The genre of ‘Still life’

Okay so I bang on a little about photographic genres but there is a reason for that.

Along with very generic skills & photography knowledge, each genre has its own unique techniques. Yeah Yeah I’ve said that before and you already know that!

However, this is something I like to explore as it makes me a better generalist photographer. I’m not sure if ‘generalist photographer’ is a particularly flattering or accepted term but what I mean by this is that it gives me the ability to cross genres, be more adaptable, flexible and pragmatic in my approach to capturing the image I want to achieve.

So without too much waffle, here are a couple of still life images:

Old bottles rescued from The River Thames.

Old bottles rescued from The River Thames.

You might be wondering what it was exactly that challenged me here…..Its a couple of old bottles that I pointed a camera at and took a photo.

I think that is how many lay people see photography.

I had to select the bottles I wanted to use.

Decide on the background.

Decide how I wanted to position the bottles.

Arrange & measure my lighting to work with the depth of field that I wanted.

Ensure the light was sufficient enough not to make the white paper look too grey, yet ensure that the light was not so strong to cause blown out highlights on the glass. While ensuring the exposure was sufficient to show the age and colour of the bottles.

Do I want any shadows or not?

What should I do in regards to composition? Focal length, point of view and so on….

Bottles rescued from The River Thames.

Bottles rescued from The River Thames.

Other than the obvious change in position, are there any other more subtle differences that your eye detects in my set up?

Something I learned recently is that people don’t necessarily consider the thought process and decisions undertaken for what is essentially a really simple looking image.

I hope you can find something in these images that you like, whether that is the age, decay or focal point…..

I do also have a few questions for you:

Do you like the softness or do you think you’d prefer the images to be sharper?

Would your preference be to have the images more clinical with a clean bright white background?

There is no right or wrong answer.

Here it is just about opinion, but your opinion counts.


Because it informs me of a general consensus of what people like.

Its not going to stop me shooting things the way I want to shoot when it comes to personal projects but constructive critique helps photographers grow.

Although I would like open comments, if you are a photographer look at the images and even if you don’t comment on the post or ping me a personal message, break down what you can see.

Who ever you are, wherever you are, thank you kindly for stopping and having a look at my photos. I hope you’ll have a look at some other posts and revisit some time.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James


  1. I prefer the head-on aspect of the first photo. I also understand how difficult it is to light still-life correctly, which is precisely why I never shoot any! The sharpness was OK for me, as was the background. I would say that this shot was good enough to illustrate your subject, make it clear what that subject was, and also impart sufficient information to the viewer.

    I wouldn’t need more, might there might be those that do.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. To be honest, it wasn’t that long ago that I would have not really thought anything about the difficulties or decisions that need to be made.

      Thanks for your input Pete. Always appreciated.

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