Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
But does that mean I don't 'do' still life?
What I’ve come to realize now that our garden is coming to life is that my still life photos are different than most of the still life photos one would expect to see. In the winter, I’ll do my share of gathering props, surfaces and backgrounds, but I soon tire of all the busyness of it. What I’ve learned is that I like my still life photos to be simple, photos that are filled with simplicity instead of props. It still qualifies as a still life but with a less is more attitude.
Composition is key in any still life photo and focusing on simplicity is no exception. In the top photo, I’ve used a lot of negative space to contrast the pink on the rose and placed the jar in the corner of the photo to lead the eye up to the rose. The white background is provided by the white prop chair that sits on my back porch. It couldn’t be any easier.
Here’s another less is more photo but there are still a lot of things going on here: the leading lines in the bench create opposing lines to the curve of the flower and the neutral color provides needed contrast. Again, I’ve placed the stem of the rose out of the frame in the right hand corner of the photo to draw the eye to the color of the rose. And the bonus in this photo is the wonderful texture in the old bench. So what appears at first glance to be a simple photo really has a lot going on yet it was created with a minimum of fuss.
In my final example of simple still life photography, I’ve placed the rose still in the jar on top of the same bench in photo #2. But instead of using the leading lines of the bench, I’ve used a shallow depth of field to isolate the rose, bringing the eye to rest on that portion of the photo.
So if you’re like me and don’t like to spend a lot of time gathering props, backgrounds and surfaces for your still life photos, take a different approach. I find that this time of year is perfect for this kind of photography because the garden is coming into bloom and many days all I have to do is go outside and snip a few blooms. But if you don’t have a garden or you live in the Southern Hemisphere where it’s autumn instead of spring, be sure to visit the garden section of your favorite grocery store. For just a few dollars, you can buy yourself a wonderful and fun creative experience … without a lot of fuss.
And it doesn't have to be flowers. Cups of tea or coffee, cool drinks, book, the sky's the limit. Use your imagination! See what you can create using a less in more approach and then share it on our Flickr page. I'd love to see what you do!