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Reduce and Simplify

TV Model

Please excuse the crudity of this model, I didn’t have time to build it to scale or to paint it.” – Doc Brown

I said a few weeks back that Bethany and I were going on sale, and I wasn’t joking. And by “going on sale” I really mean we’re just trying to get rid of all the stuff in our life we don’t need or want anymore. You already know we sold the Jetta, but we’ve been trying to get rid of a bunch of other stuff too. This week alone we’ll be getting rid of an extra set of couches in our apartment, and I’m helping a friend take away the huge big screen TV we acquired a few years back–hence the model shown above. I actually was just trying to have a little fun with my friend who’s taking the TV off our hands, so I put together that illustration to show him the size and specs of what he’s getting. In the end I felt like it looked pretty cool so I figured I would share it with you all.

There’s a principle regarding art and photography that I’ve grown to use that says “reduce and simplify.” I heard it from a photographer by the name of Chris Orwig and I don’t know if it’s his original thought, but regardless of who said it first, it’s a good principle. In photography, it means you should always be looking for ways to reduce distractions in your photograph and simplify what the photo is communicating. It doesn’t mean you can’t have complex photographs or not have lots going on (e.g. it’s too simple), but it means you should be trying to find ways to see your frame and/or subject in such a way that it highlights what is being photographed. This could be background elements or other subjects in the photo that can take away from the main subject, and in a case like that you always want to remove those distracting elements. This is a general rule, but I think it does help me create better photos. I believe this same principle can be applied outside the realm of photography, and to our lives.

We’re in the middle of boxing up our apartment so we can prepare to move to our new condo, and we’ve been asking ourselves: “Do we need this?” or “Why do we have this?” Those are reduce and simplify questions. Questions like that help us highlight what’s really important, and keep us from having a lot of pointless or distracting things–not to mention, they even give us a little more closet space. The Jetta, for instance, was a distraction. It kept breaking down, kept begging for more money to be poured in to it, and sometimes it kept us from getting from point A to point B. That might be an easy example, but I think it’s a part of the principle. The Jetta had to go because we couldn’t afford it taking away from what we’re doing. I’m not trying to over philosophize about a stupid car, because I’ll be honest, I just wanted to get rid of the darn thing. But it does illustrate the principle that we need to always be considering what we can do to keep our heads clear of what’s in our lives, because if we don’t, it’ll just fill itself up with useless junk that ultimately gets in the way.

2 replies on “Reduce and Simplify”

I am so glad you guys got the condo! Congratulations! Can you tell Bethany that the magazine holders are from ikea.

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