It takes more than two minutes

Fine art, still life, and even food photography is often discredited by others in the industry.  They tend to believe it’s easy, and that these photographs don’t require a lot of time, planning or attention.  Well, I tend to disagree.

Take this cherry photo, how much time did I spend on it?

I may not have travelled around the globe for it or waited until the planets aligned to get it.  I didn’t spend weeks sending emails back and forth and an evening selling my services.  But it took time.

I went to the grocery store and saw the beautiful, ripe, plump cherries, inspiration hit.  Now what?

I start by doing some research.  Yes. I checked what I had already done with cherries in the past, don’t want to repeat the same compositions over and over again don’t we?  Then, I check what others have done, it serves as much as inspiration as to validate your ideas.  And you want to make sure you don’t end up with the same compositions.  Cherries in a teacup? Everyone did it.  I did it too.  But what can I do so mine’s different?  Tricky.  And time consuming.

Now that I have my ideas (many ideas), might as well make the most of these cherries and shoot lots of different images.

Okay, time to grab my props.  If you’re a thrift shop addict like me, you may have a large selection on hand.  If not?  Find some, empty your cupboards, go shopping.  Time’s a wastin’…

Haven’t used these props in a while, they need to be dusted and washed before using.  Tick, tock…

Got everything? If you shoot in natural light most of the time like me, find your best light.  Mine’s outside, in the shadow by the vegetable patch.   If you need to set up lighting gear, it’s time. Test your light, adjust…

Set up what you need, backdrops, linens, props, etc.

Now shoot away!  Click, click!

Done?  Took you more than three seconds  to build a decent, nicely composed, properly exposed series didn’t it ? One you will be proud to show.

Think you’re done already?  You’re wrong!  You need to put everything back.  Your shot involved food?  Props need to be cleaned yet again.

And there’s the editing, of course.  So how much time did it took?  A whole morning.  Sure, I have many images now (and they’re not all edited yet), but it did take time.  And it is a process, a more complex process than it looks like.

Fine art photography isn’t a snapshot dump.  It’s art.  It’s creative.  It requires time, knowledge, skill and passion.  It’s beautiful and worth pursuing.  It’s photography, just as any other type of photography.

8 Comments on It takes more than two minutes

  1. Eva Ricci
    July 26, 2013 at 10:00 am (6 years ago)

    Ohh Isabelle, you could not of described it better. There are so many steps to a great photo and sometimes people don’t see it. Wonderful read. Thanks for sharing

  2. Danielle
    July 26, 2013 at 10:06 am (6 years ago)

    Great post Isabelle, and so true! It’s hard to imagine the kind of time and work that goes into sometimes just ONE photo, but it truly is an art that is so different from portrait photography. Beautiful image!

  3. Mary Loughlin
    July 26, 2013 at 10:39 am (6 years ago)

    Very well said!! And so true.

  4. Elena
    July 26, 2013 at 11:59 am (6 years ago)

    Dear Isabelle, my deepest thanks, from the bottom of my heart, for writing this!
    Being a fine-art, still-life photographer, I too often notice how people think it’s easy to take this kind of shots… while, even when your subject is already provided by nature, like some frozen drops for instance, you need to look around yourself, find them out, have the eye to instantly get the right composition, as these subjects can go away with a little wind or some raindrops…
    Your words are so very true!!

  5. Amalia Ferreira-Espinoza
    July 26, 2013 at 12:29 pm (6 years ago)

    Thank you Isabelle. Your word are very true and I can totally relate 🙂

  6. Katy
    July 27, 2013 at 11:25 am (6 years ago)

    Oh, Isabelle! I am so with you on this!! And, then, perhaps, the arrangement wasn’t exactly right the first time but you couldn’t tell why and, then, what? The brain works on it and the experience and ideas and thoughts build and build.

    There’s a professional food photographer that I love and I just got her book. In the introduction, she talks about buying three times the amount of ingredients for a dish that one would normally need because it takes that many tries!! LOL!! That made me feel MUCH better!! 😉

    One last thing, Mary and I have been laughing and laughing about how ‘still life’ is the death of our dining room tables – such a mess of things that didn’t work and got tossed aside! 😉

    Oh, one other thing!! I’ve been so scared of still life and had to whack up my courage to pursue it, this year. When one goes outside, one looks and finds what nature has prepared. With this or with a model, the creation comes from within us – such a scary challenge and such a thrill!! 🙂

    Beautiful cherries!! =)


  7. Boo
    July 27, 2013 at 12:10 pm (6 years ago)

    What a great explanation of a process which has to be gone through to result in one beautiful image… I want some cherries now!!! Yours are good enough to pluck from the page!

  8. Roberta
    July 28, 2013 at 11:40 pm (6 years ago)

    I,too, thought still life’s, aand art shots were easy until I tried one. To get the composition, lighting, and elements like I wanted it took me a better part of the day. What a great post and a great shot of your cherries.


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