Don’t Call It Minimalism: Radically Reduced Compositions by Olivier Morisse

By Lars - 6 min read

The French photographer tells us how graphic design inspired his quest for simple images.

Olivier Morisse (@oliviermorisse) is a photographer from Paris, France. His shots are reduced to the bare essence – colors or shapes – and work so well precisely because of it. We asked him to explain how he spots his subjects – and what he adds to give them a twist.

By Olivier Morisse

By Olivier Morisse

First, can you give us a quick description of who you are and what your background in photography is? How long have you been taking pictures?
I’m a self-taught graphic designer, and for about ten years I have been working as a freelancer. Years ago, I also studied the traditional techniques of photography and film development. I guess that means I’ve been creating images for a long time.

How would you describe your own style?
I’ve been said to be a contemplative photographer. I like both nature, the great and wild outdoors, and urban or architectural subjects. Music inspires me a lot and often dictates the mood of my work. I always try to instill space, geometry or poetry into my pictures.

“I like my pictures to be easily readable”

How do you do that?
It’s a challenge every time: I look for ways of making my subjects work within the format of the picture, look for lines to draw angles, for light and shadows to create contrasts… sometimes that results from chance, when the elements of a picture are merciful – or I fix the details during in post production.

By Olivier Morisse

The word “minimalism” comes to mind when I look at your pictures… would you agree with that term?
Minimalism is kind of a reductive word somehow. Let’s say I like my pictures to be easily readable. Especially when there is a story to discover. But first, I have to satisfy my own eyes and I may be my own worst viewer. laughs

What do you mean?
Well, I can find myself wondering for weeks if a picture is worth posting or not and keeping it in my roll until I’m not ok with. I have a Dropbox full of images that are almost ready to be published…

By Olivier Morisse

By Olivier Morisse

“The details have to be in the right place”

What do you look for when taking pictures?
Well, my job influences me a lot. I’m often thinking in terms of lines, contrasts, colors, and textures. Of course geometry is an important part of the composition; the details have to be in the right place. Nature, with its texture and philosophical meaning, is also important to me.

In what way?
I was born in Paris and lived there for the first years of my life. My parents then moved to the countryside and I spent most of my childhood and teenage years away from the city, before finally embracing it again as an adult. I guess my experiences of nature and arts come from that time and I just became a little more aware of myself, as well as more productive and efficient.

By Olivier Morisse

I really like the way you’re using colors to achieve contrast and to enhance the compositions. Where does your eye for color come from?
This image is actually the perfect example of how picky I sometimes am. In it you can spot the Rule of Thirds, the parallel lines, the color scheme, the minimalism… These are principles I use when I’m designing a document or a website for my clients.

“Think, think twice, try, try again.”

I admire all photographers who have found a distinct visual language, but I also wonder how you evolve it. What are your plans?
I don’t have any plan about that. I’m not capable of doing that. laughs When it comes to creativity and productivity, I try to keep as much freedom as possible.

Any recommendations for the community?
Be curious, be respectful, be adventurous, explore your surroundings with a new eye each time, think, think twice, try, try again, interact, be critical towards yourself, publish only what you’re satisfied with.

By Olivier Morisse

By Olivier Morisse

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