10 Ideas For Great Still Life iPhone Photo Subjects

Do you want to take beautiful iPhone photos without leaving your own home? If so, you should definitely try your hand at still life photography. This popular genre involves photographing one or more inanimate objects, and you can do it all from the comfort of your home using a simple table top and window light. So what kind of subjects can you use in your still life photos? In this tutorial, you’ll discover 10 great ideas for finding interesting subjects so that you can get started with your own still life iPhone photography today.

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Deena Berton – iPhone Photo Masters Student

1. Flowers

Flowers are one of the most popular subjects for still life photography – and with good reason.

They’re beautiful, delicate, and come in a wide range of colors and varieties. They’re also extremely versatile in a still life setup.

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Chris Baird – iPhone Photo Masters Student

You can place them in a vase and photograph them from one side for a traditional still life scene, just like Chris did in the photo above.

Or for something a little different, how about creating a flat lay composition like the one below? Simply arrange the flowers on a plain background and shoot from above.

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Luis Fernandez – iPhone Photo Masters Student

Depending on the mood you want to create in your photo, you can experiment with different color combinations of flowers and backgrounds.

In the photo above, the vivid pink of the flowers creates amazing contrast with the black background, producing a really dramatic image.

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Phillipa Frederiksen – iPhone Photo Masters Student

This photo by Phillipa has a completely different feel. Using a white background and white or pale colored flowers tends to create a calmer mood with a light and airy feel.

Another great way to photograph flowers is to shoot extreme close-ups that capture the delicate texture of the petals.

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Evelyne Sieber – iPhone Photo Masters Student

This is especially effective if the flower is covered in tiny water droplets like this yellow rose photographed by Evelyne.

Flowers are a great subject to work with if you’re just starting out in the world of still life photography. So pick some blooms from your garden or buy a bunch of flowers from the store, and see what beautiful images you can create.

2. Food

Food makes a great photography subject, but it’s also a controversial topic in the world of photography!

Nobody wants to see a photo of a messy dinner plate, so you need to be creative with your compositions. Luckily there are endless ways to take photos of food.

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Lynne Lourdes Lucena – iPhone Photo Masters Student

One option is to fill the frame with raw ingredients like Lynne did in the photo above. The diagonal composition of this photo is superb, especially with the contrasting colors.

You can shoot this kind of photo at home, but you should also look out for photo opportunities like this at food markets and grocery stores.

Another way to photograph food is to document the different stages of the cooking process for a meal that you’re preparing.

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Phillipa Frederiksen – iPhone Photo Masters Student

The chopped mushrooms and the knife in Phillipa’s photo above tell a story about the food preparation of this meal.

It makes you intrigued about the image, inviting you to ask questions such as: Did she pick the mushrooms on a nature walk or buy them from the store? What meal was she cooking? What did the final dish look like?

As well as raw ingredients, photographing the finished product will make a great photo too.

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Lolly Kakumani‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

Whether it’s rustic loaves of bread, a bowl of soup, or a beautifully arranged plate of food, always think carefully about the light and composition so that you capture the food at its best.

Think about whether you want to include some of the surroundings, such as cutlery and other table decorations. Or would it look better photographed up close to capture the detail and texture of the food?

And of course, don’t forget about photographing indulgent treats such as cakes, cookies and chocolates.

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Deena Berton – iPhone Photo Masters Student

I love this photo of a box of chocolates photographed from above. The colors and shapes of the chocolates are interesting in themselves, but the fact that there’s a bite taken out of every chocolate tells a great story of these irresistible treats!

It’s the little things that make a big difference in food photography, so think carefully about the details. Think about the story you want to tell, and arrange your scene to help create the mood you envisioned.

3. Household Objects

The great thing about still life photography is that you don’t even need to leave your own home to create stunning photos.

At first you might wonder what you could possibly find to photograph in your house, but with a little bit of imagination you can turn practically any household object into an amazing still life subject.

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Andres Katz – iPhone Photo Masters Student

Take some time to wander around your house to see what kind of objects you can find. Look for items with interesting shapes, colors, patterns and textures.

Maybe the object doesn’t look so great when you find it in a drawer or cupboard. But taking it out and placing it against a neutral background in soft window light might transform it into a beautiful still life subject.

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Fiona Grose‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

The kitchen is often a great place to find subjects for your still life photography. Silver cutlery, wooden spoons, vintage crockery, and all sorts of other kitchen implements can be used.

Lolly even used the flames on the gas hob below to create a stunning abstract image.

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Lolly Kakumani‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

Take extra notice of the items you use every day around your home. Think about how you could use them to tell a story about a particular moment in your day. The simple composition below is a great example of this.

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Karen Morgan‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

By placing a journal, a pen, a pair of glasses and a cup of coffee against a plain dark background, Karen has given us a little insight into a calm and peaceful moment in her day.

You really can use any household object as a subject for your still life photography. The only limit is your imagination!

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Lilya Ejevichkina‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

Would you have thought to use your iPhone’s earbuds in this way?

It’s such a simple object that you might be fooled into thinking it doesn’t have any photographic value. But Lilya has proved this is definitely not the case!

4. Stationery & Art Materials

Do you enjoy painting, drawing, or other kinds of art and crafts? The items that you use for these activities can often be used to create interesting still life photos.

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Jeremy Searle‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

They’re usually colorful and have strong geometric shapes, which makes them perfect for abstract and minimalist photography.

You can also shoot more traditional still life scenes like the one below. This kind of setup typically involves photographing a collection of items that work together to tell a story.

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Donna Nivison Flora‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

Even if you don’t have any art materials, you’ve surely got a few pencils, paperclips or other stationery items lying around.

A bunch of colored pencils photographed from above, or a flat lay of paperclips and other stationary items can be incredibly effective.

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Donna Nivison Flora‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

The trick is to experiment with different combinations of items, and compose them in different ways until you achieve an interesting and artistic looking still life image.

5. Vintage Items

Do you have any old or vintage items in your home? If so, these will make great subjects for your still life photography?

Antique furniture, lamps, clocks and other vintage objects can conjure up wonderful feelings of nostalgia in the viewer.

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Kimberly Saxton-Heinrichs‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

Maybe you have some old books, postcards or hand-written letters that would make lovely props in your still life scenes.

These items work particularly well when combined with vintage teacups or other objects from a time gone by.

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Peggy Carlaw‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

If you don’t own any vintage items, they’re easy to find in charity shops, antique stores and car boot sales.

You could even ask an elderly friend or relative if they have any old, authentic items that you could use.

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Maria Cristina Gonzalez‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

6. Jewelry

Most of us have jewelry of some sort, whether it’s a necklace, bracelet, ring, brooch or wrist watch.

Whatever style of jewelry you own, it’s definitely worth trying to use these items in your still life photography.

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Catherine Arnold Dvorak‎‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

Jewelry usually looks best when photographed against a plain background so that the delicate detailing stands out.

Be mindful of the kind of light you’re shooting in. If the light is too harsh, it will reflect off the shiny metal surface and cause unsightly bright spots in your image.

That said, just the right amount of reflection can create a beautiful glow which looks particularly stunning on gold jewelry.

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Lynne Lourdes Lucena‎‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

Experiment with diffusing the light until you get just the right amount on your subject. You can use a curtain or piece of fabric to diffuse window or lamp light.

After you’ve tapped to set focus, swipe up or down on the iPhone’s screen to adjust the exposure so that you get the brightness just right.

7. Tools & Garden Equipment

Still life photography doesn’t have to involve what might be considered as pretty or delicate subjects.

You can also create great still life images using tools and other utility items that you might find in your garden shed or workshop.

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Agneta Andersson – iPhone Photo Masters Student

These kind of objects often have really interesting shapes and textures that can be used to create wonderfully dynamic compositions.

Think carefully about the background that you use in these kinds of images. A pretty white table cloth probably won’t work well with a selection of oily tools.

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Jefri Lay‎‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

But some rough black sandpaper or an old wooden workbench will be much more in keeping with the subject matter.

Flat lay compositions like the photos above work really well when photographing tools. But for larger items, consider a more traditional still life setup like the one below.

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Fiona Grose‎‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

If you’re taking photos in a shed or workshop, make sure you exclude any distracting surroundings from your shot.

This might involve getting closer to the subject, or clearing a few things out of the way before you take the photo.

8. Nature

So far we’ve only considered subjects that you might find in your own home. But once you’ve got the hang of photographing inanimate subjects, you could also venture outdoors to find still life subjects in nature.

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Chris Baird‎‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

The natural world has endless subjects that you could use in your still life photography. So the next time you’re out on a walk, keep your eyes peeled for small subjects that you could photograph.

Look out for leaves, flowers, feathers, acorns, pine cones, seed heads, shells and other small objects in nature.

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Evelyne Sieber – iPhone Photo Masters Student

Try to photograph the subject against a plain background so that it stands out against the surroundings.

If the background is too distracting, move the subject or change your shooting angle so that you capture it from a better viewpoint.

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Sherry Manners – iPhone Photo Masters Student

If you have an add-on macro lens such as the olloclip for your iPhone, be sure to take this out with you.

Macro lenses allow you to capture beautiful close-up photos of nature, revealing detail and texture that you often can’t see with the naked eye.

9. Found Objects

While shooting out in nature is great fun, it can also be challenging, especially for still life photography.

If the light is too bright or not bright enough, you can end up with exposure problems. And if there’s any wind, your subject will get blown about, making it almost impossible to photograph.

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Chris Baird‎‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

So if you find objects out in nature that you’d like to use in your still life photography, it’s worth considering taking them home where you’ll have more control over the shooting conditions.

Once you get home, you can experiment with different backgrounds, lighting setups and compositions.

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Stella Oliver‎‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

It also means that you’ll have those items to use in other photos in the future. Shells and feathers make great props that you can use to accessorize a whole range of still life images.

If you find an object such as a feather or leaf, and take it home to photograph, consider using a fine water spray bottle to add some tiny water droplets to the subject.

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Kimberly Saxton-Heinrichs‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

This will create the impression that you’d photographed the subject outdoors after the rain or in the morning dew… when really you photographed it in the comfort of your own home!

10. Other Outdoor Subjects

As well as heading outdoors to find nature to photograph, there are plenty of other inanimate objects that you can shoot outside of your home.

A bicycle leaning up against a wall is a classic example of a still life subject that you can find when you’re out on the streets.

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Paula Benedetti Danner‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

Bicycles make fantastic subjects because of their shape and color, but also because they invite the viewer to ask questions such as:

Who’s bicycle is it? Where is the owner? Where have they been and where are they going to? Has the bicycle been abandoned?

Whenever someone wants to know more about the story behind a photo, they become more intrigued and interested in the image, which ultimately makes it more engaging.

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Janet Cashin‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

Abandoned and decaying buildings are great places to look for still life photo opportunities.

The above photo by Janet captures wonderful texture and detail, but it also creates a compelling story as you wonder what lies behind that window.

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Chris Baird‎‎‎ – iPhone Photo Masters Student

Don’t forget to focus on the smaller details too. Rust and peeling paint offer fantastic opportunities to capture wonderful colors and textures in your still life photos.

Once you start looking, you’ll begin to notice amazing subjects for your still life photos whether you’re outdoors or in your own home.

How You Too Can Take iPhone Photos That Everyone Adores

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