Minimalism in Photography

Sometimes I think about how to implement the minimalism philosophy in my photography style, following the “less is more” principle. But I don’t want to follow this path, just because I have read about it, or it might be a fashion in almost everything we want to create, today. It is “cool”, yes, but that’s not the point. I have come to this resolution, pushed by the need of change. I guess we always need to change, get ourselves on the path of experimentation. Even if we find a coherent style in photography with consistent approaches in the way we perceive the world and record it with the help of the camera, there is still a call for discovering new territories, cross the existing boundaries and touch the new, taste what is beyond our personal boundary of “the Known”.

The search for originality, for deeper creativity, for ways to express more of our inspiration, in a much more consistent manner, sometimes leads us to the need to innovate. Some of us really must allow an inner revolution to take its place, in order to find more solid grounds in the universe of creativity. When I hear about people who completely closed their personal life chapter on arts, only to reopen another one, completely new, I tell myself that those must be happy people; they had the power and the motivation to re-invent themselves, discover themselves in a new light that will serve their artistic purposes of expressing their spirits.

In order to change, to get better at what you do, you need to chronologically evaluate your work, trying to see the evolution through trial and error, the mistakes in your path that helped you build a stronger self-confidence and a more defined style. Your flaws and failures are a vital part of the never-ending learning process and they are key components that define your personality. We are not here to judge and punish the shortcomings of your ways you approach arts, photography in this case, but to define them as milestones, which help re-shape yourself as a mature and wise individual in the world of art expression.

Back to photography, my theory is that photography should be for yourself, unless transformed into a profession, where somebody else (the client) will have a saying, at least partially, on the outcome of the photographic project. It is a marvellous way to discover yourself and especially the place and the role you have in this world, as both observer and participant. It is a great mean to express the feelings that synthesize the relationship between facts, reality and you, as an individual with an artistic dimension.

And the reality we are capturing is very complex, most of the times it can be very demanding. The fact that the frame of your camera can only capture a small part of the reality (on both the time dimension, as space dimensions) can be seen as a very creative and liberating aspect. We can choose to capture only a part of the reality, the one that has a meaning to us, that carries a message behind its capture, that is relevant to the way we have felt towards that corner of reality, in the moment of making the photograph.

Why less is more? Not always the case, but sometimes it is. What is it all about? This reminds me of the multitasking concept I have talked about in a previous article, about the ways we lose our path, the way we lose ourselves. Knowing the photographic frame is a very limited fragment of the world (and we can play with its dimension by using different lenses, from ultra-wide, to supertele lenses, plus the option to crop an image in order to create a more coherent composition), we could also limit it even more, by deliberately choosing to capture less. Because when it’s more, each element carries its notion, a message, a part of an equation that can easily get too complex and too hard to digest (not necessarily at mental level, but at emotional level). But when it’s less, when it’s nothing more that only one subject, one notion, the message of the photograph can be as fluid as a stream of fresh water in the mountains. No distractions, no confusions, no other elements that might mix up the message – just one notion, staying there as a constant sound, like a wave that keeps coming to you, until you are entirely absorbed by it.

Speaking of minimalism, there could be many definitions, but we see it as a philosophy where only the essential principles, objects, processes are relationships are cultivated, while the unnecessary things are removed from the field on view. This principle applies to the lifestyle, the way we think and elaborate our plans and also to the creativity.

Minimalism in photography is somehow related to the Middle Path that I was talking about before, on this blog, but it focuses on the fundamental foundation that itself can sufficiently create a story with a message that it’s worth spreading, through photography. Arts, especially visual arts can be “interesting”, when created with the minimalism principle in mind, indeed, but that’s not the point. The final purpose in art should be to deliver an emotional / intellectual message and through minimalism, the artist might just find the instruments to offer a clean core, as pure as it can be. When you think the reality fragments you are dealing with in your photography may lack the intensity of the message unity, it would be really rewarding to experiment with minimalism in photography and really find for yourself how “less is more” can become real. May the Light be with you!

All photos and text – © Sebastian Boatca 2018 / www.sebastianboatca.com

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