I have recently proposed this question in a forum of friends: is minimalism a shortcut?

I am curious to hear some answers to this, mainly because it’s a genre I indulge into quite often. As a consequence, I am being self-critical recently about my minimalist approach.

What I observe is that many urban photographers often fall into minimalism, most of them with good results indeed. The obtained works in most cases result to be very readable and highly enjoyable by the public.
However, the more I get into this genre, the more I find that insisting on details, on perfeclty aligned geometries and artificial compositions can be a treat to my overall vision. My doubt is that a minimalist approach can become an automated and perhaps simplistic formula that one can apply everywhere, ending up in the representation of small details. Those small details could also be a symptom of small and basic ideas from the photographer’s mind.
I wander also if minimalism in my photography could ever become a mere exercise that make me lose the propension for complexity and the atmosphere found in a place or a situation.

Beware: I’m not criticizing those artists who practice and research into minimalism, but I’m asking myself whether minimalism can become a shortcut to achieve a secure and easy effect, making me feel a better photographer at a little expense.

So what do you think?


Modena, 27012013



  1. “minimalism can become a shortcut to achieve a secure and easy effect”
    that’s true, but also minimalism can become a great way to sensibilize for a different way of looking.

  2. Thank you Fifot. Yes, I think yours is a more positive way to look at the issue I was concerned about. You’re probably right.

  3. Stefano,
    this is a debate that gets ignited whenever an artist finds his own “formula” and keeps on sticking to it, sort of “serializing” his work, no matters he is called Rothko, Pollock or Stefano Mazza.
    I think a minimalistic vision can even be more complex and sophisticated than the depicted subjects. Playing with an apparently simple material in order to express one’s perception of the world which surrounds him is a goal that cannot be achieved by everyone. In the meantime we need to continuously ask ourselves if we are really trying to push our boundaries or just cutting corner. But this is about ethics, not aesthetics.

  4. But be cautious.

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