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Fine Art Photography

Lesson 2 of 38

My Evolving Style

Brooke Shaden

Fine Art Photography

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

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.

Lesson Info

My Evolving Style

we don't always start out creating our best work I don't think anybody does I think that it's something that you grow into but that doesn't mean you have to start creating work that you hate your work that you don't understand why you're doing it or work for somebody else so yes we all grow we have to grow into the artist that we're going to be and that never stops I fully believe that there is never ever going to be a time when I stop growing when I say this is the best picture I've ever taken it's the best picture of ever going to take it that's not gonna happen because I'm never going to be satisfied with that I am motivated by the idea that I can continue to create work that's going to be better than it was before so if you believe that your best work is ahead that means that you're always reaching for something that means that you can never stop and I know a lot of people who say well I'm really burnt out on photography right now because I do it all the time I work for other peopl...

e but if you're thinking about how it's so incredibly empowering inspiring that we can look to the future and say maybe tomorrow I'll create the best picture I ever could possibly take then that means that you're going to be more excited to get up and create the next morning cause you know what the possibilities are so this is perhaps one of the worst pictures I've ever taken it's an embarrassing picture there there are far more embarrassing pictures to come now I thought a lot about this and I thought you know I could pick out all my favorite pictures and load them into the beginning of my slide show and be like hey guys look at these great pictures I took but that would not be sincere in the least fit because what that would do is just say hey I think I'm great don't you think I'm great I don't think I'm not great I don't care if you think I'm not great that's not the point the point is that I want to show you pictures that at one time I was really proud of I was so proud of these pictures I have grown out of these pictures as though when I took this I took this with my friend kelly I remember it very very well we found these oranges we're just being creative on a whim this was like day five of my photography I think and um we came up with this idea to give the oranges sad faces and I was like you know it's great because it's like kind of sad and kind of creepy and now looking back on it I'm like oh I don't know how creepy and sad that was is more just funny but I tried and so even in this one slightly ridiculous picture I can still see where I was trying to come from I knew who I wanted to be as an artist even though I didn't quite hit the mark in this case so this was the sequel to that picture I won't have somebody rescuing the orange and you know I'm sure you can follow my thought process even if it was a slightly absurd thought process but that's what I was thinking then I did this picture which I hope they don't get mad at me for showing it because everybody involved with slightly embarrassed of this picture this's another example of one of those images that makes me laugh now it's a little bit silly it's something that I perhaps would not do again and just because I feel that way now though doesn't mean that I'm saying I'm embarrassed of these pictures because I'm not this is my journey this is how I have grown as an artist I look back at these images and I say you know what I'm really proud that I tried that it might not have turned out to be my best picture it might not be something that I would show in a gallery but this is my past and this is where I got my start so I'm proud of it who's next picture I have a very hard time not so okay okay okay okay okay good okay yes all right so I did this picture thinking it would be really awesome to be integrated into nature and make it look like I was part of the forest but at this point I wasn't going outside to take pictures yet so I was staying in my apartment so I went outside one day I found my neighbor outside and I said would you help me saw a tree branch so we did I got a tree branch I had the little leaves stuck on there and I thought this is great because the tree branch kind of looks like a person like hunched over and then we've got like the leaf arms and in my head what I blended on there and it seemed like a great idea at the time and again this is one of those images that I show this to you you know hoping that you'll just laugh with me and not judge me too harshly um but it's still my past it's what I'm proud of now because I say I did it now I know what not to do I understand where I was coming from I understand where I'm going so style can involve which is good style haas to evolve but if style is evolving than your inspiration also has to become more refined now I believe that style goes hand in hand with inspiration I believe that if you understand how you are inspired then you understand where you want your style to go so I could easily stand here and save you I'm inspired by nature I'm inspired by creepy things I love dark art I love dark fairy tales thes air all things that make sense to me as a person the's the things that I daydream about I spend day after day after day daydreaming about these things and in fact later on I actually wrote out one of my like daydreams that I have all the time I use it is kind of meditation where I imagine myself as a character I go through the motions of the story that's how I get my inspiration so I have that written out for you later I'm excited to share it to see what you think about my meditation special place which I'm inviting everybody into yeah inspiration is all about style style is all about inspiration they go hand in hand so how do you come to understand your inspiration that is the hardest question here because everybody can be inspired everybody could be inspired from now until the end of their life every single day it's totally possible but it's not that easy to understand how to find that inspiration so if you understand who you are now and who you want to be that's going to be a huge help in understanding your inspiration I think about this a lot who am I as a person not who am I as an artist but as a person what do I love to dio do I love to go hiking do I love nature do I love reading books these are all things that make me who I am as a person outside of photography and it just so happens that translates into photography I understand who I am I understand what I love and therefore I understand how to create that how to put that in my life every single day through photography understand what message you want to send this is so important to me this is the meaning behind self portrait er this is why I love creating because I have something to say because I understand that there is a message I am trying to give to you every time I create an image even with my head stuck on a stick with branch arms I'm still creating a message that I'm trying to give to you so in every single one of my images I have some back here behind me there's a story that I'm putting into that there's a message there is something that I want you to take away from these images understand what you want to spend your time doing literally so often I meet people who say well I'm a photographer and I love photography but I spent all of my time photographing this thing that I don't actually like doing so I said this to myself when I started photography I said what do I love doing literally I love hiking that is something that I love so I would love to be able to go out in nature and take pictures I was too scared for the first few months that I started photography I was really nervous to go out of my apartment and actually go out and take pictures in nature but I wanted to and I knew that from day one that I wanted to spend my time outside and I wanted to spend my time fraud working alone in the field and in the forest and doing self portraiture and so I did that because that's what made me happy every day and that turned into a career understand what excites you literally what excites you like for example if I could do anything right now if I could put myself in a story what story would that be or if I could go to any country where would I go I wouldn't want to be a fairy tale character I would want to as you'll see later where a beautiful silk green dress and run through a field probably in scotland I did that before is amazing on dso that's that's me that's what excites me that's what I want to do it so I create characters like that characters that excite me understand your imagination and so this kind of goes back to what I was saying about meditation about daydreaming what do you love thinking about literally like if you could just sit here and have a daydream like if we all over just like okay we're going to sit in a circle and we're going to have a day dream time which we're not going to dio but if we did what would you daydream about I mean what would you just start thinking about to make you happiest right now I think that's a really fascinating thing to ask yourself because we don't let ourselves dream that often I mean we go to sleep and we dream of course but we don't really have that opportunity so often to sit down and say I'm just going to take twenty minutes and just sit here and daydream about whatever I feel like thinking about if I could be a character who would I be if I could go anywhere where would I go and that's what I try to spend my time doing so whenever I get stressed whenever I feel I don't know uncomfortable in any way I go to my little special place when I become a character and I think about how to turn that into a photo this is a really important topic that I want to talk about who you are versus why you are this is what guides my life the idea that we are not just who we are literally for example I'm a photographer I'm a wife I'm a sister on the daughter those are things that I am but that's not why I am those are the things that I am so if we can go deeper into not just who you are because that's obvious but why you are those things what makes unique what are the attributes that specifically make up who you are then you can understand your inspiration so anyone could do something but not everyone has the same reason for doing it so thinking about that really carefully anybody for example could go take this picture anybody in the world can go do that that's a fact however not everybody while the same motivation you might be looking at this picture and thinking I would never go take that picture it's creepy and I don't like it good now you have a reason for not doing it that's awesome but if you're thinking yeah maybe I would take that picture but I would do it for this reason in this reason in this reason that's different from me so if that's different that makes you you that makes you unique so I went out and did this picture my motivation it was basically a mass murder so we're not going to go into detail about this because I'll probably go to jail it's avoid I don't know but uh anyways I thought it was really fascinating I loved the idea that all of a sudden all of these people just drop dead right where they were but if you prefer something a little bit lighter perhaps they're all just sleeping in the field together that's it yeah they're just sleeping okay so once you understand what sets you apart then you start to create images that stand out from the crowd so I did a lot of thinking about this when I started photography I I said what is it that makes me think that I have any business taking pictures I mean why me like why do I have to take these pictures why do I think that I deserve to put these on the internet for people to view there's a reason there has to be something that sets you apart that makes you say yes this is why I do this this is my message that I want to put out to people I have a lot of messages perfect personally that I love putting out there things that I feel are unique to who I am things that might be a little bit different from what somebody else is saying and that goes hand in hand inspiration because always paired with something dark that I think is beautiful that other people might not think is beautiful so if I go back to the slide you can see all of these people who I think have dropped dead in the field that's my interpretation of this image that I created you might not see that but I see it is beautiful I see it as this amazing massive women who just ran out into this field and something happened it makes me wonder what happened to them why are they there what in the world has gone wrong in a sense to make this happen I think that mystery is beautiful I think that looking at an image where there's really interesting white in colors that's beautiful to me so that's my inspiration and I put that out there and I let you know I don't care if you like it it's okay if you don't like it but hopefully it makes you feel something regardless so moving on why are you simple simple question that does not have a simple answer it's difficult to understand what alone you know why or who you are I mean if you had to define yourself what would you say who are you personally so we're more than what we do yes I'm a photographer but I don't care that much about photography itself I mean I don't love a camera I don't love a photo shop I love the messages that I'm putting out there I love being able tio pick up a camera use that as a tool and then further that do something more than that I love being able to wake up and say this is who I am I'm going to create it I'm going to show you who I am it's more than what I'm doing it's the reasons why we do them so what are your reasons for creating images if you had to say just quickly you know okay this is why I do this this is why I do that what are those reasons and how often do you think about them I recently had this kind of revelation that here at the start of this year of course it was the new year and everybody's thinking about resolutions and stuff like that and I started thinking why do I do photography I mean is it is that just who I am now is that all that I am because I've put myself out there is a photographer and then I thought that's not who I am that doesn't have to be who I am you know I'm more than just the pictures that I take I'm the reasons why I take them I want to be inspiring that's one of my goals I want to be able to do motivational speaking I want to create a documentary I want tto be a writer I want to write a novel these air all things that I want to do with my life and I have felt in the last few years that no you're a photographer you're in this box so you can't move out of that box because what's going to happen then if you're not the photographer that people know you to be and then I thought you know what I'm not just a photographer I never wanted to be a photographer anyways I love it photography is my passion absolutely but that doesn't define me so I want to move past that and I want to say you know what this box is a photographer but I'm stepping over here I'm not just a photographer I'm also a writer I'm also this I'm also that and then eventually I can put them all in the same box and say this is everything this is who I am as a person as a whole so the moment you understand your value you become valuable this is something that we're going to talk a lot about during the business segment there's something that I stand by wholeheartedly I truly believe that if you understand what makes you unique what makes you valuable other people will understand that as well so I put my work out there I've got pictures that are a little bit strange people don't like them sometimes some people do some people don't care it doesn't matter I put them out there because I love them and I'm confident in that so I'm putting that out there and I'm saying this is my value this is who I am this is what makes me unique and you can take it or leave it but because I know that I put that out there very confidently and I hope that other people see that so I think uh not of who you are but why you are simple simple um I would love to hear from somebody if we can um who has an idea of not only what you d'oh but why you do those things yeah um I like to tell stories with my images and uh you create a world uh the main purpose of that creating that world is to share a moment with someone and have a deep connection with them that's wonderful so you're a photographer yes but you also create these moments with people and you see who they are and you create a story around that that's beautiful and that's a good reason why I mean it's not just yeah I take pictures because I really like f stops and you know so anybody do that I don't know I'm sure somebody does that it's okay if that's your passion cool because that's why you do that but ah lot of people have a deeper reason not just a technical reason hey I'm a photographer this is why I do this but you know the real reason what connects you to what you're doing

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.