This week on Prodibi we meet the amazing Still Life and Interior Photographer: Cera Hensley!
Discover her fantastic work, full of color and great compositions... Her background in Style and Design is part of the reason for the exceptional quality of her pictures!
A few words about you? Where are you from? How did you start photography and when?
I recall friends commenting on the way I saw the world in an imaginative way. Maybe it’s because I grew up as an only child, moving from school to school because my father was in the military. I found a playful, parallel reality that helped me cope with constant change. In 2006, I said goodbye to the Midwest to begin a new life in San Francisco. My passion for photography was born out of curiosity about new landscapes. The bay area bustled with creativity and art. I was nourished and encouraged to explore, create, learn and collaborate. I earned my MFA in photography at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. The time at the university allowed me to immerse myself in daily practice.
You have two particular photography specialties: Still Life & Interiors. Why did you choose those styles and is there a link for you between the two approaches?
I initially started with tabletop still life photography. I love the studio setting and working with smaller objects and spaces. The studio gave me a sense of boundaries to play within. A colleague encouraged me to break the imaginary boundaries I set and expand into bigger spaces. She recommended me to an art director who in turn hired me to photograph furniture in a home setting. It opened a whole new world for me. I had a bigger playground, supplied with bigger objects, compositions and new lighting challenges to solve. I like understanding how objects break up and punctuate spaces through thoughtful compositions. I find it exciting organizing objects in space and have been getting hired by companies needing images shot in studio and on location, typically in a home or office setting.
Have you ever experimented other photography styles, like Portrait or Pure Fashion?
Yes, I occasionally do portraits and also fashion photography for smaller clients. I enjoy this type of work as an outlet because it allows me to work with real people. I do not promote this work because in today's photography industry many photographers specialize in a particular type of photography to stay competitive. People know me as a product photographer because that is how I promote myself and how I am represented by my agent at Lola Creative Agency. So I maintain a creative practice like my fashion work on the side to create varied work.
What is your favorite photography gear (camera, flash, accessories)? If you would have to choose one lens, what would it be?
I use Canon and Profoto equipment. I like the Profoto D1s as they are minimal and easy to move around since they are mono heads. Less cables equals less clutter! The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is a wonderful versatile lens for me as a one lens solution.
I heard you have a background in Styling. Does it help for your photography practice? Do you make the set design yourself or do you require another person in the team?
Yes, my background in styling allows for better communication and stronger collaboration with prop stylists and art directors when creating images. I used to do everything—styling, photography, retouching and conceptualizing— and now I work with others that take on part of that work and leave me to focus on photography. After going freelance, I choose to work with prop stylists who bring their individual experiences to the table. They are specialists in styling and sourcing props. To me, they are like magicians. They have a toolbox filled with magic that can makes objects float in space and other mysterious tricks!
If you would have special advice for beginner Still Life photographers? What would it be?
My advice is constant shooting and practicing. It has to be your life. Breathe it and sleep it. Get to know people in the industry like prop stylists, assistants, digital technicians and retouchers because they will be your team. Collaborate and test with prop stylists to start creating a portfolio of work and developing your style. You will begin to see what works and what doesn’t. You’ll begin to see what makes you click (no pun intended ;). Follow it and refine it!
Do you have special projects in progress or for the future (personal project, exhibitions…)?
Yes, I am in the retouching stage of a collaborative personal project with the art director, Erica McCarthy, prop stylist Bryson Gill and retoucher Erik Pawassar of Jelly Square. It is a playful project soon to be released. So stay tuned!
To see more of Cera's work:
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