Sunday, May 10, 2015

Still Life vs. Nature Photography

In the still life photography class I'm taking, Kim Klassen posted a couple prompts on "found" still lifes or real life still lifes. Basically, scenes from your life which look like or qualify as still lifes. She included a photograph from her yard. It made me think about the difference between still life photography and nature photography. Kim's approach to still life photography is that it's about the process - about breathing and finding quiet, stillness and peace. And she suggested that you can find that without posing or choreographing a photograph. While I was in Oregon, I tried to find an appropriate nature still life.  I took the photograph above. What do you think? Is that a still life? I think it's a beautiful photograph, and it captures stillness and peace. I'm glad I took it and it's one of the types of photographs I love to take. But, to me, the thing I have liked about the still life photography class has been the creating, posing and choreographing of shots. It's kind of like creating a painting or drawing but using props and my camera instead. I didn't think nature photography could be still life photography.
And then this happened. I was walking to work, and I "found" this scene. The lighting, the colors, and the composition all screamed "still life" to me. So I got out my iphone and captured the image. And now I think I get what Kim was getting at. There are some still lifes, some vignettes, out there to be found in nature. They have been posed by an unseen hand, but posed nonetheless. Created to draw the viewer in and experience peace and quiet. And stillness.
Thoughts?

13 comments:

Eileen T said...

I agree that the first photo conveys a feeling of stillness and peace but it doesn't say 'still life' to me. I'd categorise it as a nature photo. The second one I would call a 'still life' - it's lovely and I wish I'd seen it myself.

A very interesting post. Thank you.

Lady Ella said...

Yep, agreed. Your two shots illustrate the point perfectly and are lovely.

Karen said...

I don't see the first photo as a still life, but the second one definitely is. I know I've found some nature photos like that, but I've never really thought of them as still life. This was a helpful post. :-)

Melissa said...

That second photo definitely looks like a still life to me!

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Sian said...

Not being a photographer, I guess I hadn't really thought about photos fitting into different boxes. I see all pictures as telling a story, whether it's composed or found. I'm interested in her idea of emphasizing the "still" in still life

helena said...

interesting distinction - I love both photos but for the sake of categorising I'd say only the 2nd is still life - which to me instinctively includes at least one object on a surface

Cheri said...

I don't think it matters how you categorize them as long as you enjoy taking them! But if I have to say... I agree with everyone else.

Barbara said...

I agree with the other comments, photo 2 is definitely still life. I am taking the course but finding still life extremely difficult.

Miriam said...

The second picture is very lovely and feels like you arranged it beautifully where as the trees were put there by nature

Missus Wookie said...

what a fascinating post - I know that there are some vignettes I see that do 'feel' like a still life. I like the different thoughts here. Thank you for sharing.

Gail said...

Interesting post. I really like both photos but to me only the 2nd one would be a still life.