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Quick Guide to Still Life Photography

By Thursday, August 8, 2019 (MDT) 9 Comments

Today, former Creative Team Member, Beverly, is sharing her Quick Guide to Still Life Photography.

This is the second part in a series of Still Life Photography posts, and the last one in the series, though she might be back as a guest at some point. 

Quick Guide to Still Life Photography

This is the second part in a series of Still Life Photography posts.

1. Still Life Preparations

Considerations for set-up

  • Find a location with good light in your home and look for a window, or door, or even the garage floor with the door open.
  • Establish what will be the backdrop to your scene, such as cloth, paper or similar texture.
  • Determine direction of light, for example I tend to set up my scene with the light coming from the left side of the scene.

Create your set up.

  • Stage the scene based on a theme.
  • Gather a few items you cherish, and love, such as vintage bottles, antique dishes, tarnished silver, small family heirlooms, spools of threads, sewing items, hand made heirlooms, and flowers.
  • Create a focal point around your main featured item, such as a flower, stacked dishes, a pair of ladies gloves, or piece of jewelry.
  • Arrange supporting items around the focal point in a pleasing style.
  • Move pieces around after reviewing the scene.

Shoot Your Scene.

  • Begin taking photos.
  • The beauty of taking still life scenes is having the ability to retake it at will.

Note. My still scene consists of a few old china plates, cup, and tarnished butter dish, long silver teaspoons, and a long snippet of clematis vine.

Below is a “pull back” of my set-up, unedited.

This scene was set up on my enclosed back porch in the morning shade (west side of the house) with good side north light.

  • Layering up gives height and variation – The plates were stacked on a worn cutting board on top of a small hutch.
  • Greenery provides movement, texture and color – Notice how the greenery supports the silver spoons and butter dish.
  • Use texture and color variation to add interest – Create a hand painted canvas drop cloth by adding several coats of off white paint on a painters canvas.
  • Place items fairly close in proximity to each other to create connection and a cozy ‘clustered’ feel.
  • Shoot in manual, and with no flash, to avoid harsh color changes and unwanted cast shadows.

Edit in Photoshop or Lightroom.

  • Upload your photos into your editing software, review and tag your favorites. O
  • Note that once my favorites are selected, I delete all the others, to eliminate clutter in my Lightroom library.

Edited with a Lightroom preset, and cropped.

2. Through the Lens

Experiment with different angles.

  • Move your camera around the scene with your camera to find interesting angles.
  • Look from above and below.
  • Crouch low and climb tall.

Edited in LR with a preset for a moody tone

Shoot from above

Combine with DigitalART

Create a digital scrapbooking or photo artistry layout using a FotoInspired Template.

  • Clip the photos and DigitalART supplies of your choice to the masks in the template.
  • Embellish and add words to personalize as preferred.
  • See this post for further layout guidance.


In this tutorial, you learned how to:

  • Choose a location
  • Set up a still life scene
  • Review selected items
  • Take photos from different angles
  • Create a digital layout.


And if you liked this post, leave some love in the comments below.

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Anna Aspnes

Author Anna Aspnes

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