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5 Tips for Still Life Photography

Choose an Appropriate Background

Once you have your objects, or at least a collection of choices, you can begin to think about background. The best choice has to do with whether it will complement and, most importantly, not distract from your subject.

Hedgecoe says that with lighter subjects, the background should be darker, and vice versa. The background should blend with (but have a different tone than) the subject in order to emphasize it. Black backgrounds add intensity, while white backgrounds soften a shot [source: National Geographic]. The background also has different effects on shadow, which we'll discuss more later.

The simplest backdrops are just blank poster boards or sheets of paper. But these aren't the only options: Just because it should be unobtrusive doesn't mean it has to be boring. Examples of popular textured backgrounds include painted canvas and cloth. Plants and vegetables might call for more natural backgrounds, like brick and stone walls. In general, however, the less detailed the background is, the better.