1. Contributor Conversations: Bogdan Dreava on getting creative with still life photography

Contributor Conversations: Bogdan Dreava on getting creative with still life photography

Due to the strong influence of social media, stock photography has slowly transformed from being predictably clinical to sophisticatedly artistic in the last few years. The cliched smiling models in overlit studios are now increasingly being replaced by images that can only truly be described as works of art.

Among the artists that drive stock photography’s evolution is Bogdan Dreava. Hailing from Timisoara, Romania, he uses everyday objects from coffee cups to doughnuts to create wonderfully abstract stock photos that could very well hang in an art gallery.

We spoke to the visual innovator about how he got into the business and how he creates eye candy out of ordinary things.

Starting out

Bogdan’s first foray into stock photography happened after graduating college. “I was looking for ways to monetize my images,” he shares, ”And stock photography is one of the best ways where you can improve your photography skills and earn money.”

Despite his talent, however, he realized that the process wasn’t as straightforward as he thought. “In the beginning, it [seemed] impossible to get any traction, and everything [looked] wrong, from my images to my keywords,” he says, “But with time, I learned and improved on every aspect of my photography.”

As Bogdan honed his skills, he eventually found the right approach to his creative process. “Consistency and knowing when to stop and move on are very important things at the beginning,” he advises. Through this mindset, he molded a distinct style that seamlessly combines the minimalistic simplicity of modern commercial art with the striking colors and patterns of pop art.

Finding ideas

With such abstract compositions, one could only wonder where Bogdan gets his inspiration for his images. He admits that he develops his concepts from items he uses every day. “I try to put in a new perspective, and I like the idea of using objects that are around me,” he says.

His extensive still life portfolio includes a wide variety of objects—from headphones to bottles and even miniature beach chairs. He also has the habit of deconstructing household items such as cameras and alarm clocks and arranging the individual parts in neat patterns. “In still life photography, the best sellers are the images where the subject is easy to recognize and is over some colorful background,” he shares, “It must be bold. Clean and geometry in composition seems to help.”

Delving deeper into conceptual art, Bogdan also experiments a lot with shapes, such as spheres, cones, and pyramids. He often arranges them in precarious positions that appear to defy gravity. A few of his most ambitious projects involve balls that balance on colorful three-dimensional letters as well as abstract figures that seem to float in mid-air. “In my opinion, the easiest way to stand out is to experiment as much as possible,” he says, “Try different mediums than photography and integrate it into your workflow.”

Going through the creative process

Bogdan has a specific workflow when it comes to shooting. “After I find a subject, I start a little storyboard where I will sketch some ideas and decide on composition and colors of the background.” he shares. Whenever he encounters a good item to photograph, he interprets it in different ways to create unique images. “These days, I make a little series for every subject (4-8 images), so the storyboard helps me to be more organized and not waste time wandering around.” His emphasis on planning has allowed him to create almost a thousand images for his stock photo portfolio—so far, every one of them distinct yet consistent with his style.

Surprisingly, most of his work involves minimal post-production. Although you're probably tempted to think that his subjects are digitally constructed, you’d be shocked to know that they’re real objects. To create the patterns, he often shoots an item in different positions and composites them into one image. And although he occasionally uses a strobe or a softbox, he actually prefers using natural light in most situations. That’s quite impressive, considering the sharp shadows produced in his photos appear intentional and precise.

Pro tip

Of course, apart from talent, it’s also important to learn about the business side of being creative. Now an experienced artist in the trade, Bogdan has this to say to anyone interested in venturing into stock photography:

“Stock photography is a great way to make more money for your photography business and learn about photography and trends in the industry. When you don't have clients, you can start shooting images for stock and make some additional income. I encourage every photographer to submit images to stock agencies and put a little more effort into this thing because it pays off in the long run the long run.”

Stock photography has come a long way since its inception and continues to evolve with the times. As Bogdan’s work typifies, you don’t have to stick to stereotypical stock photos, anymore. Just follow your creative vision, and you’re bound to find your own colors to inspire you.

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