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Minimalist Photography

Lesson 24 of 27

Snowkiting Image Review

Curtis Jones

Minimalist Photography

Curtis Jones

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Lesson Info

24. Snowkiting Image Review
Curtis will walk you through his process of building minimalist adventure images with a specific breakdown of his strongest kiting shots of the day.

Lesson Info

Snowkiting Image Review

So that was snow kiting and I hope you guys enjoyed seeing some of that, some of what we do for fun up there in the north and uh we're gonna jump right into Photoshop. I've got a couple of shots from the day opened up and ready to look at and I'm going to go over briefly. I think it's three or four images that I've selected and I want to talk about some of the techniques and principles of minimalism that we've tried to incorporate into these subjects. It was really fun challenge for me to try to shoot snow kite ng. It's something that I've done a lot of in the past, but he tried to shoot it in this minimalist style was a fun challenge and I think we got some pretty good stuff. So here's the first photo. And to be honest, the first photo of the day is actually my favorite photo. It's the photo that I had in my mind that had been thinking about that I wanted to create for the last couple of weeks or months leading up to the shoot and it's it's kind of nice that it actually came together ...

and worked out so well. I mean it took a lot of planning and a lot of like, trips out there to get it right and without the help of my friends and the fighters uh and the community up there at large, like it never would have happened. So to say that it just happened is is somewhat misleading, but it is really nice sometimes when you have an idea and you can get really close to it. What I think really works well is the fact that it has so much negative space and I really wanted this to carry that weight. I wanted the simple portrait or simple moment captured of a kite er jumping a snowmobile, which I think is a really cool moment and I shot it, not this specifically, but I shot jumping kite as before and it's very dynamic, very high energy, big action what I like about this because of all that negative space. It really grounds the moment and it looks more graceful and calming than it does like high adrenaline, high octane uh which is exactly what I was going for. It took many, many jumps by by eric to get this particular move to work out to get it to line up. I mean I have so many images that are offset one way or the other right or left of this or where he's just not in the perfect sort of facing down, skis down right over the snowmobile. It's almost like he could reach out and say hi to Willie on the machine there. The other thing I really enjoy with this image and the negative space is just that it really highlights scale. You can see that this vista the arctic, it's huge. You can tell that we're just tiny. Um and I really like that. It really showcases the scale. I mean, we all have some bearing for how big a person is, how big a snowmobile is. So you can tell just how big the space is by comparing all those things and the position of your subject in that frame. It was important for me to try to use the telephoto lens here. As I mentioned, I've shopped the skiers and fighters and stuff a lot in the past and I've always kind of gravitated towards a wider angle to to kind of get that That action dynamic going. And with this shot, I wanted to slow things down and calm things down. So again, on top of the negative space, it was really important to use a telephoto. So the 72 200 and I tried a couple different focal lengths and 70 about 70, 80 seem to do that to the trick. It's difficult at times to get the kite, the kite er and the snowmobile or whatever it happens to be the environment all in one frame. It's even harder when you're shooting with a telephoto. That's often why I'll use a wide angle lens to get it all in there. But I think that the distance we were from the subject and the fact that we had them up against like a really clean skyline, All of that I think added up to helping build a nice composition. The final adjustment I guess that I made with this composition this frame was to do a black and white conversion. And when I was thinking about this image black and white is how I saw it. It just so happened that the day we went out, you can see from the video before this lesson that it was very snowy, very overcast. There wasn't much in the way of like dynamic lighting. So it was very flat. So when we went out there it was pretty monotone to begin with. It just made the decision to do the black and white conversion. All that more simple for me. And so I really uh leaned into the black and white. You can see her from the history Graham that I am like cutting a little bit into the highlights but that's okay. I was going for high contrast. So the fact that it's a little bit high key like this um and more graphic is great. It looks to me it looks more classic and elegant. So here's the second image and this is where I got up closer to the guys on the snowmobile boomer was really hitting his stride here. He was getting some really good height and it wasn't. So this is a something that didn't translate as well with a telephoto and I thought maybe the white could help out with. And that is that, that exaggeration of how high he was actually getting over the snow machine. It was really a matter of me just getting up and close to the snowmobile, putting that 16 millimeter lens on shooting the super wide perspective, getting boomer to do a couple runs so that I could frame the kite, the snowmobile and the kite are all in one and then shooting really, really fast. I think at this point because I was so close and I didn't want them to be blurred. I was shooting at maybe 1, 3000 or more of a second to really kind of get them sharp. So the only other thing I did with this shot to help it out was in Photoshop. I extended the Top, I don't know, quarter 8th of the frame to give it a little more space, a little more breathing space. As you see here in this first image. This is the file of the camera and it's quite, quite close. It was you never, I never really knew where he was going to be in the frame. So as long as I knew there was enough white space there so that he wasn't cutting out of the image. I knew I could probably help extend that a little bit in Photoshop. And so that's what I did here. I basically just grew this canvas out on the top and content aware fill pretty simple. It's, there's no real information in here. So it was a really easy fix and it gives the whole image, I feel just like that extra little bit of breathing space. It doesn't feel as tight and congested, not as tense. So you get a little bit of that calm energy from the first shot, but still that high dynamic sort of adventure feeling versus this which has like just a little bit too much attention because it's so so close to the very edge. And this is the last shot I wanted to show from the day and it's actually one of the first shots I took. And it was when the guys were just out riding around and kind of getting a feel for the snow and the wind. And I was just exploring and looking for frames and this is my friend Will and he's just coming down this little uh soft slope here. And I noticed that it just looked so great to have this very sort of minimal, bleak line of this rocky outcrop coming down from the right to the left corner. And so I got him to do a couple of passes back and forth on this hill and ended up, yeah, getting him positioned and what looks like this little gate here between rocks with all his lines of the first kite going out this way and it creates this really nice sort of flow of flying going down and then back up out to the kite. The only thing that you know with this shot again, we're talking about color versus black and white, the color in the kite itself. I feel like it's a bit of a distraction. I feel like my eye goes up there and then sort of stays there. So I finally just decided to turn this one the black and white as well. And I think it looks really clean and really simple. It's actually probably my second favorite shot of the day, other than the one, the telephoto of boomer jumping. But I really like this shot. It's just clean and simple and I think it has a classic look. Yeah, here we go. So it was really important. So make sure the cat was on set today, every time I lay out a glass of water, this thing is going for it. I don't know where she, where did this? Come on, No kitchen go have services. Is that way? Yeah.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers. 


  • Understand and apply the fundamentals of creating strong minimalist compositions.
  • Use negative space with intention. Establish mood, control balance in your frame, and elevate your subject from the visual clutter.
  • Avoid common traps that can lead to flat or boring minimalist images.
  • Explore how much information to keep and how much to take away from the image before it loses impact.
  • Understand common gear and technique choices that complement the minimalist style.


Do you ever wonder why certain photographs linger with the viewer long after they see them? Why sometimes the smallest point of interest makes the biggest impression? How so much “nothing” can feel so compelling in a scene? Minimalism photography techniques can add a powerful storytelling element to any genre, they can evoke emotion, and bring balance to your frame. Using Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic as his backdrop, this class will outline Curtis’s approach to creating stronger images with a minimalist mindset.

Learn to use the creative techniques of minimalism to intentionally account for every inch of your frame. Discover how to minimize clutter, work with negative space, and master visual balance to boost the overall impact of your compositions. Working in a clean visual style students will learn to look for strong anchors, shapes, and lines while eliminating visual distractions. Curtis will share his experiences and images from some of the world’s most remote destinations to help kick-start your journey toward simplified, cleaner photographs that capture the essence of our world.


  • Beginner and intermediate photographers interested in outdoor and landscape photography.
  • Photographers who want to understand and create with elements of minimalism to help capture the strength and essence of your subject.
  • Photographers looking to create cleaner, simplified images that leave an impact on the viewer.


Adobe Lightroom Classic (8.4.1)
Adobe Photoshop CC (20.0.8)

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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This is a brilliant course which I can highly recommend. I have done some Minimalist photography but still found the lessons very interesting. I enjoyed the discussion on colour vs. B&W. My favourite part was to learn how long it takes to plan a shoot, wait for the right conditions, even change the subject if the initial idea doesn't work and see the other images taken during the shoot before (or after) the final image. The presentation is excellent - love the cat :-).

Bradley Wari

Great Job! Great course! loved the bloopers, had a few laughs. I really enjoyed how he showed a little of how he worked the scene of a few of his images. showing multiple images and how he got to THE shot.

Deb Williams

Great class, good length and easy to follow along. A fantastic way to challenge yourself to look at composition differently and a course full of useful tips to try out.