12 Contemporary Still-Life Photographers to Inspire You

By SnapSquad - July 24, 2018

Still life photography has always been my favourite genre (after animal photography); depending on the subject, the little universe captured on the picture always seems to succeed in making me feel relaxed and happy, often it can even be inspirational. In this post I’d like you to meet and perhaps discover for the first time 12 still-life (or not so still) photographers and what they have to say about their work.  Their choices of subjects stretch from 17th century natura morta style to plastic objects; a real cocktail for you to draw inspiration for your own photographic style or an idea for your home deco a professional photographer could help you with.

1-Paulette Tavormina – USA          http://www.paulettetavormina.com/

Paulette Tavormina could best be described as a Fine Art photographer with a romantic lens. Inspired by 17th century still-life masters she meticulously creates sumptuous arrangements with objects she has collected over the years to capture their timeless and universal story in her photographic work. 

“It’s a lot of planning” she says. “(…) I imagine Coorte, Zurbarán, Garzoni, and their contemporaries as they gathered worldly treasures and quotidian objects to tell of newfound wealth, passion, and the inevitable passage of time. The essence of these paintings lingers with me as I gather my own flora, fauna, butterflies and treasured antiques to create the romantic vignettes within my photographs.”  “For me, it’s about relationships. Every component is placed within a relationship to another one—a peony lying its head on a little leaf bed, a leaf propped on the edge of a plate trying to find its balance, two little plums touching each other, apart from the other fruit.”

 I take hundreds of pictures to get the one image,” 

Tavormina who has photographed works of art for Sotheby’s, is also a food photographer who collaborated with the making of cookbooks with chefs like Mark Ladner. 

2- Nailia Schwarz, Germany   http://www.nailia.de/still-life/

Often my work is the freezing and preserving of a spontaneous and special moment, often they are my visions, which I prepare for a long time before my camera captures this moment, I always have high demands on the quality of my pictures: they should be unique.”

Fork by Nailia Schwarz

3- Wolfgang Tillmans, German Born. Based in London.  http://tillmans.co.uk/

 “My technical approach has always been that I want to approximate my pictures to what it feels like to look through my eye”                  
"I mean, I just saw the tulip. The dead tulip towards the leaf, how they come together. I can see a possible picture there. There are three – no, four – stacks of books, and my initial reaction would be that it's a cliché, it's stacks of books. It means time, it means work, it always for something. Then another side of me would say: well, but is it possible? 

Sometimes it takes more than a day to get the display to actually evolve into what the photographer wants. Like Tillman’s Water Melon still life (2011) where he had to leave a piece of melon in a plate for a few days until the color had separated from the pulp onto the plate.

4- Lasma Vitolina, Denmark   http://www.lasmavitolina.com/ 

 Wander + Gather + Create    
Lasma Vitolina gathers flowers to create mandala

Latvian artist Lasma Vitolina is a painter, photographer, graphic designer and plants lover who creates floral mandalas she captures with her camera. A basic mandala shape is a circular shape contained within a circle with a center point expanding outwards. Within the mandalas she creates, Vitolina sees the circle of life from birth, through growth till death.
5-Mat Collishaw, Britain   https://matcollishaw.com

Since Bullet Hole, his first famous shot, Collishaw likes his work to challenge his viewers and to stir up a sense of shock. That’s what he did with his famous Last Meal on Death Row, one of a series of shots he took to recreate the final gourmet requests of a murderer served on a platter just before his execution in 2012 Texas. A unique way to lobby for a sensitive topic: death penalty and the way it can be administrated.

6- Krista van der Niet, Netherlands   http://www.kristavanderniet.nl/

Krista van der Niet works mostly in a studio where she specialises in staged surrealistic photographs. Her approach to conventional still-life interests in “contrast between nature and artificiality, past and present, life and death” comes with her personal touches of humour, like the contrast between 3 warm looking stalks of rhubarb laying on a cold sheet of aluminium paper (like bodies in a morgue?).

7- Olivia Parker, USA    http://oliviaparker.com/

Olivia Parker is mostly a self-taught photographer.                                                                                      
(…) I have been photographing ordinary things that I had never looked at closely. There were plenty of dead bugs: flies, dragonflies, moths and an occasional butterfly. I have also included a green bug I found squashed on the street in Chicago. Once more I am amazed that photography can reveal much that our eyes do not see including insects that flit at the edge of our vision and dissolve into light.'

8-Lorenzo Vitturi, Italian, works in London   http://www.lorenzovitturi.com/

On Dalston Anatomy: “The objects were left to rot, manipulated with pigment or deconstructed and then rearranged in compositions and photographed against discarded market materials before and after their collapse. The ephemeral nature of these sculptures mirrors the impermanent nature of the market itself, while the reconstruction and placement of these totem-objects in the exhibition space reflects on constant cycles of production, destruction and recreation.” (From Industry Art)

Recommended site:  http://www.bjp-online.com/2015/07/lorenzo-vitturi-dalston-anatomy                                    
A still-life love-letter to an East London lost to money

9- Arabella Shelbourne, UK      https://www.arabellashelbourne.co.uk/

Arabella Shelbourne is a London-based product photographer who specialises in still life, fashion and e-commerce photography. Her regular clients include Red Bull, Always Riding, Sotheby's, Soap & Glory & Miller Harris shooting an array of still life imagery for new website builds, digital launches and re-brands.

10- Margriet Smulders, Netherlands   https://www.margrietsmulders.nl

Margriet Smulders sees the world as a beautiful place we should all enjoy and she shares her marvellous visions with us. For her floral still life photographs , inspired by the classical arrangements of the seventeenth century still life paintings, she lays out flowers on large mirrors and uses silk and ink, thus creating an image of floating flowers.

“You can see a whole world in my flowers. Lush and strangely erotic tableaux entice you into another dimension. Huge mirrors, elaborate glass vases, rich draperies, fruit and cut blooms are used to make these 'paintings'.

11-Richard Kuiper, Netherlands   http://www.richardkuiper.com/

Richard Kuiper is inspired by something many of us have come to see as a plague in our modern world: plastic. Let’s face it, most things do have a plastic version; Kuiper creates Dutch Masters style still life but with a twist:  it’s all plastic!  An artist’s way to bring awareness and sound a loud alarm on something that has become a lethal issue for future generations.

12- Ori Gersht, Israelian works in London   http://origersht.com

Ori Gersht uses digital cameras to capture objects (like flowers and fruits) in suspension as they shatter into pieces. He calls his unique (rebellious?) style of photography “still life explosions”, that feel like allegories of the destruction of peace which only a camera lens and no human eye can ever catch.  

You would like to decorate your wall with a still-life of your own creation but you need help? Check out our SNAPSQUAD photographers.

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