I have always had great admiration for the 17th century Dutch and Flemish artists and especially their still life paintings. Abraham van Beyeren is a favorite. The artist is the master. The subject, the composition, the lighting is all under the control of the painter. A luxury photographers seldom have. Subjects and especially lighting, are fluid, ever changing, whether it’s clouds and the sun moving over a landscape or people moving across a street scene.
Painting creates silence. You could examine the objects themselves, the actors in a Dutch still life—this knobbed beaker, this pewter salver, this knife—and, lovely as all antique utilitarian objects are, they are not, would not be, poised on the edge these same things inhabit when they are represented.
___Mark Doty, Still Life with Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy
I have absolutely no talent as a painter, but the concept of having complete control over the genesis of an image, as a painter does, is very appealing to me. To build the scene, compose it and light it is creatively very rewarding.
While I have photographed still lifes in a studio setting before, they have been of a single subject. “Still Life with Cheese, Anchovies and Roosters” is the most elaborate to date. It proved to be more challenging than I expected. Lots of little tweaks. Move one prop a little and another has to be adjusted. Change the lighting a little and suddenly there’s a hot spot somewhere. It was the lighting that proved to be the most challenging. I took almost 100 shots before getting the composition, framing, depth of field and lighting just right.
The project has been especially challenging but rewarding. And a print of the image now resides on a wall in our kitchen.
Creating a still life has all the excitement of putting on a play in which I get to be the playwright, set designer, director, star, supporting cast and even audience.
___Robert C. DeVoe