With still life photography, the photographer has complete control over the entire picture – the theme, the object, the setting, the lighting, and so on. As liberating as that is, it is also a very responsible undertaking. When you are taking pictures of people or animals, they do things or look in certain ways that make the picture interesting. When you are taking pictures of landscapes, buildings, or other sites around you, they themselves make the picture worth looking at. But with still life photography, you have to make a vase, a glass, or even a wrench seem appealing. How can you do that?
Lighting is vital with still life (not that it isn’t important in other types of photography). By taking a simple object, such as a roll of toilet paper, and playing with different lights and shadows, you can actually create an amazing picture. You don’t necessarily need expensive professional projectors – use the natural light that comes through the window, however many floor and table lamps you have, and so on. Remember that photography is all about experimenting and trying new things, so don’t be afraid to take lots and lots of pictures – one of them is bound to be amazing.
The background you choose is also very important. While you can take a picture of a person standing on a golden beach with palm trees here and there and still make the person the centre of attention, a still life photograph will not look good in such surroundings. It’s best to choose a plain, one-coloured background so that your chosen object or objects can stand out. Of course, be careful of the colour of the background so it doesn’t clash with your objects.
It was mentioned above that lighting is one way of making a simple object very interesting. Another way to handle this task is to explore different angles and proximities. Don’t just stand in front of the object and take pictures of it – shoot from above, from the side, from below (if possible), take a few steps back, take a few steps forward – try everything.
As with any other type of photography, the composition of the picture is very important. Many photographers firmly believe that still life should only be in the exact centre of the image, but that is not true. Again, photography has no limitations and it is worth exploring every option to achieve that one amazing picture. Place your object in different parts of the frame, rely on shadows for extra effect, even shoot only half of it on one side – anything can work.
The greatest thing about still life photography is that nothing moves so you don’t need to increase the shutter speed and risk losing focus. In fact, you can decrease it greatly and achieve a very precise outline of everything which will make it stand out that much more.
So what is the most important thing that you need to know about still life photography? That is gives you all the freedom you need to explore your creativity to its full extent. Just try to think outside of the box and you will be able to create something very beautiful and interesting.