To make better photos, strive to achieve this aesthetic: simple and elegant.
Simple is difficult
Simple is hard. To cut the superfluous (without cutting away the essential) takes great skill and finesse.
Elegance is having a spirit of lightlessness, of levity, and unassuming confidence. To be elegant is to not be pretentious; it’s simply to be you, without any superfluous ornaments.
For example a woman can look plain, but be elegant in her beauty. It’s more how she carries herself, and how she acts, and assumes power and confidence.
Simplicity and elegance in photography
In photography, generally black and white is more simple. But monochrome is tricky; to make a good simple photograph in black and White is easy, but to add elegance is difficult.
To me, adding elegance in a photo means to add soul, emotion, gesture, and mood. It means embedding your soul into the photos you choose, and being able to select the photos which best represent your artistic vision. Generally, our image as a photographer-artist is seen through the photos we decide to share and publish.
Simplicity is also good in cameras. I think more and more about the RICOH GR II, how they have been able to keep the form factor and functions simple, without adding (too much) additional features.
In photography, simple can also mean shooting with simpler settings, like shooting in P (program) more, or what I enjoy with the Lumix camera— the intelligent auto (iA) mode. The more we simplify the shooting process, the more focus and energy we can have on capturing personally decisive moments for ourselves.
I’ve also realized that I’m a fan of shooting color in JPEG, because generally the colors look better! For monochrome, I shoot RAW and when importing my photos into Lightroom, I apply ERIC KIM MONOCHROME preset.
Using presets, filters, or shooting JPEG will simplify your life as a photographer in a good way!
Don’t seek the “best”
Often we get suckered into thinking we want “better” things; whereas in reality, I think what we’re searching for is more simple!
For example, shooting with your phone isn’t the “best” camera in terms of image quality, but it is certainly one of the most simple. And we shoot more pictures when we use a phone, which is good! The more photos we shoot, the better.
I generally believe that as photographers and human beings, we should try to seek more simplicity in our life, but not to make it boring — let’s seek to make it fun, spontaneous, a bit chaotic, and to live with an air of grace, elegance, and “sprezzatura“ (studied carelessness, something which the Italians do very well).
In all domains in life, seek the combination of simple and elegant.