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Still Life Photography:
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Challenge Yourself
You can use any object or group of objects to create a still life. Flowers, fruit, and vegetables are popular subjects and easy to obtain. You can also create a good still life with some of your own personal belongings. This also allows you to make a personal statement. A cherished necklace, a favorite article of clothing, sporting equipment, or a collection of memorabilia can say a lot about who you are. Challenge yourself by gathering objects to create your own still life image—think about what interests you and use that as your theme.

If your hobby is photography, use your camera, a roll of negatives, some prints and a few of your favorite accessories as props. This self-assignment can be an experiment in light, shape, color, and composition, as well as
an opportunity to express your own imagination.

Reader photo by Jan Stadelmyer, Bellwood, PA

Equipment & Backdrops
Most pros use elaborate studio setups for their still lifes, but you can do this yourself on a smaller scale at home. Invest in a yard or two of cloth from a fabric store, or purchase backdrop paper (known as “seamless”) which is available in many camera and art stores. This will give you a more-professional looking, uncluttered background. You may also want to shoot your subject(s) on a tabletop or another surface draped with fabric.

I recommend using light from a window or ambient room light instead of your camera’s flash. You’ll get much more pleasing light than with the harsh illumination that on-camera flash provides (unless you have a means of using off-camera lighting). A sheet of white cardboard or Fome-Cor can be used as a reflector to fill in the shadows.

Natural outdoor settings work well for some objects, like an arrangement of shells on a beach. When shooting outdoors, utilize the more-flattering illumination of early or late sunlight, or the soft light of an overcast day.

Four Tips In Brief
• Collect still life images that you admire.
• Assemble personal objects to create a unique still life statement.
• Keep compositions simple.
• Utilize backdrop elements and lighting to produce strong still life photos.

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