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Fine Art Photography

Lesson 9 of 38

Posing Overview and Q&A

Brooke Shaden

Fine Art Photography

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

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.

Lesson Info

Posing Overview and Q&A

so we're going to take some questions now on dh mallory what have you got yes we've got a lot studio g v w asked what his book do with the work that she's tired of I'm off it often tempted to the straight and get rid of it that's a really good question because I often I'm tempted to do the same thing I mean I think that you guys probably are too you create something that you don't like and then you think well I'm gonna throw this in the trash and never show it to anybody but there are two things that I do with it one is I keep it in a folder and I remind myself of how important it is to create things that you don't like sometimes because if you're creating things that you just love all the time then you're probably not a challenging yourself enough so every time they create something that's a failure I try to turn that into something that's really positive and I say this is why it didn't work and I'm going to learn and I'm going to grow and I'm never going to make those same mistakes a...

gain then the other thing that I dio is I share those pictures on my blogged so periodically I'll do a post maybe like three or four times a year just saying these air all the pictures that did not work so far this year and this is exactly why they didn't work and I let people know because we're all in this together you know it's not like we're just this one little person creating terrible works that nobody else does create it everybody creates bad work sometimes and it might not be bad to somebody else have been surprised before making these block post putting it out there and then having some people say I actually think this is your best work and I'll think it's a complete failure so it's really nice to just say we're all in this together you know we all create works that we don't like and it's okay and we learn from it so that's kind of what I do with it and I think it's a really good thing and tastic along that same line we have c shoot and kindred who wondered said that you have some regrets about post processing that you had done but if you can always just post process that again why do you have that regret why don't you actually just go back and fix it well yeah I know it's a good question mostly because I didn't realize it until afterwards you know I posted it I thought it was okay and then I had this feeling like maybe I did that too soon maybe I posted it too soon and then you know you kind of go back and you say should I re edit it is it worth it to go back but usually for me I've moved on I moved on from pictures really quickly so I create I'm happy with it I put it out there and then afterwards it's that's done I've explored that area and then if I want to redo something I'll redo it in a different way so like with that boat shoot you know I would love to explore that again do something with a boat filled with flowers maybe inside a space but I wouldn't do the same exact thing over again and I don't feel that that picture strong enough technically to start redoing it so I would take that boat and fill it with flowers a different kind of flower and maybe put that in a more elaborate space and do something that's still similar the same concept but just redo it from start to finish so I can feel really good about every part of it instead of trying to save something like that that is great um okay so uh not sure that you're the best person to ask about this but I really actually like this subject poppy and vissel work poppy says do any other men in the audience feel like we are a little creatively constrained because we are men it seems to me that women feel more comfortable expressing themselves and vissel work says I wish I could get myself to do self portrait but I'm too scared of the feedback I'd get being a guy do you have any insider thought about that well I hear it a lot actually I hear a lot from different men that I encounter saying well how am I supposed to portray emotion when you know society feels this way about men or how am I supposed to portray this emotion without looking too girly I hear that a lot and so there's this really big stigma that goes along with you know a man trying to do self portraiture a man posing for a picture because we have this idea of what it should be and obviously I can't speak to what it's like being a man taking a picture of myself or anything like that but I am about to go through a whole bunch of different poses that I think are really strong for men to do that portray a lot of emotion so hopefully that will shed some light on the subject maybe help a little bit but yeah it's a problem that I think I don't know where it comes from and that's why I'm so bothered by it because I've never actually heard anybody say oh this doesn't work because you're a man or this is bad because of this it's just something that I think is a personal fear that men have that they'll be seen in a way that they don't mean to be seen and I think that maybe just help with posing and help with really understanding the emotion is what's going to propose it forward to try it but I think that's for anybody I mean it's not just men that feel that way I think that women have a little bit of an advantage in that in society generally more accepted that a woman puts herself out there and is emotional and khun take these images of herself whereas a man might not have that behind but at the same time in the artistic community especially you're going to run into people who are so accepting of that kind of thing and I think that if you can find a safe group to start with start sharing that kind of thing then you'll feel okay to expand I love that and I would even think also that if you want to do it a safe way to do it is kind of to start expressing what air traditionally considered masculine emotions you know for like the power and rage and anger whatever it happens to be that you want to say but you know start there and then move into the software and I don't think it's wrong there but again if that's something that you're concerned about yeah that's what do you think about that and I think that's great I mean I think that it's really interesting tio take a stereotype and face it head on and say how do I fit into the stereotype and how can I break it I think that's good for anybody to dio love it great ok and I think with that let's go ahead and get jump into this segment yeah okay so I'm going to talk about posing and this is something that I don't do very often I don't I don't think I've ever really talked posing before so I'm so excited because I was able to really analyze my own work and figure out which poses I go to time and time again I specifically though we're talking about storytelling posing and how to create a story and how to pose for that story like I said storytelling very broad it's not just you know this beginning middle and end story with a with a character who goes through the same motions time and time again it can be very personal could be very abstract with the story but still how to create a pose that furthers the message that you're trying to put out there so we're going to talk about motion how to use motion in your posing cause I think that could be very important how to use emotion in near posing uh all of my poses start from a place of emotion and then I build from there how can I turn that emotion into something that actually reflects what the story is about an intention how to use tension in the body to portray an emotion or a story so let's get in there what is a storytelling post literally what am I trying to do here when I oppose my subjects so it further implies the story of an image so simple but it's not that simple toe actually get somebody to do that often it requires an uncomfortable pose so I'll be demonstrating that later how to pose the subject in a perhaps strange way I always tell my subjects that they have to be limber if they're going to come model for me I had somebody once who had back surgery and it was just wasn't going to happen I mean there was no way to post her in the way that I needed teo so I try to get very limber models and let them know that this is going to be a little bit uncomfortable in almost every situation that I put them in it creates a character so if you're creating a story with your image and you would like to create a character the best way to do that is to pose them I think even beyond the facial expression it's the energy that the model can put into her body so if you know if you say to mean um I want you to look happy I could stand here and go I like that smile for you and like really happy and I could do that but then does that really portray anything is there a story there know so what if I like started right here and then I was like okay I'm really happy this image and then I go like that like that's why happier I don't do happy clearly so this isn't my thing but if I were going to do happy that's what I would do so I want to put energy into an emotion and I want to have a reason for doing something so how would I react if I was happy I tend to be a very vibrantly happy person so if I'm happy I'm going to like jump on my bed and stuff like that or my roommate's bed so I did yesterday morning oh man now I've got this random story but anyways I start my mornings out difficulty by listening to a happy song and like jumping and stuff like that and so I was doing that in my hotel room and then one of our wonderful students cave and I had been jumping on her bed for two days straight and so I decided that since I was jumping barefoot I would put tea bags on her bed so that I would smell better but itjust stain the bed green so anyways I'm moving on totally random so that everyone will there so I tell something important about where the character has been or where the character is going now I think that that's very important like we talked about before understanding where your character's been and where they're going to go in this story what is their back story who are they as a person and how can you get that posed to match that person everybody is very different and it's important to understand these things personally before you ask somebody else to do it so if you're directing a model you're trying to pose a model and you want them to be happy you have to understand for yourself first what happiness is how you would portray that happiness because if you tell a model to be happy and then they do something that doesn't connect with you you're going to feel frustrated and then they're going to be frustrated because nobody's quite understanding what that emotion is so once you understand it you khun better let the model know exactly what that looks like happiness is not a big cheesy smile perhaps happiness is being content it's loving something or it's it's this very very specific emotion to you so make sure that you understand that above all else knowing where to start how do you start posing somebody understand your character and choose an emotion so got the character we know who this is okay we're going to go back to our disney princess character and so we know who that is and she's going to get married to that prints you remember that prince we don't like him and she doesn't like him and so that's the character now choose an emotion so what is the emotion that we're choosing for that character maybe it's anger because she just found out that she is about to you know have to marry this prince well what is anger to you to me I would probably photograph her I don't know like I don't know maybe she's like reading a book and then her dad's like you gotta marry this guy and you don't like him and then she's like oh my god when she throws the book so maybe that's the emotion that I want that's how I would portray that by having the character actually do something that is anger to me is this really loud amazing you know exhilarating pose where they are actively feeling the emotion instead of just being like I'm angry with the angry yeah I was like I don't think I nailed that angry learned to direct if you don't know how to direct a model then this is going to go very poorly of course because nobody's going to understand what's tryingto happen and I'm not saying that I know how to direct every model because every model is different we all understand directions differently we understand emotions differently we understand stories differently so you have to be able to clearly communicate what your goal is so whenever I have a model I'm always trying to let them know this is the story behind what I'm trying to dio now like I said some models just know I've worked with them enough times they understand my process but when I'm working with somebody new or somebody that I've worked with a ton I am going through every step of my process I'm saying here's the picture that I drew this is a sketch of what we're going to be doing I let them know technically first okay I'll probably have you weighing on the ground here and maybe I'll shoot from up here letting them know what's going to happen technically and then I get into why they're doing that so not just okay you're laying there because you're sad it's you're laying there because you're really sad because you just ran away from home you've been running for five miles and you finally got to a point where you just collapsed on the ground that looks a lot different than telling somebody to just lay in the dirt right it's a hugely different emotion that I'm giving them so I'm letting them know the story the motivation behind why they got to that point where has your character ben and where is your character going I keep stressing this because I think it's very very important toe let your model no these things so okay I might say to this character who's laying on the floor that's where you've been you just ran away from home you've been running for miles you've just collapsed in the ground but you're not defeated maybe also you're not to feed it and so yes you're laying on the ground and you're exhausted but their strength to and after this you're going to get up and you're going to keep going so I'm gonna let them know that and I'm going to say this is this complex emotion that I'm building for you you're not just sad you haven't just collapsed on the ground there's a lot more to it than that you're on the ground but there's tension in your body and their strength there and we know that you're going to keep going and you're not defeated character is not limited to fine art photography I think that's a very important thing to note because yes I'm doing things that have very obvious characters in them but you don't have to have that so you have to see every subject as a character and then the possibilities are endless so okay it might be a little bit difficult to pose a rock as I said earlier with that rock in the river okay fine maybe it's about the camera angle though think about what you can do to enhance the pose so I'm saying posed very loosely here as well as I'm saying character very loosely I don't know why but I'm just thinking about like shooting a gummy worm or something like that maybe that's your character and you do fun food photography think about all the different ways that you could pose that comey where maybe you tie it in a knot maybe you stretch it out really thin maybe you pick certain colors and photograph it from a certain angle all of that goes into who that character is so is your character quiet or loud I love asking question is your character quiet or loud is your character shy or is your character very outgoing that's kind of what I'm getting at here what kind of a character is it so if we go back to the sad post so I'm going to be sad and if I'm a very quiet character than just like how andrea posed her model before when I had her shoot blindfolded that was a very quiet character she wasn't being loud she wasn't being this big flailing model she was being quiet she was hunched over she had a hand covering her face there was no motion in the shot was very static and because of that I would consider that a very quiet pose wowed maybe she wanted the same exact emotion she wanted something really sad maybe that model would go like this really really dramatic with arms up and head back and motion in the dress or something like that that would be a very loud pose something that's very very big so sometimes that's what you're going for ah quiet character usually denotes a static pose and allowed one includes motion at least that's how I break it down for myself

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.