In the genre of still life photography we can control everything. We can control the light, the angle, the composition, the motive, what fits in the frame and not. That is one of the things I like about the genre. But the ability to control everything can make me feel a bit predictable as a photographer because I can almost foresee the final result.  That is good in one way and boring in another. So to challenge myself I have come up with the idea of trying to have elements in my photo-sessions that I can’t control or don’t know all about. Sometimes I use the weather as such a parameter but most of the times I use the light.

Light is essential for us as photographers, if there is no light we can’t make a picture. We are painters of light, with the camera as our brush.

In this search for light and how it makes a picture I have come to love pictures that are either really low key, or the opposite, high key. But in my still life photography I love working with backlight, especially when I work with toys as motives. I can’t control how the light frames the toys, and most of the times I don’t get it the way I want. But when it works I’m pleased, but it doesn’t mean that I get the picture. To often I come home after a photo session to become disappointed in myself because I didn’t pay attention to all the other details that make a picture. I can have missed the framing, or the composition, the angle is to high or to low, the idea might just not work and suddenly that feeling of getting the light right changes to me seeing that the picture doesn’t work.

playing in the light

So in the search of challenging myself I move from a genre of total control to one were I lose control. I use light as one element that I can’t fully control, but when I get that element working I tend to forget that I need to take other things into consideration. In still life photography I want to get everything right because otherwise the picture doesn’t work for me. The best part of this is when I don’t get the picture to work I have yet another excuse to go out with my toys and make another try to get the shot.


What challenge you when you work with still life photography?