Still life photography is a fantastic form of art and professional photographers like Charles Nucci feel that learning how to take these shots is essential for anyone who wants to be a photographer. The reason for this is that still life photography requires mastering of every element of photography. This includes color interaction, balance, texture, harmony, composition, form, shadows, lights, backgrounds, and so on. That boring bowl of fruit that so many students (art and photography) have come to hate, is actually a huge learning ground that you can use for the rest of your life.
What you need to do, is learn how to take that bowl of fruit, and turn it into something that looks eye-catching and amazing. The more you practice this, the better you will get at it. Soon, you will know that certain shapes work better with certain colors, and that placing a light just right will create 3D effect. You will also learn about which textures are photogenic, and which ones make everything look boring.
All of this is information that you can apply to any type of photography, from portrait to sports and from landscape to newborn.
Understanding Still Life Photography
There are essentially two types of photographs to take in this genre, being “created” still life, and “found” still life. Famous still life photographs tend to be of the created kind. Those are the pictures that have taken a lot of planning, with the fruit in the bowl having been placed just so, the lights having been tested, and the background having been set. However, it is found still lives that are often the most special of all, and those are the ones Charles Nucci specializes in.
A found still life is something that you simply encounter and that just happens to have the perfect light and the perfect composition. Going through Nucci’s portfolio, for instance, you will quickly see that he has perfect this art. He seems to come across the perfect composition again and again, creating still lives that others would have classed as sports photographs, but in a way that clearly sets them apart from this.
So what can learn from this? The biggest lesson is that you can take anything and turn it into a still life. Set yourself a task of going out for a walk at different times during the day, and come back with a found still life each time. At the same time, practice your skills with created still lives with random objects found in your home or office, but where you do have the opportunity to create the background how you see fit. Put the two side by side and compare the differences, so that you can learn to take true found still shots, rather than accidental, snapshots again and again.
Above all else, still life photography is an experiment. It is an expression of art, and art is personal both in terms of its creator and its spectator.