I haven’t shot still life in a long time. My main excuse usually was that it’s boring and tends to involve photographing flowers or random objects – not to say I haven’t seen fabulous and intriguing still life (I have) – it’s just that at first thought it seems to lack the excitement of working with people.
But with the weekend weather being rainy or cold (yay Portland winter!), my weekday daylight hours non-existant and my current financial limitations, working with models (that aren’t me) isn’t currently an option. I was sick of not shooting and didn’t feel like being the subject at the moment. So when I found myself with an unexpected day off, I decided to try my hand at still life once more. But not the usual stuff. I decided to treat it like I would any other shoot – start with an interesting concept and use that to plan a series of photos around one particular prop. This time it was teacups.
These first two images were actually taken before my 15 before 30 photo No 2. photo – and were inspired by that Moroccan tea ceremony – “sweet as life” and “bitter as death” I mention in the post linked above. The heart, much like the skull, was sculpted out of clay and suspended in the tea. Of course of the two images, the bitter tea photo is still my favorite – but I like dark things.
Maybe I was inspired by Portland or the rain – but I really loved the idea of a cloud raining down tea into a cup. It took multiple images to make this photo – the clouds, the rain and the splashed in the cup were all composited together. It was a fun and somewhat messy shoot – but hardly as messy as this next photo.
This was beyond messy. It doesn’t show in the final photo, but creating the spilled tea required spilling tea. Everywhere. Multiple times. I went through 3-5 cups worth of the stuff and most of it ended up on the floor. Good thing I did the shoot in the garage and not in the house.
And the last photo was another image that popped into my mind and I could not shake. You can take it as sinister or funny – maybe there’s a tiny person hiding in my cup or they’ve fallen into my drink and are currently drowning – I like leaving things open to interpretation. The doll that donated its limbs to this shoot was one of the creepiest dolls I’d ever seen. I have more plans for him (I think it’s a him) and they’ll probably be just as creepy as this or more so.
After my little still life session, I was pretty pleased. In fact, I found myself warming up to this version of still life. It had it’s perks. Conceptual and visually appealing. But no fittings to worry about or models to coordinate. Plus can avoid being in front of the camera. I definitely plan to do more – perhaps even once a week if I can manage it.