Still Life Photography

The still life photography movement takes its roots in the tradition of still life painting, with both traditions lending the artist complete control over the composition, lighting and subject matter of their image. Masterful still life photography is achieved through meticulous image planning, for instance, the arrangement of lighting and selection of objects, which not only combine to produce an aesthetically pleasing result but also convey a unique and meaningful artistic vision. The earliest examples of black and white still life photography were composed in a similar fashion to early still life painting – for instance, tables set with fruit and vases. Today, still life photographers remain meticulous in preparation, yet have become far more experimental in the subject matter they depict, as well as the mood and composition of their images – producing pieces which can be both surprising and inspirational to the viewer.…

Whether you’re already a lover of still life photography or simply curious and taking a look for the first time, you are sure to find a piece that you love in our collection. We at Rise Art are here to help you buy art online and explore our vast catalogue, which showcases the work of emerging and mid-career artists, in order to find the piece that is perfect for you. Our aim is to connect collectors with original art from around the world and we would be delighted to help you explore our vast collection of original still life photography to find the piece that is perfect for you.

History of Still Life Photography

At its conception the still life photography movement was heavily influenced by traditional still life paintings but later photographs began to approach the genre through the lens of various modern art movements. The still life genre was often employed in photography to serve practical purposes – for instance, serving as archives which catalogued a person’s belongings as a form of proof of ownership. Photographers were afforded greater control over the lighting and placement of the subjects themselves which often included fruit, glassware, vases and flowers.

Across the 20th century, photographers began to experiment by adding more artistic touches to their still life photographs such as the use of soft focus lenses and experimentation with light and shadow to create images which approached the aesthetics of prints and drawings. Nowadays, still life photographs tend to recall past styles but advancements in technology mean that their subject matter can also include objects in motion.

Styles and Techniques in Still Life Photography

The first artists to work in the still life photography genre created black and white images which focused upon the interactions between the objects depicted in order to create more dynamic compositions. Photographers would deliberately choose and arrange the objects they photographed, meaning they made decisions with regards to the symmetry, diagonals and contrasting textures within their images. One technique with which photographers experimented was the layering of items which would then be photographed aerially, rather than the traditional approach of photographing an arrangement on a table. Photographers also captured the interaction between subjects and their surrounding environments through techniques such as capturing window reflections and manipulating the light and shadow in an image in a nod towards other artistic movements such as Surrealism. Contemporary photographers are able to utilize fast shutter speeds in order to capture snapshots of moving objects, allowing them to create still life representations of moments which only existed for a second.

Famous Still Life Photographers

Famous artists to work in the genre include Henry Fox Talbot who published his book of photographic experiments in which various images such as ‘The Open Door’ and ‘Articles of China’ serve to demonstrate the various artistic and practical functions of the still life photography genre. Contemporary examples of still life photography include Ori Gersht’s famous photographs of exploding frozen flowers and Bill Owens’ documentation of post-war working class American households.

Still Life Photographers at Rise

For an adventurous take on the still life photography genre, take a look at the work of Gina Soden. Soden is a British photographer who travels across Europe in order to capture images of abandoned buildings before we lose them to demolition or reconstruction. Since Soden is rarely given permission to shoot in these locations, each image captures the artist’s tenacity to create art while also allowing the viewer a unique insight into places we would not normally see. Her painterly pieces encapsulate the passing of time and the beauty that can be found in decay.

For a unique approach to the genre, check out the work of Riccardo Cavallari. This photographer suffers a vision disorder known as diplopia which means the vision of each eye does not converge into one single image, effectively he sees everything doubled, thus his only ‘normal’ vision of the world is through the lens of a camera. His still life images are meticulously constructed and his use of black and white combined with traditional subject matters such as glass bottles leads to a traditional take on the movement which benefits from the advancements in post-production technologies.

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