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HomeContentsThemes > Subject selection for still lifes


388.01   Subject selection for still lifes
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated. 
Status: Collect > Document > Analyse > Improve
388.01   Still life >  Subject selection for still lifes 
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Although a still life is highly controlled there are a number of variables that need to be mastered to create a image that is ultimately satisfying:
  • Subject matter (size, frame coverage, position on frame)
  • Background (textures, colors, distance from subject)
  • Lighting variables (natural vs artificial, intensity, angles, gels)
  • Camera variables (film size, capture medium, lens selection, filters)
All of these relate to the technical aspects of the image but as any person involved in advertising or marketing knows there is also an understanding of the emotional responses of the audience to the final image and these needs to be taken into account before all of the others. It is only by mastering and accurately predicting the emotional responses that a still life can be successful. Certainly there are representational shots that are taken purely to show a product but the finest of those, such as by Margaret Bourke-White and Albert Renger-Patzsch[1], extend this and encourage us to go beyond what is actually portrayed to reflect on the world that created it. This is achieved by controlling the shapes, volumes, colors and tonalities of the subject. In the 1920s New Objectivity in Germany with such photographers as Karl Blossfeldt - Albert Renger-Patzsch came to notice because of his 1928 book Die Welt ist schon (The World is Beautiful) that included landscapes, nature shots and still lifes that challenged the traditional 'photography as painting' approach. 

  1. Λ Albert Renger-Patzsch, 1928, Die Welt ist schön: Ein Hundert photographische Aufnahmen, (Munich: Kurt Wolff Verlag); Albert Renger-Patzsch, 1957, Bilder aus der Landschaft zwischen Ruhr und Möhne, (Belecke (Möhne): Privatdruck der Siepmann-Werke, AG); Albert Renger-Patzsch, 1979, Albert Renger-Patzsch: 100 Photographs, (Köln: Schürmann and Kicken; Paris: Créatis); A. Wilde, J. Wilde & T. Weske, 1997, Albert Renger-Patzsch: Photographer of Objectivity, (London: Thames & Hudson)

HomeThemesStill life > Subject selection for still lifes 
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We need to build up Visual Indexes for:  
Subject selection for still lifes 
So if you have, or know about, series that you feel would be appropriate let me know right away, thanks
Alan -

Refreshed: 19 January 2015, 00:51
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