Creativity Exercise | Meaningful Still Life

This week we are going to leave our families alone for a bit and focus on still life, but not just any still life, we’re going to work on capturing meaningful still life.

In the past you may have taken a photo of your coffee mug in beautiful light and the end result was a beautiful still life image. But what if that coffee mug was a handmade mug made by your Great Grandma that was passed down through the generations and given to you after she passed away. That beautiful still life image of your mug suddenly has a lot more meaning behind it!

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I can’t tell you what to capture this week because it is all about what has a special meaning to YOU. Maybe it’s a family heirloom, a small detail you don’t want to forget, a hobby (guitar, piano, painting, soccer, etc), art, a special gift or blanket, jewellery, love letters, or something that captures this moment in time (a baby book or bottles, toys, greeting cards, text books, college applications, a ‘kids were here’ image, etc). Think about the things that you can capture now that when you look back on in 5 or 10 years will have a special meaning to them.

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A few tips for still life:

  • Remember you are creating an image rather than capturing a moment so slow down and take your time

  • Watch your background and your edges - you don’t have to shoot on a plain background, think about adding in texture

  • Look for great light - watch how the light falls on your object, move and spin your object around until the light is perfect and just how you want it

  • Think about your composition - you can shoot your object on it’s own or you can add in other interesting elements that compliment your object, you could even incorporate a human subject (a baby in an heirloom bassinet, a man using his paintbrushes, a woman playing the guitar, etc). Don’t forget about the composition rules - the rule of thirds, leading lines, colour, shape and balance.

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Once you get used to looking for and shooting meaningful still life and details in your own life, you can start to incorporate them into your client sessions as well. They may not end up on printed and hung on the wall, but they are great to use in an album, a slideshow and as supporting images for your storytelling.

There is a whole section on shooting Family Heirlooms and Details in NEWBORNS by Unscripted, a comprehensive e-book on in-home lifestyle newborn photography.

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As always, we’d love to see what you create this week and hear the meaningful stories behind your images. If you’d like to share, please tag us on Instagram with @unscriptedmentoring and #unscriptedmentoring.

- Jenny