Of the many, many identifiable genres of photography (I'm sure there are more than you think, and the work of some people is beyond category), the ones that most naturally appeal to me are portraiture, candids and "environmental portraiture" (meaning people in their surroundings), and still life.
Regarding the last, there are two basic kinds—constructed and found. Constructed still life ranges all the way from creating amazing ephemeral artwork just for the camera, to the happy activity of arranging objects to be photographed...a great many people get huge pleasure from this, and many people are amazingly good at it. Anything that empowers their practice is something I'm in favor of.
But what I really like is "found" still life...happening upon objects and their settings in the course of ordinary life and stopping to make a careful photograph of them, perhaps rearranging them somewhat but sometimes not. I have on my wall in the kitchen a giant print of an apple that Paul Butzi made for me. It gets a lot of comments, almost all positive, but a professional once criticized it because the background, he said, isn't perfect. True, but it happened to be a just-washed apple I saw sitting on an old army jacket in a kitchen, and I photographed it just as it was. No perfecting involved. In fact, no anything involved, except looking carefully and using the right focus and aperture.
I've never done enough still-life photography to make anything of it...no special concerns have ever emerged, no personal style. But I love it and always have. It was one of the first things I explored when I got the first camera I ever bought for myself.
If you do still life, do you prefer constructed or found?
And, do you have a go-to lens for it or do you just use whatever you have on the camera? I tend to do the latter.
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Featured Comments from:
David Francis: "Now that I'm in my mid-seventies, I quite like the idea of subjects that don't move and don't object to being photographed, Apart from that, I like the opportunity that still life photography provides for developing my lighting skills. Most of my subjects are of the found variety—things that are interesting as a whole or that have interesting visual details. But there is almost always an element of construction in these photographs as well, largely in terms of selecting the background, setting up the object, and arranging the lighting. As for equipment, I often use my Nikon D7000 with a Tokina 100mm macro lens, but I have also used my Panasonic GX7 with a 20mm lens, and a Canon G10 in macro mode. All great fun, and every now and then you get some really interesting results."
Mike adds: David sent me a beautiful "found" still life as a printed card (along with a donation to TOP, for which many thanks, David), and it's a beautiful little print. I've left it out where I can see it since it arrived.
Dennis (partial comment): "As with other subject matter, the answer to this is that what I like to look at and what I like to do aren't necessarily the same."
Ken James: "I think that still lifes [the correct plural BTW —Mike the Ed.] are my favorite also. Just this morning walking the dogs my friend and I were talking about this very thing, even about found and constructed. I have always really been a studio photographer, so I tend to constructed, but I am working on found. My current undertaking is to find some way to make my constructed more creative and appealing. I like to do simple things, but they are of limited appeal, meaning only to me. For me, a very timely post. Thanks. You are working that wrist quite a bit seems to me." [And paying for it —M.]