What is still life photography?
A beginner’s guide

Just starting to try your hand at still life photography?

You’ve got the camera and found the space to start setting up your studio, so now what? Since you’re just starting out, we’ve got the guide to still life photography for beginners, full of insights into the best still life studio equipment to use to help you to create the perfect shot. Our guide aims to help you understand the still life photography definition, learn what equipment is necessary for still life photography, and what photo studio equipment is right for the type of still life photography you want to shoot.

The first thing to realise when starting to photograph still life is that there are variations of still life photography that exist in the genre, and each require a certain kind of equipment and know-how to come out with a decent image. From product photography to food photography, still photography is on the rise.

As online shopping and Internet marketing through popular channels like Instagram become more common place, more people are developing an interest in the genre. This style of still life photography puts emphasis on the product, often shooting against a white or solid backdrop and illuminating the product from all angles with soft light.

Another form of still life photography, food photography (have you already read our food photography guide?), is taking the Internet by storm, as people are increasingly turning to the web to look up recipes and find the next most social media photo-friendly dishes.

How to photograph still life using tripods

When it comes to still life photography, the framing of the shot is just as important as the subjects you choose and their arrangement in the composition. That’s why having the right equipment, especially the right tripod, can make all the difference in your photography.

For as much as good still life photos rely on proper lighting and control, the camera support used in still life photography are equally important.  Manfrotto’s line of high-quality tripods and photography tripod accessories are essentials for any type of still life photography and are quite popular among studio photographers.

The 190 product series offers an array of tripods made of materials and offering different functionalities in order to meet the specific needs of the photographer. The 190XPRO Aluminium 3-Section camera tripod, or the 190X Aluminium 3-section camera tripod are ideal for studio photography. The former allows photographers to shoot from all angles thanks to its patented 90-degree rotation which characterises this series of Manfrotto tripods and is easy to set up due to the Quick Power Lock, ensuring the leg stability that Manfrotto is known for, while the individual leg control allows for controlled movement. The latter features quick set up thanks to its four leg angles and QPL levers for easy gripping.

Both tripods provide for easy attachment of other accessories and are made to be paired with other accessories of the product line, such as the XPRO Geared Three-way pan/tilt tripod head. The tripod head features a levelling bubble and micrometric knobs to ensure precise framing of the shots for the angle you’re after.

Moving from one studio to the next: camera bags and travel accessories

When you need to transport your still life photography equipment between studios, you want to make sure that you transport your camera, lenses and tripods in casing that extends the maximum protection to your gear and fits your style – all while being comfortable and easy to travel with. Manfrotto has a line of tripod cases designed specifically to be light yet durable, offering interior padding to protect the equipment, and is suitable even for sensitive tripod heads

Along with the tripod carrying cases, Manfrotto also offers photographers light, comfortable, and convenient travel solutions for camera bags, such as the Pro Light Reloader Switch-55 carry on bag of our Pro Light Collection. When you need to take your studio equipment on the road, the Pro Light Reloader Switch-55 roller bag was made to serve either as a backpack or roller bag and can fit a 2 Pro DSLR camera as well as 4-5 lenses. The bag’s exterior is made of light, strong fabric to prevent ripping, and is durable to ensure long-lasting performance. The bag, as well as the rest of the bags in this product line, offers maximum protection while fitting as a carry-on for international air travel.


We hope that our guide for beginners has been helpful in getting your studio setup started. Make sure to check out our other guides on equipping your studio for still life photography once you’re ready to take your professional.

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