STILL-LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY: TIPS

By SnapSquad - August 15, 2018

I hope our post 12 Contemporary Still-Life Photographers to Inspire You touched a fibre or two. You need some tips? We have some for you.

Untypically, here is a quote from Encyclopedia Britannica. It is about painting yet I think it points to what you should focus on when taking still-life photos to create a unique image: Still-life painting, the depiction of inanimate objects for the sake of their qualities of form, colour, texture, and composition




1- FORM   
                                                                                                    
- Your subject does not have to be a beautifully arranged vase of flowers or fruit.                                   - It stays still; it is a still-life.                                                                                    
- Pick objects that make your heart tick and tell a story; organise them like you would actors for a theatre play and construct your scene right from its background (all you need is a space at home with a simple backdrop).                                                                                             
-Avoid using wrinkled cloth as a backdrop. Iron first.

2- COLOUR  

-Lighting is the key element to create both quality and mood. Study images of classic still-life paintings or photos (magazines a full of them!) and make them your masters.
- Use windows for natural light; your own lamps, a torchlight and why not candlelight? Try different intensities of light.
-Be in control of your lighting and try positioning it from different angles: front, back, side…
- Keep on trying shooting from different angles and with different apertures. Again, be creative!       
-Think longer exposure. It works very well with still-life and soft lighting.                                             - If on your terrace or patio, plan the best time of the day to get the light you need and even more so if you have found a natural subject outdoors.
- If you need to use a flash consider using an external flash with a reflector (it can be a home-made reflector). Look online for lighting techniques.
- Beware of reflective surfaces such as glass, metal… 
- Take all the time you need. The last thing you want to do is stress; You are here to enjoy and savour the moment, so leave it overnight if you must.

3- TEXTURE

-You want to avoid a flat effect on your picture.
-Get a feel for textures that will work together in your display and how to mix and combine different object.
- Use lighting to reveal textures. Light falling in equal intensity on all the objects will deliver a flat and uninteresting scene.                                             
-And, of course, you can use Photoshop to alter textures to your liking.

4- COMPOSITION        
           
-Look around for what you have on your shelves, inside your cabinets and store, in your garden too.
- Call on your artistic eye, your flair and your emotions. Do you like to play with symbolism and pass on your own message? 
- Try contrasting shapes, colours and textures.
- Make sure your display only consists in subject and backdrop, with no disturbance.
- Remember that a poor background will ruin the quality of your picture.
- Now simply let it go, be creative.

 EQUIPMENT

Excluding a camera here is what you will be needing most:
- A backdrop. You can create your own with cloth (again well ironed) or flat sheets of white or dark coloured card. If you want to become serious with still-life photography, a backdrop stand (inexpensive) will make your experience a whole lot easier. 
- Something to hold your backdrop; like clamps.
- A very stable base for your display. You don’t want you or someone else trips over your carefully arranged display.
-  A tripod. While using a tripod, however, in order to avoid taking pictures all with the same point of view, do not forget to vary the angles and heights at which you are shooting. 
- Some photographers find that using 50mm lenses make great pictures.
While others like to use a 35mm. So, and again, try different techniques to suit the conditions of your displayed subject and the effect you want to achieve.                               


Still-life photography can be a lucrative business since magazines, catalogues, art galleries and websites all require product shots. Consult our Snapsquad professional photographers.


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