Still-Life, Product, and Food Photography

Although still-life, product, and food photography are three different types of photography, inherently they are very similar. With each one, you take a picture of a nonmoving subject, so many of the same techniques can be applied. Unlike concert or event photography, photography with stationary subjects allows you to create a scene rather than just capture it; it's up to you to build the composition starting with the background. Often this requires changing the lighting numerous times, moving the objects around, and adjusting the camera settings to achieve the desired effect.


A still-life photograph can be as simple or complex as you make it. This is a very simple arrangement that took only a few minutes to set up and shoot. Exposure: ISO 320 (Auto ISO), f/5.6, 1/80 second using a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC lens at 35mm.

The Basics

Three basic elements go into any still-life photograph: background, composition, and lighting. These three elements must work together if the image is to be successful. Before getting started on your own images, you may want to research some famous still-life photographers to see how they worked within these elements.

Edward Weston is one of the best-known still-life photographers of the twentieth century. His images were very simple and relied heavily on the form of the subject to make the composition ...

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