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Why I Like Simplicity in Photography

Updated: Jun 20, 2021

Thanks to all who have been following some of my blogs as I make what for me is an interesting and exciting journey into the world of photography. I would love to hear your comments, advice or questions. Please do contact me with any of the above, or just to say hi, at

Photography is the simplest thing in the world, but it is incredibly complicated to make it work.

Martin Parr, photographer.

These words of photographer Martin Parr are very true. So many of us can take photographs easily with our smartphones and post them on social media for all to see. And we are very pleased with them.

But yet of how many of these images could we really say, ‘that works as an image!’ And what is it that makes an image work anyway? That is the question I have been asking myself over the last number of weeks.

I have studied aperture, shutter speed, composition, light, focal length, and yet I still ask the question,

What makes an image work?

Maybe I should re-frame the question and ask,

Does the image work for me?

Is it saying something that is important to me?

Are these images presenting my own voice, illustrating my vision?

When I started out on my photography journey I read much advice about finding out what type of photography I favoured before investing in expensive lenses. I started out with landscape photography, found that I enjoyed close-up photography and progressed to taking up challenges in many varied types of photography.

A couple of months in and I find myself generally going for simplicity in my photographs. Cluttered images don’t appeal to me. I like to isolate the subject and blur the background in some situations, concentrate on a particular aspect of a scene when composing a shot in other situations or focus on a single aspect of a landscape rather than a wide, sweeping photograph with a lot going on in it.

The desire to isolate a subject and keep a shot simple has not been by design but has come about spontaneously. I seem to be naturally drawn to creating a simple image and using techniques such as experimenting with depth of field or shutter speed to make the image more interesting and visually appealing. Unfortunately, without proper feedback, they may only be visually appealing to myself. However, photography is in essence very subjective. Photography is our unique way of seeing the world, of learning to be present in the moment and translating that moment into an image. Each of us needs to communicate our own vision, therefore it is important to continually develop our own creative awareness.

While shooting on a seaside promenade recently I took lots of photos of people walking but I didn’t really like any of them. They were too ‘busy’; nothing stood out for me. My favourite photos of the day were the simple ones. These two were experiments with depth of field using manual and aperture priority.

I also like the simplicity of these images.

The whole philosophy of this blog is simplicity. I am not aiming to be a professional photographer and essentially I am learning as I go along and sharing that learning. I make mistakes, lots of them. I take many bad photographs. But I have learned to love some of my mistakes and bad images because they are evidence that I have at least made an attempt to learn something new.

While I like the composition of this shot, the subjects are too far away and there is too much beach. However, I have learned from doing the shot badly how I can frame a better shot in the future.

Some cropping can make minor improvements but the real change comes from learning how to frame the shot properly at the time of shooting.

The difficulty and challenge of the craft—the way it stretches you and demands more of you than you expected—is not an obstacle to getting where you want to be; it’s the path to getting there.

David DuChemin, Photographer


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