When the society announced the photography competitions last year, I decided to take part in the still life competition. I had never tried still life before and was excited at the prospect of learning something new. Little did I know how much I would come to enjoy the whole process. I set up a makeshift studio in my kitchen dining area and it stayed that way for about two months. I did the photography work at the weekends, but I left the setting in place during the week. I found that each time I walked by it, I would think of different ways of placing things. The lighting that I used came from household items e.g. reading lamp, torch, fairy lights, etc.
The photographs that I eventually submitted were completely different to what I started out with. It was only after a number of weeks of photographing scenes that I wasn’t entirely happy with, that it evolved into a cheese and wine setting. For the first photograph, the decor of a local restaurant provided the inspiration for the fairy lights. I used cheese and wine that I had at home. During the project, the cheese passed its use by date, so I had to suffer with the unpleasant smell until I finished!
For the second photograph, I disposed of the smelly cheese and got a variety of cheeses from my local supermarket. I shone a torch directly down onto the cheese board and a reading lamp onto the wine bottle and glass. The reading lamp just so happened to project a shadow of the wine bottle and glass onto the wall and I thought it looked interesting, so I decided to use it in the photograph. It took quite a few attempts before I could get the angle of the light to project the shadows the way I envisaged.
Two months, almost 20 different scenes and over 300 shots later, I was absolutely thrilled that the photographs I submitted won first and second place in the competition. I felt very humbled when the announcements were made, particularly when the standard of the photographs entered by the other society members was so high.
I really enjoyed working on the still life project and became totally absorbed in it, often working at it for hours at a time. It gave me the chance to apply the technical skills I had learned during my time with the society while learning something new. Still life allows me to be creative with a scene and experiment with different settings on the camera. If something isn’t working, I can easily change it and try something new. This isn’t always possible with other types of photography, where factors such as weather and natural lighting can be more critical.