PHLEARN MagazineGarcía de Marina’s Bare Necessities to Create Bare, Yet Intense Still Lifes

García de Marina’s Bare Necessities to Create Bare, Yet Intense Still Lifes

Surrealist and minimalist still life photographer García de Marina doesn’t use lighting equipment. He doesn’t do any photo manipulation; he makes only minor adjustments in Photoshop.

His images are so stripped down that the object he is photographing takes on a whole new level of intensity and meaning. A simple everyday object becomes something else entirely, often telling a deep, meaningful story. Or sometimes, they’re just plain funny.

Here’s how García de Marina shoots his minimalistic still lifes, from coming up with the concept to the gear he uses.


I look for elements that best help me capture the ideas that go through my head. The camera is the vehicle to represent those ideas. It is not important which brand you use; it’s about the quality.


Nikon D800E

36.3Mp CMOS FX Format Sensor, EXPEED 3 Image-Processing Engine, 3.2″ LCD Monitor

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I use a Nikon D800. This camera allows me to work with large prints and retain great detail in the objects photographed. I do not need a fast camera because I only take photos in the studio with still elements.


Nikon AF FX 50mm f/1.8D

Focal Length: 50 mm, High-speed normal lens,

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Nikon 105mm 2.8

Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/32, 1:1 Magnification, 1′ Minimum Focus, Silent Wave Motor AF System

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Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1

Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/32, Nikon F Mount/FX Format, VC Image Stabilization

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Nikon 50mm 1.8. I normally use this lens because the perspective is very similar to how the human eye sees. Sometimes I use a Nikon 105mm 2.8 or Tamron 90mm 2.8 when the objects are very small.


I do not use lighting equipment. Natural light gives me the kind of light, with soft shadows, that I need for my photographs. I live on the north coast of Spain, where the weather is normally cloudy, that’s why I get that kind of light. I also choose to shoot in the early hours of the day. My studio has a large, south-facing window. Sometimes I have to wait to get the light I want, and if one day I cannot photograph, I prepare other objects for another day.

For backdrops, I use basic materials. I have a surface where I stick white backgrounds or black or gray colors, which I change when they break. I use the minimum amount of elements in my photographs as well as to take them.

On occasion I use a backlight. But, that only happens when the characteristics of the object absolutely need it and I want to highlight them.


Most of the time, the camera stays in the studio. But sometimes, when I need to take my equipment out, I use a Lowepro Flipside 400 AW bag for the camera and the lenses.


I use a Manfrotto tripod, no other extra equipment. For photo editing, I open them in Photoshop and only adjust the levels and add a focus mask, nothing more. I do not manipulate the images. I manipulate the objects before photographing them, and in the final image, the viewer sees what I have seen in reality.

Check out our interview with García de Marina and visit his online portfolio to see more of his stark still lifes. Or keep up with the artist in real-time by following his Instagram and Facebook pages.

Jennifer Berube

Jen is the Editor-in-Chief of PHLEARN Magazine, where she helps shape inspiring stories and handy tips for aspiring and seasoned photographers. She has worked as a photography writer for many years, contributing to numerous industry-leading publications. Proudly Canadian, sometimes globetrotter, self-taught photographer, Jen is temporarily settled in Spain.

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