Photographer Elspeth Diederix captures everyday objects and moments in a surreal light. Her photographs are simply presented yet arduously composed, with most images taking days of preparation and design to achieve the right appearance. Although Diederix is inspired by familiar objects, it is when she stumbles across these materials in a foreign landscape that the true magic of her photographic practice is revealed.

“It is only when I am out of my everyday life and free from its repetition that I have the space to truly see what is around me,” Diederix told Time Magazine. “Being in places unknown to me forces those abstract moments to appear more frequently and allows me to concentrate on finding the right location for the right object.”

Elspeth Diederix (born 1971 in Nairobi) experimented in painting and sculpture before coming to photography. Based in Amsterdam, she travels a lot for her projects in order to be confronted with unfamiliar environments for her work. Since the end of her studies
in 2000, Diederix has exhibited internationally and published five books. “Still Life Submerged” is the latest one and features her underwater images.

Elspeth Diederix’s photographs appear otherworldly, but in fact they are very much of this world, and since 2009 often created in her “studio garden” in Amsterdam, or underwater in the murky depths off the coast of Holland. Steering clear of post-production trickery, the magic of Diederix’s images is grounded in the physical world of her subjects—flowers combust as if from their own beauty and dandelions dangle in a web of strings.

Diederix started out as a painter and, after working in sculpture and installation, circled back to photography as a way to make permanent the fleeting arrangements she created in and around her studio. Photography allowed her a tremendous amount of flexibility to work with ephemeral materials and, when she moved to digital photography, to “paint” again with color and shadow. Informed by the traditions of Dutch still life painting and a reverence for what is not long for this world, Elspeth’s Diederix’s imagery is suffused with mystery and energy that seems generated from within the objects and situations she photographs. They loom like wonderful question marks, a reminder that so much is yet unknown.

You can see more of Diederix’s work on her website, and view recent experiments between gardening and photography on her Instagram and blog.