Still life photography is a very special form of art, and there are numerous truly great artists that have influenced the way we see the world. Those include Irving Penn, Charles Nucci, Man Ray, and Laura Letinsky. Let’s take a look at what makes these photographers stand out from the rest.
Irving Penn started his career as a fashion photographer. However, he also ventured into ethnographic and portrait photography. His true personal passion, however, was in modernist still lives. His subjects included found objects, metal, bottles, bones, and food. What makes Penn so special is that he was one of the first to use white or grey backdrops, focusing on simplicity. He also came up with the angled backdrop, which he used mainly for his portrait photography. His still life images are inspirational. They are highly organized yet sparse, focusing on abstract volumes and line interplays. They are extremely detailed, with deep contrasts and hidden warmth.
Charles Nucci is a professional photographer with a difference. His still life images focus on high end products. He is highly acclaimed, which is what has enabled him to become a member of the American Society of Media Photographers and the American Photographic Artists. His work is regularly used in colleges all over the world, demonstrating how it is possible to create a still life using movement, which is completely unique.
Man Ray attracted many celebrities to sit for portrait photographs. However, his passion lay in surrealist still lives, something he worked on in Paris during the 1920s. He took inanimate objects, such as a metronome, and turned them into a surreal image by adding an eye. He is known for his ability to juxtapose elements that are disparate, while creating a very clear meaning.
Laura Letinsky, like many others, started by photographing people. Today, however, she is known for her still life photography, combined with people. Her Venus series, for instance, shows romantic relationships and love, outside of the expectations conveyed to us in mainstream media. When looking at her images, it almost feels as there is a first person view, while being an external observer at the same time. Letinsky is known for her ability to associate everything with femininity, while at the same time tackling difficult subjects such as the link between personal and political life. She achieves this through different scales and different subjects, which create a unique perspective. Furthermore, she wants people to actually experience and feel her photographs, which is why she prefers to not have them on a digital medium.
These are just four of the greatest still life photographers in the world, and there are many more. What puts them together, however, is that they all have something unique to give to the world, and they use their talent to spread important messages. Most importantly, these greats inspire the next generation of photographers, who all learn important skills from their work.