5 Handy Tips For Beginner Still Life Photography

5 Handy Tips For Beginner Still Life Photography

Still life photography is popularly considered to be the oldest form of photography. It’s also widely believed to be the first photographic practice that originated right after the invention of the camera.

To be honest, there’s sound logic behind all such beliefs and assumptions. Previously, the making of a photograph required a very long exposure. Hence, static objects (or still life) were often chosen as the ideal form of the subject, and rightly so.

With the advancement of technology, the cameras developed considerably.

Nowadays, we can even capture a running cheetah in motion, thanks to the magic of the advanced shutter speed technology that comes with the camera itself. But the fascination of still life photography still remains the same.

Antique Camera

A still life photograph of an antique camera, a few reels of negative and a handful number of snapshots

If you are intrigued to start your career as a still life photographer, you need to know a few basic things in particular before delving deep into it. The following tips can come in handy for you.

          1.  Choose only those objects that you find interesting enough for a photograph

Unlike wildlife or landscape photography, still life photography doesn’t call for a subject in particular.

ANY subject is acceptable in still life photography starting from a spoon to a vase to coins to cameras and others.

But the advice is to go only for those that go easy on the eye or have an interesting background story (like an antique). Here’s an example for you:

Vintage Type Writer

A black and white photograph of a vintage type-writer

          2.  Make sure you have a decent background for your photograph

An attractive background is an absolute must in still life photography. You can use fabric, paper or even existing walls as backdrops to your photograph. The only trick is to use one that complements the image in the best possible manner.

A good background can really transform a still life photograph for the better or for the worst. Example:

Decent Background

A still life photograph of wine and maple (The background complements the image beautifully)

          3.  Use lighting to great effects

You don’t always have to use those expensive lighting equipment of the studio to inculcate the “wow” factor in your image. What you need is there in your eyes and your brain.

Anyway, here are a few tips for you that are related particularly to lighting in general:

  • You can use sunlight to great effects, provided you are in a position to use the same in your still life photographs (like while shooting outdoors). Case in point:

lighting to great effects

An outdoor still life photograph (captured in the sun)

  • Alternatively, standard table lamps can also come in handy for your still life photoshoot depending on the creative ways you use the light in your photographs. For example:

Clay Pot

A still life photograph of a clay pot (The lamp lighting is used to great effects)

          4.  Use a tripod for a steady shot

While doing still life photography, you would definitely want to reduce your camera shake in the best possible manner.

A tripod can easily be your best bet in such situations. Hence, here goes the advice for the umpteenth time yet again: USE A TRIPOD TO KEEP CAMERA SHAKE AT BAY.


A camera mounted on a tripod

          5.  Pay special attention to composition

The composition of a photograph is almost as important as that of its light.

Hence, you need to pay particular attention to it and fix it up to the best of your abilities. Remember, good composition skills go a long way in life, no matter what genre of photography you are involved in. It can sometimes make all the differences in the world without you even being aware of the same.

Tip: While doing still life photography, keep moving your arrangement around for more improvisations. Who knows? You may just find something extraordinary right out of the ordinary. Remember, almost all inventions and discoveries originated as a result of an accident. Maybe you can find one as well.


A still life photograph involving a variety of fruits, basket, flowers and a vase (The composition of the image complements it beautifully)


Still life photography doesn’t come with a set of rules of its own.

You are free to use your imagination as you see fit. So experiment and enjoy with your photoshoots. The only limitation you have is your imagination.


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