Still life photographer Jess Bonham has worked on projects for everyone from Miu Miu and Miss Vogue to The Gourmand and Google. It was a trip to Dungeness, and its bizarre mish-mash of architecture, that got her interested in still life photography, although she had already spent some time assisting portrait photographer Julian Broad. Bonham continued to build up her portfolio of work while freelancing as a digital operator, often partnering with set designer Anna Lomax on projects. Here she shares her wisdom on how to become a still life photographer – including paying attention to what’s in skips, staying patient, and not being scared to talk money.
Don’t just go online for your inspiration I think it would be really interesting to see the next generation of still life photographers looking at ways of building still life imagery and not using the internet so much as a reference. I think there’s a lot of rehashing of the same thing that comes from looking solely at the internet for inspiration, and still life becomes interesting when you see the artists behind that image are building something from the world around them.
Get physical Get inspired from what you see physically. Look at things that are tactile, colours that are drawn from nature, and for interesting surprises that you find around you. I’m really interested in seeing still life that’s built outdoors, or things being brought outside – interrupting nature and the real world. There’s compositions all around us on the street – stacks of mattresses, foam tied up on tops of skips, and lots of ideas can come from this. Draw from everything around you, and then find a way of refining that in or out the studio.