Easy Tips for Outstanding Still Life Photos

By Freepik 3 months ago

Still life photos have become a popular photographic technique. More and more people have joined this trend and create still lifes from almost anything. But you don’t have to be a pro to create outstanding images. You just need to jump-start your imagination, and, of course, a camera!

In this post, Freepik’s photography team share with you some easy tips to make the most of your still lifes working with natural lightIt’s your chance to improve your portfolio and start making money as a Freepik contributor! So, let’s begin!

What do you need to get started?
  • Camera
  • Tripod (it’s useful to get nice framings and compositions).
  • Natural light (it’ll depend on how much light the scene has and how far it is).
  • Secondary display such as a tablet, a phone or a laptop. This way, you can improve aspects like sharpness or directly visualize the composition in real time. These are also quite helpful to remotely control the shots and ease the photographic process. 
  • Reflector or white cardboard

First of all, prepare and organize all the elements that will be part of your still life photos. Arranging the objects beforehand will help you focus on the concept of your shooting.

still life arrangement

Camera Settings


Use a low ISO setting to get a quality result and avoid noise in your images. However, depending on the camera you’re working with, you may bump up the ISO value without generating unwanted noise.

Tip: try out different ISO values to identify which one is most suitable for your scene.


When it comes to still life, all elements must be focused. Blur is only acceptable when it’s the effect you want to get. For this reason, the ideal aperture setting for avoiding blur is between f. 7,1 and f. 13.


Choosing a value for the shutter speed is a matter of balance between the ISO and the aperture. Slow shutter speeds are the best option when working with natural light (the shutter stays open longer and more light comes through the camera). 

Tip: use the tripod to prevent motion and unwanted camera shake.

still life camera settings

Equipment that makes life easier

In order to maintain a balance between ISO and aperture, you may want to keep the shutter speed low. However, slow speeds contribute to generating blur in the image. Apart from this, natural light isn’t always as we expect. 

So, to make the most of the scene light and get a nice result, there’re some tips that you can apply to your still lifes. For example, setting the self-timer on your camera, using a remote control or, even better, manipulating your camera remotely. 


You can use a tablet, phone or laptop to control your camera remotely. It will depend on the camera you’re working with. 

Working with a secondary display has several advantages. Not only can you free your arms, but also, shoot directly from the device and previsualize the result. This way, you can better manipulate aspects such as composition, parameters, focus, and so on.

secondary display still life


Natural light isn’t always enough. Sometimes you need to add an extra source of light to the scene. Reflectors or white cardboards are a good option for distributing light evenly.

However, if you want to get the opposite effect, back cardboards can be used to cast shadows onto the scene. 

The way we distribute light will affect the composition and the final result. Thus, if you work with a white cardboard, the effect to get will be different than using a black one. Choose the option that best suits your scene. Remember that by manipulating the light and shadows you can add depth and volume to the final result.


Create compelling compositions. Focus on what you want to communicate with your still life and draw attention to that. For example, if you’re shooting a scene where biscuits are the main element, make sure they are appealing enough. How? Include many of them so they look tasty and attractive.

Go original!

Forget about traditional still lifes. Give them a fun and colorful touch and create compelling photos that can be used in many different resources: mockups, backgrounds, templates, etc. Use your imagination to create great stuff. Here are some examples of still life photos:

still life background

palm leaves background still life

still life breakfast mockup

still life ice cream cup

still life abstract background

still life housekeeping

still life vinyl mockup

still life headphones mockup

still life candy mockup

There’s no golden rule for still life photos. Just a little bit of hard work and another bit of creativity, and there you go! Remember that light is important as well as the props. Be organized and give your best. We can’t wait to see your still lifes on Freepik (neither our users!).

Do you want to become part of our creative universe?

Become a contributor now!

By Freepik