Whether you are a food photographer, jewelry photographer or tabletop photographer, still life photography can be a lucrative business when done professionally. You can use it to take stock photos, product photos or do catalog work. It can be the niche in the world of art that you can use to make a name for yourself. If you are interested in still life photography and want to master its skills, here we have some tips that will guide you:
If you are only now starting with still life photography, you do not have to rent a studio or buy the most expensive camera out there. Start simple. Get yourself a digital camera, a tripod, a flash gun and a softbox. You can splurge and invest in a professional macro lens for sharp, high resolutions images, especially if you are interested in selling your work. You will also need reflectors, so get at least a white and a silver one. Any additional props, you can find lying around your house. As for the location of the shoots, you can start in your living room by the window.
Keeping it simple
Still life photography relies heavily on simplicity and minimalism because you would not want to take away the attention from the object of the photo. So follow along and keep it simple. For example, use a white paper backdrop for clean smooth results or a black velvet one for an edgy shoot, as black velvet will absorb the light and let the focus be on the object you are photographing. You can, of course, use other colors and materials as you go just do not let them steal the show. As for the props you are using, also go minimal. Do not overwhelm the photo with redundant items. “Less is more” is key here.
Taking your time
Do not rush your shoots with still life photography. You do not have to worry that the model will be bored or that the weather condition will go bad so take your time with the shoot. The greatest advantage of still life photography is that you are in control of the elements around you unless you are relying on daylight of course. Therefore, try different angles until you find the best and experiment with colors, shapes, and shades. Still life photography is a process that requires patience and an attentive eye for details so give it your all because when done properly the results are rewarding.
Experimenting with light
Light can make or break your shoot. So take your time understanding it and the shadow it casts because when you do understand its effects, you will master it. Do not be afraid, it is no big deal, it just needs some time, patience, and a lot of experimenting. Additionally, you do not have to buy the most expensive studio lights. You can rely completely on natural light or a simple lamp. It is worth noting that the source of lighting does not have to always come from the front of the object. Keep moving it or the objects itself until you find the shade/light balance you favor the most.
Composing the shoot
All the elements and aspects mentioned so far have to be cohesive to give you the perfect results. Here is where compositional elements come into play. When setting the shoot, you need to align the props you are using in a way to make the results engaging and unique at the same time. For example, you can use the “frame within the frame” composing technique to focus on the object you are photographing even further. Another great technique is the “rule of thirds” to avoid distractions in the frame and to achieve a better balance. However, be sure to switch between the techniques you are using to avoid similar results. Other great examples you can use include leading lines, the rule of odds or fill the frame. You can also employ negative space to create a sense of simplicity and balance.
Planning the shoot
The technical aspects of photography sometimes might overshadow the creative artistic ones. So take your time looking at your object through each and every one of them. Plan your shoot beforehand, sketch it or write down any ideas you have. Still life photography is an art so take your time weaving the story you want to narrate with the photos and let your imagination take over. Add and remove items from the photo, see which of them work together, experiment with the backdrops and strive to achieve harmony. Look for inspiration in magazines, paintings, movies or simply in nature. Study the still life paintings that were done during the Renaissance by the masters for more inspiration.
Now that the photos were taken, half the job is done. It is time for post-production. Editing is a crucial part of photography so do not shy away from it. If you do not have the appropriate skill, register in an online course that teaches photo editing because you are going to need it. Programs like Adobe Lightroom can give you still life photos the finishing touches they need to look professional.