The first piece of the puzzle is perspective. According to Mango Street, there are three common perspectives from which you can choose from when composing your image: neutral (straight on), 45 degree angle, and bird’s eye (straight down). Each perspective serves its own purpose and evokes a specific response, but none is no less right than another for any given photo. Experiment with all three and find out what works best.
Next on the list is overfilling the frame. Many still life images put the subject matter in the center of the frame and snap the shot. Mango Street suggests letting some of the subject matter spill over outside the frame to effectively tease the audience and make it feel as though there’s more to see.
The final tip is to take into account what sort of organization will best work for the type of image you’re trying to capture. Mango Street notes that subject matter in a straight line tends to bring a stronger, more masculine feel to the image, while arranging the subject matter in an S-curve gives the image a softer, more feminine feel. Like the perspective, there’s no definitive right or wrong, but it’s worth trying out both organization schemes to see which one best fits the aesthetic you’re going for.
Aside from Mango Street’s suggestions, my bonus tip would be to practice these techniques at home instead of at your local coffee shop. No one wants an Instagram photographer setting up a tabletop studio while people are trying to order their peppermint lattes.
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