2016 PhotoChallenge Week 1: B&W – MINIMALISM

Welcome to the the 2016 PhotoChallenge! Like last year, Trevor, Steve, and I will each stick to a theme throughout the year. My theme for the year goes back to the roots of photography: black and white. The subject matter will change and will vary widely, but will be designed to emphasize aspects of black and white photography.

I took a photography class many, many years ago in high school and fell in love with black and white. That was before digital photography, so I spent a lot of hours in the dark room, and seeing my images appear on paper hooked me. Now my daughter is taking photography in high school and got a Pentax K-1000 film camera for Christmas. I guess she was the inspiration for my 2016 theme. Seeing her film photos brought me back to the darkroom. I plan on going back to my roots this year and building a dark room out in the garage, so might even use film for some of the challenges.

We’ll get 2016 started with MINIMALISM. For minimalism you want to keep the shot as simple as possible. Minimalism in photography follows the same general principles of minimalist art by focusing on color, lines, shapes, and geometry to convey meaning. Since this is a black and white challenge, color won’t be something you can use. Your goal is to reduce the number of elements and keep the photo as simple as possible while focusing on the composition.
on the deck

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Minimalism in photography often means isolating a subject from the surroundings, or picking subjects is stark or simple environments. In the example above, the photographer isolated a single leaf, but there were likely many more leaves on the deck. Isolation can be a key to minimalism, but this shot also employs strong compositional elements and contrast to convey a since of isolation. The deck lines divide the frame into three parts (rule of odds) and the placement of the leaf follows the rule of thirds.

All You Need is Money and Nerves of Steel
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Lines and contrast are often used in minimalist photography. Lines lead your eye through a frame while contrast can be used to strengthen those lines. The shot above uses leading lines to convey a sense of the infinite. The shot below also uses lines and contrast, but conveys an entirely different feeling.

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Minimalism often focuses on shapes, and shadows emphasize shapes. The shot below uses the repetitive shadows of a fence, but disrupts that repetition with a solitary bird.
rail fence
Minimalism, like all photography and art, means something different to each person. You can choose to find a subject, like the leaf, or focus on lines and shapes.

An open door

For me, minimalism is about removing distractions and focusing on one thing. With minimalism less is more – the simpler, the better. Keep your eye out for shapes and strong lines, then frame the shot to emphasize a single element.

If you need more inspiration for minimalism, here are a few links:

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org and #photochallenge2016.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

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About Steve Troletti

I'm a Location Scout, Editorial, Nature, Wildlife and Environmental Photographer based in Malibu, California. I specialize in Nature and Urban Nature photography including Infrared Landscapes. The Bulk of my work takes place in the Los Angeles, California area, Greater Montreal Region, Canada, Switzerland, France and Varese in Northern Italy. Ethical wildlife photography is the main priority and focus of my work. A minimum disturbance of the animals, their habitat and the environment is my top priority. This applies as much to total wilderness areas as it does to urban nature environments. Ongoing education of environmental issues and building awareness for the protection of wildlife and wilderness areas around the world is what drives me to document the beauty that surrounds us.

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