The Power Of Simplicity

Creating pleasing and memorable landscape compositions can be painstakingly hard sometimes. Alain Briot shares some tips and techniques that can help you to improve your photographic style

Creating Simple Images

The simplest images often are the most effective images. However, creating simple images is not necessarily a simple process. To be able to simplify a composition, one must have acquired a variety of 'visual reflexes’. These visual reflexes consist of things that one does automatically, without thinking, because they have been practised so many times that they have become intuitive. What do these ‘things’ consist of? What does it mean to ‘simplify’? Sometimes it means proceeding quickly through the construction of the image and sometimes it means proceeding slowly and moving through each step carefully. Sometimes it means using finesse and sometimes it means moving forward intuitively. It may mean also finding out what is the weak area of an image and looking for ways to strengthen it; it may mean also having the patience to wait until everything comes together, until the light and the subject are balanced and become equally interesting. Sometimes it means letting things be, for example letting elements in the landscape fall where they may in the image and not worry if they are in the right place or not. On the other hand, sometimes it means controlling the position of each element until everything looks just right. Sometimes it means taking one photograph after another, while fine tuning the composition until the perfect image is created. Sometimes it means working fast, knowing that there will be enough time only to take one photograph, two at the most, because the light is changing quickly and there is no time to waste. Sometimes it means finding ways of making the subject come alive, and sometimes it means letting the subject speak for itself.

Composition Example 1

Creating a stronger image means removing elements to simplify the composition. The example I have selected for this essay shows such a situation. This photograph was created at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico this spring. It was a quiet morning and I was taken particularly by the vastness and peacefulness of the white dunes. Intent on expressing these feelings in my photographs, I started looking for a composition that would...

Read this and many more articles in High Definition inside Issue 27 of Landscape Photography Magazine.

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About Author


Alain Briot creates fine art photographs, teaches workshops and offers DVD tutorials. Alain’s three books are available as printed books on and as eBooks on his website.

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