Still Life Photography Tips - How to Take Great Still Life Pictures

Published: 13th April 2010
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Still life photography can be used for many different purposes and offers lots of opportunity for creativity. Whether you're taking a beautiful bowl of fruit for an art piece or taking photos to sell on microstock sites, still life photography is a great skill to learn.

Unless you have a specific product you're photographing for a commercial shoot, the subjects for still life photos are limitless. Fine art still lifes aren't limited to just apples and grapes. Even something like artfully arranged spools of thread can be interesting and visually appealing. Microstock sites like Shutterstock and iStock that cater to commercial users have a high demand for all sorts of still life, often of very simple objects, like a cup of coffee or a key.

In one way, still life photography is a lot easier than other forms of photography like landscape, sports or pet photography. With still life photos, you can position objects just how you want them so you can have more control over the composition of your photo.

And sometimes, good quality still life pictures can be even more challenging to photograph. Because still lifes are taken up close, it's easy to see imperfections on your subject that you would normally never see.

Regardless of the challenges with still life pictures, by using the following tips and basic photography skills you can still create nice quality still life photos.

Lighting for Still Life Photography

With most professional photographers, they use a light box or soft box to take their still life photos. However this isn't absolutely necessary as you will see in a moment, but it can be a big help. However, if you do want one, you can find a soft box online or you can easily make one using instructions you find online. The purpose of these lighting tools is to provide even light on the subject.

You can also get a good quality of light by setting up your photo shoot outside. In fact, a high overcast (bright overcast) sky creates a soft box effect where you get good lighting without the harsh shadows.

Composing Still Life Pictures

Arrange your objects in a pleasing composition. Use a classical composition technique such as "Rule of Thirds" or "Leading Lines" or "Frame within a Frame" to create a good composition. Arrange the items artfully and use your imagination to get the exact placement that you want. For example, if you're taking a picture of an apple try taking a bite out of it to give it some added interest.

Fill the Frame with Your Still Life Subject

Remember, the only thing that should be in your viewfinder or on your preview LCD screen is your composition. Get up close to your subject and remove any clutter in the background. What if there's a background you don't want? The soft box or light box solves this issue, but if you are shooting outside, here's something you can do: place a piece of white foam board or piece of material behind your subject, and voila - no more distracting background. Be sure to use Macro mode so that you get a sharp image.

Look for a Good Angle - and Shoot!

Instead of shooting from your height, hold the camera so that it is level with your subject. You also want to make sure that you take pictures from different angles too.

Hopefully these tips have provided you some helpful information on taking still life photos that you can start putting to use immediately.


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Autumn Lockwood is a writer for Your Picture Frames and loves shooting pictures. If you want a
unique and practical gift
that will be enjoyed for years and a fun shopping experience visit our online picture frame shop or call us at 1-800-780-0699.

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