Photographing Objects for Still Life

A photograph of sunglasses against a tropic background

Still life photography is the oldest photographic practise: when photography was invented, taking a picture needed extremely lengthy exposures, therefore motionless items were the ideal subject. However, as technology progressed, the passion in capturing still life persisted, and it remains one of the most lively photographic arts—and lines of photographic work—on the market today.

Still life photography may be a successful business at the top end, as product images are required by publications, catalogues, art galleries, and websites. Working with still life has a lot of benefits that are sometimes overlooked, so maybe after watching this video you'll be able to recognise its creative potential and start capturing some images yourself.

It's entirely up to you what you shoot. Look around the home to see if you can come up with something basic yet fun to start with. Please don't feel obligated to snapshots of fruit or flowers just because everyone else does; be creative without being unduly ambitious.

Take something home with you if anything strikes your interest while you're out and about (don't steal it!) or make a mental note of it to attempt shooting it in a still life setting. To begin, stay away from reflecting materials like glass and metal since these will make lighting exceedingly difficult.

Practice makes perfect

You don't need a studio or a beautiful setting to get started with still life photography, contrary to popular belief. You may start with a modest setup at home, such as a table beside a window, a simple backdrop, and a couple of lamps.

Landscape or portrait photography, in which you are given the subject matter, such as a beautiful mountain view or a model, comes with a lot of variables, but the creative material is there in front of you, differs dramatically.

With still life photography, there are far fewer variables. As the photographer, you have complete control over the situation, including the subject matter, but you need to think extremely creatively in order to capture it in an interesting and engaging way.


Seeing does not have to be costly. I know that a set of studio lights isn't in my budget, so for still life pictures, I have to make do with whatever light I can get my hands on, which frequently means sunshine.

Remember that you have entire control over the shoot, so select a space where you can block off all-natural light with shutters or drapes, giving you perfect control over the light falling on your subject.

When utilised properly, conventional table lights may be incredibly effective. Make careful to experiment with different lighting setups; not all of the light needs to come from the front of the item; side and backlighting will give interest, shadows, and depth to the photo. Alternatively, find a room with plenty of natural light and take advantage of it. Natural light from one side will illuminate your subject completely, and you may supplement it with a lamp or reflector.


A tripod and shutter release may or may not be necessary depending on your lighting environment. These are highly recommended since they allow you to observe and work with your topic matter. This setup will also allow you to shoot at somewhat slower shutter rates than typical in order to achieve a tiny aperture and keep the image in focus from front to back.

Make careful you photograph from a variety of angles and heights. Try shooting from the subject's level or from a bird's eye view, gazing down on the subject, but be cautious not to cast any shadows on your subject if you're moving around.


Choosing the right backdrop for your subject will make or break the overall success of your photographs. It's preferable to keep it basic so it doesn't distract from your main point. A huge sheet of white or plain coloured paper, or a simple painted wall, would be great.

Consider how your backdrop contrasts with the topic; do you want a neutral background or are there tones that might complement the hues in your subject? You may not need a backdrop for smaller things, but rather a platform to set them on, which something like black velvet is great for because it absorbs light and appears to be a solid black surface.


The compositional aspect of your still life work is critical to ensure that your work is interesting and unique. Consider how you may apply the rule of thirds to your shot to create a good composition. Make sure there are no other elements in the frame beside the subject and the background.

Vary the subject matter's composition during the shot and think beyond the box. Within the image, where are you guiding the eye? Are you going to use negative space or will you strive to fill the frame? Engage with the topic; what are its distinguishing characteristics? What is its purpose? Is it possible to place it into context, or does it stand on its own?