3 Photo Styling Tips to Improve Your Instagram Still Life Photos

Unlike with most genres of photography, still life requires two levels of composition: composing your frame, and composing your props. The latter is commonly called photo styling, and this short video offers three simple tips for upping your photo styling game.

The video was created by YouTube Channel Mango Street Lab, and in it photographers Daniel Inskeep, Rachel Gulotta, and their dog Carlton share three basic tips you’ll want to pay attention to if you’re just getting into this whole “still life” thing. Check out the video up top or scroll down to read about all three.

1. Perspective

The 3 most common perspectives to choose from are: neutral, 45° angle, and bird’s eye (AKA. flat lay). One isn’t necessarily better than another, but all three should be in your photo styling toolbox.

2. Overfill the Frame

One of the most common mistakes beginners make when styling a still life photo (especially bird’s eye) is containing everything inside the frame. By overfilling the frame, Inskeep claims you “make viewers feel like they’re being invited to a small corner of a much bigger and more interesting scene.”

Great advice.

3. Straight Lines vs S-Curves

Our silly brains assign feelings and gender to geometry, making straight lines and hard edges feel more masculine and aggressive, while S-curves and rounded shapes feel more feminine and friendly. Decide what kind of “feeling” you’re going for in your image and style your props to match.

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