Become a Better Still Life Photographer

Still life photography has quickly emerged as one of the main areas of both professional and amauteur photography, perhaps in part due to the increasing popularity of platforms such as Instagram and Twitter.

However, what many people sometimes don’t realise is that taking good still life photographs is really quite skillful and to achieve good results, you need to have a little knowledge. Luckily, a little knowledge goes a long way and this article aims to provide you some ideas to help you get better at still life photography.

Light up your life, naturally

If you’ve done any kind of photography before, you’ll be fully aware how big an impact light can have on your end result. The slightest change in brightness can dramatically change the whole complexion of the photograph, so it goes without saying that understanding how light can impact your work is important.

You will get the best possible results if you use natural lighting as much as possible. Whilst you can try and manipulate lighting artificially to create the same impact, nothing comes close to the real thing. Drown your shots in natural life and they’ll thank you for it.

Different Angles

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received was from a veteran wedding photographer who told me to take as many shots from as many different angles as possible. The reason being, the one shot you think will be the money shot isn’t a lot of the time and it’s usually a random shot from a random angle that surprises you.

Inspire Yourself

If you’re struggling for ideas there’s a world of help at your fingertips. Instagram is a still life photographers dream and is packed full of still life images from some very talented photographers. Have a search and find some people whose photographs and style you like and follow them for never ending inspiration.

Take risks and try new things

Taking photographs is a creative process and although there’s a lot to learn in terms of equipment and settings, you will ultimately be creating a piece of art. Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new ideas and techniques, however ‘out there’ they are.

In 2009 I attended my local photography awards for the first time and the winner had taken a still life image and created an effect so interesting that no-one could work out what she did. Despite being asked hundreds of times, she wouldn’t tell anyone how she did it.

I met her again in 2010 and thought I’d chance my arm and see if she’d finally tell me how she did it. Her secret? A chrome toast rack. She’d taken photographs through a chrome toast rack using a compact macro lens which produced results that no one had seen before.

She didn’t pick this technique up in a magazine or blog, she just experimented and took a risk. And it paid off. You should do the same.

Choose a good surface

Some still life photographs could be greatly improved by choosing a better surface for the photograph. Again, there aren’t really any hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing a good surface, it just takes a little creativity. Try and use a surface that complements the shot and don’t be afraid to keep it simple and neutral if you need to.

Some simple ideas for a good surface include newspaper, colourful carpet tiles, wooden tables or chopping boards, grass, hay – you’re only limited by your imagination.

Practice….and then practice some more

Those that take the very best photographs have no doubt spent a lot of time practicing their technique. Unfortunately, there is just no substitute for practicing taking pictures, but it doesn’t have to be a chore, it might just take a little time.
The simple fact is, the more you practice, the better you will get.

All written content (and most images) in these articles are copyrighted by the authors. Copyrighted material from Apogee Photo Mag should not be used elsewhere without seeking the authors permission.

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