Photographing things and particularly arrangements of things is usually referred to as still life photography.
When you photograph things, as opposed to landscapes, animals, and so on, you have more control over the placement of the subject and on the lighting conditions. This allows you to really experiment with your camera, the background, the brightness, the exact position and choice of objects, and so on.
Here are some tips for still life photography:
- Start out simple with something you are familiar with. Some very common choices include a bowl of fruit or a vase with flowers.
- Experiment with different backgrounds. You can shoot the picture against a wall, in its natural setting, or you can create your own background. To make a background you can use almost anything you like, e.g. paper, canvas, cloth, etc. Keep it simple at first and avoid glass and metal because they reflect light and are very hard to work with.
- Experiment with different distances/zoom settings as well as with different angles.
- Experiment with different kinds of light and different levels of brightness. You can use daylight or artificial light from lamps. If you use lamps, you have a lot more control.
- Start by using light coming in from the side of the object since that is the easiest way to get a nice picture.
- Often, photographing things means that you will want to get very close. If you get close, the details of the objects will look that much more impressive. Most cameras these days have a macro setting or a macro focus. Macro just means "close up", so these settings will allow your camera to focus in on the objects properly.
- Remember also to keep the camera steady as even the tiniest movement will show up in your photo; use a tripod if you have one.
- Be careful using flash if you are very close to the objects. It can ruin the photo.
by Simon James Allanach, edited by Alan Frost
For profiles, see Free Photography Resources