Flower and Still Life Photography
Polina Plotnikova FRPS EFIAP, 19th September 2022

Polina introduced us to the world of flower and still life photography from her perspective, and very much her genre, where she can convey her feelings and emotions through the lens of her camera.
Much as she likes the outdoors and images created by other photographers, for her it is about constructing an image in her head first, visualising how she would like to see the overall composition and the objects required for her image to tell their story.

With this in mind, she opened her presentation by talking about the various artists who specialised in portraying flowers - from Pierre Redouté and his love of roses, to the black and white images of Robert Mapplethorpe and how these have inspired her own photography. This was evidenced by her superb photographs of ‘white on white’ – literally stunning white flowers on a white background – be it a single stem or two or three blooms – all simplistic and so effective. Following on from this Polina talked us through her studio ‘set-up’ of the backgrounds selected and the lighting used, to produce the effect she wished to portray. Polina’s approach to flower photography is to seek a unique look to find its hidden beauty – this was exampled not only with beautiful images displayed on complimentary colour backgrounds, but also of her photographs of flowers that most would discard as long past their best, but which provide an inner exquisiteness of their own – with a little help of hairspray to stop the petals falling! As an Ambassador for Lensbaby, she presented some of her images using one of their Velvet lens creating not only an imaginative shot, but also some with a perfect flower, including soft trailing ghosting’.

After a short break, the second half took us on a journey of Polina’s Still Life images – as she said, perfect for the perfectionist in her! In her studio she is able to create the image she pre-visualises – the colour, construction, the objects to be used, along with the lighting and background. For her, to make it interesting, takes time and her choices of object are infinite to give the final result she is looking for.

As in the start of her presentation, Polina highlighted various painters such as Francisco de Zurbaran and their different compositions, showing their approach and style to their final piece. These also give her inspiration for her own ‘set-ups’ and here Polina presented her images to showcase the different effects that can be achieved, from the painterly – with their softness, the Old Masters and the precision of placing their objects and the story to be told, to the ‘unstill’ life images, where apples hang in the air and vases are tilting, all cleverly achieved through the minimum of help with Photoshop.

A very interesting evening, undoubtedly taking some of us out of our comfort zone, with the encouragement to try something new. Polina provided helpful tips and ideas and with the darker evenings and winter drawing near, certainly something a little different for us to occupy our minds!

- Janine Scola