Photography Research – Still life

I will be looking at some different genres of photography and explore historical and contemporary examples.

Still life photography is a genre of photography that involves inanimate objects or subjects. This kind of photography in particular allows the photographer more freedom to arrange and rearrange elements within a composition. It is a demanding genre on expecting photographers to have a very refined sense of lighting and composition.

“Apache still life” — of Apache baskets. From The North American Indian, by Edward S. Curtis.

This is a historical example taken by Edward S. Curtis from a set of Apache baskets. The composition of the baskets is in such a way that it resembles a painting.  Even though it is black and white there is still a lot of detail on the baskets and the high contrasting light makes them pop out.

Paul Cézanne, The Basket of Apples, c. 1893, oil on canvas, 65 x 80 cm (Art Institute of Chicago)
Paul Cézanne, The Basket of Apples, c. 1893, oil on canvas, 65 x 80 cm (Art Institute of Chicago)

This oil painting shows a similar composition of objects placed on a table surface. The concept of a still life painting is very similar, as the photographer or artist is creating the composition and not just creating it from what is there already, for example a photo of painting of a landscape.


The Wave, © Andrew Vernon

This photo shows a still life capture of a swirl of wine flowing out of a glass. It’s interesting to note that even though it is a ‘still life’ photo, the movement of the wine gives it movement and brings it to life. It has an elegant feel to it with the wine flowing out like that. Lighting was a big part of making this photograph successful as well as perfect timing.


Falling, © Joanna Jaskolska

The sliced dried limes create an interesting photograph with an unusual placement of the slices looking as if they are suspended in mid air. I like the way the lime is sliced in to many pieces and how it has dried up giving an unusual view of a lime the insides.

Still Life, © Antonio Diaz

This is another example of still life photography where there is a group of objects arranged to make a painting like composition. The use of a very rustic wooden table gives the image great character as well as the ceramic and torn of bits of rope not only serve as decoration but add to the feel of the photo. The lighting is also a big part of making this a strong photograph as there is a lot of shadows and contrast popping out the details on the surfaces and objects.




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