Turning Objects Into Ideas
Photo editors at general interest magazines
have trouble meeting the need for conceptual
photos that illustrate a range of topics: columns
on health, business, nutrition, finance and
education all need new imagery in every issue.
The challenge for photographers is to shoot
an arrangement of still-life objects in a way
that communicates a fresh and unexpected
perspective. “How do you picture Alzheimer’s?
How do you picture breast cancer?” asks
Brenda Milis, veteran photo editor.
“It’s really hard to come up with an original
visual that conveys an idea, is clean and is a
cool image,” says photographer Adam Voorhes,
an experienced practitioner of the genre.
When Voorhes lands such an assignment, he’ll
often collaborate with his wife, a prop stylist
and former art director, to create graphic
tableaux of objects. As Milis says, collaboration
with talented prop and food stylists to
create conceptual imagery is “hugely, hugely
important.” To learn more about how other
photographers and photo editors collaborate
to produce conceptual still-life imagery, read
the full article on PDNonline.com.
Collaborative Duos: Mitchell
Feinberg and Megan Caponetto
Put the Life in Still Lifes
Shooting still lifes requires as much artful
composing as it does technical precision.
That’s why a collaboration with a stylist
is important. Their shared appreciation
for adaptation and experimentation make
stylist and fabricator Megan Caponetto and
photographer Mitchell Feinberg a compatible
team. Their partnership has produced iconic
magazine covers and advertising work. “I think
he and I both love very natural things, like
the crooks of a rock,” Caponetto explains.
“Things are never really 100-percent planned,
so there’s this wonderful ‘What might happen
on set?’ quality.” Such a dynamic requires
flexibility from both parties. After Caponetto
had spent hours working on one particular set
on an accessories shoot for Marie Claire, the
duo recognized that the look wasn’t working.
“It doesn’t matter how much time you put
into it,” Caponetto admits. “If Mitch doesn’t
like it, it goes in the garbage, and we find
The demand for still-life photography
goes far beyond product shots. Photo editors
who need to illustrate a variety of topics
are turning to still-life photographers to
help them conceive and execute images that
communicate ideas immediately. The growing
interest in food, nutrition and the sourcing
of ingredients has spawned new publications
and a new openness to a variety of styles
and approaches to food photography. Here
we’ve excerpted some interviews with
photographers specializing in food, products,
splashes and pours to learn more about
their techniques and the creative problem-solving they bring to their assignments.
PDN subscribers can read the full versions
of these articles, and other articles on
still-life lighting and styling, on PDNOnline.
ABOVE: For a Marie Claire accessories shoot, Mitchell Feinberg photographed a set designed by
Megan Caponetto. Working together, “Things are never really 100-percent planned, so there’s this
wonderful ‘What might happen on set?’ quality,” says Caponetto.
Subscribers can read the full text of these and other stories about creating still lifes
this month at pdnonline.com/gear.