A truly stellar minimal photograph makes the viewer work – it engages the viewer, and provides a compositional or narrative reward for the efforts. To soothe your eyes and tickle your brain, here are some of Flickr’s best minimal photographs.
1. Jordan Deja’s “Post Lines” is an example of two common strengths of minimal photos: the mundane is shown to be beautiful, and negative white space becomes the picture’s positive space.
2. Steve Johnson’s “black chair” is more composition than content; without the title, we might not recognize the subject. His photostream is a minimalist hit train unto itself.
3. Nicolas’ “grown up” green color is a standout, but the shadow is as integral to this portrait as the plant itself.
4. When you look at Yuya Saito’s “Nikkei Building”, let your eyes defocus: the sky and building lose their meaning, and your perception of positive and negative space becomes uncertain.
5. Stefan Kloo’s “July 08 378” is a portrait of color. This photo contains only enough texture and shadow to tantalize the eye with the promise of reality.
6. Sanguinie’s IMG 3161 dramatic camera angle imbues a lamp with humanlike character. The background cloud cover prevents the photo from looking too artificial.
7. There is nothing flat about the wall in Dan Foy’s “Ibiza 2006—Day 4: abstract blue on coffee”. The perfect placement of center of interest carries this photograph.
8. Macinate’s “white door” provides a vignette of a room in just a few elements; careless layers of thick paint obscur an ornate keyhole, and the blue-white planks are marred with irretrievable dirt.
9. Robert S. Donovan’s “Bluegreen” is another example of a portrait of color. The tones are so flat that the balloon’s curvature becomes the image’s star. Check his photostream for more gems.
10. Luis Argerich’s duck minimal achieves an effect worth emulating: the subversion of positive and negative space. The duck appears to glide through brushstrokes of taupe into a pure white void.
11. Jesus Leon’s “zapatillas y paloma” is especially well suited for Flickr display: the vast white of the photograph is nearly indistinguishible from Flickr’s backdrop, stripping the subject matter of its context.
12. “Sticks” by sling@flickr is little but gray; yet the barest traces of detritus and discoloration yield a wealth of information about distance and dimension. The implication of a full picture from so few elements is one of the highest aspirations of minimalist photography.
13. Many minimalist photographs seem serious, but Rhys Alton’s “Washing Machine Face” shows that there’s plenty of room for levity. Though the title identifies the image, it’s hard to percieve this photograph as anything other than the earnest face of a metal fairing.
14. In fact, minimalist photography is often an ideal canvas for staged absurdity. Would Liz West’s “Plain Cracker” really be more fun in full color?
15. Joel Penner’s “Minimalist Garden” exemplifies the beautiful trickery of minimalist photography. It fools the eye into interpreting snow as negative space, recaptures viewer perspective using the anchor of submerged plants, and uses subtle color to make the photo pop.
Jennifer Moline writes about freelancing, small business and design for the PsPrint Blog. PsPrint is an online printing solutions company, which you can follow on Twitter and Facebook.
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