I’ve never really been inspired by still life photography; it has always seemed just a little facile to me. Still life painting I completely understand and appreciate; the ability to conjure your hand to create strokes of paint on a canvass to perfectly recreate either the literal or the experiential verisimilitude of the scene is a skill far beyond my reckoning. And the joy of seeing the light fall on the canvass as if it were happening for real is such a wonder. But photographing that feels a bit like cheating. Every time I see the fabulous tableau creations done to show off the capabilities of an exotic new camera, I feel the talent is more in the set design than the execution of a photograph.
But then the same is true of the type of portraiture I execute. Indeed, it’s true of any portrait. Come to think of it, the majority of talent in any photographer is in their ability to conjure the scene, whether that be by design (for example with the work of Greg Crewsdon), or by virtue of curation.
Yesterday my boys collected up all the windfall apples from our garden and with my mother, made stewed apples for use in pies and crumbles. The collection consisted of a lot of semi decayed examples and far more keepers than we needed. At the end of the exercise, there were a number of left-over apples in the kitchen, just lying on the work top in wonderful early morning light. They looked too good to ignore and so I thought why not try my hand at still life?
I am quite taken by the results (though really this is just a playful exercise) but if nothing else I have gained some insight into colour and light, particularly the importance of depth and texture and how to use shadow to create this in the scene.