Real Life Still Life


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Real Life Still Life class cover image of room with shadows and toys
Real Life Still Life class cover image of room with shadows and toys

Real Life Still Life


Next class starts TBA
Registration Closed
Teacher Molly Flanagan

“In a still life, there is no end to our looking, which has become allied with the gaze of the painter; we look in and in… as long as we can stand to look, as long as we take pleasure in looking.” – Mark Doty

People’s stories are not held solely in their eyes, but through every item and surface they touch. Your great-grandmother’s pearls, which never leave her neck, or the aftermath of a toddler’s post-nap snack… these commonplace items of life have stories that are silently waiting to be told.

In this four-week course, you will recognize the importance of the commonplace and learn how to document still life scenes without posing or manipulating. Discover meaningful vignettes and create powerful, alive stories without the need of a living, breathing subject.

There is a whole world out there being overlooked in the photographic sea of smiling toddlers and happy couples. Fully explore the world around you and the power of the commonplace.

September Registration is CLOSED - Enter your email address and we'll notify you when you can sign up


WEEK ONE: The History of Details – We stand on the shoulders of giants, so let see what they have to teach us

WEEK TWO: Where Man + Nature Meet – Utilize photographic techniques for documenting the commonplace

WEEK THREE: Visual Collections  – How obsessive hoarding is the heart of still life photography

WEEK FOUR: Documenting the Everyday – Combine your newfound skills and passions to tell fuller stories, with and without people

The Schedule

All participation and interaction for this class will take place in a private online forum. (Registered students will receive instructions on how to access the forum a few days before class begins.)

On the first Monday of class, Molly will share Lesson 1 in the forum and e-mail it to every student. She will be available during the week to answer questions and facilitate discussions in the forum as you read and work through your lessons.

Homework will be due on Sunday and personal critiques will take place the following Mondays. Each week will follow the same pattern.

The beauty of this class and every other class at DEFINE is that you can read, practice, and participate throughout the week whenever it is convenient for you- from any timezone, anywhere you have Internet access, at any time of day. Most students spend 3-5 hours per week “in class.”

If you have any questions, please feel free to email

Is this class for you?

This class was written with Visual Storytelling alumni in mind, but is open to anyone that has a passion for documenting real life without posing or manipulating.

Material(s) Needed

A DSLR camera or smart phone



  1. :

    I really learned a lot in Molly’s Real Life Still Life class. I always felt that there was something missing in my photography, something that goes beyond the technical, that makes your work more compelling and helps it to tell a story. Molly’s background information, the artist’s that she suggested to illustrate her points, and the example she gave were all helpful, especially now that a little time has elapsed and I’ve been able to absorb the information.

    What helped me the most, though, was her thoughtful and constructive critiques of our work. She really honed in on what would make a given picture even better, and while sometimes it was difficulty to hear, it has truly helped me, especially as I move forward.

  2. :

    I cannot believe an online class has me this inspired and I cannot thank you enough. You’ve literally changed the way I see. The lessons are so so good I cannot wait to read each one (and I’m so sad it’s ending!). I also think that as someone with kids who are getting older, this was the class I needed to start thinking about photography outside my children. Maybe that’s the definition of a great class, something that makes your daily life feel bigger.

  3. :

    I’m incredibly grateful I was drawn to take this class. It far exceeded my expectations and will forever change the way I see things.
    I know I’ll continue to reference the material long after the completion of our time together.
    There is magic in the details, seeing and documenting them is a gift.
    My mind overflows with project ideas and masters to study.
    My heart overflows with the individuals I’ve met and the excitement of exploring the world with eyes wide open.
    Thank you ~

  4. :

    Thank you again for such a wonderful class. I have really learned a lot from it and I feel like I now can “see” a layer of the world beyond what I could before. That feels like an enormous gift – thank you Molly.

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Real Life Still Life class cover image of room with shadows and toys

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