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Fine Art Photography

Lesson 33 of 38

Eight Business Practices for Fine Art

Brooke Shaden

Fine Art Photography

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

33. 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.

Lesson Info

Eight Business Practices for Fine Art

these are my eight tips for moving into the fine art genre creating a portfolio of twenty plus images allowing five to ten of those to be part of the same siri's so let's say that you're creating a portfolio you have twenty images printed out and you're going to show that to a gallery I recommend at least five to ten of those be from the same siri's that way you're showing them that you can do work that all fits together creating artist statement so that is one of my eight really important practices an artist statement is so massively important figure out your print sizes editions and paper so the moment that you do that you begin to understand more about the business side of things and you seem more knowledgeable to the galleries that you might be presenting yourself to create prince for your physical portfolio I recommend if you're going to be doing anything and fine art you do have a physical portfolio you have that ready to show anybody at any moments notice I don't right now I'm s...

o terribly bad when I'm going to show you examples of my portfolio in just a moment here contact galleries for shore representation this is something that you need to do on a regular basis I promise you nine times nope not even nine times nine hundred ninety nine times out of a thousand artists are not being contacted all the timeto have their work shown in a gallery it is something that you have to work for that you have to put those e mails out there and those calls out there and do yourself in order to expect results create a spreadsheet for your print sales so now we're getting into the practical side of things if you don't keep track of all of these different things that you're doing you're going to have a very difficult time later when you're trying to actually sell your work and then writing your cv so making sure that you keep track of all of your accomplishments things that you've been published in magazines books stuff like that making sure that you know your previous exhibitions the dates of them the timing if they were so lower group and we're going to go into that as well brooke yeah just a quick question um what cv it's just like a resume so just yeah so just a list of all of your accomplishments curriculum ditty oh yes that's the actual term for it okay how do you know which way is appropriate to contact a gallery so contacting a gallery I always recommend through email I always recommend a simple email short as possible I don't recommend calling unless it's just simply to ask do you take submissions and how can I send them but otherwise I would send an email go to their website look for a submission page usually they'll say so something about it whether it's a small note or a whole page dedicated and just a simple email where you leave a link to your website you introduced briefly who you are what you dio and the fact that you would like a gallery show all of those things if you put them into an email I find that's the best way to go and making it personal so saying something personal about the gallery something like I really like such and such artists that you represent letting them know that you've actually done your research and you're not just sending a random e mail out so what makes a portfolio cohesive creating a through line with your work so something that whoever's looking at it can say oh this one somehow relates to this one this one relates to this one so as long as each piece is related in some small way it does not have to be like a siri's like wow these pictures really go together but maybe it is that you have a certain theme that you like to work with where a certain style of lighting or maybe you just do documentary photography and that's your thing and it's all black and white maybe that's it so it doesn't have to be a very obvious thing but your work has to look like it's come from the same photographer lighting so how am I creating that through line through lighting perhaps the crop the angle with which you shoot the color that you use in your image or lack of color the themes that you use the subject that you're photographing so maybe it is a specific model maybe it's that you photographed children maybe you photograph animals maybe photograph landscapes the styling that you use both with the subject that you're photographing and just the style of your photography and your expression how is it that you are expressing the message that you're trying to put forth pose sometimes it suppose that somebody has going consistently through every photo there's a certain kind of posing maybe every single image you have very graceful women maybe you photographed ballerinas so thinking about pose an expression could be really important in the location it's another really big one so I shoot mostly outdoors that's one thing that ties my portfolio together I would probably not print something for my portfolio that was well that was done inside I would probably stay away from that because that doesn't create that through line unless it really related thematically so they're both orange did these pictures go together no so it's really important to understand when something doesn't work now I could give this to you and I could say oh but the's air both you know really representative of my portfolio because they both have orange in them don't you believe me no I mean I could sit here and be like oh my gosh you guys I shot these oranges and then I was so inspired to shoot this next picture using orange that you know one inspired the other one and then maybe you'd be like all right maybe but probably not so even though I'm pitching this do you really hardcore it's probably not the kind of picture that you're going to think oh yeah those go together so understanding thie expression the mood the theme the lighting all of those things go into it so yes maybe you're through line is that you photographed ballerinas but if you photograph a ballerina who maybe she's like a distressed ballerina and she's laying in a trash can or things like that you can tell I've done that before because I have and maybe you have another ballerina who's in a really modern dance studio and she's dancing those two pictures will have almost nothing to do with one another even though they both have a ballerina so understanding that difference these images have different locations they were shot at different times they have slightly different moods to them however the locations look similar so I could put these two together and if I flip back to the last slide here these two have a lot less in common than these two have so these images both shot indoors they're both shot old sort of timeless spaces they both have um what else they're both shot from the similar angles so certain things about these images or similar enough so that I could probably sell that if I had teo dealing with multiple portfolios I think that is absolutely okay toe have several portfolios so maybe you have different siri's that you're working on maybe you do commercial work and fine artwork I see nothing wrong with that I have never met a gallery who said oh my gosh you shoot for clients to I refused teo exhibit with you I've never had that happen granted I don't do that so that conversation doesn't come up however I do know people who do that they exhibit in galleries and they have commercial work and that's okay there's nobody thing that you can't do that but keep them separated so keep them separated so you don't seem scattered so if you have everything on your website in the exact same spot and they're all mixed together then people will just be confused the last thing that you want to do is send a gallery on tio your website where you've got a commercial piece and then a fine art piece and then two more commercial pieces because then they're going to not understand that all what you're trying to dio and so keeping them in separate portfolios now this is my website I don't have separate portfolios on my website because I don't have separate port full whose I just happened to do the same thing that all goes together I can order them differently all my website sometimes I'll pair certain images together so that I'm sort of forcing you to look at them at the same time if you're going in and a sort of order on the website but I don't have separate portfolios so I would recommend right when you hit the page on your website it's going to be very clear in some way to let people know this is fine art this is commercial or whatever it is that you're separating when you keep your portfolio organized it let others know that you've given thought to your works that's really the important thing here is that you seem like you know what you're doing so if you put everything on the same page and you don't have anything separated at all the gallery is going to get there and think you know does she think that this is all fine art because it's clearly not and so you just want to seem organized in whatever you d'oh so how do you know if your portfolio is ready to be shown to a gallery that's really important because if you start too soon if you're not ready then that can really burn some bridges and I'm not saying hold yourself back if you feel like yeah I'm ready go for it but just make sure that you understand certain things about your work first having at least twenty images having a cohesive style having confidence in what you d'oh so being able to say yes this is what I do this is my style I'm really proud of it creating a siri's so work on the siri's to show to a gallery not talking about a siri's creating a strong visual narrative and making sure that they're thematically related thes were the two biggest things thatyou khun due to relate your work to one another so with these images here these are part of my sewer siri's as I've been talking about all shot in a very similar well actually all shot in the exact same location and I can speak about thes in a way that makes me feel personally connected to them these pictures all look the same that's another important thing they all have something visually that connects them it's the dark background and the way the subject pops they all have something sort of fairy tale about them whether it be the color or the clouds and that one picture something that's a little bit innocent about um something that pops dark background turning a bad place into something good so that's the whole point of this siri keys and I let people know these pictures were all taken in a sewer they were all taken in a place that's disgusting that most people won't go but I love exploring how that dark disgusting space can be turned into something beautiful they all deal with elements so in one you have clouds and another you have leaves in another you have water so elements are being used a lot in these images to connect someone to the next so why are we creating a siri's because works that are linked so well together so let's say I have these three underwater pictures and somebody comes in and says wow I'd really love to buy some underwater work what do you have to show me my gallery shows in these pictures it's very likely that they're going to buy more than one if they're looking for something specific so maybe though by the two on the end that have the same color palette they're both underwater they flow together really nicely ahh lot of times collectors will but will collect from the same artists because they have a flow they're decorating their house in a certain way so you want to make sure their images are presented in a way that convinces people that they worked together your style becomes more apparent when you have a siri's both for yourself and others so figuring out your business khun really start with creating a siri's what kind of pictures do I want to put together how can I force myself to narrow things down just for a short siri's to see what I'm interested in doing and it becomes easier to become known for a body of work rather than individual pieces so if you could be cohesive in your style and put that out there people start to know oh that's terror's work I understand what this is I know her work because there's a through line through everything that she does so creating a siri's where do I start think of a single element that you're drawn to and create around that so I love nature I might do a siri's where humans are blending into nature in some way maybe not a siri's can either be visually linked or through a story or both so that's what I'm doing with my sewer siri's I'm saying these visually looked the same and they're thematically linked so there are two different elements that people can latch on to to see that through line location that could be a really easy one to work with so we're in this amazing beautiful building and if we had enough time we could do a picture in all these different rooms have that location looked the same and maybe work with different themes within that there was still linked in some way though props wardrobe color theme these air all things that you want to think about when you're putting together a siri's so when you're putting that siri's together just like any individual picture how will you link the theme maybe a lengthy colors maybe you won't but as long as you've considered all of those things the siri's is going to come out stronger technique so maybe you want to do levitation and that's going to be your siri's people floating everywhere you go so maybe that's something that links everything together this was my first siri's that I ever did I titled it small deaths which was the name of a short film by I forget her name something ramsey lynne ramsay I think andi I was really inspired by the name of that film to create something of my own I had nothing to do with the film but I was just loving that title and so I use that to create a siri's of my own literally photographing people who looked dead all of them are me so I'm dead and lots of different places and that was my thing back then I've moved on from that and hopefully gotten a little bit more sophisticated and thinking beyond that and I started creating other siri's like this one called the re imaging of ophelia where I took that classic character from hamlet I rediscovered her in my own work and then use that as a character to create that through line fine art nudes so here we have a series of images they're all nudes they all have a similar color palette to them they're all in nature very natural and they're all very graceful pictures in a sewer these are my pictures in the sewers so we've got ha variety of image is there I think I have ten altogether now my goal is to create a serious twenty in that space but then again I always have these goals to create such and such amount of images and then I always fail because I get too distracted and I decide on board with this now I'm going to go do this and go do that and then I forget that I was ever doing a siri's in the first place

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.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Brookes Posing Guide

Self Portraiture

The Art of Self Critique

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



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 Akana

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.