People in Still Life
Art Direstion & Styling Kiki Tse
Each photo in this series tells a story of a person’s life through their possessions. Great influence has been drawn from the Dutch master still life painters circa 1600 whose predominant focus was on the aesthetic over the illustrative. Their mastery of the representation of light in painting has been carefully studied and transposed over to the photographic medium. Scratching beneath the surface a simple arrangement of objects are specifically composed to tell a complex story, a mixture of symbolism and metaphor spills out from the carefully chosen elements.
The majority of the items used within the images are the actual character’s belongings, an array of personal possessions dusted down and brought back up to the surface; items passed down through families; collections of trinkets found from trips abroad and unexpected places; second hand pictures and objects that draw attention from a mile. A few props were chosen as final touches to lift the details of each character’s personality.
With this manner of depictions each image has become a portrait of a person, drawing slightly away from the initial inspiration of the Dutch masters it has built onto a platform of deep empathy which carries a very different semiotic payload from that of a traditional photographic portrait. To know someone's possessions; to see a navigational chart from their grandad; an amulet with a photo of their late sister without ever seeing a face to attach this narrative to invites the viewer to form their own account devoid of judgement of background, race, age or physical appearance.