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Putting together a Still Life Portfolio

Updated: Jun 30, 2022

In the past few months, I have been working on creating a still life portfolio. I didn't have any cohesive images yet and started from scratch, meaning I needed to decide what kind of products to focus on. After giving it some thought, I decided on cosmetics/beauty products because I knew it would give me a lot of options for textures and props. My stylist, Megan Garcia, and I went to Target and grabbed 15 products that looked interesting to us and we got to work.

Brainstorming consisted of organizing all my ideas onto Milanote and creating concepts based on the product and their names. For Versed's All-inOne Hydrating Milk, I chose to drop the product into colored milk. For Tree Hut's Sugar Face Scrub, we dyed sugar to place the products on. Each image had its own themes and items needed to create the images.

While creating this portfolio, I noticed that there aren't many photographers who share their still life secrets. This meant I had a lot of trial and error and figuring out what materials did what. I wanted to compile the list of all my Amazon purchases that fueled this project so that it may help others do the same. It's also really interesting to see just how much goes into the shots. This isn't a complete list of what was used, but it is most of it and the key items.

The lotion was dyed to resemble lipstick while the red acrylic paint was used to drop down next to the lipstick in another shot. Vegetable oil and food coloring was used with water to create the shot for Hair Biology Shampoo and Conditioner. The most helpful thing I found to use was the Soldering arms to hold products in place. Acrylic paint was watered down to not only create the background for Pixi Mists, but also was used for Fit Me Tinted Moisturizer, which is most commonly confused with colored smoke.

If you're putting together a still life portfolio, make sure to be open to experimentation and if what you try just doesn't work, rework it and try again. I created three different versions of Maybelline Superstay Matte Ink before I was happy with the results. Try different textures and different thicknesses of materials as well. This portfolio construction was so fun because I could experiment and play around with things.

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