Sunday, January 30, 2011

Still Life. Photographing Fruits and Flowers

Dutch painters became masters of still life around the end of XVI, XVII and early XVIII centuries; they profusely used gold and silver objects arranged with lots of fruits, flowers, expensive items at the time like salt, pepper and fabrics to show off the wealth of their patrons.  No wonder why so many of these paintings are called ‘Vanitas’.

Painters like Pietr Clasz and Willem Clasz Heda used skulls, hourglasses and extinguished candles to remind viewers that all earthly possession are limited by the nature of our temporary existence.

In Spain, Still Life paintings were not as popular, the Spanish master of Still Life or 'Bodegon', Luis Melendez painted more humble displays, made up of fish, bread, parts or dead animals which I never liked (just a personal thing). However, I always enjoyed the ones with fruits and flowers. They convey a sense of lush, joy, color and a positive feeling except for the skulls, candles and hourglasses.

Since owning one of those paintings is kind of expensive, I took it on myself to try to emulate them using my camera. It also gave me the opportunity to intentionally focus on the optimistic and aesthetic part of the final composition ant to exclude any reminders to mine, or anybody’s temporary existence.

This is why I choose to have lit candles and not extinguished ones (see at right). This is a photographic style that I enjoy immensely. It is something that I will continue pursuing after I finish my studio renovations. Because most of the Great Masters included a Römer (a.k.a Roemer) in their  compositions, I wanted to have one as well.

However,  I have seen only one for sale in eBay for about US$ 990.00; so, I settled for whatever other decorated glass I could find. If you have a Römer or Roemer lying around and would be so kind to lend it to me, it would be highly appreciated. These are great images for home décor, they look like paintings when printed in canvas, which adds its texture to the mix. They achieve the opposite of when a painting look like a photograph, something that was necessary during the pre-photo era.

See my other Still Life/Photography/Paintings related posts here  

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