try to build a story around an inanimate object, but place a human in the shot and, suddenly, there is a whole new level of depth to it. Take dull elements such as a deserted alley and photograph the silhouette of a person walking on the street. Experiment with shadows, light, lines, and other elements and be ready for quick reactions in case the environment provides an unexpected opportunity.

Photo by chrisli8020
Photo by chrisli8020

Refresh the Rule of Thirds

You don’t need to position the subject in the very center of the photograph for it to grab the viewer’s attention. You can easily add a surprising level of dynamism to the simplicity of a photo by brushing up on your knowledge regarding the rule of thirds. And in case you’re not sure of what that is, without diving into details regarding splitting the space in three grinds, it speaks of what happens when your focal subject is not in the middle.

This is a way to avoid boredom given the fact that, from a psychological stand point, we are tempted to look at the middle of a photo the instant we lay our eyes on it. We look to the center, we see something, and then we’re done. With the rule of thirds, however, we look to the center, we see nothing, and then our gaze swipes across the photo until it finds the actual subject of focus.

To summarize, there are a few key things worth memorizing:

  1. Keep things simple.
  2. Pay attention to composition.
  3. Use strong lines.
  4. Use the rule of thirds.
Mike Jones
Mike Jones

Mike Jones

Mike Jones is a Boston University graduate, with an MS in Mass Communication. He is a full-time writer, passionate about entertainment and photography and also a contributing editor for Virtual Photography Studio.

Tomasz Okoniewski – photography passion

Tomasz Okoniewski
Tomasz Okoniewski

Tomasz Okoniewski – a historian, journalist, a great enthusiast and promoter of photography which is his passion. He has been interested in the art of image for many years and his hobby has been treated more seriously since 2007.

His favorite subject is the landscape of neighborhood and the reportage of daily life. In his opinion, photographing the landscape teaches him how to see the world in a different way, to look at things previously unnoticed. Painting views of morning light is one thing, but the most important subject will be the man and his/her emotions.

Tomasz Okoniewski holds the AFIAP photo title as well as the AFRP title (i.e. the Artist Photographer of the Republic of Poland) and the AFF title (i.e. Fotoferia Artist).

The author is a member of the RCKP Krosno Photoclub, an honorary member of the Fotoferia Club (Club Artist Fiap), a member of the Photoclub of the Republic of Poland and one of the organizers of an online group named FotoKrosno. His works have won prizes and awards in many national and international photographic competitions. His achievements have medals “for photographic creativity” – the Photoclub Creators Association of the Republic of Poland and awards of the biggest international federations – patrons of photographic salons such as FIAP, PSA, IAAP, GPU / UPI, ISF, MoL, IUP, ICS and many domestic associations. Tomasz Okoniewski is also the winner of prestigious competitions such as IPA,  ND Awards, IPOTY, TIFA, FAPA, and Monochrome Photography Awards. In total, his works have been awarded in 36 countries around the world.

Individual exhibitions of works by Tomasz Okoniewski have been organized in many galleries and internationally presented in more than 50 countries. In 2016, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage awarded Tomasz Okoniewski with “The Badge of Honor – Meritorious for Polish Culture”.

Look at the small gallery, part of his artistic work:

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Viesturs Links Forever Magic

Viesturs LinksViesturs Links was born in 1956,in the capital city of Latvia – Riga.

He first studied photography in the photo club “VEF” but a year later he finally had a chance to join the legendary photo club “Riga”, where he also began to participate in photo exhibitions. The first serious breakthrough was in 1982, when he received the FIAP bronze medal and cup for the best portrait on 13th Salon International Art Photography competition in Macon. He also receives the title of AFIAP.

In 1986 his break from photography began, during which he did not even own a camera. It lasted until 1999, when his daughter Alice was born, and he had to buy the cheapest camera to take pictures of her. And then he began to photograph actively again and send photos to exhibitions.

In 2016 Viesturs participated in 107 different exhibitions and received more than 200 awards, including the 13 FIAP gold medals and 19 PSA gold medals.

Currently he is working as a lecturer in Latvian Culture College. Viesturs is father to three daughters and a son. His youngest children – Alice and Christopher– are his unfailing models, who constantly appear in his works and are also featured in this particular exhibition.

For a photo entitled Autumn of the Patriarch, in the Creative Photography section at the 3rd International Singidunum Salon 2017, he won the Special Chairman Choice Award.

© Viesturs Links, Latvia, Autumn of Patriarch
© Viesturs Links, Latvia, Autumn of Patriarch

Take a look at the photo gallery of this unusually gifted and above all extravagant artist and experience rarely seen magic of the particularity of his specific attractive style:

Gallery not found. Please check your settings.

No more Fukushima – an exhibition of photographs – Ryuichi Hirokawa

Organized by the Association for the preservation of peace, culture and education SOKA

Under the patronage of Her Royal Highness
Princess Elizabeth Karadjordjevic

Ryuichi Hirokawa

From Chernobyl I think about Fukushima

“When I started covering the accident in Chernobyl, I thought about how much radioactivity was uncontrollable. I believed that human wisdom can not overcome all the tragedies. But now I realized how such an idea devoid of any sense.


The amount of our guilt is stunning because we put the power to decide on life and death
our children in the hands of scientists and politicians who want to protect nuclear potential due his interests. I visited three years after the Chernobyl accident and I saw that many things are hidden. Everywhere I could see that the disease is very advanced. In Belarus and Ukraine, many doctors and ordinary people are reported to various diseases, especially cancer of the thyroid gland in children who asked for help.”

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We have the ability to create different “future”. From now on, only depends on us whether we have the time to make a different choice or not. We have no more excuses.

Just hesitation himself is become sin. We must put an end to the implanted opinion that people in Fukushima accident  is never happened  – just so that we would make new nuclear power plants. We should not allow children to return to the towns infected by radiation, just because we have exported nuclear power abroad. We have to completely change direction in order to protect human beings.

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Ryuichi Hirokawa (1943 -        ) is a Japanese photojournalist, war photographer, civil activists. Chief editor of the monthly magazine photo DAYS Japan. He is a member of the Japanese Association for the Study of the Middle East, the Association of Japanese photographer, Photographic Association of Japan, Japan Visual Journalist Association (JVJA), etc. The founder of the home for abandoned children in Palestine and the Fund for assistance to children in Chernobyl. He has received numerous awards from the Japanese photographic associations, journalists’ associations, the Ukrainian government for special Merit, etc.

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Daisaku Ikeda, The President of Soka Gakkai International

“Many people expect that nuclear energy becomes a dominant source of energy in the future. However, as a number of accidents that occur around the world confirm, nuclear energy generates a series of innumerable dangers. The accident at Three Island Miles in the United States launched a number of reactions in the world. Shortly after, radioactive spills leads to official confirmation that similar events have already occurred in Japan in the past. All such incidents are, indeed, the results of human error. But in man’s nature to sin and the ability to repeat the same mistakes in the future are enormous. Dialogue with Dr. Aurelia Peca, founder and first president of the Club of Rome, “Before it’s too late” October in 1984.

“Until we overcome certain quantitative border, wastes non-nuclear energy sources are not fatal, regardless of their safety. On the other hand, the smallest amount of nuclear waste is potentially fatal. For this reason the development and application of nuclear energy, no matter how much goes to peaceful purposes, should be subjected to the most minute analysis. Restoring the use of nuclear waste can be allowed only in the event of an absolutely safe and bullet-proof method of governing the same. Until then, however, I feel it would be better to stop the application of nuclear waste and stimulate modern science to expand research on energy sources that do not produce toxic waste and can be recycled, so there is no danger of their release. “Dialogue with Rene Juigom. “Dawn after dark” in 1980.

Little Voices from Fukushima is a documentary film dedicated to Japanese mothers and children living in the post-meltdown world of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster. In the course of telling their stories, Director Hitomi Kamanaka takes us to Belarus, where we learn from mothers who experienced the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 28 years ago.

On March 11, 2011, massive earthquakes hit the Tohoku area in northeastern Japan and caused the catastrophic meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power. However, large numbers of families including children are still living in contaminated areas. The reasons they have not left are various: lack of the financial resources necessary to relocate, for example. Or, they may be the victims of government failure to provide appropriate instruction about the need for evacuation.

Director Hitomi Kamanaka realized that the people living in Belarus, still suffering the aftereffects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, had valuable lessons to offer. We stand at a turning point: we live in a time when all people face the problem of radiation exposure, and we who are adults have a special responsibility. To learn from the experiences of the people of Belarus can provide important knowledge for survival and for finding hope for the future.

The message of the film director Hitomi Kamanake

In Rokas countryside is the base for processing nuclear fuel. In its center there is power in which is processed spent nuclear fuel. This is the latest factory for the production of plutonium.

If this project continue to operate, Japan will enter into a new era of nuclear energy. How are we supposed to look at this? We are at a crossroads and we are forced to make a choice.


Meet Director: Hitomi Kamanaka
She is a Japanese documentary filmmaker and media activist who has been working on nuclear power and radiation issues for two decades.
Studied at the National Film Board of Canada and then worked as a media activist at Paper Tiger in New York. After returning to Japan, she directed many documentaries for TV. Her fourth film, HIBAKUSHA – At the End of the World, was released in the US. A frequent guest speaker at events throughout Japan, especially after Fukushima, she has traveled widely to present her major work, Ashes to Honey —Toward a Sustainable Future.

The Exhibition Program

17:11 .2016. (Thursday)
17:00 Opening Ceremony showrooms House of Trade unions (up to 22h)
18: 00-20: 00 Film “Small voices from Fukushima,” Hall 2

18:11. 2016 (Friday)
08: 00-22: 00 Exhibition of photos – Hall of House of Trade unions
18: 00-20: 00 Film “Rhapsody in Rokas village,” Hall 2

19:11 .2016. (Saturday)
08: 00-22: 00 Exhibition of photos – Hall House of Trade unions
12: 00-14: 00 Film “Small voices from Fukushima” – Hall 2

20:11 .2016. (Sunday)
08: 00-22: 00 Exhibition of photos – Hall House of Trade unions
14: 00-16: 00 Film “Rhapsody in Rokas Village” – Hall 2
Entrance free

Adventure through the lens of Vladimir Jovanovski

Vladimir Jovanovski was born in 1983 in Kumanovo, Macedonia.

Active in art photographery from his tenth year. In the last ten years he has exhibited his works on 200 international exhibitions in more than 25 countries around the world, whereby he won numerous awards.

He was an activist and president in the photo cinema club Kozjak, and is now a member of the photo club Kumanovo. Honorary member of Image Sans Frontier, Image Colleague Society and Kragujevac Photo Club.


President of IAAP and representative for Macedonia at ISF and UPI. In photography he is no ordinary registrant of things. Around himself he feels the space, light, ambient and life and in search for them he is facing with emotions that he translate into his own photographic creations.

We have honor to represent our young friend with his work. Take a look and enjoy!

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Grand PRIX Award of Serbia PHOTO Salon – Mr Godfrey Wong

Mr. Godfrey Wong
Mr. Godfrey Wong

The winner of Grand PRIX Award for best photography of the Salon Shadow 2016, titled Yacht Race 10, Mr. Godfrey Wong, USA

Godfrey Wong, currently working as a commercial film director in the United States.  Godfrey began his black and white photographic endeavors when he was in middle school. Many rolls of black and white film cemented a love of monochrome photography.

Since he was a teenager, he’s actively participating in international photography exhibitions.  He was a PSA 5-star in PPD Mono division in 1985 and earned more than 6,000 acceptances  and  900 awards from international photographic exhibitions.


He was also the Top Ten of the world in the PSA “Who´s Who” listings in the CPID, EID, Nature, Photojournalism and PPD Division, published in several books and magazines.
The feeling of self-satisfaction that he consistently experience from the creative process is matched by the satisfaction he experienced when delivering his finished product that inspires imagination, pleases the eyes and presents the subject in a light and environment never to be repeated again.  He is an artist, a visual communicator and most of all, a story teller.

The jury concluded its work on the 3nd International Salon Shadow 2016

It was finished the Jury of Serbia PHOTO Association – 3rd International Salon Shadow 2016 of : Mr. Vladimir Jovanovski, (President), Ljljana Vrzic – member, Nenad Nikolic, MD – member.

In the pleasant atmosphere of the Photo Club Kumanovo, Macedonia, was are assigned numerous of prestigious awards – medals and commendations under the patronage of well-known international photographic associations – FIAP, PSA, RPS, GPU and Medals/Mentions of Serbia PHOTO Salon.

They were selected as photos from Digital section for the following themes: Macro, Landscape, Portrait and Shadow . The Jury also assigned FIAP Blue Badge, for the author with the most accepted works, as well as a Special Prize – Grand Prix of the Salon for the best photography of the Salon Shadow 2016.

The jury also chose the awards from Print Sections of the Salon Shadow 2016. Between many printed photographic works, were selected the best works in topics: Open Color and Open Monochrome.

You can find published results, in accordance with the rules of the Salon, on the Serbia PHOTO web site. Every participant already got emailed a Personal Report of the results achieved at the Salon Shadow 2016.

We wish to all participants of the Salon a “good light” and further success in dealing with the creative and artistic photography.

Photos by: Marina Krstic, Photographer, Macedonia

2nd International Salon Singidunum 2016

2nd International Photo Exhibition Singidunum 2016, organized by the Association of Serbia PHOTO, was opened on 29 March 2016 in the Special Gallery of main Railway Station in Belgrade, Serbia.


Visitors had the opportunity to see all accepted and 50 winning photographs as well, and to attend the digital projection of the received works. In this competition received the 4304 photos of 304 authors from 55 countries worldwide. Jury for the 2nd International Salon Singidunum 2016 was: Mr. Branislav Strugar, MF FSS; ULUPUDS; Mr. Aleksandar Kelić, MF FSS; ULUPUDS and Dr. Nenad Nikolic, F1 FSS; AFIAP. Delegate of Photo Association of Serbia in this exhibition was Božidar Vitas, KMF FSS; AFIAP.

Awards to the winners was presented by Professor Ljiljana Vrzic, a member of Serbia PHOTO Association.


In the opening part of the exhibition, played a musical ensemble “Romance”: Professor Živojin Velimirović, violin and Professor Ladislav Mezei, cello.

Exhibition of works Singidunum 2016

Welcome to the opening of the international exhibition of photography:
2nd International Salon Singidunum 2016

King Salon on main Railway station,  Belgrade, Serbia
March 29, 2016 at 19h

Exhibition will open by Dr Nenad Nikolic
We will present the award-winning and received photographs from the print category of Salon.  Also being projected all rewarded and accepted works from the digital section.

Repected coleagues photographers

I am addressing you with a request to peek little bit at the misplaced parts of your shelves, browse your old photo bags and other valuable sources of photo equipment. You may find some old camera that you no longer need (whether analog or digital (preferred).

Give these forgotten cameras as a gift to the  children of Leposavic and Strpce on Kosovo, Serbia.

In that way, we will be able to launch a spring elementary photography course with children from primary and secondary schools.

We truly believe it will bring them the endless joy, opening views to another, more beautiful world, the world of magic moments in photography art.

To every donor, we will submit the student’s contact info who is get  the camera from you. Therefore, You will be able to remain in contact with young photographer in the future, to monitor the development and progress in work of each child on Course.

We address this appeal also to the big photo companies such as Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Sony, Fuji and others, considering that this population does not representing theirs target group.

But, reconsider that, any donation of  Camera may also help to show the world some new Bresson, Anselm Adams or Peđa Vuckovic.

In return, Serbia FOTO association may provide a place for a banner,  at the highest site traffic moments.

Plese, send the gifts to the following address:
Ljiljana Vrzić

Stanoja Glavaša 13 / 48
11000 Belgrade
Serbia