Still-life photographer Dennis Pedersen transforms everyday materials into spectacular, dynamic imagery. It’s an art that he has honed for over 20 years. Pedersen’s studio is highly sought-after by clients from many sectors - all seeking a highly creative response to the photography of their products. Water, ice, heat, materials in flux: like an alchemist, Pedersen employs techniques and effects that bring materials and brands to life.
Pedersen is best known for his work in the cosmetic and beauty sector, where he is renowned for creating vibrant and enchanting images from packs and raw materials: creams, oils and powders. Often, clients give their products to Pedersen without a brief, asking him to ‘work his magic’, which he does to rapid turnaround times. His many clients range from Dior to Chanel.
From his own studios in Shoreditch, highly accessible to the creative industries of London, Pedersen uses technical prowess as well as ingenuity to achieve the effects for which he is known. Pedersen has plentiful darkroom experience, and takes a highly trained eye to digital production, always pushing the boundaries of the photographically possible – and his unerring ability to capture the essence of a product. He will also shoot on location and has developed an extensive portfolio ranging from editorial and advertising to PR and point of sale.
Particularly noted for his beauty portfolio, Dennis Pedersen has become an inspirational figure in still-life photography. Although he did not attend art school, his career has soared due to hard work and the seizing of opportunities – which makes positive reading for aspiring photographers hoping to break into this tough profession.
Dennis’s story began in 1985 when he was working as a builder in London. He met his friend Greg Gorman, then working as a celebrity photographer. Greg, who remains a friend and successful photographer, inspired Dennis to try his hand at photography. Dennis rapidly built up a portfolio, learnt about the business and cold-called his favourite studios, showing his work to as many people as possible.
Dennis was then offered the opportunity to work for fashion and beauty photographer, Jean Claude Volpeliere. He assisted on location, learning his craft while traveling all over the world. Volpeliere then introduced Dennis to advertising still-life photographer, Jon Stigner, who had a reputation for impeccable detail and lighting techniques. Dennis grabbed this opportunity, and worked with large format 10 x 8 cameras under Jon’s tutelage.
In Stigner’s studio, Dennis discovered his love for the technical aspects of photography. He worked with Jon for three years, honing his attention to the detailed aspects of lighting, production both in and out of camera, and composition.
Dennis then took the next step: to open his own studio close to Hoxton Square in London. He began to build up a roster of clients, with advertising in particular. While the recession staunched the flow of some advertising clients, Dennis was then invited to submit work for an exhibition in Hamburg on the theme of liquids and water photography.
As he prepared for the show, Dennis became increasingly inspired by the opportunities presented by the depiction of movement in still-life photography – an under-developed arena, and one that Dennis has made his own. He realised that this approach gave him the perfect challenge to exercise his technical and creative skills in product photography, and he began to experiment with all kinds of volatile materials - liquids, powders, creams, smoke, sprays – creating a new portfolio of special effects. Crucially, he also learned how to gain these effects at high speed: “Working for yourself under pressure makes you learn incredibly fast,” observes Dennis.
Recognising the vitality of his approach, editorial and advertising staff were immediately impressed with the results. What has become Dennis’ signature style – in which materials gain kinetic qualities in two dimensions - started to emerge.
Today, Dennis shoots products for almost all of the UK’s leading fashion and beauty magazines. His images regularly grace beauty pages in particular. Commercial clients have taken note, and Dennis balances editorial work with commissions for advertising, PR and online shoots. His success testifies to his determination, responding to opportunities, and determination to use his imagination and push boundaries. With characteristic generosity, he pays homage to the people who have given him chances: "I love my work as a still life photographer and am hugely grateful for the inspiration and advice that I have been given throughout my career".