Still life photography is a great way to find ordinary every objects and create visually appealing images, taking the objects from boring and simple to unique and eye catching.
Composition is Key
One of the most crucial factors in a well-executed still life image is composition.
The way you compose your object(s) in the frame can make or break your photo.
Shooting from different angles and perspectives can give you a variety of results that can completely change from angle to angle. For example, if you take an image of a coffee mug from above, you can capture the roundness of the top of the mug with the brown coffee in the center of the circle. If you take an image of that same mug from eye level you will see the overall shape of the entire mug. Shoot the same mug from an angle and you can get a unique view of the handle.
When taking still life photos, move around and play around with angles. Then you can go back during the culling process and choose which ones work best.
Still life images can be anything from bold and vibrant to lighter and more “airy.” Reds, oranges, and yellows can be equally as appealing as pastel pinks, purples, and baby blues.
The object is to make sure the colors flow together well. Keep this in mind when choosing your backgrounds and all objects in the photo. The colors either need to be relatively in the same “color field” or they need to balance one another out. If using completely opposite colors, be sure they still flow nicely together. Red and black works just as well as blur and green.
Train yourself to take notice of how colors compliment one another in things you run across in your every day life. Look at paintings, furniture patterns, magazine photos, landscaping, etc.
Don’t be afraid to play around with different contrasts and colors. Still life photography is all about creativity.
Incorporating patterns into still life photos can give them extra visual appeal, as long as you aren’t mixing too many patterns or mixing patterns that distract from the other objects in the photo.
Patterns don’t have to be busy or complex. You can incorporate patterns into your background by using a few different colors in larger patterns, such as four squares, or a just a basic horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line separating the different colors. If you are photographing an object that has busy patterns itself, make sure it doesn’t clash with an additional busy background.
You don’t need a fancy lighting set-up to get great still life images. Natural window light can easily serve the purpose. Often times just one diffused flash can give you any extra lighting you need. Just ensure that the strength and temperature of lighting you are using compliments the colors well.
What to photograph?
This list could go on and on. The possibilities are endless when it comes to still life photography. Whether photographing one object or multiple objects, creativity is key. Silverware, dishware, shoes, make-up, flowers.. they all make great candidates for still life images. Create things from other things, for example, use coffee beans to create a mug shape, or use tiny pebbles to create unique shapes or designs.