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Fine Art Photography

Lesson 19 of 38

Image Compositing

Brooke Shaden

Fine Art Photography

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

19. 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.

Lesson Info

Image Compositing

yeah so today we are working with a kiddie pool and I'm pretty excited about the kiddie pool because actually on my last class on creative life I used to kiddie pool which I swear this isn't like my normal thing that I do every day but it's an extremely fun thing to dio so normally have it working a pool or a normal space and I would just think a black backdrop in it but in this case we're going to be using this kiddie pool with some black fabric in it and a black backdrop now if you don't have access to things like this to a black backdrop which I absolutely don't unless I happen to be a creative live then I just use any fabric I can so last time I did this I actually just took all the tablecloths that I could find and I just sunk them and hung them in the background and in fact I didn't even hang them I just had people holding them for way too long and then they got really tired but it's okay because everybody's willing to help out usually on a shoot so this is what we're going to be...

shooting but first I want to go through some slides of some image compositing that I've done in the past because with this shot here that we're going to be setting up I have this black backdrop for a reason because I'm not actually keeping this scene the way that it isthe now I will do some shots where the model is looking beautiful against a black backdrop we're going to be doing some really graceful beautiful shots imposes but at the same time I'm goingto end on the shot where I am trying to get an action shot where I'm going to composite her out of this scene into the ocean so then why bother going with this whole entire set up just to make her look like she's somewhere else the reason is because of water is a really difficult thing to work with if you're trying to move somebody into an ocean scene then you really do wanna have that water line already hitting them wherever it's going to be hitting them because that's very difficult to fake so I would rather recreate the scene as much as possible assuming that you can't get to a notion or whatever the case is that I do this for everything not just moving somebody in water to somewhere else if I'm going to move somebody into the woods I'd rather shoot them on a black background because I know that the woods are going to be very dark in the background so I'm trying to match things like that when I'm shooting very very much as much as possible so we're going to start with that but first I want to get into some image compositing with some slides so let me talk a little bit more about what we're doing with the pool here we have a tree stump already sitting in the water which is great so we've got the tree stump because again I'm bringing nature into the scene I am doing whatever I possibly can to try to make sure that I can have my style show through and whatever I'm shooting so yes I could have shot in this beautiful room which I will do later I'm going to do a self portrait over there with a little school room set up and that's going to be really fun which is why by the way I'm wearing this new outfit this's like what not to wear today or something I've got so many different outfits on so I'm in my costume right now for the next shot that I'll be doing the first we're going to shoot with a tree stump and I'm going to have the model posing really elegantly here on this tree stump so she's going to be sitting posing maybe with a leg up we're going to get her dress really wet so than her skin sort of shows through a little bit in some places just so that it looks really clingy and awesome in that way on dh then we're going to play with this lifesaver that I am so excited about and the amazing thing to note here with this lifesaver is that when we got this when they showed it to me it was bright orange and really clean like this was white this was orange it looked brand new then we talked about it and we said what can we do to make it look dirtier and so the amazing people here did their work on it and they scuffed it up I think they stand that you sanded it right yeah san did it and then dirtied it up on dh so now it looks like a really old lifesaver and I'm really excited about it because of that so why go through the trouble of doing that the simple reason that that's my style so I'm not going to shoot something that's not my style just because it happens to be here I saw a really really cool tricycle today in this building where I thought oh that'd be really fun to use but it's a really new tricycle it's not like an old amazing red shiny tricycle from the shining is what's that one with the yeah yeah that one so the shining it didn't look like that it looked very modern even though it was really creepy it wasn't my style so I'm not going to use it so I'm really excited that we have this here right now now let's talk a little bit more about what I want to do with compositing so I got the slides up and so I want to talk about how to composite somebody into a different background that's a really really big thing with me now I try not to do that as much as possible I shoot on location all the time I would much rather pick up go with the model go on location drive three hours if I have tio and do everything on set I prefer to do that because it just means that we can really get into the story the model understands what we're doing I can see everything happening around me and then I feel better about the whole entire shoot I love adventures so if there's an adventure to be had I'm going to go on it and I'm gonna have fun but in some cases it's not possible maybe you don't have access to an ocean but you'd really like to shoot somebody in the ocean this is an amazing alternative to that so you're probably thinking if I don't have access to the ocean and where am I getting the ocean shot from I have two solutions one is wait until you go on a road trip or you get to travel somewhere take all sorts of extra stock images so you're driving maybe you take a trip to california and you get toe hit the beach and take some shots make sure that you're there at the right time where the lighting's going to match your style of photography take those blank shots when you're taking a blank shot I don't want you to just take your camera pick it up and click I want you to take your camera get really really low and get that angle and then get at this height and then get this height and photograph everything at multiple heights that way you have a lot of different options so if you have this beautiful shot of the beach and then you go through all this trouble to shoot your model and you're not at the right angle and you shot it wrong then you're going to redo this whole entire setup which this is not an easy set up to put together unnecessarily especially because we're in a frigidly cold room right now so we're trying to keep this water kind of warm my other option is do a swap with a friend I just recently did this with a friend of mine she gave me a big moon shot to use and I still owe her one but I'm going to send her some shots as well just trading stock images and then giving credit where credit is dio and I think that that's okay because you have that consent and you know who took the picture and you know the technicalities behind it so that's really interesting to be able to swap with people so in this case we are putting her on a different background we are compositing so let's go through that a little bit more lighting when you are working with a composite image you have to understand what the light is like and that's why I said say you're at the beach in california and you are about to go into this set up and you don't know what the lighting is going to be like on your model well you have the option to either match the model to the white so that's one awesome thing thatyou khun dio but if you're shooting at high noon and you've got that light hitting the ocean that's probably not going to be the prettiest shot anyways so make sure that you're shooting in the light that you like best and then everything is going to match really well in this case we're shooting with the lights and it's heading straight onto the model and we're doing that because that's kind of how I shot the beach scene the light is really defused really even so instead of having her turn to the side where she's going tohave light hitting one half of her face I'm going to have the light hitting her evenly and then I can manipulate that later so changing the light in post work sometimes but I don't rely on that I try to make sure that I match light as much as possible changing colors changing colors is really big with compositing so I might shoot her here and I'm not looking directly at the scene of the ocean that I have maybe I'll shoot it at another time completely so I'm not worrying about changing my white balance or anything like that I'm gonna shoot it otto white balance just as it is and maybe the ocean shot that we have is a lot cooler maybe that that scene just has a blue tinge to it I'm not worrying about that yet I'm going to worry about that in post and I'm going to change those colors to match my final step when I'm doing image compositing and working with stuff like this is to add texture this is just a really personal step that you totally don't have to dio but I think that it blends the image really well and I love that sort of old grimy painterly kind of feeling it can give to an image so it's typically my final step there and then I will always proof an image so I'm going to be showing you some different images that I've composited in these ways where have gone through these steps to do it and I'm doing that with this in mind that at the very end I'm going to prove it I'm going to go through all of my layers and photoshopped puts them on and off on and off to make sure that I'm not missing anything and then I'm going to publish it so compositing is just blending multiple images together that's what I mean when I say image compositing it could be any number of things it could be extreme will remove a model on to a totally different backdrop it could be simple like upstairs when we just took multiple images in the room and then we're going to blend those together it could be out of necessity where you're shooting a family and you've got this one little kid who won't smile and then they smile in one picture and you replaced the head something like that that's the more practical side I remember last year watching kelly brown's posing workshop on creative live it was incredible and seeing her just for a little finger in there to hold the baby and it was so cute and on dso that's another example of compositing where you're just trying to remove things from the image in some way all right making fundamental changes that is what I'm talking about with that simple compositing so compositing can be blending multiple images or it can be as simple as just trying to get rid of a little something in the frame lighting adding light to the subject now when I am compositing I'm making sure to like the subject in a very specific way for me it's very simple because I shoot overcast all the time so I'm never shooting in direct sunlight I might be shooting in window light but that mimics the overcast lighting so I don't worry about that too much the only thing that I'm not getting in this skase is light surrounding the subject so the back of her head might be a little bit dark compared to how she would actually be outside but that's absolutely okay because I can change that a little bit in post to make it match something actually that we talked about technically when we're just setting up this scene was the fact that we thought about bringing in v flats so having black on either side of the model and if we did that that would create shading on the sides of her cheeks and that means that that lighting would probably not match as much if we did an outdoor shot removing light from the background now this is something that I do a lot when I do compositing in two different ways first literally removing it from the background of the scene where I'm shooting the model so if I'm shooting the model straight ahead into this backdrop I do not want a busy backdrop back there I want something super simple to edit out in photo shop so I could just click it to lead it be done with it so that's why I have chosen black here because that's a really nice neutral space to work with aside from that though when we get into compositing and photo shop we have the option of adding a removing light from the background there so what I tend to do is I'll put the model in and the good thing is that the model is essentially cut out of the background because she's cut out I can add more light to her and take away light from the backdrop very easily because they're on separate layers so that's something that I'm thinking about when I'm compositing colors creating a single rich color is something that I personally do in my work I tend to find that my style is very much not about creating lots of wild colors everywhere and today we're going to be working with very neutral colors so in this case color isn't that big of a deal the ocean is very neutral her dress is going to be very neutral her hair is the brightest thing in the shot so creating a neutral image creating something where all the colors flow together so I would not choose to photograph her in a very neutral dress something very cream colored or very light and then put her in a background with crazy colors all over the place maybe a children's playground or the end inside of jen's imagination or something like that so I would not do oh yeah yeah let's get a shot of gent over there I love it so that's what I am not doing because I know my style dis saturating the background this is a really big step for me when I am editing and I will be showing this later very often well taken entire background and de saturate it I will also de saturate skin a lot so I'll take the skin de saturated take the background to saturate that and then once I've done that I'm really good to go because the dress stands out the hair stands out and it creates singular colors within the image text during painterly versus photographic how am I working with this texture I will be showing you a lot of different examples of texture later on how I consider them to be either painterly or a photographic texture meaning that the texture either makes the image look like a painting or it makes it look like a really old photograph I used my textures in black and white so that's something that I will also be showing later on during editing I shoot textures everywhere I go later today I plan on grabbing lots of textures all around this building and I convert those two black and white almost immediately when I get them into my photo shop proofing the images I turn each layer on and off like I said the good thing about doing that in photo shop that you you have lots and lots of layers you've composited multiple images together if you just blink that eye ball on and off on and off the more that you do that you're going to see little bits of what you might have missed erasing all around the image and then you can see very clearly where you need to erase flipping horizontal this is another really fun thing that I do when I'm proofing my images so before I ever publish an image I take that image and I go to on image slip horizontal why am I doing that because it gives you a totally different perspective of the image you're literally mere ing your image on photo shop and when you do that you see light differently you see composition differently and when you see those things in a different way you're able to take a step back and say whoa I'm looking at this in a whole new light what do I need to do to make it more cohesive so let's talk a little bit about some images that I have used to do this sort of strong style of compositing last time I was on creative live during photo weak I was able to shoot on a black backdrop and so we're kind of furthering that because I didn't get to go very in the detail about that so I shot him a black backdrop and in this case you can see that I am moving the dress on the model we have ah very lovely photo assistant holding her up and so she's in this pose that's a little bit complicated and I needed to remove her from that background so what did I have to think about I've kind of got it marked for you here I had to remove as you can see the exes on ourselves and to remove myself from the frame in the photo assistant we couldn't be there anymore I had to worry about certain spots on this model for example right under the small of her back there you can see there's a really dark spot and that image and because of that that might not cut out so easily I might go ahead and select all the black in that picture and then it might just cut right into her dress so that's something that we're going to be addressing later on how to take care of that and how to do it seamlessly her feet that's another little potential problem area in this case it was not a problem area and that's because her feet were so bright because I shot with the light coming straight into the scene then the other part was her hair again with her hair being very dark on the dark backdrop now we have modeled jane she has black hair literally she dyed it black and it was even darker than the last time I saw her so when I saw her I said oh no we cannot use that dark hair on a dark backdrop because I'm not going to be able to see where to cut it out so we switched it out we brought in a red wig today and now we have the red that's going to stand out from the black background so that was a little switch that we made at the last minute that wasn't something that I debated when shooting this but these are the things that you have to think about or just do it a couple times and have it not work for you to realize that something needs to change so let's say that I wanted to photograph jane exactly as she was with her dark hair I would just put in a gray backdrop then so then there is some separation there okay so I need to remove those things from this image and so I did I ended up putting her completely on a black backdrop so I'm darkening everything down making sure that there is no more of what we don't want in this image I have done that super super simply just by taking a ah black brush and just painting right over all that stuff and in bother taking a blank shot of the black space and then doing that because why it's just black and I'm not going to use it any ways in the end I just want to mask out everybody who's in there who I don't want to be in there so there you can see if I flip back and forth here you can see that we have a hand on her back there there's a hand actually physically holding onto her back and so I had to get that out by cloning by popping it out with liquefy little things like that that will be talking about later so here I'm changing some of the colors for this composite I am dulling the blacks to be gray not really sure what I'm going to be doing with this image yet but that allowed some detail detail to be pulled out of her hair and then I started finding backdrops so in this case we have sort of an interesting little set of images that I'm going to show you this is my process when I'm compositing if I'm not entirely certain of where I need to put my subject so in this case where I have if I go back here to this model I've got my model I didn't know where I was going to put her this day I knew she wasn't going to be there but I didn't know where she would go so I've got this snowy backdrop does she fit I need to figure out if she fits into this space so I'm testing it I've got her cut out I'm just putting her in that space I see does it work does the perspective matt and my at the right angle so if I had shot this force from really really low like laying on the ground and then I tried to put her in there she wouldn't fit in there at all and that's not the kind of thing that you want to fake that's the kind of thing that people who are very tech savvy will say this does not work at all technically we can see that very obviously then I got this space one of my favorite landscape pictures to be able to put into a blank image and image where we have a black backdrop and so I have used this shot before you can see my friend kelly and they're just trying to get out of the frame fast enough and so I put her in there and she actually fit in there pretty well so I almost used this one except for the fact that I had already done a picture with this backdrop so I didn't want to use it again and then we have my little orange orchard and so I've got her in there too so I'm just keep dropping her in dropping her in and hoping that she fit it's so here I have her right in this orchard she fit in there pretty nicely as well although the the sizing of her wasn't quite right she was a little bit too small for that spot I think and then I have this other spot up there is my friend kelly again who is in the shots it seems and so I decided to try to place her in there so there she is so as you can see him placing her in these shots but I am thinking about specific things what is the background like does the lighting match and more specifically where is my focal point in that blank shot so let's say that you're back at that beach in california and you're going to take a shot of the ocean and that's going to be your shot that you're compositing into you really need to think about where you're setting your focal point so not only am I getting down really really low taking my first shot I'm staying here for a few minutes and I'm going to adjust on manual focus my focal point so I'm gonna take one far out a little bit closer to the camera then a little bit closer and so on and by doing that I then have the option of saying ok my subject actually fits in better really close to the camera but if you don't have a focal point set there then you're never going to be able to use it and that's really upsetting when you're compositing so I'm making sure to take all of those different focal points I usually do about anywhere from two to five different options just so then she fits somewhere I mean I know for example in this image that I'm showing here that I've got a mountain scene I'm not going to focus on the very tip top of the mountain and then try to put somebody up there because they'd be ant size so it wouldn't actually make sense here we have ah blank room in this case my canvas was actually really large in photo shopped for this blank shot so when I put my subject in she was super teeny tiny in there it was really funny looking and so she didn't fit I would have had to make her much much bigger to fit in that space and then here we have a beach shot which is really similar to the image that we're going to be compositing into today and I put her on the beach now we're working in a space where it's not a solid ground so in this image we have a beach we have this sand which means that her feet need to be able to dig into the sand a little bit to make it fully believable the other thing that we're gonna have to work with in this case is shading are there any shadows doesn't make sense that she is in that space so I need to go ahead and pick something where she actually fits now here I have her on a different background and this is what I ended up using so I use this background and I'm using this from multiple different reasons I felt like the simplicity of that landscape that really well I felt a cz though the fogginess of it was really good in terms of it being a moody image but the lighting didn't match exactly the lighting here I couldn't even tell you where the sun was it is the flattest light huit image that I've ever seen so therefore I could manipulate that light a little bit more so here I've cropped the image I've cropped it into a squares then she fits in there and so that she looks really awesome but I had to change the light so if I go back to the frame right before that you can see especially around her arm it's very dark all around the edges of her arm so it's really dark the background does not I need to change that because it looks like she was shot on a black backdrop so I am selecting all around the edges of her arm and I am making sure to brighten that up a lot so then she blends nicely into the frame I made her smaller so you can see in this shot she actually shrunk down a little bit because I wanted to make sure that the size of the body fit that space and exactly where she wass so I have her shrunk down I added a shadow underneath that was another really important step here we have another image where I've made everything much darker so if I go back to the one before that everything is a little bit bright the subject is really bright the background is really bright and if I move forward here we've darkened everything down and that's allowing her to fit into the space a little bit more it's making it a little bit moodier and there's a little bit of a texture on there now as well adding a vignette so here I've warmed the image up just slightly and I've added a nice oven yet around the outside edges to try to hone in on the subject this image was quite bright to begin with especially the background in terms of the sky it was all evenly one bright color so I'm darkening the edges down just to add some specificity to the subject and then here I am making overall color changes to this image so if I flip back to the one before that you can see here that it wasn't quite as dark and it wasn't quite a saturated so adding yellow into this image I'm darkening it down and I'm doing that because that's my style it's not something that needs to happen to blend the model in there but it's something that for me works really well in terms of capturing that moody style that I love darkening even more adding more color okay moving on to the next image here shot at the exact same time as the last model shot josh was there I got hay and then uh so we shot on black backdrop I have actually already removed things from this image so in this case there was a stool underneath her but she was balancing on I removed that from the image painting black right over it super super simple thing to remove because we're on a black backdrop so I've got my model very evenly lit which means that it's easy to separate her from that black backdrop so I've moved her over to this backdrop that room that I showed you before just cropped a little bit differently here I moved her over but what I have done is I've changed the blending mode of that layer to lighten because she is on blending mode lighten you khun see that her hair has just completely disappeared wherever there is a shadow on this woman that is just completely deleted from the image so why would I blend her in with blending mode lytton I did it simply to get rid of the dark background I was able to change the blending moda lytton and then everything that was dark in the image disappeared but I have to add in the bits and pieces that are missing I can't just keep her without a head of hair with ahead randomly floating in the air so then I used my name o normal what I did was I duplicated that layer of the subject and then I changed the blending mode to normal I then erased the entire image with a layer mask and on lee brought back the pieces where I needed them so I added in her hair back in there just a little bit wherever her hair needed to be I added in on her calves wherever that got a race where there are some shading so by using two different blending modes for this image I was able to create a composite that worked I was able to delete that black background very easily I was able to put her in this situation where she did wasn't there to start with so here you can see that blending mode you have a layer mask there so you can pretty clearly see what the layer mass it looked like when it was on blending mode and so I am just working her into the scene so here are making some overall adjustments I am de saturating the entire image that's something that I do very often as I said I like to de saturate my backgrounds sometime the skin of the subject in this case she was wearing white and she had dark hair so there was nothing there was no color to leave so I just deleted everything ijust too saturated everything and took that down that way she blends color wise into the scene that she's worked into I added a lot of light to this image so I continually worked the light coming in from the left hand side she already had some natural shading underneath her legs and that could have been motivated by a window off to the left hand side of the frame so I'm making that side a lot brighter darkening down the right hand side of the frame trying to make it look like the lighting is cohesive and there you can see again especially adding a lot more light and then darkening it down on the other side so I flipped back back there that has even more light than before but still when I moved to the next one you've got a lot of light coming in that window now even though there was never ever a window there to begin with so adding in that shading you khun see the shadow underneath her foot underneath her body and because we have those shadows it makes it believable that she's in this space without that shading she would never look like she belonged there so what happened had to happen in this image is we had to photograph the model we had to shoot her on the correct backdrop in order to drop her into a space we had to erase the hand and clone the hand out from under her we had to paint black around the subject so once we got the people out we had to make sure that we painted black exactly everywhere that we needed it to happen and then we had to move the subject to a different background which matched the perspective had to match the angle had to match we had tohave the focal point at the right spot everything had to be working in order to make this picture happen wade the change the bonding mode of the subject this is not something they always have to dio but it can be really really handy to get rid of a backdrop we had to change the light to make sure the subject fit into the scene and then we had to change the colors which added atmosphere is well to the image adding a texture and then proofing so those were always my final steps I added texture I proofed the image and then it's finished so moving on to this image here this was shot in my steuer it's more like an underpass but I use it for a black backdrop instead of hanging a black backdrop I love going out into the setting and what this does is it actually kind of mimics window light you have light coming in directly no light is coming in overhead it's very very beautiful even lighting that you have on the subject and you have a pretty dark background that you could make darker later so I've got myself in the pose that I need and then I'm adding a rope because this image ends up being underwater where I'm being pulled out of the water with the rope so I'm adding the rope in knowing exactly where it needs to go and then painting black again all around the subject because this is a matter of darkening the background and then adding different elements in I'm not actually moving myself off the background though in this case I want a black back drop what I'm doing is adding other elements from other photos and putting them into that black space which is another option with image compositing I've added a different dress on so you can see there that was all one pose but I wanted there to be a much bigger flowing dress so I've added that flowing dress onto the frame I then changed colors expanded the frame and then finally did erase that rope in so than it fit into the scene here we have some bubbles so that is part of the compositing from a totally different picture I am adding those bubbles in putting them into the shot and I am blending those by changing the blending mode of the layer here I have another piece of the rope that I put in for believability like we've been talking about over and over it has is to be believable darkening everything down adding a few more bubbles brightening the image up just a little bit and then doing my final touches making more light having it be a little bit of a hazy light adding more light to the dress darkening the edges of the image down so what had to happen had to photograph the model again I had to add the dress and the rope I had to cut them out paste them in and blend them into the background I'd add bubbles and then I had to paint black everywhere to make sure that I didn't have little pieces of that backdrop showing I'd add light to the subject so I had to make sure that when I had that final composite done I added light in a stream coming on to the subject I'd change the color of the dress to be bright red I really don't like pink and so I had kind of a maroon ish dress that I ended up changing a little bit to be more vibrant red I added a texture and then I proved it this image was shot in a very similar space albeit a much more disgusting sewer so I photographed my model I photographed her legs here so this shot is for nothing but the legs you can see that her feet are in the position that I need them in then I photographed her upper body on the black backdrop making sure that those little pieces of hair which were actually twigs I don't even know I did definite id but the twigs on her head because I wanted to look nature e and then I had the hands on the black backdrop and then I used a different hand so her body was made up of the legs the upper body in a different hand to make everything look really graceful and then we have this drawing of a moon and I use this drawing of a moon because I didn't have a picture of a moon so what is the alternative I asked a friend for a stock image I go on a stock sight I see what I can get I go out and photograph the moon one night by myself see if I can get it see what happens in this case I thought it would be really fun to collaborate with my model olivia clemens and we decided to take the moon drawing and put that in the photo shop so that's exactly what I ended up doing now here I'm starting the composite there I'm adding a different hand on so you can see that there are two hands there roll three at the moment one will be erased completely because I found it to be a little bit more graceful and then we're just adding those legs on so if I flip back and forth there this this you can see where those legs are being blended so in the first one I'm really focusing on the waist okay the waist is um an amazing space to be ableto combine two different halves of the body the waste isn't moving so much whereas the upper body moves and the lower body moves but the hips can kind of steak grounded so I put her legs on in this image and then I started painting black and people say to me all the time why do you think you can get away it was just painting black on images that okay and I say I don't know it's been okay so far I don't see a problem with it so I do it so I just painted black all around the subject and then I added this fielding so I added the field into the shot I had shot it a totally different time I shot it on an overcast time of day but I needed it to look like it was a lit from the front because that's how my subject was lit so I faded the background into black I'm fading it in so then it blends so that it looks like there was light coming from the front and it's not hitting the background as much there's the moon so that's the moon drawing and it actually doesn't look that much like a drawing in the final picture because there was so much detail because I asked her to draw that moon on a black backdrop so she shaded the background of the paper draw them drew the moon in there and then I was able to just very simply put it in photoshopped darken it down and blend all around the moon without having to race against it very much so here I'm adding light to the moon adding more shading around the subject and then putting a little bit of light at her feet adding a little bit of a sky to finish this composite putting the sky in adding even more sky you can see here how it's covering the moon so when I flip over here we can see that the clouds covering the moon that integrates it into the scene the moon is not just stuck on there is this really bright object in the sky it's being covered by the clouds I'm giving colored everything so giving the moon a little bit of a warm glow to it and giving that same glow to the subject and I've added a different dress on so you can see here that I made just a nab salute lee terrible wardrobe choice and when I did this and decided what the heck was I thinking this looks ridiculous so I decided to put a different dress on I just so happened that I had photographed a different model in this dress in the same exact field but I was using for this composite I saw that I had that dress at the exact right angle everything worked perfectly so I cut it out put it on my model it's just like playing with those little paper dolls where you put the different outfits on and stuff like that so I cut it out put it on had the perfect flow for what I needed then I gave her a boob lift a little bit there so you can kind of see from that that that we're kind of just tucking her in and pulling her out in the right ways because I had a completely ridiculous outfit on her where she quite look right so I put a new dress on gave it some shape to fit her body and I'm adding more color and more dimensionality to this image by adding light in different spaces so I had to photograph the model I had teo put her body parts together that was the next step in this image I had to find a field that was photographed from the right perspective with the right focal point there I had to blend the subject into the background by erasing and then I had to insert the clouds multiple times to create that thickness of the cloud and to make it go over top of the moon I had to blend the sky around the moon I had to erase that darkness make it a little bit darker and then I had to change the light so I had to change light on the field I had to brighten up the subject I had to make it look like the moon was giving off some amount of light and then I had to create cp atones so obviously I'm saying I had to I didn't have to but I felt for my imagination that I had to do that to make it match what I saw originally so I created a lot of cp atones added a texture and then I proofed so it's always the final step to my image creating now this image is a little bit trickier again shot in water but in this case I did not shoot my subject on a dark backdrop I shot her in a completely random pond with lots of random things in the background that were very distracting so I had to just cut her out completely and move her over and people say all the time well you can't just cut a subject off a background that takes forever and that's that such such hard work and it can be really hard work but it doesn't have to be depending on what you have going on in this case I don't have random hairs moving all around so I don't have to worry about cutting in between hairs I never ever want to have to do that so instead I have her hair wet and matted to her body so I could just cut around her hair and then paste her onto this background we're putting her into the scene just by cutting erasing lightly around the water there's the clouds were going to talk about clouds a lot later I'm going to move real fast now boom boom boom there we got this shot where I have the clouds blending mode multiply which we will talk about later starting integrate her into the scene making sure that the lighting matches adding more light to the subject adding color darkening everything down adding light to the subject

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.