An introduction to still life photography
Still life photography is a fantastic genre for the budding photographer as well as the experienced pro, because it offers endless possibilities and opportunities to practice your skills.
There are no real equipment barriers - anything from a smartphone to a medium format camera will work - and the only real limitation is your imagination, so if this sounds great to you, let’s dive in!
What is still life photography?
Still life is basically anything that’s not moving; it could be flowers, rocks, a collection of fruit in a bowl, in fact, anything your imagination can conjure up for you to photograph. The beauty of still life photography is that you have complete artistic control, and can use it to practice all the important aspects of our art form, including planning a shoot, composition, lighting and execution.
Getting started with still life
While it’s important to have your own ideas, it’s also always worth researching the great masters of the art and trying to copy their work (try Irving Penn and Edward Weston).
This is a great way to learn lighting and composition because you’ll have to ‘back engineer’ the lighting set-ups (work out how they shot it) to recreate the images. Don’t worry though, because even if you can’t perfectly recreate their images you’ll learn loads from the process of trying.
Making the most of what you have
As photographers, it’s easy to get caught up in the desire for new gear, but still life requires nothing fancier than a subject, light source and camera… so there’s no excuse not to take lots of photos! The only piece of equipment we do recommend making use of is a tripod – especially if you’re restricted to available light sources rather than flash because you might be shooting at quite slow shutter speeds. A tripod allows you to take sharp images whatever the shutter speed, so invest in one if you don’t already have one.
You can use anything as a subject (as long as it’s inanimate!), and almost any light source. We’ve seen some great images with light sources ranging from window light, candles, spotlights, table lamps, or even the light from a phone! As we said, your imagination is the only barrier here.
The real beauty of still life photography is that there’s always something to shoot when the desire to pick up your camera strikes, so be enthusiastic, take some risks and send us the results to print on to canvas for you.