Friday, October 16, 2015

7 tips for your still life photography.

Still life photography is the depiction of inanimate subject matter, most typically a small grouping of objects.


Strictly speaking not all the subjects for still life photography are inanimate. You could hardly define flowers, for example, as the inanimate objects.
There’s another word for still life art - nature-morte (literally translated from French as “dead-nature”).
And the following quote has been contributed to this question.

“Aren’t flowers alive? They have their breath and their health; they are gay and brilliant, or sad and dull; they are in constant motion, although it may be imperceptible, as they turn toward the light, separate to allow importunate branches to pass, droop in response to thirst, swell and spread in the caress of a beam of light. Flowers are not nature morte. There is no such thing as a nature morte.” (19th art historian and critic Théophile Thoré)


7 tips for still life photography.
1. Choose the subject.
The most common things for the still life photography are flowers and fruits. You might want to look around to find something else: vegetables and leaves, books and shells, pencils and cups, etc.
You could take a single object. You could combine objects of contrasting or complementary colors, different shapes and texture.


2. Choose the lighting.
You could use the natural light or experiment with alternative light sources such as lamps and candles. Side light is always preferable. It helps to create a dynamic variation between the shadows and the highlights.


3. Choose the angles.
You need to vary the angles and heights at which you are shooting not to receive a collection of the identical photos. You could look down or up the subject, shoot at the level of the subject.


4. Get a suitable backdrop.
You need to think what you’ll prefer. You might want to have a neutral background or a contrast background. So you might want to choose a large sheet of white or colored paper, painted wall or black velvet or something else.  Dispose your subject not too close to the background to avoid shadows on the background.


5. Create a strong composition.
Experiment: leave your subject alone; then add one more subject, move things, add another subject as a part of your composition. Ensure there are no distractions. Get close to fill the frame.


6. Be inspired by the masters.
Study the still life masterpieces, both in art (works by great still life painters, such as Van Gogh, Cézanne and Manet) and in photography (works by Irving Penn, Hiro, Edvard Weston). Observe their composition; learn how to use light and shadows, colors and textures. It will help you to be inspired.

The following quotes provide fascinating insight into how the artists felt about floral painting and the still life genre in general (it’s true for painting and for photography as well).

 “(A) painter can say all he wants to with fruit or flowers or even clouds.” (Édouard Manet)
 “ . . . I think that nothing is more difficult for a true painter than to paint a rose, since before he can do so, he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.” (Henri Matisse)
7. Keep on taking photos.
 Practice, practice and practice… and you will soon have a great still life photographs in your collection.


Thank you for reading! Feel free to share and to comment!
Stay tuned!