January 15, 2022

“Cheap Thrills” Still Life Personal Project

Cheap Thrills Still Life Project is an attempt to learn artificial lighting using only food props found at the dollar store.

MONIQUE SOURINHO - food photographer, stylist, recipe developer, and professional taste tester. Nothing fills my cup more than connecting with visionaries (especially over a great meal). To learn more click here.

About Cheap Thrills Still Life Project:

In efforts to learn artificial lighting, I decided to make the most of what I already had, and scoop some props from the Dollar Tree. I went down this route because I knew packaged food would be: A. Cheap and B. Look the same for a stupid amount of time. (Hellooo preservatives!) I needed something that allowed me to learn and study, and to tune into creativity at my own pace. And thus, I am labeling this photo project: Cheap Thrills.

This series is not intended to be mouthwatering or enticingly delicious. It is rather odd and whacky, but it makes me feel something. And I sure hope it makes you feel some type of way too.

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” – Aristotle

Also, with the amount of time my photo and cine friends invested in me to learn, I wanted to not only showcase that I do, in fact, listen and pay attention (hah), but to prove to myself that I am capable.

Gosh, I cannot wait to look back on the growth and development past these obstacles.

A Tidbit on Comparison:

Leading up to the project, I was letting comparison and self doubt creep in. I fell victim to my own emotions, which only upset me even more. I felt like people in similar fields were surpassing me by miles and miles. Though it’s not a competition, I’d be lying if I denied that I lost count of how many times I questioned whether there was something wrong with me or not. I was internally beating myself up to no end.

I knew something had to change. I try to remember that there is little room for comparison or imposter syndrome when focused on personal goals. Actually, this reminds me a quote that pulls me out of creative lulls:

“We won’t be distracted by comparison if we are captivated by purpose.” – Bob Goff

Also, I give a lot of credit to my friends who checked in on me and helped get me back on my feet. (Thank you.) With a little boost of encouragement and guidance, I was able to further my learning. Although I have a ways to go, I strongly believe practice makes progress. And right now, I just want to linger in the thrill of things finally “clicking” (pun not intended).

Community > Competition

A Bit More Context:

By the way, In case you didn’t know, I circle back to artificial lighting around winter time, every year. The short, gloomy New England days have a way of blocking the light from shining through, literally and metaphorically. I always try to amp myself up to learn, I even invest in equipment that I think might work, but then, I repeatedly get overwhelmed, and eventually back off until the following year.

Though this year I thought, I WILL break that cycle.

This will be the moment I finally push that extra mile, to keep learning. I envision confidence boosts of being able to better assist with collaborations, as well as improved mental health and skill sets.

Having said that, I want to give a ginormous shoutout to Mike Curry, Steve Walter, Josh Eskridge, and Bill Harper, for being mentors throughout the years. From sharing knowledge on sets, to being helpful with all my questions, and for immeasurable patience, thank you so, so very much. I could not have done it without you!

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” – Scott Adams

Cheap Thrills Still Life Project:


“Dino Nugget Nostalgia.”
“Processed Pastimes.”
“Something Like a Burgertopia.”
“Take the Bait?”
“What a Load of Bologna.”
“Taking Carbs to New Heights.”
“I’d Rather Not.”

I hope you enjoyed this Cheap Thrills Still Life Project. For more posts like this, scroll through my Field Notes or follow along with me on Instagram here.