You might be surprised to hear that still life photography is actually very easy to do. Some people are weary of it, thinking they need to find the perfect object in the perfect lighting conditions, but the reality is that pretty much anything will do. Indeed, renowned still life photographer Charles Nucci believes it is not only an easy form of photography, but one that everyone should try. This is because there is an endless choice of subjects, ranging from natural objects like leaves to manmade objects like nails, and because taking good still life shots teaches you a lot about photography and how it works.
8 Tips to Make Sure Your Still Life Ends up Great
- It is all about planning. Don’t pick your camera up until you know what you want to do. Have a sketch of your setup in place, think about where you will put your lighting, know what you want to photograph and what effect you’re going for, and so on.
- Set your shot up so that it looks the way you have imagined it. Make sure you get everything you want in the shot set up before you place your subject on it. Every object in the shot should be placed very precisely and you should test whether the lighting works. If you use natural light, for instance, you may have to move things about so that shadows don’t overcast your subject.
- Place your subject in your shot and look at it from a distance. Do the standard photograph frame with your thumb and finger, so that you can see what it will look like, determining whether that’s what you’re aiming for.
- Use a frame within a frame if you want to really catch the eye, and test out vignette effects as well.
- Check that your white balance is right for the lighting conditions of your set. If you use tungsten lighting, this is doubly important.
- Take as many pictures as you possibly can. Click and click again, from different angles and positions. All photography is now done with DSLRs, so as long as you have a good memory card, you shouldn’t have to worry about taking too many shots. As you get better, you will find that you don’t need to take as many anymore.
- Analyze your shots every once in a while so that you know whether you’re on the right track. Remove anything that didn’t work and use that as a lesson to learn what not to do.
- Transfer your photographs onto your computer and play about with your photo editing software before producing your end result. Post-production is very important, and a great opportunity to perfect your shots. Once you are more experienced, you may not need to edit and retouch as much, so it is also a great measure of how your skills are improving.
As you can see, still life photography is not that hard. It is just quite a lot of work. However, as you get better, you will also get quicker.