Shooting still life is an art within itself. Styling anything for photos is an art within itself. Many times we as photographers are asked to do both. However, don’t despair. If you have a little creativity and a decent eye you can create some great images with every day items.
Here is an example from a recent shoot I completed.
This project was showcasing a luxury wallet brand to entice a viewer or potential customer with a more worldly image. My thought process was that luxury equals travel. Going from that first thought I put the monkeys in my head to work. What signifies travel? Well, a passport for one. What else? Maybe a nice watch and nice pair of sunglasses? Sure! Ok. Let’s put those together. But something was missing. I couldn’t just shoot these items on my coffee table and be done with it. I remembered that I had a nice little box with a pretty swell map printed on it. The box had no branding (keep in mind that if you’re shooting for a specific company – not to show any other branding in your photos. It’s confusing to the audience and would probably piss off your client.)
You don’t have to go crazy styling something for the first time. Think on your feet a bit and figure out what you have around you that would compliment your images.
Here is a simple example. These headphones were shot for another client of mine and simply by placing the two color product on a lit up sound board made for an interesting and appealing image. A good still life photo speaks to you like a well presented plate at a restaurant. Even if you didn’t know that was a sound board you got the impression that these headphones are being used for some kind of production work. The rest is up to the viewer’s imagination.
Using somewhat found items definitely gives your images a more home grown feel which is what you want to achieve with most still life.
Here is another example using the same wallet. In this image we give the viewer the idea that whoever owns this wallet is at some kind of bar and drinking whiskey either after a long day or on the way somewhere. This simple setup conveys many different ideas to the viewer. I shot this on my wooden dining room table and no whiskey was injured in the making of this photo.
Here is an actual image shot in a bar for another client. We were fortunate enough to have the bar’s owner sign off on us using the space during off hours. Shooting in an actual bar could yield some amazing results. This still life shot was done with natural light.
The textures of the bar plus the bottles in the background really shine through. For this setup I used the bottle itself and some hot peppers in a shot glass as the alcohol itself is one the spicier side.
Try and take some photos with any items you like to look at home and surrounded them with colors and pieces that blend with that item. It can be a fun experiment!