Still life photography

posted in: Colour Analysis, Photography | 8

Still life experiments

When I made my book I wanted lots of photographs of people, to illustrate its central message of dressing for your colouring. That meant I had to learn the basics of portrait photography and I was pleased with some of the images I managed to produce. As I discussed before I found getting a good background was helpful and around Kings Cross we have some bill boards in strong colours – just perfect to ask someone to stand in front of. With the background resolved I could work on getting my models to relax and be themselves.

To date I have found taking interesting action pictures of moving objects or people (the dancers of Stroud) pretty much impossible and to be honest arranging objects prettily (“styling”) and in such a way that I could reveal all the elements at once proved a lot harder than it looks. So given the chance to learn from Irving Penn I went to Waitrose and bought some interesting fruit and vegetables.


One of the things I love about fruit and vegetables is of course their colour. Nature has such an amazing array of shades and all of the colours below make me feel happy – those purples are gorgeous and the bluish pinks and reds of the mango just thrill me to bits. I love the unusual yellow carrots, the green chilli and basil, the lemon with a green “blemish” and the bulbous orange pumpkin. And together, on a black background I just loved the simple “flat lay” composition.

Still life with colourful vegetables
Still life with colourful vegetables


My next photograph focused on shape. Using a piece of turquoise children’s drawing pad I lined up ovoid shapes from a tiny quail egg to the large mango. They kept rolling together and I found it hard to keep them in the right place in this somewhat regimented arrangement. You can see the shadows creating a wave movement from left to right.

Still life photography: Ovid shapes, small to large
Ovid shapes, small to large


For Vogue Penn combined some photographs of food with jewellery. So I tried that with some textured vegetables – gorgeous cavolo nero (eaten with linguine slightly later), a nobly lemon, the pumpkin and some ornamental gourds with my best ring.

Still life photography
Gourds (with ring)

I also bought some colourful carrots (which were later turned into light pickles), using dark blue sugar paper to contrast nicely with the orange.

Still life photography: Colourful English carrots
Colourful English carrots

Finally I made the photograph that I could submit for my project. I took many versions of this picture, using black backgrounds at first for more drama. It took a few days so the loaves changed. This still life food photography can get in the way of eating, but it also provides recipes, inspiration and needs consuming!

First Irving Penn’s photograph. Then mine. I had the advantage of a prettier loaf, and of course my salt is in a pot, but I think I got the essence of the photograph.

And I thought you might like to see an out take while we tested the light, the settings etc! (you know what happened next, don’t you?)

Egg catching
Egg catching

8 Responses

  1. Joyce

    scramble eggs? Lol…your still life photography looks great. Great pointers on background,texture ,colour ,shape, lighting and composition. You’ll be writing your own photography manual in no time! Looking forward to your next post on your photography process..excellent effort and results! I am so happy to see you enjoying this art form.
    Joyce, from Sudbury ?

    • fabrickated

      Thanks Elaine. I am glad you like my carrots. In Lidl they were badged as “unicorn carrots” – not that this is enough to persuade little girls to willingly eat them. Hope you are feeling better.

  2. Ellen Miller

    Great photos! I love the variety of fruits and vegetables you used. Getting shadows or lack of shadows is tricky, isn’t it? I think Elaine is correct: Spoonflower should print some fabric based on the photos! xo….

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