Still life photography is an exclusive style of photography in which the focus lies in creating an image, rather than capturing a moment.
Today we talk with the expert Ingmar Swalue, who creatively places and lights the object in focus, creating beautiful images for our eyes to admire.
A creator brings its creative vision to life when involved in photography, but when it comes to still life it is even more tangible how each photographer has their unique approach to bringing this genre to the audience.
For our member Ingmar Swalue, it’s minimalism which plays an important role.
From playing by the rules, to bending them according to what feels right, Ingmar looks for clean details in each image he creates. Today, we talk to him about his approach to photography and how he prepares for a shoot.
If you want to say or show something, don’t say or show too much. Stick to the essentials.Ingmar Swalue
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how did you become a photographer?
While at university, I figured out that theoretical study was not for me. I wanted to be outside in the world. So I started taking pictures of everything in the city. On looking back, I realised most of pictures weren’t of people but things, buildings, details on walls, mailboxes, etc. And that was it!
After joining the Royal Academy of Arts in the Hague, I started developing a sense of looking at ordinary things and finding the beauty in those. This was honed further during my internship with Hannes Wallrafen, a Dutch Artist who I assisted. Busy organising exhibitions and photography events, an agent introduced me to commercial photography and here I am today.
You showcase a beautiful minimalistic approach in some of your works. What do you focus on when shooting?
I sometimes feel like I am doing completely opposite things.
At times, I have to make my stills really focused, bringing attention to one particular object and guiding the eye to it with no other option. On the other hand, I also try to take pictures of ordinary things, which are a little off and blemished.
In the end, I think you don’t need too much to create something good or beautiful. The saying “less is more” really works for me.
What do you think makes a good still life image?
That isn’t easy to say. These days there are so many good sill life photographers who create a lot of good work.
You basically need show a good story and use the appropriate technique to go with it. A lot depends on the purpose.
How important is composition to you? Do you follow any particular rules?
Composition is always important but I don’t think there are certain rules of composition which are good or bad. I treat them as guides.
Sometimes the subject simply needs to be in the centre and extremely focused upon. I love it when it looks right but feels wrong — which is why I have objects which are slightly off centre or too close to the edge, for example.
A photograph should be something which you don’t just see directly but feel it.
How do you prepare to shoot?
For a commercial shoot, I prefer creating sketches of the set and also of the studio set up. Therein, I decide what to use, which lens, what kind of light etc.
I suggest using your experience and technique to create the look required. I don’t give that much importance to the gadgets but mainly to knowing how to use them and create what is needed with the right tools.
As for me, I shoot using various cameras depending on the job. I like using a canon 5Ds R with a tilt/shift lens or a combo view camera with a leaf aptus digital back. I have recently also switched back to analogue, which is how I started my journey.
What advice do you have for photographers who are interested in minimalistic photography?
Most importantly, I would say start shooting analogue in a studio. It is a good way to really focus, slow down, and get as close as possible to the end result with the camera. Post-production is often necessary but is not always the answer.
What’s your industry outlook for 2020 in one sentence?
I feel everything is changing to something temporary and less permanent.
The influence of social media is creating a business which just doesn’t stand still. It is constantly creating a new need for photography but at the same time decreasing the value of the medium itself.
What project are you planning on doing next?
I have a combined still life photo and video project coming up for a client. I will be creating a moving of an object which is being shot as still.
Ingmar Swalue is a still life photographer with a strong sensibility for graphics and colour. He enjoys playing with elements of the atmosphere for constructing his images. Having worked as a photographer for the last 15 years, he strives to achieve the right combination of perfection, zeal, and fervour through his photographs.
To see more of the photographer’s work, visit his Cherrydeck profile or his Instagram profile, here. For more still life photography inspiration, have a look at the series “Material Matters” with Jonathan Mauloubier. 🍒