Still Life with Cheese, Anchovies and Roosters

Still Life with Cheese, Anchovies and Roosters

Still Life with Cheese and Anchovies
Still Life with Cheese and Anchovies

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



Ron Mayhew

Fine Art Photographer specializing in Still Life and Commercial Photography.

This Post Has 30 Comments

    1. Thank you so much and thank you for visiting.

    1. Thank you Sylvia. The lighting was the key ingredient and the most challenging.

  1. The warm light on the cheese and bread, the candle glow, the palm frond (is that what it was?) in the right background are all wonderful elements, but what tops is off for me are the two vintage style roosters facing each other.

    1. Thanks Carol. I thought the roosters brought a little irony and humor into the scene.

  2. My father was a very talented painter but made his living as graphic designer for probably obvious reasons. But when I was young he still set up his canvas and oils then arrange chianti bottles and bread and fruit and almost always a Finnish troll – or some Finnish talisman that conjured his mom – then set about to paint it for many weeks. Your photo is so beautiful and warm and brings back some really nice memories of a childhood home filled with art.

    1. What fond memories you must have of your dad and his painting. I am happy I could serve as a memory jog. Do you have some of his paintings?

  3. It’s beautiful Ron, I admire your perseverance. 100 shots, wow! It was worth your efforts and would be perfect for a kitchen or dining room. I share your lack of painting talent and am always thankful that photography offers a creative alternative!

    1. Thanks Tina. As I mentioned, it was a great project and something I have wanted to do for some time and I am pleased with the results.

  4. You’ve succeeded here. This provokes exactly the same feeling for me that n old painting might.

    1. And that is exactly what I was after. Thanks, as always, Lynn.

  5. Mmmmm, now that is a photo… great lighting and it does have the look of a painting from long ago. It shows for me the great rewards of a harvest well perfected. Cheers!

    1. Thanks Randall. It was one of those satisfing instances where eveything worked, though not without trrial and error.

      1. Nothing is quite like trial and error ~ makes that perfect shot even more memorable (and significant)!

  6. Wow -wonderful!

    1. Thank you Dina. Good to see you here.

  7. Makes me want to paint it. I am a painter with no talent or patience for photography, but admiration of it.

    1. I admire your painting skills. Thanks for commenting.

  8. Did you think of selling this to Rex Goliath? Of course, you would have to approach Azeite also, but probably not the roosters!

    A great photo! It probably took you more time than Beyeren!

    Sent from my iPad


    1. Thanks Sal. Would you be interested in working as my agent?

  9. This is beautiful! Very 😊

  10. Great shot, I admire your perseverence!

    1. Thanks Sue. It was well worth the effort.

  11. My first impression – just from seeing the photo alone – was that it reminded me of still life paintings by 17th century Dutch masters. Nice work!

    1. Thank you so much. My inspiration for sure.

  12. This is a really good still life. The lighting is perfect and the set up too, with the knife pointing in towards the center.

    1. Thank you Cardinal. I very much enjoyed the project and hope to do a series of still life’s in the future.

      1. I need to (or rather want to) experiment with still life myself.

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