How To Create a Well Balanced Still Life Photographic Composition

Still life photography, more so than other types of photography, such as landscape or portraiture, gives the photographer more leeway in the arrangement of design elements within a composition.

Montecristi still finalweb

Greetings: I am going to begin to share some of the assignments that I give to my students in 2nd year photography University Level. There are lists of what to consider and how to proceed. I hope it provides some insight into the making of a Still Life Photograph. The still life above was done for a recent job here in Santa Fe NM. The Gourd still life was shot with an 8×10 and printed in Platinum and Palladium as were the Birds of Paradise still, Egg Press and Family Matters_quince family which was also hand colored with charcoal and pastels.

Natural Light Still life: Window light or ambient light from your chosen location. 3-Prints due…1 print-with Fruit as part of theme…1 print-with Flowers as part of the theme. You can treat the objects anyway you like…use your creativity and give it some thought before you start, remain open for new ideas during the process of composition and lighting. 1 Print-your choice of objects and or shooting your still life in the studio for those with studio access; or shooting a found still life. Print quality will be as important as the content of your imagery.

There are basically two types of Still Life’s, Found and Created. When most of us think of a still life photo, we generally think of a created still life where we build the entire composition–from choosing the most photogenic bowl, to what fruit to use, to how to position and light all the other elements. But, when you are walking down your favorite mountain trail and run across a fallen leaf sitting on a particularly attractive rock, that’s a still life, too.

© David Hoptman 2011
© David Hoptman 2011…..photo made with iPhone and fisheye lens

Still Life Photography is the depiction of inanimate subject matter, most typically a small grouping of objects. Still life photography, more so than other types of photography, such as landscape or portraiture, gives the photographer more leeway in the arrangement of design elements within a composition. Color, Texture, light and dark values are the ways in which an artist can create a mood or make a statement much like a poet can using the written word. It is your choice of objects, background, foreground, lighting, etc. which will convey the mood and reveal your intent with the creation of your still life images.

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