Still Life Photography

Students will examine studio and natural lighting angles to create themed Still Life.

Irving Penn, Vogue Cover, October 1, 1943. © Condé Nast. accessed 11/11/20

Assignment Requirements:

In this project, students will create their own still life based on a theme/concept of their choice. It can food, flowers, toys, and etc. The still life must have some type of seamless backdrop and must include a strong light source (natural or artificial).

Students will need to build their own still life lighting and prop.  One light source either natural or artificial light.  The camera needs to be set on the proper white balance and has an ISO between 100-400. A tripod is strongly recommended.

The prop can include colored paper fabric or other items.  This is up to the photographer.

Students will take a full contact sheet of images (at least 20). Images of contact sheet will include: Worm’s eye, bird’s eye, tilt the frame, close up detail, front view and side view of food. 

The contact sheet must also explore large and shallow depth of field.

The top 5 images will be edited and saved to your weebly.
Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 9.42.21 AM.png
Photographed by Irving Penn for “Fancy That,” Vogue, August 1994
Water melon
Irving Penn.
Photographed by Irving Penn for “Lusty Pleasures,” Vogue, October 1981


  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Camera Cord to connect to computer
  • Table
  • Lights or natural light-the sun 🙂
  • Backdrop cloth or paper
Irving Penn frozen food
Frozen Foods, New York, 1977 Copyright © The Irving Penn Foundation

Step 1: Research and Prep

Step 2: Tether camera

Use the Link below to connect the camera to laptop.

Video Tutorial of tethering camera to lightroom.

Step 3: Creating the still life

Start by finding a space that has a simple background or you can hang your backdrop.

Take at least 20 image, enough to full a contact sheet template. When metering for exposure, think about the depth of field technique. Cameras should be on a tripod (you will be happy you did use a tripod).

Video to creating a contact sheet in Lightroom.

Editing and Saving your images

Step 4: Artist’s Statement