Top Photographer – Dina Belenko

Still Life photographer - Dina Belenko
Dina Belenko / Alamy Stock Photo

Do you remember the first time you picked up a camera? Still life photographer Dina Belenko remembers it clearly and how she was mesmerised by the sound of the shutter as it vibrated through the camera body to her fingers. It’s a feeling many photographers will remember. And perhaps, it’s a feeling that may get lost as the advent of mirrorless cameras means less noisy cameras and, in some cases, electronic shutter noises…*shudders*. It’s particular satisfying on old analogue cameras as mechanical parts whir around to produce your image.

After experiencing the noise thousands of times shooting everything from trees to cats, Dina’s workflow started to develop: “I began to control more and more aspects of my work. I found out that what interests me lies not in retelling current events but in creating stories of my own. And the best way to do it is to control every single object in your frame. Hence still life photography.”

For a medium that literally captures a brief snapshot in time, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the dynamic flow of stories doesn’t lend itself well to photography. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Narrative plays an important role in all art forms and photography is no different.

Dina whimsically explains how storytelling affects her work: “Take a coffee cup for example. It may belong to an astronomer and reflect the stars or lunar eclipse. Or you may think of an artist who got oblivious and put brushes and pencils in a cup. Or you can imagine steam rising from a cup of hot coffee. And in this steam, you can see airships and steampunk flying machines. Any person can have a cup of coffee. That means that a simple cup of coffee can take you anywhere!”

I’ll be completely honest and say that I love dreamers who turn their fanciful musings into something we can all appreciate. Dina’s style is so strong that you can really feel the dreams through her work; they’re curious, fantastical and playful all at the same time. But before we both get lost musing about life’s curiosities, we’ll leave you with a piece of advice that is truly inspirational and relevant to anyone out there with creative ambitions.

Advice from Dina:

Ask questions and seek inspiration outside your field.

Asking questions is the key to finding a good idea and creating an interesting photo. What does it look like? How it can be transformed? Who can use it? What if I make it liquid? What if I make it solid? Neil Gaiman says: “You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it. You get ideas when you ask yourself simple questions. The most important of the questions is just, what if…?”

Another thing is finding inspiration outside your trade.  We are all compelled to seek inspiration inside our own professional field. Visual art, cinematography, that sort of thing. But what about literature and music? What about podcasts and poetry? I have a photo that came to life solely because of one line of a song by The National. And you can never tell which one if I don’t point it out. Broad-mindedness is essential for inspiration. So, I’m trying to not limit myself to photography knowledge and learn something interesting about biology, cognitive science or dancing. This is the most reliable way to forget about creative block forever.

Check out Dina’s awesome collection of still life imagery here.


H2NWE5 Christmas hot tea with cookies and steam
Dina Belenko / Alamy Stock Photo


K8MD4W Still life with levitating book of spells, autumn leaves, red berries, jars and bottles on a dark background with rising mystic smoke and a hand in a black shirt with star print
Dina Belenko / Alamy Stock Photo


FTBEJR Summer homework
Dina Belenko / Alamy Stock Photo


F552AW Coffee Clock.Clock made of a dozen cups of coffee (with coffee beans, milk and splashes). It's always coffee time!
Dina Belenko / Alamy Stock Photo


GG40DA Enchanted tea: Broken Heart Cure
Dina Belenko / Alamy Stock Photo

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