Still life photography has many uses. Perhaps you want to take a picture of a beautiful shell or perhaps take a picture of a product that you’re selling on eBay. Other reasons for learning still life photography may include selling still life photograph downloads at microstock sites or to food magazines. No matter what your reason, still life photography is a great skill to learn.
Unless you are photographing specific products or pictures for a magazine assignment, the subjects for your still life photography are endless. Despite common belief, still life photography isn’t limited to just pictures of apples and grapes. Even super simple items like a few artfully arranged spools of thread can be interesting and attract attention. There are a couple of microstock sites like Shutterstock and iStock that have a high demand for all sorts of still life pictures from simple to complex.
People often times think of still life photography as a lot easier than other types of photography like sports or landscape photography. With still life pictures, you can arrange the objects exactly how you want them and have full control over the photo’s composition.
In other ways, good still life pictures are more challenging to capture. Because still lifes are taken up close, it’s easy to see imperfections on your subject that you would normally never see.
Despite its challenge, by using some basic photography skills and applying these tips, you can create stunning still life pictures with just a little practice.
Still Life Photography Lighting
Professional photographers usually use a soft box or a light box to shoot their still lifes. However this isn’t absolutely necessary as you will see in a moment, but it can be a big help. However, if you do want one, you can find a soft box online or you can easily make one using instructions you find online. The purpose of these lighting tools is to provide even light on the subject.
Another way to get this good quality light is to set up your shoot outside. A high overcast or bright sky can create a natural soft box effect without having any of the harsh shadows.
Composing Still Life Pictures
Arrange your objects in a pleasing composition. Use a classical composition technique such as “Rule of Thirds” or “Leading Lines” or “Frame within a Frame” to create a good composition. Artfully arrange the objects, and use your imagination. For example, if it’s a picture of a piece of cake, instead of including the entire table setting, place a gleaming, silver dessert fork upside down on the plate and remove a tiny bite from the cake.
Fill the Frame with Your Still Life Subject
Remember, the only thing that should be in your viewfinder or on your preview LCD screen is your composition. You need to remove any distractions or clutter from the background so you can have a clean and up close image. If you have a backdrop or background you don’t like don’t worry about it because it can be easily solved. The light box or soft box will solve this problem, but if you’re taking pictures outside and have a distracting background simply place a piece of white foam board behind your subject and you’ll be all set. If you want a sharp image, make sure to use macro mode or you can end up with a fuzzy image.
Look for a Good Angle and Start Shooting!
Rather than taking a picture from your head level, try holding the camera so that it’s at the same height as your subject. You should also try shooting from a variety of different angles.