February 28, 2021

How Is Perfection Achieved In Photography And What Would That Look Like?

Robert Booth


REDUCE,REDUCE,REDUCE – ON MINIMALISM IN PHOTOGRAPHY ‘Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.’ (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) ‘Less is more’ is now au courant: Simple food, fewer clothes, save the planet. In art, the bearded class of aesthetes in their cravats and corduroys, along with their bluestocking wives, have always loved ‘isms’ in art and now Minimalism is a la mode. In photography, Minimalism can be achieved in many ways: using high-contrast, deliberate blurring and use of detail, using filters, flash, spatial redundancy, careful composition and focussing, and in post-editing. However the boundaries between ‘isms’ are blurred and this is to be welcome as any rigid approach to photography is limiting. As C.R.Mackintosh wrote: ‘There is hope in honest error, none in the icy perfection of the mere stylist.’ In any case, who is to say that less is is ‘better’ than more? Is a zen poem better than Ulysses? Is a pencil sketch by Leonardo better than his Mona Lisa? Art, like the oceans, cannot be constrained. These photographs were taken without any preconceived idea of Minimalism but they have elements of this ‘ism’.