Let’s start with definitions of each since they basically go hand in hand/are synonyms of each other.
Minimalism is a style in art, architecture, and theatre that uses the smallest range of materials and colors possible, and only very simple shapes or forms.
Simplicity is the state of being simple (free from elaboration), uncomplicated, or uncompounded.
So, how to achieve this with your architectural photographs? You often hear me discuss that when aiming to create an abstract image it’s a matter of degree of isolation. The more you isolate elements the more abstract the subject becomes. The same can be said in regard to minimalism. It’s a matter of including even fewer elements within your frame to achieve the simplest image possible.
Let’s start with this skylight at the National Gallery of Art in D.C.. In the first image, you see it feels busy and complex. But by isolating an even smaller amount of the skylight and using the surrounding ceiling as negative space the scene is greatly simplified.
Symmetry is one of my favorite compositional tools and a go-to method when dealing with ornate or complex subjects. The images above are good examples of utilizing this tool.
Here’s something more ornate that is immediately simplified by placing it in the center of the frame.
Regularly repeating patterns also aid in simplifying your subject. The key is to include only these patterns to avoid further complicating the scene.
Black & White
In keeping with fewer elements, black & white is often helpful in eliminating distractions and simplifying the scene. While there’s not a lot of color in the first version of this image of the US Embassy in London, it does add just one more thing to decipher within the image. The black & white version greatly simplifies the scene.
However, if you do want to use color, it’s best to stick with a monochromatic look. In both of these images, you only have one color to consider, greatly simplifying the image.
Putting it together
Here’s an example of utilizing several things I’ve mentioned. Negative space, symmetry, repeating patterns, color.
And, a black & white example – symmetry, negative space, patterns, black & white.