New Photo Challenge: #pixlr #minimalist

Last week, guest author Molly Bermea shared 4 Different Perspectives of Minimalist iPhoneography, a collection of some of the best Instagram accounts out there with a focus on minimalism. This week, we want you to focus on the small picture, too. We want you to try your hand at taking #pixlr #minimalist photos.
One of the great things about minimalist photography is that it doesn’t require you to have an expensive camera or lens. You can do it all with your phone, and you can find minimalist subjects everywhere. For this challenge, you can use any effects you want (or none at all), but the real trick is keeping it simple. Once you’ve got a photo you want to share, join in by tagging your photo with both hashtags #pixlr #minimalist on Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, or Tumblr. We’ll be searching all of theses places to find the best photos, which we’ll share on our own Instagram feed, on our Made with Pixlr page, and even on our home page. It’s an opportunity to be seen by hundreds of thousands of people. So please join us in sharing your talents. And if you’ve never taken this type of photo before — even better. This is a great opportunity to try something new that is much easier than you might think.
Need some ideas? We have a bunch of simple tips you can take and run with….


Excellent minimalist photo shared by Paul Williams in our Pixlr on Flickr group.

Think negatively

If you cringe every time someone discusses art and goes on and on about the use of “negative space” — you’re not alone. It’s easy to overuse the idea of negative space, but in minimalist photography it truly is essential. A minimalist photo is partly about what you see, but in almost all cases it’s really all about that negative space. How you frame your photos to make use of negative space makes a huge difference. In our example above, consider if this sign had been framed in the middle of the photo, as a typical portrait might be. It would still be a very nice-looking sign, but it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting as a photograph. Let’s say you’re taking a photo of a wooden fence, focusing on six vertical lines that separate the boards from each other because you want to focus on something simple with interesting lines and texture. What if you zoomed in and reframed your photo so that only three lines were showing? Only two? Reframing your photo to incorporate more negative space can make your subject much more interesting.

 Silhouettes are perfect for minimalist photos

Silhouette photos are by nature simplified in their gradation of tone, which make them just about perfect for minimalism. You can either adjust the lighting when taking your photo or knock out the black-and-white gradations by adjusting things like color, contrast, or brightness. (Start by going black and white with Effect > Agnes in Pixlr) A classic photo we may have all taken at one point or another — a bird on a wire — is perhaps the quintessential example of a minimalist silhouette photo.  In our example above, what makes this photo of fishermen interesting isn’t them. The beauty in this photo is in the expansive space and detail that surrounds their simple silhouettes.


An entry from @luminastar4 in our #candyminimal contest from earlier this year.

Minimal doesn’t mean no color or effects

Minimalism is all about using less, but that doesn’t mean you have to toss all your effects out the window. On the contrary, the strategic use of an effect can make your minimalist photo into something even more artistic. Perhaps the perfect example of this is the #candyminimal technique created by Matt Crump. By using pastel color blends, he turns minimalist photos into real art. You can do this, too, by trying out the Candyminimal Overlays in Pixlr. It’s one of the most interesting techniques we’ve seen develop in mobile photography in the past few years. Simply adjusting hues makes your photo take on a completely new and fresh look, as you can see from one of the entries in our Candy Minimal contest earlier this year (above).


This dandelion photo shared by @a1ma_di for one of our challenges blows us away.

Play peek-a-boo

Here’s a very simple but winning technique for taking a minimalist photo: Only photograph part of a subject peeking into the frame.  A classic photo in this vein that you may have taken at some point is the good old single lamp-post reaching into the sky. Another option is to photograph something you’re holding. By focusing on a hand that peeks into the frame, you’re suggesting a lot that isn’t there. As an example, consider the photo above: Would it be as interesting if you cropped out the fingertips that are holding up this dandelion? To me, including the fingers that carefully hold this dandelion is what makes it an interesting photo.


Lines and patterns are everywhere

You can truly find something to photograph for this challenge no matter where you happen to be. Just look around for interesting textures and patterns. By simply looking at your surroundings in a different way, you can find views where lines intersect in interesting ways. Architectural details are great for this kind of photography, but so is nature. Lines on leaves can be just as beautiful as this concrete flower-shaped structure.
Any questions? Follow us on Instagram and watch what other people make. You can get some great ideas from the community of people who join us every week in our photo challenges.