What is minimalism?


According to Wikipedia: minimalism is when the work is stripped down to its most fundamental feature.
Many artists and amateurs have tried to define Minimalism (1 2) but since it is a philosophical topic, we still haven't agreed at one single definition.
Note: for a professional definition of minimalism please see this article from Nathan.
This page tries to introduce minimalism in simple language with lots of pictures and examples.

Minimalism as less elements

Merche Suárez Louzao: "The art of appreciating the essential"
When the number of recognizable and perceivable elements in a picture is minimal:

Minimalism as few distinctive colors

Color helps to recognize different objects. A picture with a few objects/spaces with strong colors can be considered minimal (if the number of objects is minimal):

Minimalism as in small objects

Fernando Ojeda: Minimalism...The art of seeing a soul in the little things!
Many artists consider photography of small pictures (also known as Micro-photography) as Minimalism:

Minimalism as simple geomety

Minako Tasaki Art of aspect, Mirror of mind, Simple mind
Pictures with few simple geometrical curves and lines can also be minimalist. They are easy to perceive:

Minimalism as parts of a whole

Sometimes an object or scene is too big and complicated. But images that focus on parts of it can be quite  minimalistic:

Minimalism as in repeating shapes

When a picture is mostly comprised of repeated objects or patterns, it can be considered minimalist too. Again because it is easy to perceive.

Minimalism as low detail

Joe Rock: Less object, well composed, thought provoking
When a picture has less detail, it can usually be considered as minimalistic.


Marinella Salvi: minimize the external expression in favor of the inner one
Zeroism is a term that we coined for some minimal works that:
  • The photo is comprised of an almost unified big surface or space.
  • There is not so much detail in the picture to recognize it.
Following are some examples of what we call "Zeroism" (they are actually extremely minimalistic):

What is NOT minimalism?

Rossano Sanavio observing "Small Things World" without contaminating
A picture that doesn't fit on any of the above definitions is not minimalistic. In a short sentence: art with high detail. These images cannot be considered minimalist because of too much details:

How to make it minimal?

Obviously zoom and cropping are two great tools to make a picture more minimal. Remember: the idea is to minimize the number of elements in a picture.
For example look at this picture:
There are lots of elements that can drag the attention of the viewer: trees, different houses, sky, etc.
At least there are 6 buildings that the viewer can see and there are lots of trees. The eye can rotate around the image and see things here and there. The image is not bad by itself, but it is not minimalist!
Now let's see what we can do with it.
Using photoshop, we can make the colors more vibrant and remove some of the buildings (this can be very time consuming):
It makes it easy to perceive, because now the trees have a totally different color from the buildings. But still there are so many trees and at least 3 buildings. Now let's crop it:
Yes, not so bad! Here a higher megapixel camera will help you to have a better quality. But now we have distinctive colors, fewer trees and just parts of the building. Remember that minimalism can refer to just parts of a whole too.
Just to go further and over-use minimalism, we end up with the following picture that can be considered Zeroism:
OK! Now you got the idea. Let's see another photo contributed by one of our dear members. It will be much easier to take a minimal photo in the first place, instead of editing it at home. You can easily find a minimalist view from a non-minimal scene! The non minimalist edition (link):
And with a change of angel, she ended up with this image (link):
In case you are curious, the second image received 400% more positive feedback from the community! You don't have to create something similar to the examples of this page. Be creative and share your works with the group, pay attention to the feedback from community, and improve your next shots! Good luck! :)

Less is More

Rusty Hatcher: Photographing the subtle beauty of less
"Less is more" is a motto that many minimalist artists use to describe their works. It can be interpreted in many ways:
  • When details are less, there is more space for imagination
  • To have less elements, more time and creativity is needed


Minimalism is not easy to define. But Minimalist pictures usually:
  • are easy to look at
  • can be perceived fast
  • depict small things
  • comprised of few elements
This page is compiled for amateur photographers. If you are interested to learn more about the professional definition of minimalism, read what Nathan says as an Art Historian.

More Examples
For more examples of minimalism please see this page.

All images on this page and website are copyrighted by their respective authors. These pictures are dedicated to this website only for educational purpose. Please see about page for more information.

Social Network
Minimalism group is the largest collection of Minimalistic artworks from all around the world. It benefits from an active community and enthusiastic members who give inspirational feedback!
If you want to get a daily inspiration, join the Minimalism group: http://tinyurl.com/minigroup

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