LAPC #202: Minimalism/Maximalism

“There is a poetic nature to minimalism that is about striking a balance between full and empty.”

Jennie C. Jones

Sofia has given us a wonderful challenge this week–to focus on simplicity (minimalism) or complexity (maximalism) or a bit of both. To be honest, I’m a minimalist–in photography and in my life–which is a good thing, given our itinerant lifestyle. You won’t see me packing the modern-day equivalent of two steamer trunks and multiple smaller suitcases for our travels near and far. I’m happy to bring along my necessities, which include my camera and computer, of course!

I get uncomfortable in spaces crammed with a jumble of furniture, knick knacks, and decorations. Objects compete for my attention. It’s overwhelming. So, in the case of museums, I try to visit them several times–if time allows. Here you can the amazingly beautiful Borghese Palace, which I could visit over and over again.

(Click on each image for an expanded view.)

When I searched through my archives for examples of how I approach photography, I discovered many minimalist shots. Where did my love of minimalism first begin? I think it’s here at the Waterloo Memorial, which we visited almost twenty years ago.

I was struck by the power of the scene: the narrow stairway, the people climbing to the top of the Lion’s Mound, and the stark contrast between the green grass and the sky. If you look closely, you can see the lion, symbolizing England, with its head facing homeward and its tail facing France. For me, this scene represents the power of simplicity.

As I became more comfortable with the camera, my eye was drawn to simple landscapes with striking elements, like this lone billboard in the middle of the American prairie, captured on a road trip across the United States in 2018.

The same is true for architecture…My eye is drawn to simple lines and dramatic structures. Here’s an image captured several years ago of the Vancouver House skyscraper in downtown Vancouver.

More recently, I’ve focused on food and flowers. Once again, I’ve learned that sometimes less is more. (That also applies to eating what I photograph.)

For my final image, here’s a scene captured several days ago, when the sunset in Florence was especially beautiful. I darkened the buildings so they were silhouetted against the sky. If you look closely, you can see several swallows circling on the right. My aim was to create simple black outlines of the buildings and tv antennas so that the image was pared down to the essentials.

A special thanks to Sofia for her inspiration this week, which has given me food for thought about my approach to photography and life itself. Focusing on the essentials has allowed me to strip away the unnecessary details and pay attention to what matters most– the people I love, good food, finding beauty in this world, and sharing the best in and around us.

Last week, Ann-Christine gave us the chance to experiment with triptychs, something new for me and for many of us. I loved your responses–varied, creative, and intriguing–as always. Next week, our host will be Anne Sandler of Slow Shutter Speed, so be sure to visit her site next Saturday at noon to join in the fun.

Until then, have a good, creative, and safe week!

46 replies »

  1. Beautiful post Patti. We can learn a lot about ourselves from how we compose photographs. I love your simplistic images, especially the billboard and building. The bowl of cherries is great. I like how you chose not to include the whole bowl, giving some blank space in the frame. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Anne. Thank you! I remember the first time I saw a food photo with just a part of the bowl and I liked how just a bit of it could convey the whole thing. It’s interesting how our minds complete the scene. I’m looking forward to your post, too.


  2. I’m also a minimalist in all things and I adore all these photos. I look for interesting lines and I love shadows. When I went to Disneyland earlier this year I found I kept photographing the sky as I found everything else simply overwhelming for my photographic eye.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Bridgette. Interesting! I can see how Disneyland would be overwhelming. I felt that way when I visited it years ago! It was exhausting for all of us! Far better to focus on small pieces of it. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love the rides, but as a new photographer, I found it both daunting and difficult to capture through photography. I have learned a lot about myself behind the lens.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This WAS a great challenge. And like you it has helped define our photography over years. I love your Waterloo memorial photo and the bowl of cherries and as so simple and yet engaging to the viewer. My favorite is of Florence’s sunset. Very nice. Donna

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The structure of the building in Vancouver is dramatic indeed, beautifully captured. I love your minimalist images. I, too, like to find a subject to focus. Glad you are back, Patti. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Amy. Thanks so much! I followed the construction of Vancouver House every time we visited our son. Now that it’s fully occupied, I’ve got to find another one to follow as it grows! I’m so pleased you like my minimalist shots. Take care and have a good week.


  5. Wonderful examples Patti. I love the bowl of cherries especially. I’d print that one on canvas and find a spot that’s perfect for it! Of course the glorious sunset over Florence is amazing – excellent choice to darken the buildings. Terrific exploration of the topic

    Liked by 1 person

    • Um. Thanks Tina. But the problem about framing it is that I have to have a house and a wall and a kitchen to put it in!! Maybe we’ll settle down next year? We’re still not sure. πŸ˜€. I’m glad you liked the silhouette. I was thinking it was more powerful having few distracting elements. Take care and have a good week.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Less becomes more, indeed! I do love negative space! The bowl of cherries is my favourite… You also got me reminiscing…I was at the Lion Monument at Waterloo about 25 years ago!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great set of photos. I really think you’ve hit the nail on the head there: as we grow more confident with our photos we find that we can do more with less. A little like everything else, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, IJ. Thanks so much! That’s an interesting way to look at it…and how we grow as photographers. I hope I can be happy with less…except maybe ice cream. πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m not at all surprised to read that you favour minimalism. I see it often in your photography and indeed the whole style of your blog is minimalist! I love your billboard photo in particular and the bowl of cherries – wonderfully simple and effective shots!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Sarah. Many thanks! I do favor “less is more.” I’m so happy you enjoyed the billboard and the cherries. Of course I ate every cherry when I was finished! Have a great weekend. I hope all’s well.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Waterloo and the cherry bowl made it for me, Patti! But all excellent examples so well chosen. I agree – this is a great challenge to learn about ourselves from.

    Liked by 1 person

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