Tom Mc Nemar Photography | Still Life – What it is and why I shoot it

Still Life – What it is and why I shoot it

August 30, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

There are many genres of photography and some are more popular than others but each has its place.  I photograph many things that I find interesting or beautiful but I am primarily a still life photographer.  In my mind, the most basic definition of still life is one or more inanimate objects arranged with complimentary lighting to form a visually pleasing composition.  

Why shoot still life?  A still life image is created rather than relying on the discovery of a ready-made, found image.  There is beauty and power in so many things if we only look. Still life is about visualization and is an outlet for my creative side.  I enjoy taking a concept or idea and building an image from the ground up.  What once was only an idea is brought to life in a way that is totally my own.  Not a purest, the photo is often just the beginning; the canvas for further creativity.  I will often use digital enhancements to bring my vision to life.  Properly done, a still life image can transport you to another time, another place, another emotion.

A still life image doesn’t always have to be about something.  Sometimes it is just for the sake of being.  To take an excerpt from at least one of the definitions of fine art, “The final creative reason for a fine art photograph is the photograph itself. It is not a means to another end except perhaps to please those besides the photographer who beholds it.

A Child Once Loved MeA Child Once Loved MeAn old and battered teddy bear sits alone in the dark. The remains of that very special bond between a child and a very dear friend.

The image above represents the passing of youth and the discarding of childhood pursuits. Perhaps best understood by the accompanying verse:

A Child Once Loved Me

There was a time, when I was brand new... my fur soft and shiny, my eyes twinkled too.

Now here I am, in this room dimly lit.... my fur is all dirty, my seams have been split.

I was dragged by the arm, and dropped to the floor... pulled on and tugged, until my threads tore.

But don't weep for me, for to my delight... I played every day, and was held through each night.

Yes, there was a time, when I was brand new... but it's because a child loved me, I look as I do.

Boxes and BowlsBoxes and BowlsStill life image consisting of a stack of three small wooden drawers and three vintage glass bowls lit by a candle lantern.

Above is another still life.  Seemingly a random collection of objects but they were chosen for their variety of textures and subdued colors.

The triangular configuration and soft diffused lighting makes for a pleasing composition.




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