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Fine Art Photography

Lesson 7 of 38

Critique Yourself Part 2


Fine Art Photography

Lesson 7 of 38

Critique Yourself Part 2


Lesson Info

Critique Yourself Part 2

so this is why I hesitate teo get the opinions of others regarding my favorite pictures because for every single picture that I post there are mixed reviews somebody tells me that it's their favorite somebody tells me that it's their least favorite and who can I trust and I think that a lot of us have the tendency to trust the negative side of things to say oh this person doesn't like it so they must be right this must be a bad picture because they said it isthe but we don't trust the people that say the good things so somebody says this is a great picture it's my favorite and then I'll be like your lying this is not your favorite picture because it's a bad picture because somebody told me that and I know it is and so that's terrible if you do that because then you're undermining yourself and all the creativity that you put into it so here we go again with you josh so we've got josh's favorite pictures from my portfolio now you've already seen my favorite pictures and my least favorite...

pictures now these air josh's picks so this is what he went through my portfolio my whole entire portfolio and he picked out these images as being his favorite pictures so do I agree kinda I'm not actually disappointed in the selection I got to say um the one on the side here with the more cp atones and the flowing fabric and what not that was my favorite image for a long time so we kind of are on the same page there and I do like the other images so I was happy with this but what I say this is my strongest work no I wouldn't not right now and that's just me that's me connecting to my own work and it doesn't matter if he feels the same way or not I'm not going to take him at face value and say oh well josh says that these are my best pictures so they definitely are my best pictures but I trust him enough to know that maybe these are strong images that I should look back at and these are his least favorite pictures for my portfolio so this was an extremely interesting selection in my opinion because one of these pictures sells really well which is really interesting because you don't like it and I get that because it gets mixed reviews trust ray on dh then we have another image the the first one on there where I'm sort of falling with the cp atones and that is actually one of my husband's favorite pictures and always has been and he talks about that as being a very strong piece and that's just a difference in style s so I thought that this was a really interesting selection and it was super exciting to see it so when I was meeting my in studio audience people on the internet I asked them to do this homework and I said you submit pictures from my portfolio that you don't like and a couple of them were like what I can't tell you what I don't like about your portfolio and I thought that was so awesome so guests I'm making them uncomfortable this is so great and they were able to submit these pictures and I don't take it personally and I think that nobody should if somebody says they don't like something that doesn't mean it's true that doesn't have to mean is true to you it's true to them and that's great and they don't have to like it and that can provide really great insight into maybe what the masses think is stronger or weaker but that doesn't mean that it's true so this is jen's favorite from my portfolio which I actually really overlooked this picture for a long time posted it didn't really think much of it thought it was fun to create and now I have had this picture in four shows and it's like people seem to like it and I'm really surprised and this is one of those instances of posting the picture wasn't a favorite didn't really think about it and now because of feedback that I've gotten a look at it in a different way it's still not my favorite picture I'm not being influenced by people saying oh I really like this but it makes me look at it and say what is it that people do like about this picture and there were things obviously that I like so I posted it I like it I created it it's not my favorite though and this is jen's least favorite from my portfolio which I thought was actually a pretty strong choice as elise favorite picture because I almost agree and it's not certainly not my least favorite however I can understand why you wouldn't be drawn to this picture as much as the other especially with it being you there aren't break colors and whatnot I know but but it's a bit stagnant and so I feel that there are two types of images in my portfolio the stagnant and the motion pictures and and I kind of separate things myself in that category and I tend not to like the stagnant picture pictures as much this is your bonds favorite from my portfolio which is a very old picture so I thought that was really interesting and this one was very personally special to me when I created it so I was really glad that you pulled that out and then this was your least favorite it's the but I get it oh my gosh I love it so it was so glad that you chose this yeah I call it the but it's just you know the name of the picture it's not really but that's what I call it so it's a creepy picture like this is a picture that I've gotten email about right when I posted it saying you shouldn't be allowed to post these images online and some people were upset about it and I get it I know that it's a creepy picture I know that this will not please a lot of people and I think that's awesome so the fact that you said that that you were like you know what I don't like this one is much I'm just like glowing inside like yes and made her uncomfortable you know like I love that and so I think that it's really good tio not just say you know why I did what what is your favorite what's release here but why is it your least favorite and what is it that you're not connecting to in this picture so let's take a look at our in studio audience is pictures there's josh so we have his favorite images from his portfolio and then we also have his least favorite so josh what is it about these images that you like specifically um the emotion and the color the emotion in the color I can see that so it seems like they're sort of mostly dis saturated with a specific color happening in them which is a through line that I see with these images which is really neat and the emotion so what emotions do you feel is it different emotions and it's just the fact that you see an emotion in it or is it one emotion that you're capturing no it's not one specific emotion each one is a unique moment yeah so you feel a connection emotionally to them you feel that the model is emoting in some way or that something is coming through I think that's really I connected to that as well when I saw these images of yours and I thought that they were strong choices from your portfolio and these are your least favorite images which I'm really glad that you have allowed me to do this now but I really asked permission but whatever so here we are we've got our beautiful lindsay adler down there which I thought was really fun so what were your reasons for disliking these um the larger one uh I think uh I I like that one a lot but it's not finished and they're all restrictive I couldn't really take them toe where I really wanted to take them yeah so they were almost like at face value and you didn't know where to go with that or yeah yeah okay sure I like that e so like the picture with lindsey is a perfect example where it was a spur of the moment there wasn't a lot of planning to it it was in an alley I was there to love you s o it was very spur of the moment it was it wasn't something I had a lot of control over so I couldn't tweak the things that I wanted to change but the part that I do like about it is being able to take it from what it wass to what it is yeah I can totally see that because I imagine that you did some really awesome work to this picture just knowing what those pictures were like in the alleyway and stuff so these air jen's favorite images and I love showing your work because it's always so diverse so vibrant and amazing so tell me why are these your favorite images I think because these all these were created in the last year um I think they represent more of me as the artist where you're going yeah this is more of where I'm going yeah and the one on the bottom right is I've never even hardly released to the public so it's like something I created for a contest that didn't win but I was like I created it for me and now I'm happy without came out I'm happy with the colors and happy with the vibe I'm just that's wonder yeah that's great so do you see like a through line with with these images something that connects each of them at all visually maybe or conceptually I like using the word a little bit surreal because it's like another environment that I just made up and yeah sometimes the textures will overlap sometimes thie ideas and the props actually will overlap because the first one on top is justus cellophane yeah and then my legs floating in mid air that's a hand skirt so it's like I took a prop from each one of these and kind of made this really cool environment out of it that's great so so these were your least favorite pictures and I think it's really interesting actually especially these examples from your portfolio because if we go back to this one used the word surreal and that was something that you said that I immediately agreed with I looked at this and I said yes this is surreal this sister realism like to the extreme I get that but then I look at these and this is more abstract to me not so much surreal because I can't really focus in on anything on a specific idea or figure anything but it's just very abstract to me and I think that there's a difference in your work from then till now in that progression do you agree or am I just pulling that out of you and this this is really good examples of the process that you have to go through and how they edit something seven times before I'm happy with it because the browns I just don't really they don't make me happy yeah and the grey it's funny you mentioned our inspiration by a rain puddle because that one was around that's great and I still don't know what technique I used to make those weird things but I was like I don't like yeah the other one is like a third or fourth revision and it's it's kind of cool because I created this weird moon but I don't like I just it's not doing it for me yeah as a whole so the colors okay but I was like and it's just not there yeah I understand okay so this was yvonne's favourite images and I thought that that one on top was so stunning and I mean I made it my desk back around for a little while actually I I don't know if you're supposed to do stuff like that but I did so yeah I really really like that image a lot so tell me about your favorite images aye well they're self portrait but uh which is hard for me to do and um but I like the real menace I like tea to show growth and I like rich colors and um I like toe to use photo shop but I like to also let like the pores of my skin show instead of of going in and we're moving some of the real miss yeah you name it I completely understand that so let me move on then to your least favorite and so I have these two here now what is it about thes that you're not comfortable with although they were planned uh I didn't sketch them and uh the detail yeah I didn't spend I spent quite a bit of time actually with them I just didn't get in there and really um you know shoot all of those elements in the scene at the time and then in pro the post processing I didn't really get in there and actually spend a lot of time I understand that so what I think is interesting is that you actually have two things that I would identify from these images to these as being very similar from one to the other which is the picture outdoors and then this picture outdoors they have the same whiting and I think that's interesting because I actually considered that one and this one to be very very similar and so I'm very interested to hear about your perspective between the two and we'll talk more later I'm really interested in why one is weaker than the other and that's why it's so great to critique yourself because I could stand here and tell you which ones I think are the strongest and the weakest and they might not be the same as what you chose but if you know why you think that then you can expand on that and refine it and that's what needs to happen to be able to create a portfolio that you love

Class Description


  • Brainstorm and plan a fine art photograph
  • Design a story with props and posing
  • Shoot an image that only exists in your imagination
  • Complete the vision in Adobe Photoshop
  • Self-critique your own work
  • Build a business from fine art photography
  • Approach galleries with confidence
  • Grow your own unique style and brand


Sometimes, creative vision is bigger than a camera can capture. In this class, learn how to turn imaginative ideas into physical fine art prints. From planning the shoot to assembling composites in post, work to turn the images in your dreams into a concrete photographic image. Go from a dreamer to a professional photographer with the help of artist Brooke Shaden.

Start with defining your style and building your creative vision in this three-day class. Then, learn tips and tricks for bringing that vision to life using posing and props. Go behind the scenes in nine live shoots ranging from self-portraiture to creating your own fairytale. Use posing, props, motion, and composition to tell a story.

While fine art photography isn't usually the first business model that comes to mind when considering a career in photography, Brooke shares how it's possible to earn a full-time living from your art. From building a brand to approaching fine art galleries, learn what you need to turn a passion for fine art photography into a career. As Brooke says, you can't stop because your best work is just ahead.


  • Intermediate photographers ready to take fine art to the next level
  • Professional photographers looking to expand their storytelling and compositing skills
  • Fine art photographers at any skill level


Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom


Brooke Shaden is a storyteller. The American fine art photographer is well-known in the art world for her dream-like, fairytale images. Her work often uses dark tones, heavy emotions, self-portraits, and juxtapositions. Working as a fine art photographer for more than a decade, she started her art journey after studying film in college and now teaches and speaks along with continuing her work. Brooke's work has been featured in dozens of gallery exhibitions, along with magazine and book covers and limited edition fine art prints. After growing up near an Amish community in the United States in Pennsylvania, she now lives in California.


  1. Class Introduction

    Meet Brooke Shaden in the first lesson, and learn where the fine art photographer finds her inspiration. Then, gain an overview of the three-day class.

  2. My Evolving Style

    No one starts out creating their best work, Brooke says, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't get started. See how Brooke grew in her craft, where she started, where she is now, and how she's always motivated to continue to create beautiful images.

  3. Visual Examination

    How you describe yourself as a person will influence your art. In this lesson, embark on the process of visual examination. Learn to visualize yourself, your style, and the story you want to tell -- and how that translates into photography.

  4. Storytelling and Character

    Brooke is more motivated by storytelling than photography -- and you can tell by looking at her work. Learn how to train your mind to find your inspiration, to then start telling that story. Work on building a story by starting with an object or person from your inspiration, and asking yourself questions about that item. Build a story with elements like theme, setting, character, time, and conflict.

  5. Storytelling Q&A

    Build on the concept of storytelling with questions from students like you.

  6. Critique Yourself Part 1

    Critique is an important aspect of any type of fine art -- but photographers shouldn't consider critiques from others as fact. In fact, Brooke encourages photographers to learn how to critique their own work. Follow Brooke's process for self-critique in this lesson.

  7. Critique Yourself Part 2

    Everyone will have a different favorite image. After sharing her favorite and least favorite images, Brooke shares what some of the students in the class pick as their most and least favorite images. The insight helps build the skills to critique a photograph.

  8. Identify the Problems

    Learning to identify problems in your own work helps you focus on areas to improve your art form. Watch Brooke work through some problems in her images. Learn to correct the problems that you see in your images.

  9. Posing Overview and Q&A

    Posing for a portrait and posing to create a fine art photograph are often very different. Dive into creating a story through body language, emotion, and character after a brief Q&A on questions from the previous lessons.

  10. Ten Basic Poses

    Learn how to create a better pose using ten basics. Work with poses to create lines and shape while telling a story. From basics like creating separation to advanced topics like creating believable action, pick up essentials to building a pose in fine art imagery.

  11. Posing a Man

    Posing looks different for men and women. In this lesson, Brooke shares her tips on posing a man in an emotive manner, while keeping the "manliness" intact. See different examples of fine art poses for men.

  12. Shoot: Posing Demo

    Should the model look at the camera? Brooke shares the pros and cons of eye contact and why it's often avoided in fine art photography. Run through a checklist to perfect your pose. Then, jump into a live posing demonstration to see those tips in action. Watch Brooke direct a model to portray a specific emotion, then watch how she fine-tunes the pose to create the desired look.

  13. The Art of Self-Portraiture

    Even if you don't actually want to be the subject matter in your own images, learning how to photograph yourself helps you learn how to direct a model to create fine art images, along with building the ability to express yourself and create something from your imagination. Build a foundation for self-portraiture in this lesson.

  14. Posing Yourself

    Walk through the process of posing yourself for a self-portrait. Learn how to focus and trigger the shot when you're not behind the camera, while still having enough time to get into the pose. In this lesson, Brooke shares tips for the process of posing and shooting yourself for fine art.

  15. Shoot: Self-Portraiture Demo

    Go behind the scenes for one of Brooke's self-portraits. See the process in action, starting with the test shot. As she talks through the process, watch Brooke create a pose, critique herself, then improve the pose. Using student suggestions, Brooke goes through several different poses portraying different emotions to use in a self-portrait.

  1. Shoot: Indoor Scene Part 1

    Starting with a blank canvas, learn to build a scene for an indoor shoot. Begin with a vision and an empty room, and watch how Brooke begins to bring her creative vision to life. See the inspiration and the blank scene, then watch Brooke build the scene.

  2. Shoot: Indoor Scene Part 2

    With the model and set in place, watch how Brooke captures the shot. Go behind the scenes on decisions like composition, angle, lighting, exposure, and focal point. Learn to evaluate the scene to get the details of the story in the camera.

  3. Shoot: Butterfly Daydream

    Work within the same space to create a different fine art image. With something as simple as an empty wall and a few still life props, go from creative vision to art print about a daydream. Refine ideas about posing, props, composition and more in this lesson.

  4. Image Compositing

    Sometimes, those fine art ideas aren't something concrete that could actually exist in real life. Other times, shooting in exotic locations isn't feasible financially or practically. Brooke suggests shooting as a landscape photographer to capture backgrounds for composite work whenever the opportunity presents itself. Learn how to shoot with a composite in mind, considering factors like matching the lighting and the perspective. Then, gather some basics on editing composites.

  5. Shoot: Using Props

    Start shooting a composite image using some backdrops and a kiddie pool. With a composite in mind, watch Brooke work the scene and plan ahead to mix multiple images together. Work with multiple poses and props. Then, move into a second scene and watch Brooke work with props in a self-portrait.

  6. Editing Indoor Shoot Part 1

    Move into editing for fine-art photography. Go through the complete editing process from the first live shoot with the vines. Work with aspect ratio, merging multiple images, layer masks, curves, cloning, and more.

  7. Editing Indoor Shoot Part 2

    Continue working with the image from the previous lesson, making overall adjustments to the image. Here, Brooke shares how to edit lighting, replace color, adjust overall color, add make-up, and more.

  8. Editing Butterfly Shoot

    Work with the butterfly shoot in Adobe Photoshop. Analyze how to improve the image, then work with several different editing techniques, including composting, adjusting brightness, making local adjustments, working with color, and more.

  9. Editing Pool Shoot

    Start working with the indoor-outdoor composite mix from the pool shoot. Learn how to paste a subject against a different background with realistic results. Work with trimming out the background, blending edges and more as you learn to create realistic composites.

  10. Shoot: Outside with Open Sky

    Move away from the computer and jump into more complex fine art composites. Working with multiple images and objects pasted together, start with the shooting process. Work with matching lighting, capturing the right angle, creating a strong composition, and telling a story in fine art photography.

  1. Shoot: Fairytale Scene Part 1

    Head behind the scenes as Brooke re-imagine a scene from The Princess and the Pea. Work with turning a well-known, traditional fairytale into something unique, beginning with the brainstorming and props.

  2. Shoot: Fairytale Scene Part 2

    Gain insight into the process of creating a fairy-tale inspired fine art photograph. Integrate motion into the image and work with motion blur, multiple exposures and more. Work with multiple poses with a model, then move into a self-portrait.

  3. Shoot: Snow Scene

    Move into the final live shoot of the course as Brooke brings the outdoors in. In this start-to-finish shoot, work on the story and vision for the scene, then learn how to create (and photograph) a snowstorm indoors.

  4. Editing Outdoor Scene

    Finish the vision from the live shoots in Photoshop, starting with the outdoor shoot. Work with complex composting techniques, like replacing the sky. Throughout the process, pick up editing tips, like choosing a brush and keyboard shortcuts.

  5. Editing Fairytale Scene

    Fine-tune the Princess and the Pea shot inside Photoshop. Extend the canvas, work with the warp tool, clone out a doorway, and more as Brooke turns her vision into a high-quality fine art photograph. Then, learn how to add textures to your image using photographs of textures that you can create yourself using desaturated black and white images.

  6. Editing Snow Scene

    See the progression from the test shots to the final shots from the indoor snowstorm image. Because the shot used a tripod, the editing options for adding snow becomes simpler. Besides working with the snow and adjusting color, learn how to add a fake light to an unlit lantern.

  7. The Business of Fine Art

    Fine art may seem trickier to turn into a business than something like portraits or weddings -- but it is possible. In this lesson, learn how to build a business as a fine-art photographer. Work with building a brand, finding a place for your work, sharing your talent, and selling your work as a product.

  8. Eight Business Practices for Fine Art

    Build your own fine art business with eight actionable steps. Here, Brooke shares a list of eight actions fine art photographers should do while building a business, from building a portfolio to contacting galleries.

  9. Beginning Your Artist Statement

    An artists statement should describe your photography thematically, visually, and technically. Writing an artist statement feels daunting -- in this lesson, Brooke simplifies it by sharing the process she used to write her own artist statement.

  10. Making Prints with Q&A

    Turn your fine art digital photography into art prints, wall art, and photography books. Decipher the difference between various types of printers, papers, and print sizes. Learn how to find a reputable printer. In your portfolio, learn why details like the order of the print matters. Then, find out how to prepare for a gallery meeting and what to expect during the meeting.

  11. Becoming You

    Becoming an artist, becoming yourself, is a process just as important as the business side. In this lesson, Brooke shares how to grow as an artist. Learn how to move forward, how to challenge yourself, and how to grow as an artist.

  12. Taking Risks

    Taking risks moves you forward on your fine art career path. Taking a risk that has nothing to do with money, Brooke says, helps you move forward, expand your reach, and grow your confidence. With that confidence, learn how to build opportunities like book publishing and more through risk-taking.

  13. Bonus Video: Expand Your Space

    In the bonus video, go behind the scenes as Brooke shares how to work in small, tight spaces by composting. This technique is good for both small spaces and shooting with a shallower depth of field.



Brooke says she wants to be inspirational - she has achieved this and so much more during this course. I am so inspired to follow my dream of becoming a fine art photographer and step out of a life as an academic and stop finding excuses. Watching other photographers shoot and edit is always a great way to learn, everyone does things slightly differently and I enjoy Brooke's no fuss techniques. Seeing so many of Brooke's beautiful images through the course has been great and seeing shots from the shoot through to editing really makes them come alive. If you are looking for inspiration or you want to learn techniques or new skills then this course provides all of these things with a big dose of positive thinking thrown in.


Brooke is amazing! I love this course. Brooke is easy to listen to. She has a beautiful insight into creative fine art . Love it! I have learned so much. I especially love that she is so candid about everything.

renee Wilson

I love Brooke and the wonderful way that she teaches. She is a gift to us all. Jane, her model, was lovely - a beautiful girl, a wonderful attitude and a real professional.. I could not do what Jane did to help Brooke convey her story.

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