Nevertheless Life Photography: 5 Suggestions to Level Up Your Shots

Still Life Photography: 5 Suggestions to Level Up Your Shots

tips for beautiful still life photography

Want to capture stunning still life photography?

In this article, I offer five easy ways to increase your still life images. I actually cover all the key elements (including lighting, composition, and editing) – so that, no matter your camera gear, you’ll be ready to shoot some amazing still life shots of your own.

Let’s get started.

1 . Go with items that interest you

Still life pictures starts with subject choice…

…but in fact, there are no “best” still life subjects. Ideal topics are simply items that interest you , plus they can come from anywhere, which includes:

  • About your house
  • Flea markets and thrift shops
  • Estate product sales
  • The supermarket
  • The florist

Of course , the words “still life” generally conjure up visions associated with vases of flowers, pears on candlelit tables, old paper, and violins. And you can certainly capture beautiful even now life shots by acquiring and arranging these “classical” items.

But you don’t need to spend time pursuing such images when they don’t interest you. Rather, ask yourself: What is meaningful in order to me ? What objects do I enjoy? Is there a story I would like to inform with my still lifestyle?

Alternatively, you might look for items that simply catch your eye. This next chance contains a piece of dried seaweed on some calico. Was your seaweed meaningful to me? Certainly not. Did it tell a story? No. It simply looked gorgeous, so I wanted to capture this!

Still life photography piece of curling seaweed

Lastly, you can capture “found” even now life arrangements – that is, still life arrangements that already exist (in houses, backyards, or on the street). Here’s a found still life, taken of a friend’s bedside table:

found still life arrangement bedside table

When picking still life subjects, here’s our final piece of advice:

If you’re stuck, simply find some items that are personal and important to a person, such as:

  • Family heirlooms
  • Pictures containing relatives
  • Books that you like

In that case, after a bit of arranging, you’ll capture a still lifetime that’s loaded with meaning!

2 . Carefully select a background

The setting can make – or break- your still life. If you would like great results, you must choose your background meticulously.

Specifically, don’t choose a background that features distracting elements. Avoid eye-catching shades that draw the eye, and when you use fabric, make sure you iron it first (few points are more distracting than an old and wrinkly backdrop! ).

Instead, keep it simple. Fabric, cardboard, and current walls often work good, provided that they’re relatively simple. The goal is to point out your still life topics (so the viewer knows exactly where to look).

Here’s an image featuring a plain backdrop made from a couple of old potato sacks:

bread, onions, and flowers on a table

Plus here’s another shot, this time featuring a sheet of crimson fabric:

camera with flowers still life

Also, experimentation is important! Different background textures and colors can complement your topics in different ways, so it pays off to test out a few options just before deciding on a final arrangement. You may be surprised by the backdrops that make your still life actually pop.

Still Life drinks with grapes still life photography
After trying several solid-color backdrops for this image, I experimented with some reflective cardboard (and I loved the result).

So you might even try experimenting with concentrate and level of field . For instance, create a superficial depth of field impact , where you keep the front element sharp and the record blurry. Then try the alternative: Use a narrow aperture to help keep the still life products and the background tack-sharp. Find which you prefer!

3. Get creative along with still life lighting

Light is an essential component of still living photography , and many nevertheless lifes feature beautiful lighting arrangements (which often generate moody, painterly effects).

But it’s important to realize that a person don’t need fancy light to create a stunning still living . When you’re getting started, I recommend using whatever lighting you have available, such as:

  • Indirect light from the window
  • The lamp
  • The flashlight
  • A candle

Don’t just create your setup, take one shot, and call it a day. Instead, try out different lighting effects! Make use of a curtain to block out a few window light, then remove the curtain to let the gentle stream in. Shine a flashlight at your main subject, then try a second shot where the flashlight is positioned away to the side and shrouds your own subjects in shadow. Seem sensible?

Note that, should you be using lamps, flashlights, or even candles, you will definitely need a tripod ; indoor lighting won’t get you a fast-enough shutter speed with regard to handheld shots. (This could be a relatively cheap model; so long as it’s positioned on a durable surface, it should be able to keep the camera steady. ) Whenever you’re ready to shoot, simply mount your camera to the tripod, activate the two-second self-timer , and start taking images.

By the way, a fun technique that works great for still lifes is called light painting . Simply set up your camera to capture a long exposure (in the area of ten to 30 seconds), push the shutter button, and paint light – from a flashlight or candle – around your subject. You will end up with some very great effects, as you can see in the examples below:

three versions of lighting for still life
A nevertheless life arrangement using several different types of lighting. From left: Natural light from nearby windows, light painting with a flashlight, and lighting from an one soft box.

Once you get more serious, you can try lighting your still life arrangements along with speedlights (though I recommend you modify any speedlight having a softbox to prevent hard shadows).

Whatever lighting you choose, make sure you spend plenty of time thinking about its position . Light that comes from the front will look very distinct from light that comes from behind your own subject or off aside, so you’ll need to carefully adjust your lights to obtain the effect you’re after. I’d recommend you start with sidelighting, as this often creates a wonderful, three-dimensional effect (and it is what I used when taking the three example photos showcased above).

4. Try plenty of compositions

Learning to compose still life photos is often a battle for beginners. This is understandable, as still life composition brings up a bunch of queries, such as: Where should I place all my items? Should they overlap? Should they be close to the history? What camera angle must i use?

Luckily, still life composition isn’t as hard as it might appear. I have two main suggestions, and they will take you much:

First, if you’ve not encountered them prior to, read about the rule of thirds and the rule of odds . These will offer a fantastic compositional starting point for beautiful still life shots, plus they’re really easy to use.

Second, just keep moving your own items around.

This latter recommendation might seem a bit silly, but We promise: If you rearrange your own objects enough, you’ll eventually hit on an arrangement that looks great. Don’t just settle for the first composition that you try – instead, check an arrangement, then assess it critically. Determine what you want and dislike about it, then simply make adjustments.

As you create different compositions, here are a few items to keep an eye on:

  • Excessively empty gaps (you usually want to keep the entire agreement balanced! )
  • Busy areas (you don’t want to confuse the viewers with as well much activity)
  • Movement in between objects (aim to lead the eye from one object towards the next)

Remember: A tiny tweak can produce a huge difference. So if a good arrangement doesn’t seem ideal, make a few changes. Probably you’ll soon hit on a better setup!

And try photographing through different angles. Shoot through standing height, then increase your camera higher or even take it down low. Stroll to one side of the setup and capture an user profile shot. You can even test out different lenses! Each experiment may turn out great or it might look bad – but you won’t know until you test.

5. Make sure you spend time editing your continue to life photography

Post-processing can make a huge difference to your still life photos, so I highly recommend you spend time editing your images in Lightroom, Photoshop, Capture One, or even some other program.

Start out with basic adjustments, such as white balance, exposure, contrast, and saturation. Then, as you become more experienced, play around with more advanced options.

Consider doing HDR photography , where you take several images at different exposure levels then blend them jointly in Lightroom. Or use Photoshop to add a beautiful texture to your image for a painterly look:

still life arrangement with an added texture

Still life photography: final words

Even now life is a beautiful, compelling, close genre of photography.

So test out lighting, composition, and editing. Have fun! Enjoy yourself!

You’re bound to end up with several stunning photos.

Now over to you:

What type of still life photos do you plan to take? Which of these ideas are your favorites? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Lea Hawkins

Lea Hawkins

is an Australian professional photographer working mainly in the regions of portraiture, fine art, and for the local press. Her work has been published, exhibited, selected and collected – locally, nationally and internationally, in many forms. All shot with quite minimal gear and the photo taking philosophy that it’s not a lot the equipment, but what you do from it. You can see more of her am employed at

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