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The Art of Subtlety

by Editor Swapnil Deshpande
Published the 30st of July 2021 

Being subtle and simple can sound to be so easy but it is actually a strenuous task to achieve when you want to express yourself in field of photography.

When you think of a painter and present him with a canvas, the idea of minimalism can be a little easier to execute as you have an empty canvas and put your thoughts on the canvas, but in photography to select a few degrees on you sensor from the available 360 is tough to create minimal experience.


'the wave' by Anette Ohlendorf


Minimalist photography, for this reason is a tough but sublime genre to execute.
Having the idea so well presented that it just keeps your mind fixated on the central idea is just like hearing a perfectly executed melody.

The concept of less is more and the idea of concentrating on single element presented has distinctive visual experience or elicits an emotional response from the viewer viewed as an exceptionally intuitive and personal concept, entrusting interpretation and understanding to the audience the perspective of the art.

The single element can be colour, object, shape, texture concentrating on single one of them giving a visual appeal with certain impact.


'Winter in the Ore mountains' by Daniel Řeřicha



n/t by Dirk Heckmann

Photography techniques like high key, low key , abstractions , negative spaces are few ways one can make subtle images that can stand out with visual impacts. An idea can be complex but when it is shown in a simple way the message and impact it leaves can be long lasting. Having a simplistic composition and clarity in idea is basic step to achieve such an impact. A neat composition with vacant and bare spaces with minimum elements  enables the audience to imagine and craft their own version of interpretation and comprehension, instead of including the photographer's own inputs and insights. Engaging the viewer with his own thoughts is, as we all know in most essential for creating successful art.


'Zeelandbridge.' by Ruurd Willem Wagenaar



'Lost' by Radin Badrnia


Describing few techniques to achieve subtle minimalism in images can filter down the process easily so just summarizing them with examples from our amazing gallery at 1x below.

High key images
involve using an overexposed palette and overly contrast subject which can be a colourful subject standing out against a bright background. Easy way to achieve in camera is to have a positive bias in exposure so background can be washed out and elements stand out in contrast. Snow, white elements in architecture, single colour use against light background can easily create high key and minimal images.


'Escape route' by Marc Apers



'The Chapel' by Tom Meier



'snowbound' by Rolf Endermann



Women in red' by Anette Ohlendorf

Low key images on the other hand uses exactly different technique thereby having a dark palette and a brightly lit small element creating stark contrast that may be used as a silhouette for an idea of subject. Negative exposure compensation on a bright sunny day in nature or backlit object can create a low-key feel in image.


'The Road to Nowhere' by Roland Shainidze



'first, there was a violin....' by Ileana Bosogea-Tudor



'Her' by mohammad ali hamooni



'This way' by sulaiman almawash


Abstraction involves the use of creating compositions and visual impact with textures and involve using vision and thinking with use of elements mentioned before to create minimalism. That can be found in nature, architecture and in almost all genres.


'Wavy red white roof' by Gilbert Claes



'Red' by Jutta Kerber



'Scala allargata' by Gilbert Claes


'Triangles' by Hilde Ghesquiere



'Walking the circle!' by Huib Limberg


Negative spaces and positive spaces are compositional techniques where in former space is left barren and subject in left in certain corners for visual appeal and exactly opposite in positive spaces where area of interest is spread out in frame. Context of the subject matters a lot in this style of work. Again vision is most important for composing such images.


n/t by Kaveh Hosseini (Steppenwolf)



'A red spiral' by Inge Schuster



'After Quarantine' by Ivan Huang



'Red & yellow' by Ales Krivec



'Winter minimal' by Przemek Wielicki


The beauty of minimal or subtle photography lies in the fact that we can execute it from even out table top and doesn’t need to be out in exotic places. It can be executed in any genre where idea or a single element has more meaning.

Less is more can never be explained more beautifully in any other form.

Enjoy more beautiful work from 1x photographers below.


'Over there, It's Raining' by Fernando Correia da Silva



沙漠  by Shanyewuyu



'Waiting for the Summer' by George Digalakis



n/t by Arnon Orbach



'Dwarfs and giants' by Carlo Cafferini



'Prohibitions' by stefano cicali



'House in White' by Frank Peters


Hello Swapnil many thanks you for this excellent article on minimalism, in which I immediately found myself with my idea of minimalism. It is an honour for me to have been able to "help design" the article with one of my pictures. Many thanks once again to Yvette for her journalistic sensitivity regarding subject, author and pictures, keep it up! Many greetings rolf
Hello Swapnil, many thanks you for this excellent article on minimalism, in which I immediately found myself with my idea of minimalism. It is an honour for me to have been able to "help design" the article with one of my pictures. Many thanks once again to Yvette for her journalistic sensitivity regarding subject, author and pictures, keep it up! Many greetings rolf
Dear all, Thank you so much ! I am glad you all liked the article! It was only because of the inspirational images of 1x that i could conjure up the article! So thanks to all of you and yvette!
Excellent article. Thanks Swapnil. Thanks Yvette.
Excellent article and great photographs.
Thank you for sharing. May I translate the article into Chinese for non-profit purposes and sign the author and then share it on social media?
Excellent article and great selection!
Great images, and thank you for sharing my image. :)
Thank you for sharing it with us. Very helpful.
Excellent article!
A fine and informative article. I have been looking for a new direction in my photography and this will help so much. Thanks.
Stunning work from everyone who's work has been featured, thank you Yvette for organising and collating these minimalist images!
It is hard to define subtility, so I will quote C. S. Lewis “There are no variations except for those who know a norm, and no subtleties for those who have not grasped the obvious". Great article with excellent images to demonstrates it. I am honored to have one of my photos in it. Thanks Yvette and Swapnil for your impressive work.
Excellent and inspiring article about the kind of photography I love the most. Thank you