Still Life Photography Page 2

Challenge Yourself
You can use any object or group of objects to create a still life. Flowers, fruit, and vegetables are popular subjects and easy to obtain. You can also create a good still life with some of your own personal belongings. This also allows you to make a personal statement. A cherished necklace, a favorite article of clothing, sporting equipment, or a collection of memorabilia can say a lot about who you are. Challenge yourself by gathering objects to create your own still life image--think about what interests you and use that as your theme.

If your hobby is photography, use your camera, a roll of negatives, some prints and a few of your favorite accessories as props. This self-assignment can be an experiment in light, shape, color, and composition, as well as
an opportunity to express your own imagination.

Reader photo by Jan Stadelmyer, Bellwood, PA

Equipment & Backdrops
Most pros use elaborate studio setups for their still lifes, but you can do this yourself on a smaller scale at home. Invest in a yard or two of cloth from a fabric store, or purchase backdrop paper (known as "seamless") which is available in many camera and art stores. This will give you a more-professional looking, uncluttered background. You may also want to shoot your subject(s) on a tabletop or another surface draped with fabric.

I recommend using light from a window or ambient room light instead of your camera's flash. You'll get much more pleasing light than with the harsh illumination that on-camera flash provides (unless you have a means of using off-camera lighting). A sheet of white cardboard or Fome-Cor can be used as a reflector to fill in the shadows.

Natural outdoor settings work well for some objects, like an arrangement of shells on a beach. When shooting outdoors, utilize the more-flattering illumination of early or late sunlight, or the soft light of an overcast day.

Four Tips In Brief
· Collect still life images that you admire.
· Assemble personal objects to create a unique still life statement.
· Keep compositions simple.
· Utilize backdrop elements and lighting to produce strong still life photos.