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Fine Art Photography

Lesson 14 of 38

Posing Yourself

Brooke Shaden

Fine Art Photography

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

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

Lesson Info

Posing Yourself

posing yourself step by step take us test shots test shot straight into the camera so what I tend to do is have the camera right here I'm looking right at it and I just take a test shot just standing normally I'm doing that for focus for lighting just to see what's going on what I need to change and then I adjust my pose so I take my first test shot and then I'll go ahead and do it another test like in motion or whatever the self portrait might be I'm doing that then to see what needs to happen and then I start adjusting my camera angle so once I'm confident that I've got that pose that's what I'm like okay I know what I need to do now I'm going to focus on those technicals see what the camera angle needs to be stuff like that and then I do my camera settings so I'll maybe a just something to make a little bit darker maybe my I don't know white balance or something like that whatever needs to be adjusted I'll go ahead and make those changes so every film requires a casting call to choo...

se the right actor for the role this is no different you might not be right for every single picture so remember that when you're taking a self portrait maybe it's just not working and that's ok same with a model you might have a model in the model is great but that picture it's just not gonna happen it's not the right match so when you're doing a self portrait don't just think I'm just going to put myself in any picture and it will be okay because it's not you have to be suited for the role so I'm naturally innocent in whimsical I know that that's my strong suit when it comes to self portraiture I know that I can be powerful in a picture but not mean I know that I'm not good at that and then I pose better with motion or tension than when I'm still my poses are very very drab blah when I'm just standing still and I don't have that tension or motion to play with so if I can create motion for myself I do a lot better than if I have to stand still in the picture my best camera angles are very lower very high I know that about myself it's true for a lot of people so when I say lo I don't mean like right there under my chin I mean like way down on the ground over there looking up and then I could do this and you create that jaw line again and that's what I like to see so I know that that's a good angle getting really high of course is of great angle for a lot of people that's just pretty standard as faras camera angles go and people liking how they look and so this is no different I love even light a lot of people like even light on themselves instead of having lots of shadows so I tend to tilt my head up when I'm shooting outdoors when it's overcast in that way the light hits my face naturally very evenly on dh I know that I like that so working the camera now with the camera everybody's cameras going to be different I know that maybe not everybody I have a cannon five demark too that's what I'm working with today so on my canon camera I'm looking for this button it says a f dr and that is how I am turning on my remote setting so the remote setting looks like a little I don't know what that simple is like a little apple it's just a little circle with a line through it that's your remote symbol so if you have that remote symbol set that's great that means that you could do the ten second timer just by pushing the shutter or you khun do remote so remote will then work with your camera when it's on that setting um you have to find your time or setting and then understand that you can have a two second timer or you can have a ten second timer the ten second timers what we like to call the ten second run and dash and try to click and make it work method I don't prefer it it could be fun though it's just adoption so when you choose your timer settings on the camera that means that you can use a remote you can use the actual shutter either one whatever you're more comfortable with it doesn't matter I like to use a remote if I can remote could be a little bit cumbersome there usually about that big if they're bigger than that they tend to have like a long antenna on them that can be a little bit annoying when you're doing self portrait ce where to put it what am I supposed to dio I'll show you that later I'll probably break my remote five times before I stop breaking it you'll see what I mean I tend to throw it and then it just explodes everywhere we'll see how it goes getting your focus now with a self portrait when you're trying to do focus this khun b the biggest hurdle and I don't get a lot of people have questions about how do you get the focus exact one answer is that I don't I'm not a big focus girl I like my pictures to generally be in focus I don't care of my eyes or tack sharp but I'm pulling back pretty far when I do a self portrait so I've got my camera set up and I've got at least a full body shot and then some around the space so for me to get my eye exactly and focus from that distance I'm not concerned about it's not something that I'm trying to do but there are ways to hit your focus mark someone talk about that now if you have a remote it should auto focus on you based on where you put your focal point so in your camera you khun set your focal point whatever in that diagram that diamond shape that you want you have those red dots set your focal point and then you have to know where that is in your camera and your frame and then stand in front of that and it will focus on you so if you've set that just say the center focal point you know where that is in the frame maybe you're looking for your camera and you've gotta marks on maybe I am in the forest and I'm looking through my camera and I can see that there's a rock like right in that focal point plane I will go stand where that rock is perhaps and make sure that I have a little signifying factor where I know that I'll be in focus there so I've got my focal point go stand in front of my camera click the remote and then you'll see the ones working toe auto focus on you and then the red light will beep or will start going off on your camera that's how you know that you've hit your focus and it's going to take a picture so we will be showing that in just a second as well okay so remote typically have a two second away or an instant shutter so I'll be showing that as well when we set up this live shoot I have a preference for the two second delay but the instant shutter also works it doesn't really matter it's just whatever you think works best for you this is why I much prefer the two second away because I have to do something with that remote I can't have it in my hand when I take the picture so if I'm going click that's the picture of me clicking so instead I like to point it at the camera click and then do something with it so what do I do with it I dropped it down my dress I put it in my mouth I throw it whatever I need to do it gets hidden somehow this one's a little too big for my mouth I might choke so I won't be doing that but I have a smaller one that I sometimes use and that works but I'll put it anywhere sometimes I keep it in my hand if I know that my hands going to be hidden for some reason that's okay too ah lot of the times I'm outside when I'm shooting so I've soft ground so if I do throw my remote that's okay another thing that you could do if you're on ground that's a little bit harder like this will just take my remote set it down stand back up impose two seconds is actually a long time it doesn't seem like it is but trust me two seconds will be plenty of time in most cases for you to get back into your pose okay so when posing in motion and auto focusing use the two second time round your remote I definitely recommend that because if you're trying to do something in motion it is so much easier to have that two second delay because it's very unlikely that you're going to be able to spin and click and have it be the perfect shot it it's probably not going to happen I don't know many people who would use an instant shutter click for a self portrait it is fantastic though knowing how to do these settings on your camera and everything for the remote if you're shooting a model and you can't touch your camera so let's say that you need to be with your model because you're doing something a little bit dangerous and you want her to know that you're there to catch her whatever it might be it's great to have the remote you can just click click click and be with her when you're shooting another good thing is let's say that you're doing a shot where maybe your compositing and we're going to go over this tomorrow a lot maybe you're compositing and you want to do a shot where you can't move the camera has to stay right where it is because you're adding multiple pictures into the shop well in that case even just clicking your camera might move your camera if you're on a carpet or outside s o use the shutter go ahead and use the remote shutter go ahead and click click click nobody touching the camera it's not going to move it all so that's a really good method even if you're not doing a self portrait okay now this is an example of my remote so this is what I am using today I think it's a great remote I really enjoy it it's called op tech a rc four and as a sixteen foot range so I could get sixteen feet away from my camera it will work I think I've actually is it a little bit further than that I think or I just don't understand distance but either way I don't know it worked from quite a distance away on dh it has the instant or two second shutter release so that's really good so you khun see on this picture you have the s and the two s right next to each other if you push s that's an instant shutter click if you push to s that's a two second away there are other remotes that are really good so this one is for cannon says remote control for cannon here's a nikon remote that I used before I got my cannon when I did use a nikon I use this remote nikon f l l three the's air all on amazon I just pulled the pictures from amazon so if you want to go in and by remote they're very inexpensive I'm talking like less than fifteen dollars for moto and I am on lee showing you the remote that I have personally used that I really like I've used remote that have the antenna with a receiver on the camera thes don't have that these have your camera should most of them especially if it's a newer camera has a receiver in the camera so you just have to aim it at the camera and it will click if it doesn't if for some reason you need a receiver that's ok too I just don't have examples of that here because I haven't had a lot of luck with them I find them to be more finicky in fact when I got my cannon five d mark two went into my local camera store I said I really need a remote I'm in a big russian they said oh well you don't really have many options because this is the only remote that works with that camera was a sixty five dollar remote which I purchased why that was a lie there somebody remotes that work so that was a very very bad idea so go looking on the internet make sure that you check out all of your options I have found consistently that the smaller cheaper remote work better than the other ones that's just my personal experience though I have taken this specific remote underwater by accident and it still worked I don't know if that's like a consistent thing but it worked for me and then we have the cannon rc six remote so this is another small one this is the one that I can fit in my mouth very convenient eh so this one is interesting so it doesn't have a lot to it so whereas if I go back to this one that I'll be using today it's got all these buttons I'm entirely sure what all these buttons dio to be honest so well so if I go back to this one though it doesn't have that many buttons but on the back of it which you can't see here there's a little switch and that little switch allows you to do a full like a instant click or a two seconds away so you just have to examine these little remote and see where that little switch might be or what your options are cause it might not be instantly obvious to you okay so when you don't have a remote the ten second dash so uh this is what I call cooking and dashing and hoping that you get something out of it this is actually a little bit simpler sometimes to do depending on the situation so if I am taking a picture let's say that I um let's say that I have teo do something where the remote just isn't gonna work maybe I lost my remote I only keep her a boat for about two weeks before losing it and then I've got to do this method so that's been generally my workflow s o I very often do this now if you're doing this it could be convenient because you can focus on something first and then go stand there and then you're in focus so this doesn't work consistently necessarily because things shift a little bit maybe your focal point isn't it exactly right where you end up standing that's why there's a little bit of trial and error here but I really like it because every so often I will get my uh my lens to start auto focusing with my remote but it's just not catching so I'm not quite in the right spot or it's just going back and forth and back and forth and searching for focus then just get really frustrated and then you just do the tense I can mess it anyways I'll just go flip my lens to manual pick a spot and then go stand there so I'll explain that more in just a second it's less convenient I admit that but it is more fun sometimes so I think that we're all practiced this later tonight I'll force you guys to run up and down these always in practice but it can be really fun especially if you're doing something really complicated I know that I have spent countless hours in my bedroom where I have my my tripod set up with my camera on it and then I have to run and jump on my bed and getting some weird pose and it's always like I'm always in this pose like like trying to get there we're not quite there yet it's really funny to have that so let's say that you are doing this ten second method where you don't have a remote you have to click your shutter in this case I bring something to focus on so that tripod that you see there in this picture that's what I focused on that's why it's there because I didn't move it completely out of the frame when I was finished so if I'm taking a picture here I've got the camera set up made my tripods over here so I am focusing on my tripod auto focusing on my tripod locking my lens to manual focus and then I click that that ten second timer click my shutter run over here take the tripod move it away and then I pose exactly where that tripod was standing it's simple and doesn't have to be that difficult but it's harder to hit focus exactly if you're using that method all right so locking to manual focus so if you move yourself back and forth in the frame then you will be more likely to hit your focus perfectly so what I'll do if I'm not sure that I'm really in the right vocal range I will do that same picture and so okay I've run in and maybe I took my shot right where that tripod was but let's say that I just I'm not quite sure that I got it then I might do that same picture again without even looking and just do it one little step forward and then one little step back and just see where that exact ranges and I'll mark that as I'm doing it so if I'm in the dirt it's especially easy we'll stand there and I'll make a little line stand there take the picture take a step back make a little line take that picture and then I go through those three images and say oh that one's in focus or go back to that mark and then I know exactly where I need to stand so if you're jumping I know this is kind of not something that everybody might dio but if you are in motion if you're doing something that requires you to move around in the frame what I tend to do is if amusing my remote first of all what I do is I'll hold my hand up to where I know that I need to be where I will end up and I'll try to hit the auto focus on that try to see if I can get that in focus sometimes I'll bring a piece of cardboard to hold up or something just so there's a wider space that I'm focusing on instead of just my hand this is a lot easier though if you do the tripod method where you're focusing on an extra tripod because you could just raise that tripod up really high and then look to your camera as you're focusing and then you know that you'll jump at that height hit your focus mark hopefully okay so sometimes I use the ground for focus not quite ideo I have to say it might take a few test shots but if I'm being perfectly honest I do this more than anything else I forget to bring in extra tripod with me I lose my remote these things happen constantly to me and so I will take my camera pointed at the ground auto focus on the ground and then I'll do that little like trying to test where I need to stand exactly until I get it and it's actually not very difficult I mean this picture is in focus you could probably argue that my face is like five percent out of focus or something however mostly it's in focus and I focused on the ground for this picture that's exactly how I did it so sometimes I'll have my camera bag with me I'll put that there focus on that even though my face is up here just move a little bit until I hit it pre visualization it's such a huge asset when it comes to self portraiture if you know the pose that you want to be hitting it's so much easier to do it then if you're just flailing around trying different things and not knowing what you want because that's how you get frustrated with yourself because you're thinking oh I can't do this right I need a model I'm not sure what I'm doing but if you know exactly the pose then it becomes a lot easier so in this case I had the exact pose I knew what I wanted it to look like and then I went out and did it based on what I saw in my mind integration so you're trying to plan but it isn't coming to you I understand this happens a lot happens to me quite often so try to integrate yourself into the scene what would you naturally do with your surroundings so in this case I had a rope with me I knew generally what I wanted to do but I didn't know the exact pose that I would be able to dio so I just thought if I really had a giant kite that was going to pull me up in the air what would my body be doing and I tried to do that with myself now this was kind of a strange one because I didn't actually have a kite I made it in photo shop later on and so I just had that rope and so I was trying to imagine that this rope was sort of gently pulling me up in the air what would my body be doing don't forget about your surroundings super simple to do when you're doing a self portrait to forget about everything else because you are just trying to get your body to look decent I understand that I do that a lot I'll be taking a picture and then be like oh I didn't even see that truck in the background and then you have to go move everything and that could be a little bit frustrating but it's easy enough once you get the flow of things especially if your pre visualize ng so if you could go into a shoot and say this is what I want my background to look like this is what I want the color to look like all of those different element then you set that up first and you say okay I'm gonna point my camera this way because there's a dark background over there I'm going to wear this dress because I know that's a color that I want once you've got all of that taking care of before you even shoot then when you pose yourself it's super simple because you're just fitting yourself into that scene that you've already created so paying attention to camera angle light props backgrounds all of these things you have to learn to see from the model's perspective see all of those elements from howthe they see it so you might be standing there and thinking oh gosh you know like there's this weird thing on the ground over here but can the camera see that and that's what you have to learn to see what is your lens like how much is in the frame don't worry about things that you might see from this perspective when you're not just looking through the lens the most important thing is learning to feel light from a model's perspective understanding where that light is coming from tilting your head back and just understanding when it's hitting you evenly when it's not what that light is doing it's easy to feel light if you look for it so like I'm standing here right now not looking at a light but I can feel that there's a light here and there's a light here I know it I mean I can also see them too but just pretend that I can't I can't see the lights I know it because I can feel it I say see the haze of the light coming into my eyes so I know it so if you know that and you understand what you look like in camera because you have to think about it okay I have a harsh light on me here what might that look like there must be a highlight running down this cheek I understand that so if you understand that you're going to be good so I shoot myself first and then I take any extra shots so this is really moving into the compositing realm here where let's say that for this picture I needed to photograph a bird I'm not going to run around and photograph the bird and then try to photograph myself and then oh there's the bird again and then go get the bird again I'm not going to do that I need to focus on myself first because if I don't even have a pose that I like that there's no point in going after that bird so photographing myself getting the pose that I really really like and then focusing on all those extra shots it's especially important if like I said we're gonna talk tomorrow about expanding your frame so how to take multiple pictures around a room and then combine those together to make it look like the room is bigger um so we're going to be doing that but let's say that you were doing a self portrait and you're like maybe I should take all those extra shots first and then take my picture your focus is going to be off you're not even going to know where to stand because you've already taken all these blank shots with nothing in them so just always photograph yourself first make sure your focus is locked after that and then take extra shots around the space so what happens when it's a two person job now we talked about this picture earlier this was absolutely a two person job I photographed myself about one hundred twenty five times meaning one hundred twenty five different positions it took an hour because I didn't realize how incredibly tiring that would be so as I was shooting this picture I had a friend with me she was clicking the shutter as I continued to move so I set up my camera everything looked how I wanted it to look and then I started posing I didn't realize that you would get incredibly nauseous by standing up and laying down one hundred twenty five different times so it got to the point where I would I couldn't even stand up anymore I would just sort of sit up and then roll over and then do the next one very slowly so I'm rolling and rolling and I was getting so nauseous and then my friends like you can do it we owe cheering me on it so that's a two person job okay that's not something that I would recommend going out and shooting just by yourself sometimes you're going to need some help and sometimes you are the best person for your own picture so bring somebody to help you and say hey do you mind you know clicking my shutter or do you mind helping me move this dress a little bit or whatever it is that you need to dio ask for help that's okay but there are a lot of shots that you could do by yourself where maybe through compositing you want your dress to move but you can't get it in the same pose photograph that dress separately added and later and do some compositing so is there an editing work around that's what I always ask myself like combining different body parts posing multiple times things like that is there a way to do it without anybody else if there is not or if there's not a way to do it easily without anybody else that's when I will absolutely get some help shooting in public this could be something that a lot of people freak out about I get it is nerve wracking every time I do it I'll go out somewhere people don't know what I'm doing and I get a lot of weird stairs this was in the town centre in amsterdam I decided to do a big self portrait in the middle of town and I actually ended up asking people to pose for me with me so I did this self portrait lots of people were watching and I just had to be okay with that even though I was wearing a ridiculous outfit flailing my head around and have to rebuild it and speak english but who cares so I had them come up to me and people were saying hey what are you doing you know they wanted to know what was going on so I said hey will you model for me and they were like you know and then I said I just need your arm so I ended up photographing about twenty different people's arms that day and I put it together for this kind of surreal self portrait which I don't have edited I'll probably never have edited it didn't really work out but it seemed that it was very very fun and it was a good learning experience so do things that make you uncomfortable but don't compromise your core beliefs that's something that I think it's really important and we don't think about that too much when we're doing self portrait ce but let's say you're not comfortable with nudity like at your core level that is just not something that you want to put out there do things that make you uncomfortable because nobody has to see it that's your picture if you want to go do a nude self portrait by golly do it but don't feel like you have to share that that's under your control so I encourage you to do things that are uncomfortable like sticking yourself in a freezer everybody has to try it someday but do it on when you don't have to release it right you have that that's yours it makes you uncomfortable it might make you think oh my gosh why am I doing this I don't feel comfortable but ask yourself are you uncomfortable because it's something you've never done or because it truly compromises your beliefs and I think that that's a really important thing to consider when taking your own picture

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.