I am so tired of all the clutter


Monday 7-14 August 2017


I have been considering the concept of simplicity and minimalism, not only in photography but also in life.

A simple and minimalistic life brings order. It is something that is hard to achieve and requires loads of thought and action but always results in a happier, less stressful and more creative lifestyle.

Steve Jobs knew how important it was to achieve this.

Walk into any Apple Store and you will know what I mean.

One is struck by the fact that there is nothing out of place, nothing lying around in a haphazard fashion. Apple stores are immaculate because they are designed for visual pleasure. The thought processes that have gone into their design, into the design of their products and packaging, has been enormous. They have done their homework and it has paid off handsomely.

If you walk into some stores that sell Microsoft-linked goods, you will see that very little thought has been put in. Products are displayed randomly (and some are horrible designs, out there to trap future owners into ugly products). The goods are laid out in aisles that remind us of bazaars. Shop attendants stand around in clusters and seem more interested in fellowship with one another than service.

Apple has thought it out to the very last detail.


In this image, the stormy sky is given huge prominence and is the “negative space” upon which the rest of the image, the rough seas, can interact. Notice the very shallow horizon and the way the sea mist connects to the dark, brooding skies.
ISO: 100. Focal length: 100mm. f/8,0. Shutter: 1/1000. 


Achieving simplicity 

We as photographers should aim for simplicity. If we produce work that is cluttered, we have not understood the importance of quality and creativity. If we are too quick to post our work, we cut off our noses to spite our faces.

I’ve been guilty of this as well. The temptation to get your image “out there” as soon as possible is great. The question is, what are we hoping to achieve when we do this? Genuine photographers, men, and women who see photography as an art form cannot dive into this shallow form of expression. To provoke others to a higher standard, we should limit the number of images we post. When we do post, we do not do this to increase our approval status; rather, we present quality that leads others to the same voyage of discovery.

Here’s my challenge to photographers this week: Tidy up and simplify.

Consider the following before you go out on a shoot:

Location scouting:  Although you may be lucky with the light, there is nothing wrong with location scouting before you shoot, and returning when the light is at its best.

Framing your images through the viewfinder: Find ways of framing the images you take, considering different angles of view, and varying your focal length. For instance, if there is too much clutter included with a wide-angle lens, excluding the clutter with a longer lens may be the way to go.

Negative Space: Make sure there’s loads of negative space in your image. Negative space as photographers know it has nothing to do with negativity; rather it has lots to do with vast areas of space in which the elements you choose can interact or “breathe” within.

Wait for the right light: Consider factors such as the point on the horizon that the sun rises and sets, and how this will affect the shadows. If there is water involved, consider the wind levels and whether to purchase a diffuser to slow your shutter down even further.

Decide to be simple:  Most of all, decide to become unashamedly minimalistic and let the light do the rest.

This is my challenge to you this week.
Submit your MINIMALISTIC image for critique to the PhotoCoach Facebook page before next Tuesday. If you are reading this a little later, then read the new theme on the Facebook page and submit any image that ties in with it. At PhotoCoach, the best camera is the one in your hand, and we look past all the diatribe about having the best equipment.

This image was taken at Jeffreys Bay last year. It was one of those rare moments when the light was magical. People who live there claim that the light is often quite astonishing and I believe them. One man had tears in his eyes as he described his move from Johannesburg, South Africa, to what he now calls his “personal paradise” on earth. I must admit thinking that anyone coming from that city to the country might well think that. Notice that the “negative space” is the sand (which had literally no blemishes to clean up in that light) and the sea and the clouds form the positive and detailed space. 
ISO: 100. Focal length: 24mm. f/8,0. 1/4000. 


Simplicity doesn’t only have to do with landscapes and seascapes, it can be applied in nature and in macro photography as well. In fact, every form of photography needs to have form and shape that is simple. If you would like to photograph something as simple as a thorn, or a branch of thorns, consider the negative spaces and how the element or elements you have photographed interact across that space. 
ISO1600 (hand held). Focal length 300mm. f/5,6. Shutter: 1/4000 sec


I am off now to tidy my work environment and make it look like an Apple Store.
After that I will delete a few thousand images, drawing a line in the sands of the Great Clutter. If you wish to join me in this quest for minimalism, beauty, and great design, make a comment below. I LOVE hearing from people who genuinely want excellence in what they produce. We can learn together and together help to lift the standard.

If you live in South Africa, do a course – it will help you achieve this.
You could start with the course in creativity.

Best Wishes,

Charles the Coach. 

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