Because of the level of detail you can include in a still life, they are an especially comprehensive way to tell a visual story — and can even provide a sensory experience.”

Still-life images are having a moment. From Christian Dior’s couture catwalk to your Instagram feed, these images seem to be more on-trend than ever.

But how do you choose the right one for your project – without blowing your budget?

We asked Getty Images Senior Designer Shital Patel to curate some of her favorite iStock by Getty Images still-life photos and share her tips on what to look for when choosing the right ones for you. Here’s what she had to say:

Composition

When it comes to still life imagery, composition is key. Everything should be arranged with the same precision a photographer would put into setting up a shot with people. It’s important to strike a balance between orienting items so they have enough breathing room to stand out, and making sure they complement the other objects around them. One technique that is trending in imagery is called knolling, which is the process of lining up similar items in parallel or ninety degree angles, and shooting the items from above. Popular especially amongst bloggers and Instagrammers, this arrangement allows viewers to easily see individual objects, as well as take in the entire image as a whole.

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Negative space

While attention is typically placed on the objects themselves, the negative space surrounding them also plays a huge role in the impact of a still life. Empty space adds interest by framing and emphasizing the items, and as a result, creates a dynamic composition that draws the eyes across the page. Having ample negative space is also a great way to allow for text to be incorporated without having it compete with the image.

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Tell a story

Because of the level of detail you can include in a still life, they are an especially comprehensive way to tell a visual story — and can even provide a sensory experience. Think about the message you want to convey and the audience you are striving to connect with. Also consider the tone you are trying to set. Are you looking to create a controlled, organized atmosphere or an ambiance that is vibrant and frenzied?  Items like food, makeup and tools tend to make great still life subjects.

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About Shital

Shital is a Senior Designer at Getty Images and graduated from The City College of New York, where she received a BFA. When she’s not at her day job, Shital volunteers her time designing for several non-profit organizations. She also dabbles in photography, is a serious crafter, and absolutely loves sharks.