Minimalism is a style of art that seeks to eliminate non-essential visual elements and instead focus on the purity of its subject for maximum impact.
And while it may go against your basic instincts as a photographer to tone down the elements in your work or to consciously try and apply restraint when there is so much to capture on-camera, the truth is that, oftentimes, less is more.
Here, we examine 10 brilliant social media accounts and the different ways in which they apply this understated style to various genres of photography—from wildlife to fashion and beyond.
Portuguese photographer Joel Filipe applies his background in design to capturing the various cityscapes that he encounters around the world. From historical monuments such as the Salerno Cathedral in Southern Italy to more contemporary urban structures like Ryerson University’s Student Learning Centre in Toronto, he highlights the architectural details of each building by isolating them through minimalist cropping and framing.
Whether it’s for their campaign photos or product shoots, indie fashion label Mansur Gavriel’s brand images always reflect their streamlined, minimalist approach to design. Juxtaposing elementary shapes with unusual compositions, their uncluttered vision allows the viewer to appreciate the intricate work and craftsmanship that goes into each of their pieces.
Shooting floral arrangements tends to be connected with the idea of abundance: lush, thriving bouquets and vast clusters of greenery. For Adam Goodison’s still life work for Palais Flowers, however, the photographer channels instead the more minimalist aspects of the Japanese art of Ikebana. Rather than placing his focus on a large arrangement of florals, he emphasizes the natural shapes and forms of individual flowers, which he then subtly contrasts by placing them among harder, more geometric shapes.
For Alex Loup’s food photography alter-ego, Thym and Romarin, the artist moves away from the popularity of pristine, overly-styled flatlays and leans more towards bare, organic compositions and props (including natural elements like greenery and wood). By doing so, she allows the simple interplay between colors and textures to visually spark the viewers’ senses of touch, taste, and smell.
Danish furniture company HAY’s Scandinavian aesthetic is on full display through its social media feed. Their interior design images showcase a playful, modern blend of space with deliberate pops of color, highlighting the beautiful functionality of each of their pieces.
Known for his epic landscape work that is taken from an extreme distance above, Aussie photographer Pat Kay’s signature style places his miniscule subject in the very center of the frame. He makes great use of negative space and distance to communicate the vastness of the subject’s environment.
Snippets of blogger Ann Kim’s daily life are filtered through the lens of her aspirational fashion-meets-lifestyle point-of-view. Working with a monochromatic palette that is often washed in natural light, there is an easy, unposed confidence projected through her photos that reflects the effortlessness of her personal style.
Defined by an aesthetic that embraces simplicity, California-based art director Minh T captures the complexity of street photography in a brilliantly pared-down way. He often plays around with the intersection of shadows and geometric shapes in daily urban life and sets them against a subdued color palette.
Stephane Dupin’s experimental sense of composition breathes life into his imaginative still life work. His minimalist arrangements (most often dealing with his favorite subject: fruit) make use of contrasting colors and clean, bare sets that house everything from floating figures to organic shapes to man-made objects.
National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore spent over 15 years shooting animals in the wild before he came up with a novel approach to wildlife photography. He decided to capture the animals against a solid black or white backdrop—omitting the natural canopy of their environment for a cleaner, studio-like setting. The raw, striking result of this experiment in contrasts has gained him a massive following online that allows him to spread awareness about the endangered species that he chooses to photograph.