Still, Lifes Require Still Lives

Life in front of the lens is either found or staged.

In my urban still-life work, I tend to “find” images. In my portrait work, I tend to “stage” images.

This creative duality keeps my visuality alive and fresh.

According to Wiki, “A still-life (plural: still-lifes) is a work of depicting mostly inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which are either natural (food, flowers, dead animals, plants, rocks, shells, etc.) or human-made (drinking glasses, books, vases, jewelry, coins, pipes, etc.)

I was out on a bike ride the other day. I can’t exactly remember what I was musing over but it was, at the very least, reflective.

What I specifically remember about the bike ride was that, even amidst the urban frenzy and noise I found myself in an unexplainable hush and quietude in my photography thoughts and efforts.

Still-lifes require still-lives.

I have always been fascinated by still-life photography. The way it captures the beauty and simplicity of everyday objects, the way it reveals the hidden stories and meanings behind them, the way it transforms the mundane into the sublime.

There is part of me, after over four decades in photography, that, to some extent, is flat-out bored with traditional photography subjects and objects. Yawn. Been there, done that. Click.

I started taking still-life photos when I was just starting in photography. I experimented with different angles, lighting, and compositions, trying to create images that would evoke emotions and thoughts in the viewer.

As I grew older, I expanded my range of subjects and locations. I began to explore the urban environment, looking for interesting and unusual scenes that would catch my eye. I discovered that the city was full of potential still life’s, waiting to be discovered and photographed. They were all around me, everywhere I looked.

Still-lifes require still-lives.

To take a good still-life photo, I need to be still myself. I need to slow down, to observe, to pay attention. I need to be mindful of the details, the colors, the shapes, the textures, the contrasts, and the harmonies. I need to be aware of the light, the shadows, the reflections, the perspectives. I need to be in tune with the mood, the atmosphere, the message, the story.

To take a good still-life photo, I need to be still myself. I need to listen, to empathize, to communicate. I need to be respectful, friendly, and trustworthy. I need to be curious, open, and flexible. I need to be in sync with the universe of color, light, and design.

Still-lifes require still-lives.

Photography is more than a hobby or a profession for me. It is a way of life, a way of being, a way of seeing. It is a meditation, a therapy, a joy. It is a still-life that gives me life.



Jack Hollingsworth