When it comes to photography, there’s an art to capturing inanimate objects or shooting still life. I truly enjoy  photographing children and their parents but there are times I prefer to shoot inanimate objects. In fact, I love still live photography! There’s a challenge inherently involved because you have to turn something static into something compelling. This is much like turning your snapshot into a portrait.

When shooting inanimate objects, I tend to go into Detective mode and look at objects in a new way. Remember, photography is all about telling a story. What story does your inanimate object tell? How can you make an object come to life?  To enhance still life photography, here are some important tips.

how to bring life to inanimate objects

Tip #1: Lighting

When it comes to lighting, you {again} want to make sure you turn off your flash. Natural lighting will help make your subject, well, more natural. It will eliminate harsh shadows and provide a softer look. Side lighting will enhance textures and your contrasts between highlights and shadows. Side light helps add dimension and depth to your subject. Remember if you are working inside, your lighting might not be the best. I know in my own home I need to shoot any where between f/ 2 or f/ 2.8 to achieve a well-lit picture. Also, you may need to bump up your ISO as well. I try not to go any higher than 400 to eliminate as much grain as possible.

Tip #2: Check Your Backdrop

I am always looking at my subject’s backdrop whether it’s a person or an object.  Keep it simple. You don’t want your backdrop to distracting from your subject.  If it does, fill the frame! If you are shooting indoors, you don’t need an elaborate setup to achieve a nice backdrop. A simple piece of poster board or even a blanket work well!

how to bring life to inanimate objects

Tip #3: Make A Connection

Does your backdrop work with your subject? A flower in the garden? A ball on wet grass? They both work. This helps to keep your backdrop simple and less busy. However, this is one rule you can break! Putting an object in an unusual location can alter the photograph in a way that changes it’s meaning and makes you stop.

Tip #4: Switch Up Your Angles

This is especially helpful when shooting architecture. Whenever I’m in New York City, I often find myself lying on the ground trying to photograph tall buildings. But it doesn’t just stop at buildings. Taking pictures from overhead or below can turn a mundane image into something compelling. If you missed this tutorial, take a look at switching up your angles in photography for some helpful tips.

Tip #5: Search For Motion

Whether it’s tent blowing in the wind or water running in a stream, motion adds life to your subject. It can help convey a feeling and really transport your viewer into the photograph.

how to bring life to an inanimate object

Tip #6: Composition

When shooting inanimate objects, you might find that you rely on the rule of thirds and leading lines. These principles help draw your viewer into the picture and add some motion to your subject.

how to bring life to inanimate objects

Wanna see the results? Here are 44 amazing still life photographs taken by our customers.


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