Welcome to an interview of the amazingly talented Still Life photographers: Jedi-Dame
, and Awesomealexis1
. We hope you will enjoy the insight this interview might provide you on Still Life photography, and each of their personal experiences and views.
First of all, could you please introduce yourself to us? What is your area of specialty within Still Life photography? How long have you been involved in photography? Jedi-Dame
My name is Kendell. I'm a 20-year-old photographer from New York, but 7 years ago, I was just a 13-year-old girl with a camera, a little Fujifilm Finepix (Z10fd, I think). I'd take my little camera everywhere, to document my trips and vacations, but then one day I just spontaneously began treating every photo like a photographer would. It was fun for me! And I guess I just never stopped. fotografka
That was back in February 2009, so it's coming on 7 years since I started photographing now. Even back then, I was always primarily a still life photographer. It's what calls to me. I'm not sure if I quite have a specialty, but I always say that I like to document ordinary things. I like to show value in the humble. So maybe my specialty is photographing "normal" things in a way that gives them value.
Anna - a young girl from Poland who tries to reconcile her greatest passion (photography) with a very time-consuming studies (law). FlabnBone
When it comes to still life photography -I really like to take pictures of food. However, I do not limit myself to that - I try to shoot everything. My favourite period of time is Christmas - then not only is a lot of food for shooting, but also surrounds us then a lot of Christmas decorations (Christmas trees, lights, baubles), which beautifully present on photos.
I've been doing photography almost 10 years. Today I still have in the cupboard my first camera, which I got from my parents and (maybe you do not believe), but I'm still glad I mention it because it was with it that I started my fun with photography.
Hi everyone! Thanks for the interview. I am Flabnbone! I have been involved with photography since 2008 but it was during the year of 2010, where I joined my university’s photography club, that I became serious about it. It was then that I swapped by standard zoom camera for a Canon DSLR and bought various lenses.CookingPictures
I have been on DA for 7 years now and it is my main account for sharing photos. I am also active on other social websites like Instagram (instagram.com/flabnbone/ ) and Wordpress (flabnbonephotography.wordpress… ).
I absolutely love still life photography because it’s so “doable”. Compared to other genres of photography like portraiture where you need to source models and possibly have a studio, or landscape photography where you have to drive to places to shoot, still life you can do right at home using a table and some good natural light. I wouldn’t say I have a “specialty” within the Still Life genre because I love shooting all sorts of still life whether that be food and drink, objects like teapots, cups, cameras, or flower arrangements etc…
My name Jera. I'm from Spain and I'm in the world of photography, generally, 10 years as a photography model and only 3 as a photographer. I have specialized in photography of food and drinks. I am a chef and pastry chef and that helps in this kind of photography Awesomealexis1
My name is Alexis, I live in Australia and I've been involved in Still life photography for a little over 3 years. My specialty is Figure photography.
What would you say is the most challenging aspect of Still Life photography? What do you struggle with the most? fotografka
It's hard question, since, depending on the shooting things, difficulties are different. When shooting food (if they are hot meals) you need to hurry to make a picture in a few minutes after the application of food on a plate - otherwise the dish comes out in the picture unappetizing (and we do not want it).Jedi-Dame
Choosing the right props. Finding the right combination of props is a challenge in itself for every photo. To get enough texture, but not too much. To create an aesthetically-pleasing color palette. To make sure that the message of the image isn't getting cluttered or diluted with off-topic props.FlabnBone
For me, the challenging thing about still life photography is composition (ie. how are you going to position the object(s) so that it is visually appealing to the eye). Awesomealexis1
Composition is challenging because there are so many ways you can arrange an object yet you can never decide which the “best” way is. For example, say you wanted to shoot a teapot. The challenging part is arranging the “layout” of the photo: where will you place the teapot? Will you follow the rules of thirds? Will you have other objects around the teapot? Is there going to be a theme to your photo? What will be in the background/foreground? Etc…
One of the most challenging aspects for me is bringing life to the toy. I need to take into account; composition of the shot, lighting, posing the toy, the angle I shoot from and an effective background to really make the toy pop and look more life like in the image.CookingPictures
Some days I also struggle alot with getting the toys (particularly nendoroids) to stay standing up!
The most complicated aspect, perhaps, the development of the whole. Be satisfied with what you see through the lens and especially not settle anything. In short, look for perfection.
I have learned on my way that composition really is key and background is as important as the foreground - whether it is a diorama set up or you've manipulated the f stop so that its sufficiently blurred so the figure stands out or even for that bokeh effect. fotografka
I think if beginners can master the background it's half the battle, when I first started I really was just snapping toys in front of some plants, but once I started focusing on my backgrounds as much as the foreground, my toys were really 'popping' and becoming a focal point.
In regards to figure photography I've also learned that you don't want to clutter the photo up with the figure stands (mainly nendoroid). There are numerous ways to get the stand out of the shot - one of my favourites is setting it up so the figure actually blocks the stand when you take the shot. Otherwise, there's the photo stacking approach so you can erase the stand easily in PS or using wire to prop the toy up instead of its stand
Good still photography is the one that immediately catches the eye - you know that has that something that reflects the atmosphere of the moment. Photographing food I try to photograph to give this dish looks like, make him watching her man could almost taste it.CookingPictures
I think beginners should focus on the composition - it may sound corny, but even the hardest to photograph the dish (which the picture does not look unfortunately appetizing - they are usually pasta with cream sauce, which is very difficult to photographs) photographed in accordance with the rule of thirds can look at the picture that will captivate a potential observer.
The most important thing in photography, it is the kind, is light. Lighting is the basis of all the world of pictures. I attended several courses of photography and photographic lighting before making my still lifes. To all those people who want to start I advise you to first of all be clear that without good lighting, best photography can stay one step behind our expectations.So... let the light become!!!!FlabnBone
A good still life photo should have quality lighting. A photo that is over exposed is harsh and reduces the quality and detail of the photo. Beginners should strive to achieve good lighting! It sets you up so much later down the track. When I shoot still life, I always shoot by the window so I ensure a natural light source is coming through. Window light reduces the harshness of direct sunlight, but gives enough light so the photo isn’t dark and grainy. Jedi-Dame
A consistent theme. Know what kind of idea or scene you're trying to convey before you snap it. Know what season/weather/time of day you're trying to emphasize. Know what kind of mood you're trying to set. And then, choose props or adjust your lighting to imply that kind of atmosphere. If you're trying to illustrate spring, add flowers. If you're trying to illustrate winter, add more blue.
And when you're trying to convey a theme, think about what you think or is traditionally associated with that theme, and choose props based on your conclusions. Girly: Paris, Eiffel Tower, ruffles, roses, ballet... Baking cookies: ingredients, textured baking sheets, wooden spoons, burlap (for a raw, natural vibe), oven mitts... That kind of thing!
What is your typical 'behind the scenes' process when shooting Still Lifes? What gear do you use? How do you prepare a shoot?fotografka
Unfortunately I do not have a professional studio, or even specially dedicated to photographing room, so my "photo studio" is simply a kitchen. I have a small isolated place near the window, which overlooks the south side, is further obscured by a white curtain that acts as a large softbox - and this is where my pictures are created.FlabnBone
When it comes to processing I am usually am a supporter of natural treatment (for the photographic processing of food). For other species of photographs I allow myself a little bit of fantasy.
Now I use a Nikon D7100 (previously it was the Nikon D5000) with lens 50mm 1.8. Recently, I have a macro lens (the Tamron 90mm), but when it comes to photograph the food is seldom I use it for these purposes. But my favorite lens in this area is 50mm.
The food that I photograph a rule, then I eat, so it 100% as they really should be. When it comes to styling the food, I have a little culinary accessories that try to use during shooting. I hope that in my collection in this area will gradually increase.
I don’t really have a behind the scenes process. It’s all very spontaneous. For example, whenever I bake a cake or make some sort of dessert that I think it is worthy of a photo, I take out my camera and shoot away, doing the composition and arrangement on the spot. Jedi-Dame
The gears I use to shoot still life include my trusty CanonEOS60D, and my 50mm prime lens. I like to use the 50mm because it has a wide aperture (1.8), allowing for good bokeh, and an angle that isn’t too wide nor too narrow.
I've been using my Nikon D5100 with a 50mm f/1.8G to capture all of my recent still lifes. It's a great all-around lens if you can't afford more than one or two. Speaking of broke photographer tools: natural light. I only use natural light. Open all the curtains and send your blinds to the top of the window frames-- get the as much light in the room as you can. Just make sure you can use your manual settings to get the most out of the light you have!CookingPictures
When I'm prepping for a shoot, I begin by collecting all the props that I feel best represent the theme I'm working toward. I position, layer and angle them in a way that seems fitting to the theme. For me, arranging still life is a perpetual battle; I readjust things to the slightest degree, push them inward and out, take things away and put new ones in. Sometimes I even change the whole dynamic of the scene!
My "behind the scenes" is basically a spotlight music and my camera. I used to work with music because my boyfriend, also photographer, works with her particular soundtrack and good habits are copied. My photo equipment is very modest. I have a Sony camera initiation, two pockets, a photographic tripod from 60´s !!! and two objectives inherited from my old Minolta.Awesomealexis1
And most importantly, imagination.
When preparing for a shoot I like to get a feel for the characters personality (whether its researching the series the character is from or their theme [eg. if they're wearing a kimono, have a cherry blossom motif on their outfit]) so that I can capture a shot that best suits their personality.
My typical gear includes my 550D, tripod, Macro lense (60mm f/2.0) and a reflector board.
To prepare for a shoot, I generally set it up on my kitchen table which helps me visualise and ensure I have all that diorama pieces that I need. Then I need to determine what time of day will give me the appropriate lighting that I am envisaging for the shot (as I tend to shoot outdoors).
Could you select one of your favorite Still Life photographs from your own gallery, and describe to us the process that went into creating it?fotografka
About taking pictures of food on Halloween I dreamed for a long time (especially since in my country this holiday is celebrated in a special way). I had already bought in a shop lantern, bloody icing and small Jack'o'Lantern wafers. When it comes to spider it is to me a very long time - such a small souvenir from my childhood
A piece of gauze had to imitate a spider's web.
In this case, the post processing has taken a slightly different form than the natural - I tried to stylize picture on a typical autumn.
It's so tough to find a favorite, because as the creator, I see all of the mistakes and regrets I have about an image. But here's Lavender Morning.
This photo's kind of fun, because I really wanted more traditional bedroom feel, complete with light pouring in over the bed. However, in my own bedroom, my mattress is just on the floor, feet below the window. So, I decided to doll up my kitchen table instead!
Props I Used & Why
● Plants: Don't discount the background in your photos! Plants in this photo helped emphasize a cozy home atmosphere.
● Curtains: These were already there, but they really worked as an added bonus to the bedroom "feel." I kept them open to portray someone flooding their room with morning light.
● Lamp: I put my lamp on the very edge of the kitchen table to mock a traditional side-table. I turned it on to imply that the sun had not yet full risen (even though it was the afternoon).
● Pillow: I tilted a small airplane pillow slightly out of frame to hide the fact that it wasn't normal-sized.
● Bed Sheets: I used a short piece of white fabric from a craft store, and ruffled it up to resembled rustled morning bed sheets.
● Coffee & Cream: I put coffee in a clear tea cup since it otherwise would've been hidden by the angle I'd chosen. However, I believe a coffee cup would've also sufficed. Cream in a milk bottle, along with a spoon, was added as minor details to show that someone was still preparing their morning coffee.
● Books & Glasses: Who doesn't love a good read in the morning? Whether it's something by your favorite author or just the morning newspaper. The glasses emphasize reading, to avoid it seeming like there are just random books on a bed.
● Lavender: I added the flowers to convey a sense of "morning freshness." Perhaps someone tiptoed through the morning dew in their garden to collect flowers for the day.
It's a new day, a warm and comfortable summer morning, and someone's just woken up. That is the theme of this image.
This would be my current favorite.
The process to taking this shot, again, was spontaneous. It was during the winter, but I wanted to wash away the winter gloom and make a summery drink, so off I went chopping lemons, strawberries and spinach and putting it into a mason jar with honey. I thought it looked pretty, so I decided to take a photo of it. Rule number one when taking a photo, head to the window. So I placed the Mason jar on the windowsill and just to add some extra “oomph” to the photo, I placed a lemon and strawberries next to the jar. I loved the turnout, especially with the plants and bushes outside the window mixing in with the light and turning it into bokeh (ie. those out of focus circles/blurs). And I hate to say this, but the window was fairly dusty and greasy but it was the dust specks and the grease marks that added that “rain like” “flaky dot” effect which you can see.
This question is difficult lol. All my pictures are special to me but if I had to select one, it would Home made pancakes. It's a simple photograph. It was the last of the photo session to use maple syrup freely. It is a very typical image of pancakes and wanted to have my own. I'm really proud of it .
This is actually 3 shots stacked onto each other. I was heavily reliant on my tripod, the 2 second timer on my camera and Manual focus when I took this shot. I took the shot of the toy and the shells complete with stands. The second photo I took, I had removed the shells. Finally the third photo I took, I had removed the toy so I only had what is the background left.
Using manual focus was important so when I took each individual photo the settings didnt change, therefore making it flawless to stack into one photo when I opened them in Photoshop as layers.
When I bought them into Photoshop as layers I could remove the stands in the shell and toy photo layers. The background layer filled in the gaps from where I erased the stands.
I used blue cellophane as the 'water background' and at f/3.2 gave me a blurred 'watery' effect. In photoshop I added the water splash effect to her foot, to give that running on water look. I also added the water droplets effects to the shells to give them a just fired look.
What is your favorite thing about Still Life photography? And your least favorite thing?FlabnBone
My favorite thing about Still Life photography is that you can turn seemingly mundane, boring objects into beautiful photos. For example, if someone said to you, take a photo of those headphones, you would think “what?” But by thinking creatively and applying some composition ideas into action, even the more boring object can turn animate. I don’t really have a least favourite thing about Still Life photography because it is one of my favourite photography genres!fotografka
My favourite thing in photography still life is that you can show something ordinary in an extraordinary way.CookingPictures
While my least favourite thing is for sure that the photos were absolutely satisfactory work is carried out at a low ISO, which is usually associated with shooting on a tripod (and I love to shoot without a tripod).
Photos look best food in daylight, so unfortunately falls for example, night photography, or photography after dark. Therefore, it is also one of the things I do not like this kind of photography, because my time is limited.
My favorite part is to photograph what I know best. To capture every detail. Every texture, every color and every taste. I love making people fat just seeing my pictures lol and practice my profession in a different way because, everything you see in my photos I have prepared in my kitchen.Jedi-Dame
What I like least .... having to sort the study after photos xD
My favorite thing about still life photography is finding a way to portray a specific mood, theme, dish or object. Though, my least favorite thing is that I never have enough props. I am constantly having to really hunker down and get creative because of the limited number of items I own. I do what I can with what have! But I definitely think there will come a time where I'll have a treasure chest or closet chock-full of props.Awesomealexis1
Still life photography lets me bring my figures to life however I see fit - whether its cute, sexy, dramatic or any other way; the sky is the limit. It has provided me an avenue to learn about my camera and photography.
My least favourite thing would be when my toys don't want to play the game, like; not standing up/balancing and bits and pieces falling off because I have gotten too excited with posing them. Those days can be frustrating.
Do you have anything you'd like to say about still life photography? Any advice for beginners? Any tips about what to do and what to avoid, etc?Jedi-Dame
Firstly, observe. Always take a moment to look at others' still lifes and try to figure out what strategies they used to capture their image.FlabnBone
- What kind of theme or mood are they trying to illustrate?
- What kinds of props did they think fit their theme?
- What kinds of shapes, patterns and textures did they use?
- What seems to be their color palette?
- How did they position or angle their props? How did they layer them?
Even looking at the shadows can help you determine what direction and how harsh of a light they chose to use on their subject.
And secondly, don't sell yourself short. I don't think anyone ever thinks they've truly mastered something; it is even possible? Don't stop observing others' work and don't stop experimenting with your own.
Some last words I wanted to say are, there is a trend in still life photography towards something called “Flatlay photography” where all the objects you want to shoot are spread out on the table/floor and you take the photo from bird’s eye view. Most typically it is shot against a monochrome background *most people prefer white* or against wood. I think this is a very beautiful way to shoot still life and tests your ability to arrange and layout the objects to the max! It is also a massive trend on Instagram but less seen on DA. CookingPictures
My advice is to learn. Learn forever. Take time to learn from other photographers,observe the work of others to find inspiration and ,above all, find a style even if it take time. And most important of all, enjoy what you do. Classic painting books can be a great ally when we make still life photos. Painting techniques often give very good result. Understanding that still life can give many satisfactions.Awesomealexis1
Follow your instinct and do what you like
Don't be afraid of your camera's Manual settings, I find still life photography is the perfect way to practice using your camera in Manual - as the subject of your shot isnt going to get away from you while you experiment with your settings.
Be a sponge, I spend a bit of time looking through galleries and photography articles so I can pick up information - It is amazing what I have learned.
If you are taking photos of BJD one of the best pieces of advice I have received is to look to modelling photos for your posing inspiration - it really helped to take the 'rigidity' out of my dollfie poses