Still Life Photography: Definition, Techniques & Examples

Instructor: Anne Butler

Anne has a bachelor's in K-12 art education and a master's in visual art and design. She currently works at a living history museum in Colorado.

One of the most interesting types of photography is the still life. Any gathering of objects or random assortment of items can become a still life. This lesson examines the two types of still life photography.

Social Media Shooters

If you're a user of the popular app Instagram, you have probably seen countless pictures of people's meals, which is an example of still life photography. The perfect combination of light and your latte? Also a still life.

When you've decided you want to take a still life photograph, you should then decide which type of still life photograph you would like to create.

Found versus Created

There are two types of still life photography, found and created. Found still life photographs are random collections of things that are arranged without any outside help, meaning you don't move them to make your picture look the way you want it. Some examples of this would be: a yellow leaf against the brown dirt, products arranged in an outdoor market, or even junk that has been placed aside a dumpster.

Found Still Life

Found Still Life
slife 2

Created still life photographs are photographs of objects that you've arranged to look a certain way. Created still life photographs can have a theme, such as objects or colors. Perhaps you like the way a bunch of blue cups look on a table or the contrast of silver utensils on a brown table. As long as you rearrange or move things to get the desired picture, then it is considered a created still life.

Created Still Life
created s life 1

Created Still Life
created life 2


Once you've decided what kind of still life photograph you want to take, then you can play around with lighting and angles. If you are taking a found still life photo, then move around your subject until you find an angle you like. There's not a lot you can do regarding lighting with a found still life, but having an attachable flash (or using your built-in camera flash) sometimes helps add extra light to your photograph.

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