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Make Use of Negative Space
Minimalism is often made up of lots of negative space with a focus on one particular subject. Negative space is all that that doesn't contain detail. It works to direct the viewer's attention to a certain subject or subjects and not get distracted by a lot of unnecessary detail. For instance, the spaces in between each of these paragraphs is negative space. It helps to break up the text so that you, the reader, can more easily focus on the text. Without these spaces, it would simply be a wall of text, and focusing on it would be much more difficult.
In photography, it is often difficult to use negative space because you can't always create it. Instead you have to search for it. A clear sky is perhaps the easiest thing to use as a negative space, but the sky isn't always clear, nor do you always want to use it in your photo. Solid colored walls also work well, if you can find them. Depending on your scene, you can sometimes create negative space by blowing out highlights or underexposing to make solid black shadows. For instance, if your subject is heavily backlit, you may be able to overexposure the background while keeping a good exposure on your subject. The blown out background will make a nice minimalistic back drop.
Look For Patterns
Many minimalistic photographs often depict patterns, the most common of which can be found in architecture. Large buildings often contain patterns of squares and other repeating shapes. At certain angles, this can really draw in the viewer. Many other patterns can be found in nature such as in flower petals, snail shells, animal fur, etc. Patterns are much easier for our minds to process than a collage of different shaped and sized objects.
Avoid Convergent Lines, Shoot Parallel Ones
Convergent lines are often used in photography to create dynamic photos. For example, looking straight down a long road or down the side of an classic car from headlight to taillight are common photos that pull the viewer into the photo. But these lines are more complex compared to parallel lines, and while convergent lines will create a very dynamic photo, you loose the simplicity in the scene. Parallel lines can work to divide the photo up into sections and can produce a kind of frame around the subject. Our eyes will follow convergent lines causing us to look across and into a photo, but this doesn't happen with parallel lines. Instead we look as the photo as a whole, taking in the entire scene at once.
Our minds like for things to be symmetrical because most things in nature appear that way, such as our faces and bodies. The more symmetrical something is, the simpler it becomes to process. Even in our everyday photography we try to balance objects in the frame. If there's a heavy presence in the bottom left of the photograph, we try to balance it with something in the top right of the frame. It follows the Rule of Thirds, a symmetrical grid. Think about when you go to the library and you stand in between two bookshelves and look down the row of books on either side of you. It looks cool because it's symmetry!
Photo copyright PhotographyTalk member Susan Sadzak
Written by Spencer Seastrom