Minimalism – Take 2

“It is easy to be a minimalist photographer when there is nothing to photograph.” – Kathryn Dannay

I wrote about minimalism once before. I was in Iceland and it happened rather accidentally [see the post Minimalism]. This time, it was a key feature of our Japan photo tour. We headed north to the prefecture of Hokkaido, known for many things, but especially its snow. Sapporo was our base location, one of the snowiest cities in the world.

Suffice it to say, it snowed everyday. Everything was white.

Simple Subject

We headed to the town of Biei in search of trees. The snow made it easy to show off a simple subject. 

Many of the local trees had their own names. This was  “The Christmas Tree.”


Ken and Mary tree – the large double tree on the right side

Simple elements

Minimalism focuses on the elements such as shape, color and / or lines. The snow made it easy to focus on these elements. 

Simple tree and fence with the sunlight trying to break through.


I love these trees and the simple soft shadows.

Negative Space

Minimalism uses negative space (for a photographer this means empty space) to increase the impact of the subject.

It was just a house with a three trees, but the empty space gives it more impact don’t you think?

Eliminate Distractions

Minimalism is all about keeping the distractions out of the composition. The snow was perfect for this. It eliminated grass, shrubs, signs, and was even deep enough (at times) to eliminate any people.

I call this the “AT&T trees” as they remind of signal bars from an old AT&T commercial.

For variety, we also photographed traditional Torii gates. One of the challenges, I had here is with the constant snow. The snow impacts the visibility and clarity of the subject.

Torii Gate on Daikoku Rock

Torii Gate on Daikoku Rock. On a sunny day, this rock would be framed by the mountains behind it. The snow simplifies the subject and makes the red stand out.


Group of pine trees near Mild Seven Hills

A beautiful grouping of pine trees on a gentle hill. Ideally photographed with the sun behind trees – if we only had the sun.

Photographing the Hokkaido region of Japan was different.  It was simple. It was beautiful. It was minimalistic. Just like this post!

What do you think? Are you a minimalist?