In some ways, still life photography is easier than that with living subjects – there are literally fewer moving parts, making it somewhat more attainable than say, shooting with a model or portrait subject. You can use still life to keep your Instagram going strong when you don’t have subjects lined up, or if you just prefer to work with things over people.

Mango Street’s most recent video presents some tips for making better still life photos – in this case, they’re demonstrating with food, but you can definitely apply the concepts elsewhere.


As with any photography ever, pay attention to your light. Mango Street’s recommendation for food/still life photography is to light your scene either from behind or from the side. Front lighting can flatten the scene.

Textures, Colors, Layers

Your choices here can have a huge impact on the way your image reads. Whether you choose a texture that’s smooth and clean looking, or something with organic texture for a little more rustic look will make a big difference in how your viewers interpret your photo.


Do you want a lot of negative space in your image? If so, what can that say to your viewer? Or, do you want to create a scene that’s packed with stuff? Both are good, just be conscious of your decision and what it will impart to the viewer.


As with all of Mango Street’s videos, this one is short and sweet so definitely have a watch! This video is also a companion to one of their earlier uploads, so if you like it check out its predecessor, 3 Styling Tips to Make Your Instagram Photos Not Suck.