Still life photos are akin to fine art. The style dates back centuries. Right back to the days when paintings of fruit bowls and flowers in vases were a thing. The same style is an entire genre in modern photography, just not with bowls of fruit. Things can be far more interesting.
Unlike with landscape photography, still life photography has the advantage of being able to manipulate objects rather than relying solely on the camera settings. You can’t move a mountain, but you can move a backdrop and the lighting illuminating objects to be photographed.
Three things play a pivotal role in still life photos. Light, composition, and the depth of field. Each can be manipulated to change how any object is perceived in a photo.
If you ever considered photography as a hobby but found the pricing of gear expensive, still life photography is the most affordable style to get started. The camera on your phone gets a lot more interesting with the addition of a simple light reflector and a phone tripod.
3 Tips to Take Still Life Photos Worth Printing for Display
Minimise reflection of clear or glass objects
Taking pictures of glass or crystal is always a problem because it is a reflective surface. You can minimise the reflections by balancing the light source. A little bit of backlight combined with some side-on lighting, then snap the picture from the front.
The balance of light reduces the reflectiveness and adds a little subtle depth to the picture.
Add texture with textiles
Textiles can make good budget-friendly photo props. A silk sheet, a lace tablecloth, or a fluffy throw. Ruffle them and use them as the base to place items on. Add in the objects you want to photograph, experiment with light sources from different directions, stand back and take the snap.
Where textiles play a big role is in the shadows they create. When looking at digital photos on a screen, a lot of times the product is the focus, but there is no background. Still life photos taken with directional lighting creates the shadow. Textile bases highlight the shadow and that can create the illusion of height. The closer the light source is, the bigger the shadow will be. The distance of directional lighting is another thing to experiment with in still life photography.
Compilations are artistic creations
Single inanimate objects are where most still life photographers begin. As with anything, practice makes better, and the best way to practice is through experimentation.
Go beyond the single still life photos by compiling a collection of objects. As an example, a few tumblers, a wine bottle, a cheese board, and a serving tray with a couple of bowls of snacks laid out on a coffee table could be just the type of photo to have printed to canvas for an above sofa display. Some of the best artistic prints are the ones that provoke thoughts. The more elements there are captured in a photo, such as shapes, textures, light, and shadows, the more interesting prints become.