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Still Life Photography

Still life photography refers to photography which depicts inanimate objects, often a small grouping of objects. This genre has been around for as long as photography itself.

When cameras were first invented, photographers needed the subjects of their photographs to be completely still for the exceptionally long exposure time. This made portraiture or action shots difficult, and still life the preferred choice.

Roger Fenton, a 19th century photographer, is credited with introducing a sense of movement to the medium, which was taken to more of an extreme by the early 20th century. Baron Adolf de Meyer and other photographers who chose to work with still life employed soft-focus lenses and other painterly techniques to make their work resemble the more acceptable fine art forms of painting and drawing.


Quick Facts

  • Still life, as opposed to landscape or portraiture, allows the artist more leeway and creativity in the arrangement of the composition
  • André Kertész' "Nature Morte, Chez Mondrian" sold at Sotheby's New York in December 2014 for $197,000
  • Artist Man Ray's photograph "Dead Leaf" is a memento mori depicting a dead, claw-like leaf against a wood-grain background. It is an excellent example of an artist using photography to provide an updated take on a popular motif

Recommended Items at Auction

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Original Photo 1922 American Lafrance, Linen Backed, 8 x 13 in. (20.3 x 33 cm.)
Mar 03, 2:00 PM CST
Original Photo 1922 American Lafrance, Linen Backed, 8 x 13 in. (20.3 x 33 cm.)
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Est: $0- $0
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[CHICAGO CRIME]. A large group of 66 explicit autopsy and c...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[CHICAGO CRIME]. A large group of 66 explicit autopsy and c...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $800- $1,200
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[MOTORCYCLES]. Two Photo Albums of Snapshots of a South Afr...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[MOTORCYCLES]. Two Photo Albums of Snapshots of a South Afr...
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"Daisy After the Rain" Canvas Reproduction by Mike Moats
Mar 12, 9:00 PM EDT
"Daisy After the Rain" Canvas Reproduction by Mike Moats
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $400- $450
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Teodor Graur (b. 1953) - Still Life No. 2*
Mar 14, 7:00 PM EET
Teodor Graur (b. 1953) - Still Life No. 2*
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Est: €500- €800
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Ilse Salberg A Dandelion 1930's photogravure
Mar 03, 10:00 AM EST
Ilse Salberg A Dandelion 1930's photogravure
by KCM Galleries
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105 Autofotos 1910-1970 - 100 automobile photos 1910-1970
Mar 02, 9:30 AM CET
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30 Fotos LKW und Reisebusse Deutschland - 30 photographs German trucks and busses
Mar 02, 9:30 AM CET
30 Fotos LKW und Reisebusse Deutschland - 30 photographs German trucks and busses
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Est: €0- €0
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Simmons, Laurie: Steinstrukturen
Mar 16, 2:00 PM CET
Simmons, Laurie: Steinstrukturen
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Est: €800- €1,000
€4000 Bids
LA Huffman Frontier Photographer Robert Neaves
Mar 03, 9:00 AM MST
LA Huffman Frontier Photographer Robert Neaves
by Davis Brothers Auction
Est: $25- $50
$100 Bids
Ralph Gibson, silver gelatin print, 1995
Mar 06, 10:00 AM EST
Ralph Gibson, silver gelatin print, 1995
by Millea Bros Ltd
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) - Phoenix Recumbent, 1968
Mar 14, 3:00 PM CET
Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) - Phoenix Recumbent, 1968
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Lot of 15 Signed & Framed Dick Frank Fruit Photographs, 3 of 4
Mar 02, 12:00 PM EST
Lot of 15 Signed & Framed Dick Frank Fruit Photographs, 3 of 4
by Public Sale Auction House
Est: $100- $300
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Christian Boltanski (1944-2021) Composition japonaise, 1980
Mar 13, 6:00 PM CET
Christian Boltanski (1944-2021) Composition japonaise, 1980
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Est: €5,000- €7,000
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Two Plaistow Pictorial LMS Locomotive Photograph Prints
Mar 04, 6:00 PM AEDT
Two Plaistow Pictorial LMS Locomotive Photograph Prints
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Est: AUD20- AUD40
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20th Century School: Flowers: Group of Five
Mar 06, 10:00 AM EST
20th Century School: Flowers: Group of Five
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David Hockney - For Louisiana - 2020 Giclee 23.5" x 33.25"
Mar 05, 11:15 AM EST
David Hockney - For Louisiana - 2020 Giclee 23.5" x 33.25"
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Est: $250- $375
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Renger-Patzsch, Albert: Ohne Titel (Maschinen)
Mar 16, 2:00 PM CET
Renger-Patzsch, Albert: Ohne Titel (Maschinen)
by Peter Karbstein - Kunst und Auktionshaus
Est: €400- €600
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Ulrich Lindner "Unverwandt". 2004.
Mar 02, 10:00 AM CET
Ulrich Lindner "Unverwandt". 2004.
by Schmidt Kunstauktionen Dresden OHG
Est: €350- €400
€3000 Bids
Claudia Smiley (20th Century)
Mar 06, 11:00 AM EST
Claudia Smiley (20th Century)
by Gray's Auctioneers
Est: $80- $120
$400 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Still Life Photography


Peter Karbstein - Kunst und Auktionshaus

Peter Karbstein - Kunst und Auktionshaus

Los Angeles Modern Auctions

Los Angeles Modern Auctions

Kendzia

Kendzia

Roseberys

Roseberys