Still life photography depicts inanimate subject matter and has creative arrangement of things. It is the kind of photography that gives the photographer the freedom to set up the subject in a manner he wants. The photographer also have a lot of time to spend in taking pictures, thus, giving him more chances of taking a good shoot. But still life photography is also challenging for one has to make use of good lighting, good compositional skills and good angle. Every still life image has a story to tell. It depends on the photographer on how he can tell the story through images.

Undoubtedly, still life photography is an interesting field. Many amateur and professional photographers are into it. But for beginners, you might need a little input in order for you to come up with a good still life photograph. Today, we will be giving you a little help to serve as your benchmark in still life photography. The tips we have below can also aid you to ensure that your images will pop out a unique character. Here we go:

1. Think of a good concept.

Think of a good concept
Image: Carlo Pautasso

You can do this first in order to come up with a good result. Try to think of what story and message you want to convey. You can also think of certain colors that you want to use or textures that you can combine. This way, you will have an idea on what you kind of image you want to get and how you will design the set up.

2. Look for interesting subjects.

Look for interesting subjects
Image: Lotte Grønkjær

Look for something unique and simple. That would be good for the first shot. Avoid using glass and metal for it would be difficult for you to take a shot of it. Once you have mastered still photography, you can now combine various materials. Aside from looking for objects and arranging them for the purpose of photographing it, you can also look for some subjects that tell a story and looks interesting. Still life can also be done even outdoors as long as you can make still objects look alive. You do not necessarily set up your subject. Even those that are already there can be a good subject.

3. The location of set up.

The location of set up

If you think that you need to be in a studio in order to get a good result for still life photography, you are wrong. You can even so a set up at home. Look for a place in your home where there is good lighting. You can also place your subject in a table near a window or an open door. You can use thick curtain to block so much light.

4. Lighting.

Image: Andy Barnes

When you have chosen a location for your subject, you have considered the proper lighting that you would need. Look for a room that can give you ample light. If you want to block some light, you can use curtains. You can also use lamps if you want to. Try to position it in a manner you want to control the light on your subject. You can also use tin foil or a large white paper to add some reflection. Use side lights to give texture, shape and dimension to the subject. Lighting doesn’t need to be expensive. Also, don’t forget to consider your camera’s flash.

5. Choose a good background.

Choose a good background
Image: Ruta Korshunova

Make sure that your backdrop looks good on camera. No matter how beautiful your subject is, it would be worthless if your backdrop is crap. Use a simple backdrop so that the attention will be centered to your subject. You can look for a clean white wall or you may place a white sheet behind it. But if want to use a different color for your backdrop, look for one that is appealing and won’t steal the attention from the subject.

6. Image composition.

Image composition
Image: Ozure Flame

It is important to have the best composition for your image. You can do this by combining objects of various sizes, color and texture. Consider the amount of negative space that you will use. You may want to consider the rule of thirds to give it a nice look and a strong composition. See to it there are no distractions in the image.

7. Focus.

Image: Jjuuhhaa

In taking a picture of your subject, use a small aperture to increase the depth of field. This will make everything sharp. Try to get shots of different focus, too. This way, you can choose which ones look better. Also, make sure that you will not make it blurry due to some movements while taking the image.

8. Use a sturdy tripod.

Use a sturdy tripod
Image: Sven Fennema

You will not like it if your images have blurs. So, have a good support by using a tripod. This will help you to position the camera in the manner you want. You can also make sure that your still image would look good the way you want it. It can even save you from holding the camera for long hours.

9. Experiment shots.

Experiment shots
Image: Andy Barnes

Unlike other photography, you are given all the time to experiment various shots and angles in your subject. Adjust your lighting in different ways and try to check your shots which one looks best. This is the advantage of still life photography because your subject won’t get tired, won’t wear out and would always be there.

10. Look for inspirations.

Look for inspirations
Emma Crossland

Before you actually go into still life photography, you might want to be more inspired by looking into the works of renaissance still life artists. Their works can tell you what still life really means. Also, look into photography works of experts. Try to study on how these images where taken. This way, you will not only be inspired but you will also learn how to get great still life images. Look into the shades, the colors, the composition, the lighting, and everything that is in the picture. You can also observe that each one gives a unique story making it engaging.

It’s Your Turn Now

Seeing the images above would inspire anyone to take their own still life photographs. Still life images are indeed charming. What make them even more attractive are the stories that are seen behind each of them. Still life photography is not mere taking a picture of a subject but it is giving life to objects that are still. Have you tried doing still life photography? Would like to share some important points to us?

Ebrian Acebedo

About the author: A Licensed Medical Practitioner who apparently likes web design and business.


  1. Wow! I am a beginner and I am glad that I got to read your guidelines here! Thanks

  2. Great suggestions and I absolutely love the bleeding heart flower photograph.

  3. I like the experiment shots! The color is great and the life is really there.

  4. There’s more to still life photography when it’s given more effort.

  5. Still life isn’t plainly still life… How you take it opens a door to understanding your subject.

  6. Thanks for these insights! I’m still a baby in Photography. I would need this..

  7. Yes, i have to agree. I must add that one has to make sure he already knows all the buttons on the camera so to be able to get a confident shot on a subject.

  8. When into Still Life Photography, make sure that you also choose a good camera. Check the features. The ISO Settings will help a lot in getting the perfect color of your subject.

  9. There’s beauty in every still life photography subject. But it would depend on how they were taken.

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