Visual Economy

Visual economy, or minimalism, is becoming ever more popular today in art and design. Counterposed to the cluttered, busy, and frazzled realities of modern life, many weary souls are seeking refuge in simplicity wherever it can be found. From art and fashion to the relief of our computers and automobiles, clean and simple design is winning the day and the marketplace is keeping score.

The most effective design is often the result of the least design. A Zen master might surely offer a nod to that sentiment. Or he wouldn’t –  just to have it acheive even greater effect. This is the apparent paradox that most photographers, artists, and designers come to understand in due time. More is usually less just as less is quite often more. True clarity of the subject’s character is only revealed after all non-essential elements and details, which don’t contribute to the essence of the overall composition, are eliminated.


This beach scene was created with the concept of visual economy in mind. Not only did I erect my tripod where any extraneous clutter is excluded from the image frame, but I also deliberately opted for a long shutter speed to negate any distracting waves or details in the water. Waiting for a large wave to wet the foreground sand also allowed for a symmetrical reflection.

This image is featured in my latest eBook, South Carolina Wonder and Light which can be purchased for download in my Earth and Light eStore.

Technical details:

Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina
Canon EOS 5D Mk2, Canon 24-105L @ 105mm, 30 seconds at f18, ISO 100. 6-stop Neutral ND filter.

Posted in Essays, Images | Tagged , , , ,


  1. Posted February 10, 2012 at 9:59 am by RHCarpenter | Permalink

    Definitely a peace and serenity about this one – everything left out as important as everything left in. I like it a lot.

  2. Posted February 10, 2012 at 10:14 am by David Willingham | Permalink

    I love this photo. I like the way you explain what you did and why it works. I have always belied that less is more in design.

  3. Posted February 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm by Lance Warley | Permalink

    So beautiful. So serene. The pastel colors are great, leading to the deepest, brightest color in the reflection. That’s interesting in itself.

  4. Posted February 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm by Anthony Schwab | Permalink

    Clean and simple, Thank you.

  5. Posted February 11, 2012 at 11:04 am by Nancy de Flon | Permalink

    Richard, this is a splendid photo and an inspiring and challenging post. How about devoting your next eBook to this topic?

  6. Posted February 11, 2012 at 9:06 pm by Angie London | Permalink

    I absolutely agree with the “less is more” philosophy. Still, in Nature there is so MUCH!

    Taking the time to strip down beauty is hard work – but such an awesome reward in the end.

    As the great bassist Charles Mingus said: “Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” Your view is inspiring.

  7. Posted February 15, 2012 at 9:46 am by Jim Caffrey | Permalink

    Nice work Richard. I love the layers of subtle pastels.

  8. Posted February 21, 2012 at 5:05 pm by Wesley | Permalink

    Lovely. Love the earth shadow. Thanks for the description of the technique. I recently took stock of what images of mine people request and through the exercise realized that by and large, simple compositions have the most demand. I love a dynamic landscape scene, but everything you say here about the use of simplicity as refuge from our lives makes sense. Appreciate the observation, and thought to share a little simplicity/serenity of my own.

  9. Posted February 26, 2012 at 11:24 am by Thee | Permalink

    Wonderful composing and colors. It’s like a medidativ photo with these harmony in colors and silence
    greetzs Thee
    also your other photos are outstanding

  10. Posted April 19, 2012 at 11:02 am by Jeanie | Permalink

    Simply put, I Like It! 🙂

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>