Discover more from Process by Wesley Verhoeve
Process 108 ☼ Making Still-Life Pictures At Home
GIVEAWAY: Urth Camera Backpack
This week's letter is about the beauty and joy of making still-life photos in and around my home. Tips included!
I also wanted to say thank you for spreading the word on last week’s issue about finding purpose. It was one of the most shared issues yet and I really appreciate it.
This week’s PROCESS GIVEAWAY is coming back with our partnership with our friends at Urth who are giving away a great Camera Backpack and Insert.
Big Shout out to my friends at Squarespace for helping make this issue possible.
I’m accepting applications for my photo assistant internship. More here.
I will be in Paris during the last week of August and have opened up a small number of in-person mentor sessions. Read more and schedule one here. I also have one more slot open for a portrait shoot. Just hit reply if you’re interested.
The Meditative Joy of Still Life Photography
In the world of photography, there's a practice that speaks to the quieter corners of our souls—the art of capturing still-life scenes. It's a meditative journey I've embarked upon, finding solace and inspiration in the everyday objects in and around my home. The process itself is akin to a gentle dance, where I immerse myself in the composition, seeking harmony between elements, light, and shadow.
Designing a still-life scene is like constructing a visual symphony. A few weeks ago, on a quiet summer day, I set up a vase of vibrant flowers in front of a backdrop in my backyard (see above). When I say backdrop, I mean a couch pillow that happened to have a complementary color (see below). The flowers were approaching the moment they’d lose their petals and presented the perfect picture of being defiantly alive.
The act of setting up a still-life is a blend of intention and serendipity, allowing objects to converse and compose their own story within the frame. It’s like arranging notes on a musical score. Every object, every angle, and every play of light comes together in harmony to create a visual melody.
This dance of intention and serendipity, allows objects to converse and compose their own story within the frame. However, what's most fascinating is that sometimes, the most remarkable still lives are those that unveil themselves spontaneously.
My book, NOTICE (see above and below), is a testament to the magic of these ready-made scenes. Crafted during the initial months of the pandemic, it was born from my 123 daily photo walks through a quiet Vancouver suburb, totaling 1200 km/800 mi.
These walks, confined to such a small area, changed the way I see and, therefore, photograph. I carried this shift, this newfound lens, with me into other genres of photography. It was as though the act of observing the intricacies of my immediate surroundings gave me a way of seeing beauty, balance, and stories everywhere.
The therapeutic embrace of photographing still lives continues to be my go-to, whether it’s in Paris, the French countryside (above), or the city of Amsterdam (below).
Capturing Amsterdam is challenging for me. Despite its undeniable beauty, the city has been photographed extensively, making it easy to succumb to the mindset of "that shot has been captured countless times." What helps me avoid that trap is to lean into these quiet still lives. Little vignettes that the world usually rushes past—a pair of shoes suspended from a bridge, the poetic and sculptural disarray of broken chairs, and the patterns of bicycles resting in the shade.
It's a kind of focused solitude, where my senses are attuned to the smallest details, and the world's noise dissipates.
Five Practical Still-Life Tips
For those looking to start or dive deeper into the world of still-life photography, here are five practical tips to guide you:
Create a Space: Designate a corner of your home or workspace for experimentation. This dedicated area will invite creativity to flourish. It can be as simple as a pillow in your backyard, or a door in your bedroom.
Light is Key: Understand the play of light and shadow. Experiment with different angles and intensities to evoke emotion and depth.
Seek the Unseen: Embrace the role of an explorer in your familiar surroundings. Allow your intuition to guide you to scenes unnoticed by others. Inside and out.
Patience and Perseverance: Still-life photography demands time and focus. Don't rush; let compositions unfold naturally before your lens. Take your time.
Quiet the Mind: Engage in this practice with a clear mind, free from over-analysis. Embrace the zen-like state of immersion that this art form can offer.
Still-life photography offers me so much as a photographer and a person. It’s a calm and slow space where the act of creating takes precedence over analysis. It transports me away from the everyday hustle, allowing me to pause, breathe, and notice the delicate beauty hiding in plain sight. Silent conversations of inanimate objects, that quiet the restless hum of thoughts. Embrace the meditative practice of creation and uncover the profound beauty of the quietest moments.
If you're interested in checking out my favorite collection of still-life work and supporting Process, please consider buying my photo book NOTICE.
That’s it for this week! If you enjoyed this issue I’d love for you to share it with friends.
Next Week: Where do I get my inspiration from? I will share some of my favorite non-photography sources of inspiration.
Keep shooting and take good care of yourselves and others. <3
Gear & Tools Used
Camera: All images included in this issue of Process were shot on the Hasselblad 500cm with a Zeiss Distagon 50mm f/4 C lens.
Film: Kodak Tri-X, Kodak Portra 400NC, Kodak Vericolor III, Fuji Pro 400h.
Lab: All my analog work is developed and scanned by my friends at Carmencita Film Lab. They’re my favorite lab in the world. Use code “PROCESS” to get a free upgrade.
Portfolio Site: Big shout out to Squarespace for helping make this issue of Process possible. If you need a website, I can’t recommend using Squarespace more. I have been a paying customer for more than 10 years (!!?) and it’s been so easy to build and maintain a beautiful and professional portfolio. I even added a webshop to it recently.
Check out Squarespace and use the code PROCESS10 for 10% off your first order.
To enter this week’s Process Giveaway answer the question below in the comment section for this issue:
QUESTION: Which objects in/around your home inspire you to create images and why?
For me, the answer is, clearly, flowers. It’s not only their beauty and intricacies but also the process of flowering and decaying that I find fascinating.
ENTER THIS WEEK’S GIVEAWAY before 11 am EST on August 26th.
The winner will be randomly drawn. This giveaway is for Process subscribers only.