Tips for still life photography from professionals.
Before you dive into the world of still life photography, consider these tips from industry professionals:
1. Don’t waste time. “If you spend an hour or two taking one still life photo and it’s good enough to move on, you should usually listen to yourself in that moment,” Tan says.
“Lots of people could get their shot 80 percent right within that first hour and get something that they’re happy with, but that’s not complete. Then a lot of people will spend the next four hours working on that extra 20 percent just to make it perfect.”
No still life photographer will ever be truly flawless. But through practice and experimentation, you can improve your skills and get better all the time..
2. Fuel your creativity. Long believes you should: “Challenge your compositional skills. If you need inspiration, go back to looking at other work. Go dig through magazines.”
Inspiration is all around us, so don’t forget to use the resources at your disposal to explore new still life ideas. Travelling is another exciting opportunity to explore and experiment with found still life photography.
Focus on the little details you come across in your travels. Gather small items from your trip, like brochures and train tickets, and make them the subjects of your still life photos later.
3. Get the right tools. “One thing that totally changed my still life photography was shooting objects on a velvet background,” Concannon says. “Not crushed velvet, but real black, blue, or red velvet. What that material does is it absorbs light, so you can put your still life subject in direct sunlight, but you won’t see the shadows on the velvet.” Keep experimenting; you might find unexpected tricks that can elevate your still life photography.
4. Find the perfect lighting. Experiment with different lighting, both in the studio and in natural light. Avoid shooting with the traditional overhead lights in your home, as light colours will mix and produce odd and unintentional shadows. Different light sources can subtly change the mood and atmosphere in still life photography.
Still life photography encompasses many styles — whether it’s a classic subject shot in a studio and reminiscent of Renaissance still life paintings, or a grainy image of an abandoned shoe found on the sidewalk. Be intentional with your choices, and still life can be a breeding ground for beautiful photographs and creative ideas. All that’s left is for you to get started.