Beginner tips for still life photography

Isabella Santoro

Photography Editor

Photo taken by Isabella Santoro

If you’ve ever been interested in still life photography, here are some great tips for how to perfect your skills. Still life photography is great for inanimate objects such as flowers, fruits, vases, etc. Much the same as still life paintings, one of the most important things to note about this style of photography is the way these photos are taken.


One of the most important things to remember is that the zoom on your camera is your friend. Don’t be too afraid to zoom in to really capture your images. It can seem scary once you zoom in and the image becomes blurry, but once you’ve got a handle on the inner workings of your camera, you should be able to get a very clear image of what you’re trying to capture. Most cameras allow for manual adjustment of the zoom functions, and they aren’t difficult to find. If you have trouble adjusting the zoom feature, ask a friend or someone who knows cameras well.


Lighting is also super important for still life images. If your lighting isn’t the best, your images won’t come out the way you want them to. To get the best lighting, make sure when you take your photos, it’s not completely in the dark. This may seem obvious, but you should always have a source of light somewhere in your surroundings, even if you want to take outside shots or shots with a dark backdrop.


The best kind of lighting to look for is natural light. Natural light bounces off the camera and makes sure that the subject has the most light from the front rather than the back. Natural light is also the option that doesn’t force you to buy lights or find another light source. If you’re not able to find natural light, your next best option is to have a lamp that you can position in the frame to provide a light source for your subject.


Another helpful tip for still life photography is to make sure you have a good setup. You want to make sure that you’ve set up everything for your shot the exact way you’d like it. This means the background, the lighting, the subject itself. Make sure that your subject is at the angle you think will work best. If you’re unsure about how to position your subject, try to imagine what it will look like at all angles, and then think of which one provides the image you would best like to capture.


Make sure your background provides enough light and doesn’t take away from the subject itself. Another important step to remember is being sure to only have in your frame what you want to be there. Take out anything that doesn’t work or shouldn’t be there.


Props are important too. If you’re taking food photos for example, make sure that the subjects in your background relate to only the food itself. This can be something as simple as propping up a vase in the background when capturing fruit, but be careful, and don’t add too much so that it takes away from the main subject. If you are capturing florals, make sure you don’t have too many or too little colors. Don’t add too many different items that could end up clashing with your focus.


This type of photography, to simply put, is the best and easiest to take a variety of pictures with. You can capture your subject at any angle because the only way for your subject to move is if you make it, which is very helpful. It’s best to have a mindset where you think of this photoshoot as trial and error. If one way doesn’t work, try again until you find one that does. This way you will take your time and not get frustrated while trying to capture the perfect image.


Remember that it’s all for fun. Nothing needs to be perfect, and the best way you’ll capture that image you want is to simply enjoy the process. Don’t stress yourself out, and just have fun.


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