Photographic practices and techniques change over time but one that has been around longer than most is still life photography. When photography started, it required long exposures due to the type of film and the technology available at the time. This meant that photographers required still subjects. As technology has advanced, we are now able to shoot high-quality photographs of fast-moving objects. There has been a slight dip in interest in still life photography but that does not mean it is not in demand.
Still Life Photography Is Everywhere
Still life photography is very lucrative, as magazines, art galleries, catalogues, and websites all require still life shots. Its popularity has also been boosted by the ability to showcase still life photography on social media. There is so much you can do with still life photography and so below, we will look at a few tips for getting started with this photographic genre.
Choose the Right Subjects
Every photographer is different in that different objects speak differently to different photographers. When you choose subjects that interest you, it makes it easier to shoot them in fun, new ways. A good rule is to not shoot objects other people are shooting because even though there are millions of photographs of flowers and fruits online, those subjects might not interest you.
Learn How to Work With Lighting
Lighting is very important in still life photography and it does not have to be expensive either. You can get a couple of professional photography lighting online. If you have a small budget, you can choose to shoot outside. Once you get comfortable shooting in different lighting conditions, try to expand the types of shots you take. For example, you can block out natural light and use studio lights to create shadows and contrasts you would not get under some conditions.
Get a Tripod and Work With Angles
Depending on your setup, you might have to use a tripod and shutter release. Using such tools allows you greater flexibility and the ability to work with your subject longer. A tripod will allow you to work with a longer shutter speed, so you get varying focus levels and depths of field.
When using a tripod, you might be tempted to leave the camera in one position. Do not do this. Play with your angles to capture different aspects of your subjects. You can use different types of views like focusing from above or from different sides.
Learn Shot Composition
Composition is very important in still life photography. Good composition ensures the final photographs are unique and engaging. A good rule of composition is to ensure there are no distractions within the frame.
Also, think of other aspects like:
- Where you are leading your viewers’ eyes
- How you utilize negative space within the shot
- Your subjects’ defining features; and
- How to place the subjects in certain contexts.
Use the Right Backdrop
A backdrop can make or break your photoshoot. It can help the subject stand out and make it easier or harder to capture the subject just right. Keep the backdrop simple – this will ensure it does not interfere with the subject.
Decide if you want the backdrop to compliment or contrast the subject. For smaller subjects, a table with black velvet on it is ideal as this material absorbs light and makes the backdrop look like a solid surface.
Take Your Time
Taking your time when taking still life photographs allows you to focus on what you are shooting rather than the amount of time available to you. If you can, try to plan for a full day of shooting. This will allow you to shoot a lot more angles and photographs so that you can choose the best ones.
Taking your time will also allow you to explore different lighting options, angles, and setups so you have a lot more creative space to play with. Remember that your subjects are not going anywhere and if your lighting is set up right, you will have consistent lighting throughout the shoot. So, why not take your time? Taking your time also allows you to learn from any mistakes you make and explore new areas you otherwise might not see if you rushed things.
Find Inspiration and Learn from Masters
If you are struggling with any aspect of still life photography or just need some inspiration, it is always a good idea to look at what the masters are doing. Having a still life photographer London to learn from will help you learn faster and help you avoid common pitfalls beginners fall into. This photographer based in London has lots of examples you can learn from. Howlett Photography has in the industry for a long time. They shoot different types of products and scenes, doing it differently every time, so you have lots of good examples to learn from.
Still life photography is fun and best of all, there is no one right way to do it. Once you learn the basics, you can be as creative as you like with your photographs. You might even be able to make a career out of it.