Guide Still Life Photography

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35 Superb Examples of Still Life Photography

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With the subject matter being inanimate objects, their tendency to stay very still allows you to take time to refine your lighting, and experiment with your composition. But essentially as long at it stays still, it is a still life.

As long as it is still, technically it is a still life. This is a piece of dried seaweed on some calico. You could group a bunch of items together simply because you like them, or they look pleasing, or you can gather related items to tell a story. The image at the beginning of this article tells the story of my breakfast.

Draw inspiration from the greats

Or you can find still life arrangements that already exist, their story or mood already set up for you. You can use things that are simply visually pleasing, or you can make it personal. A good background can really make a still life. Fabric, cardboard or paper, or an existing wall, are all easily accessible backdrops.

Still life photography: 30 beautiful examples

For the image of my breakfast I used old potato sacks. Just make sure whatever you use is not too distracting from your subject matter. Keep it simple. Few things are more distracting than a wrinkled backdrop. A bright color, or busy backdrop, can pull too much attention away from your subject matter. How you angle your lighting is important. Experiment with different positions for your light source. With a movable source, start with some side lighting, and then try a few different angles.

Still life photography, what is it, its history, and current practice

Good composition skills go a long way with still life, and is as important as good lighting. There are many wonderfully informative articles here on dPS on the basics , and sometimes not so basics of composition. Understanding things like the rule of thirds can be very helpful, even if you choose to then ignore it. With still life photography, if you just keep moving your arrangement around, you will find one that works.

Keep your eye out for overly empty gaps, or too much going on. Placing an item on an angle will lead the eye in that direction, does the item lead the eye nowhere, out of the frame, or subtly towards another part of the arrangement? Also try photographing from different angles, even if you need to shoot directly front on, try raising or lowering your camera for a few shots, then zoom in or out a bit and see what happens.

There is loads of fun to be had in the editing stage. Different processes can completely change your still life image. HDR is a popular process for still life photography, and can be very effective. Or you could play with layer masks with a couple of different exposures, and paint in and out certain areas of your image. I like to add a texture to give the image a painting-like look. Adding a texture in the editing stage can give a painting like effect.