Still Life


Still life is a form of photography that requires the use of only objects, in close arrangement. Objects can vary from fruit, flowers, household objects, food and drink etc. Still life is used in advertising and product photography, they are non animated and no not move i.e. not human form and do not move.


For the purpose of this study the following question(s) were addressed:

  1. Does it necessarily need to be composed in a studio under studio lighting?
  2. How can arrangement effect the final appearance of a still life image?



Still life images can be produced anywhere and achieved under any lighting circumstances, not just that of a studio. It is the complexity of the arrangement and the choice of objects that compose the image and make it aesthetically pleasing.



Photographer’s Josef Sudek and Paulette Tavormina are inspirational still life photographers that have produced awe-inspiring work to take inspiration from.

Paulette Tavormina:

This work holds similarity with Rembrandt’s still life painting due to the low light and almost tungsten appearance. The images seem to have a grain form, which resembles paint rather than real life objects.



Josef Sudek:

Sudek was famous for his works taken from out of his window as he was a recluse but this provides evidence to show natural lighting can be used to produce effective still life photographs, rather than artificial lighting.



I decided to compose my own still life shoot using only natural light coming in through the window. I gathered and arranged my set on a window sill using items found around the house. I composed the shoot on a bright day so that the subject was illuminated well coming from behind the subject.

I was not very pleased with the aesthetic of my first shoot as the foot was cut off slightly on the boots. However, I re-shot the image resulting in a more pleasing composition. I have also created an image into black and white, digitally, as I believe this tone of image holds more resemblance to Tavormina’s and Sudek’s work. Although, I do like the colour version due to its vibrancy and I have handed the image in in colour.



However, not all still life remains still. During research and through experience it is sometimes hard to keep objects in place. I.e. shooting a glass of champagne has bubbles in it that are constantly moving, steam, condensation or melting ice etc.




Still life photography proves to be much easier than working with models for example, as the subject or arrangement is composed exactly how you like it without any unpredictable movement. Through a combination of lighting techniques used by Paulette Tavormina and the studio skills used by Sudek an effective still life photograph can be produce. The use of studio lighting can be effective although, natural daylight, especially through the window shooting, can produce impressive effects and visually pleasing results.



BEETLES AND HUXLEY, (2016). Paulette Tavormina. [Online] Available from:  [Accessed: 02 May 2016]

DIGITAL CAMERA WORLD, (2016). Still Life Photography: How to Shoot Melting Ice. Available from: [Accessed: 02 May 2016]

Eitreim, D. (2016) Still Life Photography. Picture Correct. [Online] Available from:                                        [Accessed: 02 May 2016]

[1] Rhodes, R. (2013) Josef Sudek’s Prints Testify To a Life in Light and Darkness. Canadian Art. [Online] Available from:                                                                                                                                               [Accessed: 02 May 2016]

[2] Sawyer, C. (2016). Josef Sudek. Harvard Education. [Online] Available from:                                             [Accessed: 02 May 2016]

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