Still life photography like a genre of photography, is an art in itself. It is mostly used for depicting inanimate subjects, which mostly are a small group of objects. It is an application of still life art in the form of images by using a camera instead of a brush and pencil.
A very good example of still life photography would be food photography. In this genre, the photographer has more leeway to arrange the design of their elements within a composition.
The photographer is in more control than compared to other genres, like landscape photography and portrait photography.
They can get the perfect composition in still life photography by just changing the lighting and framing as they can control every aspect of their process. From staging the scene and background, to lighting and firing the shutter – it is all in the hands of the photographer.
It is different from other genres because in still life photography the photographer captures the subject in lighting, composition, and mood he wants.
The photographers have the direct power to influence the process of image creation. That is why still life photos are a reflection of the photographer’s own creativity and style. The image shows the photographer themselves.
Thus, the portfolio of a photographer who specializes in still life will not only be diversified but will also be unique and creative. So there are endless possibilities in the world of still life photography as the subjects are never-ending.
It may seem daunting but it’s worth trying because the results pay it off. The most used subjects for still life photography are natural items like food, flowers, plants, rocks, along with artificial objects like ornaments, glasses, furniture, accessories, shoes, tools, and many more.
What is product photography?
Still life photography also includes Tabletop photography. This branch focuses on shooting items that can be put on a table.
The most used subjects for this genre is food and marketable products. Product photography is a form of still life photography which requires capturing a product for commercial purposes. This includes all the images you find on e-commerce websites, newspaper, magazines, and advertisements.
Anything image which is used to market a product falls under product photography. For product photography, the image should be well lit, and the background shouldn’t be distracting while the subject should be in full focus with soft shadows.
This is all necessary because you have to make the product look appealing to the customer.
How is still life photography helpful?
Remember still life photography is not just used for commercial product marketing. There is a lot to learn from still life photography and the skills learned here can be used throughout other genres.
If your interest is in portraiture, then still life photography can enhance improve your lighting technique as you can try experimenting different lights on the subject that waits for you forever for you to take advantage of it by trying different things.
If you are interested in landscape photography, still life will help you improve your composition skills and creativity as it opens the world of crafting and studying inside you when you spend so much time with your still life scene.
You learn a lot of techniques like which position is best to make use of light, or how to best capture the effect of light, and which positions reveal textures. So even if you are not particularly keen on capturing still life scene, there is a lot in there for you to grasp!
How to begin the Still Life Project?
Sill life photography can begin immediately. You may wait for the perfect gear or studio equipment to arrive like macro lenses, tripods, tilt, shift lenses, triggers, flashguns, light modifiers, and studio lights because you want to start it on a perfect note.
But you will waste a lot of time like this if you keep on waiting to find a perfect studio. But these things are not essential. You can conduct still life photography even with a single camera. So why wait and get distracted.
You can even create amazing images with basic equipment within your house, no need for a studio. Once you grasp the basic then go for the excess expensive equipment because you might need them once you reach a professional stage.
So jump this bandwagon now and begin viewing your subjects artistically through the lens of still life. Not only is basic still life photography cost friendly but is easy to learn and ignites the inner you. Below, are few tips and techniques which help you get started?
Tips and techniques to enhance your Still Life Photography skills:
1. Plan your photo
In still life photography, you won’t generally stumble upon a great photo by sheer luck. You should take charge of the entire creative process. The more you plan out your shoot, the better the result is likely to be.
So take some time to brainstorm ideas and how you can execute them. When reading through the other items on this list, think of how you can plan for them in advance.
2. The equipment required
Make good use of tripods. They are of great use, especially the table top tripods as they enhance your image by providing you support and provide you with wider angles.
There is some equipment that is necessary and some which are only recommended for advance photographs. We have provided them both below.
The beginners should first practice with the required accessories and then move towards the recommended ones to complement their kit.
The required equipment for still life photography is:
• Any type of camera. We prefer a digital photo camera as it is not only cheaper to run but also provides you with immediate feedback. You can even use the film camera as still photography can be done perfectly with it as well.
• Materials for the creation of the background and floor to set up your scene.
• Silver and white, small reflectors which will help to bounce back the light back on the scene. You can build them instead of buying them by using cardboard and tinfoil.
• Search for Props to enhance the scene. These can be any items from around the house or attractive ornaments bought from the markets.
The Recommended equipment for still life photography is:
• One flashgun is ideal. It is useful in manual mode and has adjustable power.
• You will also require fairly long E-TTL cord or wireless triggers.
• Your flashgun will also require a softbox.
• A tripod. Two tripods if you want don’t want to hand-held your flash gun and mount it instead.
• Macro lens
In still life photos, as you have control – thus there is a lot of freedom to reposition your subjects. This provides you with the opportunity to experiment with composition. You will become a designer who composes an image as per his liking and what he deems best.
While experimenting, you will uncover the art of finding the best-suited compositions are how they make an image more interesting than others. You will also be able to try out different proportional relations between subjects.
You will learn to definitely pay attention to space around your subject, which is known as the negative space and will discover ways to modify these space to get the perfect composition of your photo.
In all types of photography, good lighting is vital and still life photography is no different. As the photographer has virtually complete control of the environment, there is no excuse to tolerate poor lighting.
So basically, still life photography enables you to figure out how the perfect lighting that suits your subjects. If you’re outdoors and you have to rely on natural light, then you should figure out the time to shoot when the light is as per your needs.
You can use different equipment to diffuse the light or use flash to generate it or use a reflector to direct it. It’s all up to you!
In still life, the subject is the main focus point but the background also holds certain importance. You have to ensure that it goes well with the subject and has perfect composition. You will also have to decide whether the background should be in-focus or out-of-focus.
Sometimes a contrasting background will work while sometimes you may find a background with amazing textures to go with your subject. While in other times you may find blur background to be fulfilling or a simple background will do fine as a single colored plain background can make your subject stand out.
Remember to experiment before settling. A single-color background can be an effective way to make your subject stand out. If you have the option, try out different types of background with the same subject.
6. Take it outside
You can begin indoors but the subjects are vast so you can ultimately take your shots outdoors to explore new vistas. There is no limit and you can conduct still life photography almost anywhere and everywhere.
The world outside your door is also filled with numerous excellent subjects such as leaves floating in the river, street objects, interesting rocks beside the sea, a nice composition of natural flora, etc…
Even though the environment will become harder to control, but the uniqueness of background and subjects will enhance.
7. Use the creative genius within you
Remember still life photography has vast horizons and its wings spread far. There are no limits on what you can do with because your subjects are still and you can modify anything you want. You can play around with anything you wish – be it contents in your kitchen and even your stationery!
All you need is an idea and your creative genius to spill and begin their work with a camera in your hand. You just need to begin, it can all start off from a rubber duck in a tub filled with watermelons.
There are no boundaries so you can create your own message, it doesn’t matter how weird or astonishing it is. For decades still life paintings have been infused with symbolism and meanings which are unique and personal. So don’t follow the rules and make new ones. Do something innovative with your still life photos.
So it is time to enter this vast world of still life. If you are stuck in your home due to heavy rainfall, cold or the burning sun, then it is the perfect time to take out your camera and produce some excellent pieces of art from right within your home.
It is an opportunity to improve your skills indoor before taking it outdoors. Create some fantastic still life masterpieces without a paintbrush just by using your camera as a tool.