Still Life Photography Essentials

I was featured by my friend kimklassen on her blog a few months ago (click here) and while pondering topics for a blog post, I thought I would take a question from our interview and create a blog post surrounding my photography essentials.

To be clear, even though I predominantly shoot still life ( if you don’t know what that is, check out my instagram account to get an idea.) I do a little landscape photography as well, since I have a bit of wanderlust running through my veins.  So here’s my quick list of must-haves for still life photography.

Note: I have left out camera and lenses and /or smartphones as there is no photography without them.

  1. A tripod. Obviously most photographers have 1 or more of these ( I know someone who has 6!) and I have a light-weight cheap variety that I purchased for $99 at London Drugs. This one is pretty basic but does the trick. It is really handy for travelling as it mounts to the top of my camera bag and even fits inside my suitcase if I need it to. My second tripod is a heavy duty aluminum Manfrotto 055 with a separate ball head for easy rotation. It has an extendable 90 degree arm which is very handy for top-down photos. It was fairly expensive at over $350.00.
  2. A camera bag. The is my third kick-at-the-can with camera bags. After looking online, I decided that I had better put one on my Christmas list because a good one is expensive!  I had wanted a Kelly Moore bag, all stylish and such that would double as a purse and match all my outfits in a lovely camel-covered leather, but on Christmas morning I was greeted with a different kind of lovely…A gorgeous if a little wild Capturing Couture bag.kpardell-claro-cc-bag-20160600It has all kinds of compartments for all the techie bits like lenses, lens cleaners, filters, lens hoods, camera manual etc. It also has a section for my laptop, as that goes with me everywhere. I usually edit every evening, so I need this all in one place. I love that it has shoulder straps or a general handle depending on what other bags I am carrying through an airport.kpardell-cc-bag-3-20160603kpardell-cc-bag-2-20160606
  3. Backgrounds. This is critical as it sets the tone/mood/effect for entire photo. The background is the first thing I will choose when shooting a still life scene. I currently have 2 vinyl ones from Swanky Backdrops and have just ordered  another 2 from @capturebylucy. I cannot wait to get Lucy’s, as they are gorgeous. Other than those, I have an old makeshift table top in reclaimed wood, 2 old tables in various wood stains and one duct-taped foam ship-lap which I painted. It barely holds together but does the trick. Here is some photos which illustrate each of my backdrops.


swanky backdrop


old wooden table top. I place it on top of another surface when I want to use it.


wooden table


white table with rustic wood surface


foam ship lap.

4. A step-stool. Mine is pretty sturdy, and has a large handle for leaning into when shooting a flatlay. I know of at least 2 friends who have stepped off their stools or fallen from their stools, so a little bit heavy-duty is key. Here is my set-up for a flatlay using my step stool.


5. Props. This is the fun stuff and can be anything from a simple tea cup with a linen napkin, to flowers in a vase, to old postcards and beyond. Styling the props on the backdrop is play for still life photographers . Just pure fun where you can allow your creativity to find its voice.


What are your photography essentials?

2 thoughts on “Still Life Photography Essentials

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