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Learn the art of still life photography

Interesting still life shots are all around us

Still life photography is a great starting point for beginners. It’s so much easier get to grips with your camera without the pressure of impatient models waiting for you to, ‘Just take the picture!’ There’s no need for a studio and everything usually pretty portable. Use this to your advantage and see your photography skills come on in leaps and bounds.

Simple set ups

Look around your home for interesting artefacts to photograph. Remember, it’s often the simplest set ups that make the most impact. Even the most unlikely items can become eye-catching images, especially if you put together a bizarre mix of things you wouldn’t normally expect to find together.


Act on instinctWait for it

Artistic inspiration

Take a look at the classical composition of great still life painters, such as Van Gogh, Manet and Cézanne. Observing how they turned everyday items, into something far more magical, is a fantastic way to get a feel for photography. When your own images start taking on an artistic feel you know you're on to something!


Put your skills to the test by transforming what you consider to be everyday objects into exciting images.

Compare composition

Playing with your composition, by just slightly moving a single item, can make all the difference. Likewise, experiment with leaving your subject matter alone and moving your camera instead. Compare and contrast the results on your computer screen, where you can really appreciate the subtle differences. It’s a brilliant way to begin to see what works and why.

Learn about light

If you can move your set up around, see how different light conditions alter the look and feel of your photographs. Try side, front and back lighting your subject. Compare natural daylight with flash. It’s also worth noting the different exposures required.


Eye fro detail
Mixture of monochrome
Eye for detail

Bright ideas

Still life is an ideal way to learn about studio lighting. If you’re not ready to invest in extra bits of expensive kit just use a desk lamp. Experiment with diffusing the light using white paper or coloured sheets of plastic. You can also try using a reflector, or white card, to bounce light back on the scene.

Everyday objects

Put your skills to the test by transforming what you consider to be everyday objects into exciting images. Practice shooting tricky reflective surfaces, such as metal and glass. Try taking the same shots using different backgrounds for a different effect. Think about adding other elements, such as water droplets or a strong contrasting colour. Thought still life was dull – think again!




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