“Still Life in the Plague Times” by John Hoey

The story is a simple one, really.

Necessity, it is said, is the mother of invention. This image was made in April 2020, at the height of the COVID lock-down in my part of the world. Like so many other photographers, my ability to go out and shoot was heavily curtailed by stringent COVID-related movement restrictions. Like so many other photographers, I was forced to turn to my immediate surroundings for inspiration and opportunity. I started making simple images, some corny, some more thoughtful, of everyday items in the house and garden mainly the entertainment of myself and others.

I consider myself a photographer more than an artist but, I prefer my images to be artful if possible. Still life photography was an obvious choice for creating more thoughtful commentary on the situation that the Pandemic had wrought upon us. I like genre for the additional opportunity for expression that it affords the photographer through the choice of subject, composition and lighting.

I wanted to create an image that reflected the simple, small, interior world we had all been forced to adopt. I wanted it to be aesthetically pleasing but, hopefully, also to hint at the effect of the Pandemic. Some of my other attempts failed to varying degrees but I liked this one.

I think there is beauty in the simplicity of this image but, in a way, I also find it slightly unsettling. Perhaps it is the lab bottle and the hint of the “unclean” backdrop that serve as a reminder that “contagion” is close at hand.

Maybe I’m just overthinking it.

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

The simplicity if the composition and the curvaceous lines of the plant.

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

I am happy with the image as it is so there is little if anything I would change. Maybe the plant. It had a mind of its own and was determined not to go where I wanted it to. Perhaps that was for the better.

John Hoey shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


John Hoey, Alstonville, Northern New South Wales, Australia.

Equipment and Settings

I used a Canon 750D with the 50mm f1.8 lens, a tripod, and natural ambient light from a nearby doorway.
0.6 sec, f/11

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Comments (8):

  1. S EZ

    September 21, 2020 at 23:40

    Brilliant composition!

  2. Randy

    September 22, 2020 at 00:37

    Enjoyed the article and the image is wonderful.

  3. Paul

    September 25, 2020 at 10:43

    Love the simplicity of the composition

  4. Joanna Butler

    September 25, 2020 at 15:12

    The crystal clarity of the glass and aesthetics of the plant are so pleasing that the motive makes me forget the pandemic!


    September 26, 2020 at 01:27

    I love this image!


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