I’ve been playing with taking the idea of still life photography outside into nature and will sketch out the basic idea here.
I’ve enjoyed still life paintings and photographs for a long time. After reading Keven Best’s “Still Life Photography” (https://www.amazon.com/Still-Life-Photography-Kevin-Best-ebook/dp/B008DV49XW) I wanted to do some still life work of my own. Here’s an example, a “found” scene shot in a derelict camping trailer in the woods near Bainbridge, IN.
I hadn’t thought about it when doing this shot, but it has a message, much as the Dutch masters offered. In this case the title might be “Death by two means”.
There are problems with doing what I call “Real Life Still Life”. One is that I don’t have and don’t particularly like lighting equipment. Another is I don’t like to rearrange objects and in the prototypical still life artists may spend days rearranging the subjects. I will photograph a scene from various angles but I seldom rearrange it in any way. About as far as I will go is to move a flower from behind the leaves of another or perhaps do a little weeding to remove obstructions from in front of the main subject. I will remove distractions from the image in post processing but I seldom add anything to it other than texture or painterly effects. I had once set up a shot using a tripod down low to shoot a crocus and had to go in the house for some reason. I left the set up in place and when I came back a neighborhood dog, an art critic, had added a “posterior riposte” to the scene between the camera and the flower. I altered the scene by picking up the dog’s comment with a plastic bag before shooting. I was glad to see that neither the camera nor the tripod were wet.
So I mostly shoot outside and I shoot “found” objects. This puts a crimp in doing traditional still life photography. To see what the boundaries are on shooting still life, I looked up still life on Google. The definition I like best comes from the Tate Museum in London:
“…the subject matter of a still life painting or sculpture is anything that does not move or is dead.”(http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/s/still-life).
I think we can stretch the definition to include photographs. If we ignore what still life art has traditionally involved, this broad definition allows for many new possibilities. I think this image meets the Tate definition. It also meets my need for a simple composition which most still lifes are not.
Of course there will be resistance to what I am calling a variety of still life. This image may meet the Tate’s technical definition but it doesn’t fit the common conception of what a still life is. My objective in part is to stimulate discussion about widening boundaries and giving a fresh look to old and valued concepts.
I’m looking forward to pursuing this line of work and I’ll be putting up more images. Comments are welcome.