Tuesday, February 19, 2008


A fun indoor garden photography project is creating still-lifes. I always use flowers in mine. Sometimes I start with a flower or bouquet from my garden or the florist and build the still-life around it. Other times I start with a favorite personal item, a holiday nick-nack, or an unusual item I find in a gift shop and then find the flora that matches it. I build my still lifes around common colors or shapes.

One trick is to mimic shapes throughout your set up. I favor circular movement or S curves, but sometimes I will create a neat sharp line. Whatever shapes I choose, I try to make them guide the viewer's eye through the scene. My "Coffee Cups in a Row" image to the left is an example of this. In this image I also play with light and shadow/ light and dark. The flower softens the diagonal line, but the single stem does not dominate the image. (My friend, the lovely and talented, Robin Frisella says this is one of her favorite images in my portfolio. It is similar to the type of still-lifes she sets up. Robin is an oil painted, but her work as an outstanding example for any still-life artist. Please visit her web site.)

Still-lifes styles can be very personal. Last year I participated in a two-person still-life show with my friend and fellow photographer Glenn Urquhart at the Wine Studio in Manchester, NH. The exhibit focused on the dichotomy of our styles, emphasizing his more masculine image and my feminine point of view. Though Glenn will sometimes use flowers in his imagery, his still-lifes possess a decidedly bolder feel then mine.

The subjects of still-lifes can also be intensely personal. Incorporating personal objects or creating a story with your picture can be very satisfying. To the left is the series of photos entitled "Not My Breakfast," which relates to my Celiac Disease and inability to properly digest the gluten found in wheat, barley and rye. Relating a serious issue, I chose to incorporate flowers and present my subjects (the wheat products) in a beautiful way. The matted versions I have of this photo are labeled "Breakfast," because I thought more people would be able to identify with that title. My friend, watercolorist Lillian Christmas, ordered a copy with the "Breakfast" title. She claimed it was because breakfast is one of her favorite meals. (My four-year-old thinks this is not right and tells everyone, "This picture is really called 'Not My Breakfast!'" She then goes on to tell anyone who will listen that mommy can't eat wheat.)

Still-lifes are a fun way to play with light, concept and color. Have a little fun with your camera and give it a try!

1 comment:

theysaywordscanbleed said...

thanks for the photography tips. I've been meaning to improve my flower shots for a while now.