How to Take Better Still Life Photos

In photography there are as many mediums as there are people with interests. When most are getting started with photography, they often start with still life, and with time they progress to landscape shots, candid shots, or portraits. You can learn a lot of the basics from still life photography, such as the use of shadows and light. This helps the photographer find the subject’s emotion. Below, you’ll read about various aspects of still life photography.

egg still life photo

“Passo Doble” captured by Carlos

Still life is one medium that allows the photographer to express him or herself as a photographer while using objects like flowers, trees, and fruit. When getting started with still life, the most important step is the lighting. You’re looking for light coming from a single direction for the purpose of casting light and shadows. If there is too much light, you can use modifiers to tone the light down. Use side lighting for still life photography. Doing this will help you attain more contrast between the objects of interest.

The good thing about still life photography is you have color control. As the photographer, you select the color of the object. When choosing colors with say, flowers, you want to ensure you have contrast but still keep the natural look. You want to attain harmony as it relates to controlling colors. You want to capture the attention of the onlooker’s eye. If you look at the colors and are not very pleased with them, there is a good chance the onlooker will not be pleased with the colors either.

You can be abstract with still life. You can put two objects together that are unrelated. The fun thing about art is you can do anything you like. What some may consider art, others may think is trash. Whatever you do, please don’t allow the views of others to determine what it is that you like.

Taking the kind of photos that you like is what helps you become a better photographer, and in the process you’ll start to focus in on the mediums that you enjoy the most. Once you find out what you like the most, you’ll become better at taking shots because of your desire to become better.

Variation is another aspect that you have control over. Using the same subject with a different background is a part of having variation control. One note of warning: when using variation, be sure to avoid clutter. When using variations take several shots of your subject. This will help you find a even balance of harmony between all of the subjects.

Still life photography may not be as exciting to some, but it’s a great stepping stone for moving on to other mediums. Applying what you’ve learned in still life can lead to working for magazines. Magazines have a lot of still life images.

Using still life as your medium requires having a good eye just like all other forms of photography. Don’t limit yourself to the kind of subjects to capture. Select subjects that grab you. You want to capture subjects that grab others as well. This will lead to you gaining confidence in your work and eventually being able to sell your work on the open market.

still life photography

“hands up” captured by Bal√°zs Baditz

If you follow my tips and continue to study this medium, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a great photographer and moving on to different mediums. You never know, you may decide to pursue still life for the duration of your photography endeavors.

About the Author:
Keith S. Black has many different photography methods. He is a successful photographer and makes a full time living as a photographer. To find out about one of the best cameras to use for your photography you can visit: http://reviewdslrcameras.com/nikon-reviews/ to read one of Keith’s Nikon Reviews and get more information.

This video walks us through the process of making creative still life photography. Mark demonstrates how to use an aquarium to capture engaging images of ordinary household items. From a strawberry to food coloring, he provides step by step instructions for creating unique still life images:

Have fun, and good luck with your still life photography efforts!

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2 Comments

  1. Greg says:

    Great post! It gave me some good ideas for those rainy days to come. I have shot water splashes before and here are my thoughts:

    http://shutterexperiments.com/2011/02/02/high-speed-water-photography-2/

    I would also suggest connecting one speedlight with a TTL cord in order to shoot in burst mode.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Gary Hanmer says:

    Hi I am trying my best to get a single jpg of the flower shot that Mark has taken in the aquarium as i have duplicated the shot for one of my assignments but i need the original to submit with my interpretation of the shot. Exercise copy the work of a pro and analyse the differences. If anyone can help me to get this jpg please let me know

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