Still Life Photography – The Ultimate Guide to Get Started

Still life photography is one of the oldest photographic practices. It is a fundamental skill that every photographer must acquire. All kinds of static objects are the main subject of still-life photography. It can be absolutely anything we encounter in our day-to-day life, such as a fruit basket on a table. Only the vision and creativity of shutterbugs matter.

With the advancement of technology, small business websites, galleries, magazines, and catalogs need more product photos to display. As a result, attractive representation gains attention towards products and increases sales.

That’s why still life photography is becoming very demanding and famous. Still life photography, In fact, is the best way for beginner-level photographers to start with. Everything around him is the subject of this photograph. His creative vision and artistic goals will definitely find a way to shine through still-life photography.

However, there are some photographic techniques and primary use of equipment one requires to take a wonderful photo. Therefore, we are providing a complete pack of guidelines for getting started.

What is Still Life Photography?

Still life photography is the photography of everyday objects which are organized and designed to attract the eyes. It actually does not require so much equipment. Instead, it requires very little equipment, and someone doesn’t have to be a master of photography to take still life shots.

So, one can definitely start still life photography as a beginner.

Still Life Photography

Still life photos are more like paints. These photos are the still life composition of some still objects. Some specified objects are the only things required to take the image, so one can have all the time in the world to perfect his vision.

So you have to set up the objects, however, and whichever way you want, all that matters is that one masterpiece you’re looking for. It gives still life photographers full control of technological tools to practice until they get what they want.

Different Types of Still Life Photography

Still life photography has a variety of subject matters. Almost all the things we have around us can be an object of still-life photography. Starting from natural elements to human-made products, everything falls into its range. Such subject matters can be divided into subcategories.

Here are some different types of still life photography depending on the styles and subjects.

Product Photography

Product Photography

Product photography is kind of huge. It can be any kind of product headset, food items, clothes, technological tools, inanimate objects, etc. The main goal of product photography is to show off a particular product in the best way.

Product photos are generally evident and focus on providing a good idea about the product without any kind of distraction in the image.

Besides, the eCommerce marketplace is crowded. Moreover, Finding eCommerce product photography clients is not a more challenging task.

Food Photography

Food photography is one of the most popular subcategories. It may have a close relationship with photography. The main motto is to represent the food in the most attractive way to attract the consumers’ attention.

Tabletop Photography

Tabletop Photography

Actually, it starts with tabletop photography. When we think of still-life photography, tabletop photography is the first thing that comes to mind.

In this category, the small objects that fit on a table are chosen for the shooting. There is no particular restriction on picking objects; it can be absolutely anything as long as it serves the photographer’s desire.

If you have interests in this niche, this article may help

Antique Photography

Antique Photography

Inanimate ancient objects are considered the subject matter of antique photography. It’s all about representing those old-time objects more attractively. It aims to evoke a sense of nostalgia by incorporating antique or retro items. Vintage props and lighting techniques are used to create a timeless and nostalgic mood.

Minimalist Still Life

Minimalist Still Life

Minimalist still life photography simplifies compositions to the bare essentials. It often features a single object or a small number of objects against a plain or minimal background, emphasizing simplicity and elegance.

Abstract Still Life 

Abstract Still Life 

Abstract still-life photography involves arranging objects in a way that emphasizes their shapes, colors, and textures rather than their actual identity. The goal is to create visually interesting and often non-representational compositions.

Macro Still Life

Macro Still Life

Macro photography involves extreme close-ups of small objects, often revealing intricate details that are not visible to the naked eye. This style is often used to capture the beauty of small objects like jewelry, insects, or flowers.

Surreal Still Life

Surreal Still Life

Surreal still-life photography explores dreamlike or otherworldly concepts by combining ordinary objects in unusual or unexpected ways. This style often blurs the line between reality and fantasy.

Vanitas Still Life

Vanitas Still Life

Originating in 17th-century Dutch painting, vanitas still life photography incorporates symbolic elements like skulls, hourglasses, and decaying objects to convey the idea of the impermanence of life and the inevitability of death.

Contemporary Still Life

Contemporary Still Life

Contemporary still-life photography pushes the boundaries of traditional still life by experimenting with unconventional subjects, lighting, and compositions. It often incorporates modern or pop culture elements.

Environmental Still Life

Environmental Still Life

This style connects the natural elements, such as rocks, plants, and water, along with man-made objects. Its main object is to showcase the interaction between human-made items and nature with an environmental message.

Narrative Still Life

Narrative Still Life

Narrative still life photography signifies a story or a message through the arrangement of objects. It usually involves props and symbols that represent a specific concept or theme.

Seasonal Still Life

Seasonal Still Life

Seasonal still-life photography captures scenes and objects associated with particular seasons, such as holiday decorations, summer fruits, or autumn leaves.

Still Life Photography Career Opportunities

The internet is the biggest source of still life photography ideas and opportunities. As the internet is spread worldwide, online shopping for online-based small businesses is spreading rapidly. Along with that, demand for this type of photography is also increasing.

So emphasizing still lifes photography can be a great idea. Once you have got the photo you are looking for, you just need to share it in photography libraries.

Still Life Photography Career

Even if you can sell your pictures on Envato’s stock photography, PhotoDune marketing, an excellent portfolio website to showcase your works, is the center of still life photographers’ marketing strategies. It’ll help you to advertise yourself, then your presence in the market will be more robust.

Clients are always looking for creative workers who come up with something new and serve them with specific services. Such types of portfolio websites are Behance, Dribble, and Pixpa. Creative pros around the world widely use Pixpa.

You can create Client galleries, eCommerce, and blogging tools that enable you to access your profile comfortably to establish a strong presence.

How to Get Started With Still Life Photography?

For professional still-life photography, some expensive equipment is required. But one can still manage to take beautiful images using some basic photography equipment, and you can take the photos in the corner of your living room.

To keep your cost low, you can use crafting DIY accessories and solutions, and obviously, there will be your creativity that will make the image unique.

How to Start Still Life Photography

A list of required equipment stated here is mostly needed for starting that type of photography and…

Otherwise, a recommendation also shows the different types of equipment that will make your photography even more standardized.

Required equipment for getting started in still life photography:

  1. A digital camera or any type of camera. You can also use your cell phone camera to meet the required resolution quality of a standard camera.
  2. Reflector boards: you can create your reflector by using tin foil and cardboard. Small silver and white reflectors are used to bounce backlight into the scene.
  3. Different types of colorful material make a beautiful background for your photo.
equipment for still life photography

Some recommended equipment for professional still-life photography:

  1. One Tripod stands for the camera. You may need another tripod stand to hold your flashgun.
  2. A telephoto lens, a Matco lens, a fast normal lens. A close-up lens can be used instead of a macro lens.
  3. Softbox for flashgun. You can use Stand-mount softboxes also for some specific shots. You may need a mini softbox. I will recommend Lastolite Ezybox Speedlite 22×22 cm. It’s a comparatively cheaper softbox and a good one to use.
  4. Flashgun with a wireless trigger to enable flash off-camera.

Still Life Photography Tips for Beginners to Start

Still Life Photography Tips

A product can change the lifestyle. In that sense, a product has its lifestyle. For example, a photographer must follow some tricks while starting photography on a still picture-based project.

So, beginners go through some common mistakes when they start still life photography for the first time. However, having basic ideas and tricks may help them avoid those misunderstandings. So here are some of the tips that you must keep in mind when you’re taking your first still-life photoshoot.

Understanding Light Effects on Different Objects

Understanding light effects on different objects is significant. For example, suppose you light your things from the side angles. It provides comparatively more interesting photos than the usual photos we take, lighting the object head-on.

Besides lighting from different angles bringing out different textures and colors, it also creates a brighter focal point on one side of an image that gives a unique touch to your work.

Thinking and Planning

Thinking and planning for still life photography

Thinking and planning for a great shot is half of your work. As still life photography provides many objects to work on, it is very easy to lose focus.

For that reason, you should think about the object you’re going to use on your photoshoot, think of the background you’re going to use for that particular object, lighting, and camera. These are the most common things that you must keep in your planning.

Pick an Object

Pick an Object

Pick an object that touches you. Such objects will give you extra comfort to work on them, and you will surely come up with something extraordinary.

Using Tripods and Lighting

Using Tripods and Lighting

Get comfortable with using tripods and lighting. Lighting is the most significant part of still life photography. Mastering tripods will allow you to take more shots from different angles.

Satisfying Situation

Satisfying Situation

Sometimes, a satisfying shot requires a lot of time. In such a situation, you must take all day over as long as you don’t get the shot you wanted.

Learn from Others

Before putting your knowledge to work, it is also necessary to learn from others. In that sense, you must always observe others’ results to understand.

Choosing Objects Together Visually

Choosing Objects Together Visually

When choosing objects for photo shooting, always try to pick things that go together visually. As an example, if you’re working on an antique or classical object, you should consider keeping an old environment around that object just to make sure things are working perfectly together.

Also, you can use things that match by color or relate to something.

Naturalistic Looks

Naturalistic Looks

Naturalistic looks always make things more unique. In such a sense, if you are thinking of taking a photo under the sunlight near your window, you should not expose the object directly to the sunlight because the light will be raspy, so you have to use white curtains.

Experiment with Depth

Experiment with Depth

Experiment with depth of field. You can focus on a tiny point of your frame rather than focusing on the entire frame. It will surely bring a dramatic change in your composition. One thing you need to remember. Many cameras are designed to focus on the human face automatically. In that case, you have to use manual focusing.

Adding Motion

Adding Motion to still life photo shooting

Adding Motion is a different type of still life photo shooting. Generally, still-life objects are just still, but you can add Motion to your objects. It will definitely be something interesting.

Still Life Photography Ideas and Poses

If you start still life photography, you may encounter so many things around you that may lead you to distraction. So here are some of the best ideas that will nourish your creativity.

start still life photography

#01: Built a mindset of discovering new ideas. You can follow a more common or traditional way to do things, such as fruit in a bowl or lighting an object head-on. These are obvious things to do. Therefore, you must try something creative.

There are many great still life photography examples online where they have used objects that you might have yet to think of. Such objects can be tools, moldy food, a melting popsicle, leaves, the surface of water and oil, etc.

Still Life Photography Ideas

#02: Old and unique objects tend to be more attractive and exciting. Classical objects with scratches and worn out are better. This type looks attractive for its cracked and flaking surfaces and rusty texture.

Its damaged look amazes the eyes and leads us to think about what it has been through. So you must always keep your eyes open for such types of old objects around you.

#03: Sometimes, low-key images can be fantastic. Low-key photography shoots dark-colored senses and then only lights specific areas. These shots are the best ones to have attention on your subject as all the background remains dark except the only pitch where the subject matter stands.

#04: A flat-lay photoshoot is something that you must try. In a flat lay, composition objects are arranged on a table or a flat surface. The photo shoot takes directly from above. The flat lay composition is fun and easy to do. All the objects are positioned precisely where you want them to be in a single plane.

Common Mistakes and Solutions for Still Life Photo Shooting 

still-life photo shooting

Still-life photography is a form of photography technique that focuses the straightforward tasks, but there are some common mistakes that photographers often make when shooting still-life images. Here are some common mistakes and solutions for still-life photo shooting.

Distracting Background

Putting the subject in front of a distracting background. Subject material should be the center of your photo, drawing all the attention. So, you have to make sure that the background increases the beauty of your image without causing any distraction.

The best way to avoid background distraction is by choosing a plain-colored background. However, if you somehow can’t manage a pain color background, you can simply use white chart paper as the background. Besides, we offer background removal services that can help solve your problem faster.

As tabletop photography is a big part of still life photography, you must make sure that the table is covered with plain colored cloth or paper in such a situation. Keep in mind that the subject should be at the focus point, and it gets all the attention of a spectator.

Inappropriate Lighting

Sometimes, everything is just perfect in an image except the lighting. That is the most embarrassing moment. Although lighting is a crucial part of still-life photography, improper lighting can mislead the theme object and affect the texture, causing unwanted reflection.

Using LEDs and fluorescent tube lights hamper the natural looks of your subject.

To overcome this problem, you can use a natural light source, such as the outside of the home or by the side of an open window. Make sure the light highlights the subtle shadows and visible details.

You need to look for the light falling from the side, which makes it look more attractive. Here, you may consider taking a color correction service for a professional solution.

Miss Use of Lens

Still life photography is all about highlighting a simple every inanimate object attractively. You get your viewer’s attention by utilizing the shallow depth of field.

In terms of objects that hold many details, such as fruits, leaves, and flowers, you must come closer to the object and set the camera on AV mode, keeping the focal length as long as you can. If you want to focus on this type of detail work, you can go for a telephoto lens.

On the other hand, if you wish to capture a group of objects on a table, it is better to use a 50mm lens.

Following The Traditional Methods

In still-life photography, being experimental with your objects is necessary. Sometimes, being fastidious can really pay off.

When you’re in the usual photo shooting, you can place the objects differently. As well as you can give the entire setup a unique look. If something unusual happens, then you can take some photos with inconsistent angles of lighting, and you will definitely end up getting something interesting. It may only work for you sometimes, but it is an excellent way to discover something new.

Wrong Framing

Keeping some distracting objects in the frame or missing out on some part of the important object out of the frame. So, while photo shooting, it must be in your mind that the subject fills the frame perfectly and draws all the viewer’s attention.

Cropping and resizing using Photoshop can solve a problem like this. You can take our superb Photoshop image editing services if you are interested.


What is still life photography?

Still life photography is a type of photography that focuses on capturing photos of lifeless everyday objects.

How is still-life photography different from other photography?

Still-life photography is different from other photography because it focuses on lifeless objects but not on living objects like people, creatures, or landscapes.

What are some examples of this photography?

A table setting, a bowl of fruit, a bouquet, or exhibitions of ordinary objects like books, utensils, or family items are examples of still-life photography.

How can I improve my photography talents?

Learn more about still-life photography from various sources like photography books, online courses, blogs, and video tutorials, and practice more to improve your photography talents. 
You can experiment with different compositions, lighting setups, and angles. You can also explore the work of other photographers and practice regularly to refine your talent.

Which lenses are best for still-life photography?

The choice of lenses for still-life photography depends on personal preference and requirements. However, prime lenses such as 50mm or 85mm are commonly used for this photography due to their versatility.

What is the importance of composition in still-life photography?

Composition plays an important role in still-life photography as it helps to create harmony, balance, and visual interest in the image. By carefully arranging the objects, controlling the placement of elements, and considering the use of negative space, you can create a beautiful composition.

How can I shoot stunning still-life photographs in black and white?

To shoot stunning still-life photographs in black and white, you can focus on enhancing contrast, playing with shadows and highlights, and paying attention to textures and shapes. Black and white photography can add a timeless and artistic quality to still life images.


creative ideas

Always remember that if a shot requires more time, you should always give it more. Doing the job in a hurry just to do it. It will always fail to end up well.

You have to work on every angle and use your creative ideas. Still-life photography may seem very easy initially, but things get more complicated at a professional level.

Always bringing new ideas and observing others’ work along with this, you also have to know marketing. It can be online marketing or representing yourself to buyers or organizations and building links and other things.

Looking for something different or exceptional is always lovely, but one thing that is also true is that sometimes the most beautiful compositions are the simplest ones.

You may read:

Leave a Comment