An Interview with Still Life Photographer Ashraful Arefin
Ashraful Arefin is an excellent Still Life photographer. His creativity, knowledge of light and composition is revealed in his fantastic work. Ashraful works with flowers, miniature cars and various interesting objects such as shells, candles and butterflies. and designs beautifully toned Still Life photography, that takes advantage of natural light.
Fortunately, Ashraful documents his work on YouTube, so that you can see his shooting process in action.
Ashraful is inventive, he uses spray bottles and also cuts a hole in the bottom of an empty bottle and drips water from the hole, to create the illusion of heavy rainfall, onto a shell. In his video ‘Breath of the Wind’, he holds the petals of a tiny flower and photographs each one separately in different positions in the frame. In the final composite, the petals look as if they are drifting away in the wind.
His process is inspiring and his work is beautiful. Without further ado, here is Ashraful Arefin….
His website http://ashrafularefin.com/still-life
Ashraful has a great YouTube channel
He is on Instagram
Please talk about yourself, where you grew up, where you live and what you do for a living….
I’m a Fine Art photographer based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I was always very much interested in drawing and painting and wanted to be an artist from the childhood. I started studying Fine Arts and have chosen Graphic Design as the major in the university. I was photographically born in 2013 when I started doing a 365 project, and completely fell in love with this art form and found my true passion for it. After graduating in 2014 I decided to take photography as a career and right now giving my full time for it. At this moment I’m represented by some reputed international agencies, working for book covers and also on personal projects.
What is it about Still Life photography that you enjoy so much?
For me, the best thing about still life photos is that you don’t need so many things to create an engaging story! In every single thing, there is a sense of human presence, emotions and stories. There is something invisible but very clear. I can portray emotions and tell stories without even using a human model. That’s what makes me so interested in still life.
What photographic education have you had and how do you continue to educate yourself?
I didn’t have any academical education about photography and I am totally self-taught. I learned it mostly from trying new things out, watching youtube videos, tutorials from other photographers and also from online classes on platforms like CreativeLive. And I still learn the same way. It’s all about trial and errors and learning from my mistakes.
Please talk about how you plan your Still Life images?
Well, my workflow is pretty simple. I mostly use natural sunlight and shoot after the noon to get some beautiful diffused light. Most of the time I make a rough sketch of the shoot I’m going to do, this helps me visualise and pre-plan my images. Once I have a clear idea about what I want exactly then I arrange everything and it usually takes like 30 minutes of shooting.
Which photographers inspire you and why?
That’s a tough question for me as I get inspired by so many amazing Photographers and Artists! I’d like to mention Elena Shumilova, I am a big fan of her magical images and the way she uses natural light is very inspiring to me. Also, I am very much inspired by the works of Brooke Shaden. I love how she uses painterly techniques to turn a photograph into an art piece!
What equipment do you use (camera/flash/lens) and what are your favourite lenses?
Right now I am using a Nikon D810 with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G and Nikon 85mm f/1.8G lenses. I also use two-speed lights for my studio shots. But for my personal works, I always shoot using natural light. I think my 85mm is right now my favourite one as I am in love with the result and it creates some amazing backgrounds!
What advice would you give to a Still Life photographer who is just starting out?
For anyone who wants to create still life images, I’d suggest having a clear idea about what you’re going to create and try to keep it simple. You don’t have to create a whole new story or something big but having a little idea about what you want to tell through your images to the viewers makes it easier. Try to look a bit closely to your everyday objects, think about how you feel about them, what kind of emotions they evoke for you.. how you can tell a story through them. And you’ll find that the ideas are endless!
What work of yours is your favourite and why?
For me, every work has its special place and very close to my heart. But right now I think this one titled ‘’Love shall overcome’’ http://www.ashrafularefin.com/#21 is my favourite one. The planning and editing for this image were quite a bit challenging for me and I had to overcome my fear of broken glasses. So yes this image is personally very empowering for me.
What are your future goals for your work?
I’m currently experimenting and trying to learn more about studio lighting. I want to mimic and create a natural light effect in the studio. Also, I am looking forward to trying new things and create something which will include both traditional and modern still life techniques.