Minimalism isn’t just about B&W, though it will often define the style. This year’s winners of the Minimalist Photography Awards showed that whether it’s a monochromatic scene or vibrant tableau, less is more and you don’t need an elaborate set to capture a compelling shot. 

Related: How to create striking abstract architectural photography

About the Minimalist Photography Awards

In its fourth year, the Minimalist Photography Awards drew 3,400 photographers from 43 different countries, who entered work into 11 categories: Abstract, architectural, conceptual, fine art, landscapes, long exposure, night, open, photomanipulation, portrait, and street photography.

“Minimalist Photography Awards is a nonprofit association, powered by B & W Minimalism magazine and founded by Milad Safabakhsh, which aims to recognize, reward, and expose talented photographers all around the world and introduce them to the professional photography industry.”

The jury includes gallery owner Jennifer Kostuik, cinematographer Rob Hardy (of Ex Machina, Annihilation, and Men), art collector Sashaku, photographer and collector Peter Molick (“pixelpete”), and the founder and president of Minimalist Photography Awards, Milad Safabakhsh.  

The overall winner receives a $2,000 cash prize and the designation of Minimalist Photographer of the Year. Additionally, their work will appear in the “Best in Show” exhibition. The winner, along with the first, second, third, and honorable mention winners, will also be published in an online gallery and in the annual Minimalist Photography Awards book. If they so choose, they can also sell their work as an NFT on Here are some of our favorites from the contest.

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Minimalist Photographer of the Year 2022

starling murmuration
“Forms of murmurations.” Daniel Dencescu

The ultimate title of Minimalist Photographer of the Year went to Daniel Dencescu of Germany and the series, “Forms of murmurations.” In it, Dencescu captures a dazzling dance of starlings against an empty sky.

“There’s certainly something mesmerizing in how these birds move—a vast, impromptu choreography, each bird part of something vastly bigger than themselves,” Dencescu writes. “The colossal organic shapes that form have an inherent beauty, but here we see many unexpected coincidences. Photographed all my murmurations series against a flat, cloudless sky the resulting images are undiluted. Sparse and beautiful, letting place for a lot of interpretations. The dawn cream color palette for my calligraphic photographs is based on the works of surrealist painter René Magritte and the master Irving Penn. I have spent more than 200 hours on the field chasing and photographing the starlings, all of the scenes are real.”

Conceptual category 

empty billboard and rainbow
“EMPTY SIGNS.” Jacob Mitchell

Jacob Mitchell took second place in the conceptual category with the series, “EMPTY SIGNS.” This particular image conveys the melancholy of what was and the relentless American optimism of what could come. 

“The EMPTY SIGNS series explores places that once had names,” Mitchell explains. “When I first started the series in 2018, I didn’t overthink it; there is an abundance of them where I live, so I decided to shoot them. Everything from fast food restaurants, sporting goods stores, and hotels are all just forgotten. The signs are giant decaying monuments which show the crumbling of capitalism in America.”

Portrait category

woman wearing green sweater, red gloves and hat
“Doki-Doki.” Hector Palacios

“Doki Doki” by Hector Palacios took third place in the portrait category. I loved this series because it showed that minimalism doesn’t mean the absence of color. In fact, simplicity can pack a vivid punch.  

Long exposure category

huts on a lake in the fog
“Huts…” Martin Annand

The title of Long Exposure Photographer of the Year went to Martin Annand and the image, “Huts…” The fog creates a dreamscape, where reality and imagination intertwine in the gentle, hazy reflections.

Architecture category 

blue silo
“Blue silo.” Michael McLaughlin

In “Union and intersection,” second-place winner Michael McLaughlin explores complementary structural and architectural details. What drew me to this photo was the intense blue curvature punctuated by a harsh red line. 

Photomanipulation category 

tree on a hill against a large moon
“Landscape.” Inge Schuster

Inge Schuster took third place for her series, “Landscape,” which examines the haunting beauty of nighttime solitude. 

Fine-art category

pool and white pool chairs
“Last night I dreamt I knew how to swim.” Natalie Christensen

Fine Art Photographer of the Year Natalie Christensen gave me Slim Aarons vibes with her sunny poolside images bursting with pops of color. 

“I came to learn that the presence of a pool was a distraction from how impermanent things actually were,” Christensen writes, recalling her childhood. “Underneath, there loomed an impending sense that everything could be lost. Stable could quickly become unstable, and suddenly we were in over our heads. Yet the pool was always seductive. There was a comfort in the stillness of its waters, albeit a calm that couldn’t be trusted.”

How to enter the Minimalist Photography Awards

The early submission deadline is April 27—check the website for next year’s schedule. Participants must pay a fee of $15 to submit one image, $25 for a series, and $10 per additional image. The final deadline is June 5, and prices increase by $5.