still life photography

Still life art is surely familiar to you, but have you heard of still life photos? Still life photography, a sub-genre of fine art photography, is one of the most underappreciated forms of photography.

Creators are continuously experimenting with innovative still life photo concepts and delving into visual art techniques. To help you start, we've put together a complete guide to modern still life photography, complete with valuable ideas and methods.

What is Still Life Photography?

still life photography

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Modern still life photography is a sort of high art photography that is more related to painting than most people think of when they take a photograph. The theme is made up of inanimate everyday objects. The composition is crucial, and you have all the time in the world to perfect it. You can arrange the objects as you want, and you have complete control over all aspects of the composition.

Still life photography is one of the fundamental techniques that all photographers should learn. It transfers into many other areas of photography, as you shall see. Simple still life photography gives photographers complete control, allowing them to practice until they get it right. They can begin with a vision and then work with technology and setup until their vision is achieved. Many other genres of photography necessitate the abilities, but few provide the "do-overs" that still life compositions give.

Equipment Necessary for Still Life Photography

There are no hard and fast guidelines for the equipment you should utilize for still lifes. Coming up with fresh combinations to make it work is half the joy and half the challenge. You, like special effects artists in movies, can do whatever behind-the-scenes tricks you like. Reshoot and try again if it doesn't work.

1. Camera

For still lifes, you can use anything from a smartphone to a large-format film camera. Still life photos can be taken with any camera, so it is more about what you want the end image to be and what you already have in your gear. Still life photographers frequently use still lifes as practice shots or to stretch our creative muscles.

Manual settings are one feature of a still life camera that you will rapidly enjoy. Point and shoot cameras, such as those used in smartphones, have difficulty exposing still life photos to the photographer's liking. You'll be able to deal with any unusual lighting configuration easier if your camera has fully manual shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings.

2. Lighting

photography lighting

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Your lighting selections, like your camera choices, can be unorthodox in still life photography. Don't limit yourself just to speed lights and flashing lights. Natural lighting frequently gives the best light for compositions, and sometimes just forcing yourself to consider your lighting possibilities is enough to spark your creativity.

Reflectors and diffusers will quickly become your new best friends if you choose to employ natural light. Colored reflectors may add warmth to images while also aiding composition by highlighting specific colors and tones. Diffusers can be used in front of incandescent lights or windows to soften harsh shadows.

3. Lenses

A prime 50 mm lens is the go-to lens for shooting still lifes. This produces a realistic image with no distortion on a full-frame camera. Because Prime 50s are affordable, it's easy to get one with excellent glass and a super wide aperture.

One of the best aspects of taking still life photography is obtaining superior lenses for less money. There is no need for autofocus or auto-exposure, so hunt for vintage lenses with character to add warmth to your images. There are now low-cost adapter tubes available online that allow you to mount any lens to any type of body. Many DSLR and mirrorless photographers enjoy shooting with classic Leica, Zeiss, or Minolta lenses.

4. Setup for Photography

Aside from your camera, lenses, and whatever light or light modifiers you wish to employ, the only other piece of equipment to consider is your tripod. Still life photo is easiest to create when the camera is fixed in place. You'll want to position the camera, frame the shot, and then change the objects and background. You'll also be adjusting the lighting. All of this is made much easier by using a strong tripod that retains your camera exactly where you left it.

Objects to Use in Still Life Photography

Look around the house to see if there is anything simple but interesting you can start with.

a. Don't be swayed by the obvious choices of fruit or flowers. Find artifacts that are meaningful to you:

  • Jewelry
  • Hats / Shoes
  • Sewing Supplies
  • Stationery
  • Soft Toys
  • Perfume Bottles
  • Books

b. Avoid reflective materials such as glass and metal, as these will make lighting extremely difficult. Begin with one object and gradually add more as you gain confidence. Combine things with different forms, colors, and textures.

c. Consider props that are naturally related to one another. Cutlery and food; jewelry and perfume; books and pens - the more context and depth you can add to your still life image, the better.

d. When it comes to color, make sure that any additional colors you use outside of your main object aren't brighter or more vivid. This can draw the viewer's attention away from the main issue. If you're desperate to utilize a specific secondary prop and it's too colorful, you'll have to desaturate it in editing, which isn't difficult.

Tips and Tricks for Still Life Photography

Still life photography

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People frequently believe that modern still life photography is easier than other forms of photography, such as sports or landscape photography. You frequently have complete control over the composition and can arrange the inanimate items precisely how you want them with stills.

1. Still Life Photography Lighting

Professional photographers generally shoot their still lifes with a softbox or a lightbox. Although softboxes can be quite useful, they aren't necessarily necessary for effective outcomes, as you'll discover shortly. However, if you really want one, you can easily acquire one online or create one yourself using internet instructions. The goal of these lighting tools is to cast a uniform light on the subject. You may also acquire nice lighting by holding your photoshoot outside. A heavy overcast, or sunny sky can produce a natural softbox look with no harsh shadows.

2. Compiling Still Life Images

You must arrange the objects in your shot in a nice arrangement. For ideas on how to effectively compose your images, consider adopting classical composition approaches such as the "Rule of Thirds," "Leading Lines," or "Frame inside a Frame." Artistically arrange the objects, and apply your imagination. For example, if you're photographing an apple, consider taking a bite off it to enhance interest.

3. Insert Your Still Life Subject in the Frame

Still life photography

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During still life photography, keep in mind that your subject should be the only thing visible in your viewfinder or LCD screen. To obtain a clean and up-close photograph, you must remove any distractions or clutter from the background. Don’t worry since it is easily remedied if you have a backdrop or background that you dislike. A lightbox or softbox will eliminate this problem, but if you're shooting outside with a distracting background, simply place a piece of white foam board behind your subject, and you'll be OK. If you want a sharp image, utilize macro mode; otherwise, you will get a fuzzy image.

4. Search for a Good Angle

Instead of photographing from a vantage point, position the camera to level with the subject. You should also experiment with photography from various angles. Hopefully, you can start using these still life photography ideas right now and notice a difference in the quality of your still life photographs.

Whatever career level you are in, your portfolio website will always be the hub of all your marketing methods for expanding your creative business. It is an excellent strategy to establish your market presence. With clients constantly looking for creatives who provide specialized services, having a presence online will put you in the spotlight and help more customers find you.

If you're wondering how to create a portfolio, check out Strikingly. Strikingly is a website builder tool used by creative professionals all over the world. It provides an easy-to-use yet sophisticated drag-and-drop website builder, as well as client galleries, eCommerce, and blogging features, allowing you to manage your whole online presence from a single platform. Discover all of the features that make Strikingly the ideal tool for photographers and other creative professionals.

With Strikingly’s built-in free photo editor online, you can make minor edits to your images, including brightness, saturation, and contrast adjustments.

Strikingly edit image

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You can also crop your photo to highlight certain angles and rotate it to provide a different view to the visual. With a few simple tweaks, you can convert any stock photo into an image that is more suited to the tone of your content.

strikingly image editor

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Still Life Photography Examples

It takes a lot of practice to master the technique of composition and lighting to create a great still life photo. However, done correctly, still life photography can be a powerful art form that can be used in projects ranging from calendar design to poster design. Here are a few exceptional painters who have mastered the tough skill of both creating and photographing their work.

Evelyn Bencicova

evelyn bencicova

Image is taken from Evelyn Bencicova

Bas Meeuws

Bas meeuws website

Image is taken from Bas Meuuws

Besim Mazhiqi

besimo website

Image is taken from Besam Mazhiki


The internet is brimming with intriguing still life photography ideas and valuable advice for improving still life photo techniques. Simply browsing any photography website or journal will reveal everything from black and white still lifes to futuristic computerized compositions. The classroom bowl of fruit still life photography is only the first step for creative artists.