Still Life Photography: Find Your Simple | Mariya Popandopulo | Skillshare

Still Life Photography: Find Your Simple

Mariya Popandopulo, Photographer & Illustrator

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14 Lessons (32m)
    • 1. Class overview

    • 2. What is simple?

    • 3. Why simple?

    • 4. Simplify the background

    • 5. Number of objects

    • 6. Color palette

    • 7. Breathing space

    • 8. Depth of field

    • 9. Example 1

    • 10. Easy composition tricks

    • 11. Hands & darks

    • 12. Multiples items & decorations

    • 13. Shadows & out of comfort zone

    • 14. Example 2 and class project

28 students are watching this class

About This Class


Photography doesn't have to be overwhelmingly difficult. You can always start simple and work your way to more complex concepts and composition techniques.

In this class I will show you how to make very simple, yet very beautiful pictures to get you started with your photography journey.

The class will consist of two main parts:

  • In the first part I will talk about why simple is awesome and ways to achieve simplicity 
  • In the second part we will learn how to add interest and character to simple images

We will learn the importance of background, colors, number of objects and how to make simple compositions for a beautiful result. 

So let’s start simple and make some awesome pictures together!

Pinterest board for inspiration 

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You can also learn much more about composition, light, diffusers, reflectors and still life photography in these three classes! 

Still Life Photography: Make a Perfect Breakfast Picture

12 Still Life Photography Mistakes (and what you can learn from them)

Still Life Photography: Magic of Extra Lights

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Aaaaan finally, as per usual =)

For those of you who are not on premium membership, here is a link for a free enrollment in this class =) There are 20 free places currently.

And for those who want to upgrade to premium membership, get 3 months of Skillshare Premium for only $0.99!!!  Here is my link to use that offer =)

Have a great day! =)


Class Outline

  • Introduction. According to still life photographer Mariya Popandopulo, photography training doesn’t have to be difficult. A complex photo with several elements can be interesting, but so can a photograph with only one subject. Mariya’s philosophy is to start simple and add as few things as possible while still creating a beautiful, intriguing image. Whether she’s taking pictures of her breakfast or photographing jewelry, her simple aesthetic results in artistic photos with an almost zen quality.
  • What is simple? Mariya’s minimalistic approach starts with only a few objects, a limited color palette, and lots of empty space. By removing the inessential, she is left with an image that focuses the viewer’s attention exactly where she wants it. To help get you started, she shares her Pinterest board filled with beautiful, simple photos.
  • Why simple? This isn’t a case of photography black and white. Simple does not mean boring, and Mariya shares four good reasons for keeping things minimal as she walks you through an example of an overly complicated photograph she recreated to show how to pare it down.
  • Simplify the background. Online photography courses often make students aware of the backgrounds of their photos, often avoiding simple colors, but here, Mariya advocates for a different approach. Using a simplified background is the first and easiest step to creating simple images. The human eye does not see like a camera, and a white backdrop can help focus the viewer’s attention where you want it.
  • Number of objects. Another obvious way to simplify is to reduce the number of objects in the picture. Busy images require a ton of thought to compose properly, but with only a few, and sometimes just one object, the rule of thirds can be quickly applied to help you achieve a balanced and pleasing composition with little effort.
  • Color Palette. By using a limited color palette, clashing colors can be avoided, and in this lesson, Mariya briefly explains how to use the color wheel to design a palette with just a few hues to keep things simple.
  • Breathing space. Negative space, or as Mariya likes to call it “breathing space,” around the objects in your photo makes for a clean image that isolates the objects. An important balance is necessary, and Mariya shares her thoughts on how to achieve the right ratio.
  • Depth of field. Mariya compares two identical photos to explore the difference that a shallow depth of field can make in an image. She also gives a few tips on the proper camera settings needed to achieve this effect.
  • Example 1. Once again, Mariya walks you through her approach to designing a shot by explaining her thought process while setting up a few objects on a simple background.
  • Easy composition tricks. One of the benefits of keeping your images simple is that composition is much easier with fewer objects. Mariya breaks down three easy tricks to achieve an artistic balance  in your images.
  • Hands and darks. Through a series of examples, Mariya shows you how to use something as simple as your hand on a dark background to create photographs that make objects look like art.
  • Multiple items and decorations. If you find that your composition is too simple, there are a few steps you can take to build up your image while still keeping it minimalistic. From adding multiples of the same items to simple decorations, Mariya gives some examples of the different ways to alter your photograph.
  • Shadows and out of comfort zone. Shadows can be a great way to achieve depth in your images or add weight. Playing with different lighting setups can also add interest to your image, but it might force you to step outside your comfort zone! Be courageous in trying different angles or contrasting lighting.
  • Example 2 and class project. For this class project, you will take a simple photo of your breakfast. Mariya demonstrates her approach and gives you some ideas to make your project a success.