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Fine Art Photography

Lesson 18 of 38

Shoot: Butterfly Daydream

Brooke Shaden

Fine Art Photography

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

18. Shoot: Butterfly Daydream
Work within the same space to create a different fine art image. With something as simple as an empty wall and a few still life props, go from creative vision to art print about a daydream. Refine ideas about posing, props, composition and more in this lesson.


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:09:49
2 My Evolving Style Duration:18:00
3 Visual Examination Duration:24:41
4 Storytelling and Character Duration:32:40
5 Storytelling Q&A Duration:07:59
6 Critique Yourself Part 1 Duration:30:18
7 Critique Yourself Part 2 Duration:13:06
8 Identify the Problems Duration:24:10
9 Posing Overview and Q&A Duration:15:17
10 Ten Basic Poses Duration:35:30
11 Posing a Man Duration:10:25
12 Shoot: Posing Demo Duration:11:53
13 The Art of Self-Portraiture Duration:17:49
14 Posing Yourself Duration:24:27
15 Shoot: Self-Portraiture Demo Duration:17:18
  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Shoot: Indoor Scene Part 1 Duration:23:54
2 Shoot: Indoor Scene Part 2 Duration:21:13
3 Shoot: Butterfly Daydream Duration:30:05
4 Image Compositing Duration:37:59
5 Shoot: Using Props Duration:18:26
6 Editing Indoor Shoot Part 1 Duration:26:22
7 Editing Indoor Shoot Part 2 Duration:20:47
8 Editing Butterfly Shoot Duration:18:33
9 Editing Pool Shoot Duration:24:48
10 Shoot: Outside with Open Sky Duration:23:49
  Class Trailer
Now Playing
3 Shoot: Snow Scene Duration:26:36
4 Editing Outdoor Scene Duration:31:28
5 Editing Fairytale Scene Duration:26:32
6 Editing Snow Scene Duration:15:59
7 The Business of Fine Art Duration:26:03
10 Making Prints with Q&A Duration:33:50
11 Becoming You Duration:32:35
12 Taking Risks Duration:29:40
13 Bonus Video: Expand Your Space Duration:01:17

Lesson Info

Shoot: Butterfly Daydream

so let's say that you paid a lot of money for a location or you're in an abandoned space and you don't have the ability to go many places since a lot of abandoned spaces air too unsafe to really move around the whole space so if I only have this one location this could be a studio this could be anything right now it's just a white wall in a floor so because of that I want to use this to the best of my ability I want to do something else in this scene so what I'm going to do is create a scene with butterflies we're going to have her model sitting on the floor actually for this one she's going to be posing from the floor and we're going to start to stick butterflies all around the scene I'm gonna explain two ways that I would naturally do this the first inclination that I have would be to take one single butterfly and then use that multiple times all around the frame by compositing so I'll show that method as well as the sticky method so we actually have one hundred different butterflies...

here today and we're going to be sticking them all around the frame trying to build a believable set so I'm going to get started with that justus soon as I change my model so why don't you go ahead and put those ridiculous bloomers on with that like lace shirt all right okay which actually I think you're in here but I'm not sure we'll find it so now let me talk a little bit about all of these important things that we're doing for this segment so I am doing lighting angle pose set design all of these things that we just talked about I'm going to try to very very quickly erase this yeah using my sweater because why not okay so we have a news workspace here that I'm going to start to draw in so again I have the square frame this isn't my image that I'll be drawing inside but first I'm going to start writing so let's go through a checklist lighting what is the lighting going to be like I want the lighting to be straight onto the subject I don't want any shadow I was in this one at least not on the subject so in this case the sun will be right here facing her directly so in this room is just like this that's the wall that the floor no sense of perspective I don't know how to do it so that is my image the sun's coming straight in and first I'm going to go ahead and write again my description so a girl most of my stories start with a girl something something a girl sits in her room so this is her room her bedroom her little imaginary space whatever it isthe ah girl sits in her room she is daydreaming and so that is an important thing to note for the model to be able to pose as well as for me it's understand exactly why I'm doing this image this is an image about dreaming it's an image that is very imaginative I mean this is her imagination this is what this girl is thinking of day in day out until she's gotten lost in the dream so I wanted to be a little bit brighter on her so a girl sits in her room she is daydreaming she imagines butterflies filling the room filling the room so we've got the butterflies are filling the room that's what we're going to dio soon they start taking over her face our model's not having a good day today because she has her face being completely demolished in every single picture so they're going to start taking over her face she said except out so high school sits so she said doll like doll like in the room lost in uh daydream okay so her expression is going to be sort of blank the butterflies are going to be covering her completely and so let me talk about the pose so she's going to be sitting there right here on this floor I actually really like how dirty it is now from the vines because that kind of brings that element of nature in so I'm going to be right in front of her so I need to think about the legs how my posting these legs if I do this and pose the legs that way the feet are going to look gigantic especially if I get any sort of a low angle on her they do plan on doing so I don't want to have the feet straight out so I'm going to curl the feet in to be just like this that way they're not coming out towards the camera so much she'll look very doll like an innocent and then I'm going to have her posed just like this so by doing this I'm straightening my spine I'm going to tell her verbally I'm going to say put your shoulder blades against the wall so that would make her push your shoulders back naturally that also drops the shoulders a little bit just by doing that and then she'll have a straight back goingto have her put her arms out just like this almost like she's accepting what's happening to her the butterflies are coming her hands are out so that's going to be the pose and then we'll have her head pressed back a little bit to create that separation between the jaw line and the chest so we're gonna have our just like this now I haven't seen this pose so I'm just guessing what it looks like so I'm going to have to see what it looks like with her sitting in the space see if I like it I'm going to have her hair kind of going over her shoulders and down the sides of her arms but not in front of her most likely maybe a strand or two but nothing more so I'm just going to have her sitting like this once she's sitting I'm going to start by placing butterflies all over her face I'm going to start with that first even though it's slightly uncomfortable because I want this image to have a flow to it the image doesn't have a flow it's going to look like people just randomly stuck butterflies all over the walls so I wanted to start really thick on her shoulders maybe on her head and then get thinner as it goes up so it's almost like they're coming from her from her imagination so like I said with the story she's daydreaming this is from her imagination so we need to make sure that she is the center of it all so we have the head butterflies come from within and move outwards up the walls so whenever the model's ready we're going to grab her back in here and let's get those butterflies in as well as whoever's going out we stick them jan yet eh okay this is my special trade these air the really pretty runs so why don't you come over here and now we did this in a little bit of a special way look we've got sticking stuff I don't know what it's called sticky tacky stuff on them and that is just right on the bottom of the butterfly there so we've got that on their pre done so we plan this ahead of time we knew what was going to happen and now I can take this butterfly I can just stick it to the wall just press it right in there and it sticks so is really really simple to do they're really a lightweight I think they're paper or something like that and you can kind of pose the wing this to however you want so I think that's a really interesting detail instead of all of them looking exactly the same so I'll leave that one there that's good but now whenever we get our model and we'll have her sit and we'll start to stick everything to her I can go ahead and plan my angle is well oh hello why don't you go ahead and have a seat just they're perfect good now I'm gonna pose you first to see if my pose looked anything like what I was in today intending so I'm gonna have this light come out let's start with both legs out because that's how I started so I'll know how to director in that way and then I want you to just do the either way good actually go the other way and then we won't see your foot tattoo perfect except for that little word but that's okay and it's not that I don't love tattoos because I absolutely do but in this case I really want to make sure that I don't see them because that's not his timeless as uh having somebody who's not tattooed okay so sit comfortably you feel good okay move back against the wall as far as you can perfect now I want you to push your shoulder blades against the wall perfect so you see how when she did that her shoulders instantly went down and it created elongated neck so that's what I want perfect tilt your head back perfect that's exactly how I'm going to have her pose so I'm going to go ahead and just move her hair and I was going to talk this behind juice want forward just a little bit ago same with outside there I want to leave some strands out because I want to separate them and I want to make them look really interesting as little details that we have going on in this picture so little tiny bits of hair I think that looks really nice except for these crazy looking bangs is what you get when you have a wig though I guess here we go over the eye now I'm going to start to place these on her face and I'll pose her hands later that doesn't really matter right now she could just stay exactly as she is now I'm going to stick this to your face and tell me if it hurts it shouldn't hurt I just have to press it kind of hard okay so I'm gonna start right here I'm not gonna put that there have to hold it for just a sec I think mmm here we go I can't stay who knows we'll redo it not for long oh actually that's what I'm like sticking you in the eye okay I think it might stay okay good now I'm going to keep going here just going to keep sticking does that hurt no okay I feel like I'm really going to hurt you but I couldn't do it harder oh good cause I need teo perfect we're getting them to stick so why don't you start sticking them to the walls just start doing a ton all around her head and then get thinner as you go out in all directions but we don't really need any down here just up in this direction good I put one on your collarbone not hurt no o k good we did practice sticking these two faces yesterday so I'm not just torturing her well maybe I am who knows how does that feel great no no you can't talk anymore so see you in a couple minutes okay we've got another one that one is not going to stay there we'll keep it on on top of your cheekbones so we're running into the problem of makeup and it's not sticking to the make up a swell so instead of putting them where gravity won't be kind to us we're going to make sure to put them up on her cheek bones wherever they khun sit where they consort of take hold there okay so hurt thank you for responding and put them in different positions as well and whatever you think would be good now like I was saying before I would normally do this in a slightly different way so I would normally do this by taking one singular butterfly and holding it here and holding it here and holding it here and over and over and over again because if I do that then I don't have to take the time to stick everything but think about how cool it is that if you got these butterflies which are not very expensive then you could take these butterflies stick them all over a room and if you can imagine a children shoot here having a little girl in a room filled with butterflies that it's so incredibly magical so I'm gonna keep sticking these and we're going to start going really fast now just sticking them sticking them sticking them all over and we're going to try to create this magical space for her something there varying different shapes and upside down butterflies and everything will get back on don't you worry hit so these seem a little bit too evenly spaced so let's was going overlaps some in here and we'll keep sticking so I want this to look really wild hoops I just broke a butterfly well it's in your hair it's good enough so we'll get another tray in thank you for another pretty one I love it all right now the believability of this image really is centered around how she is being covered with these butterflies so if the butterflies are all exactly stuck like this perfectly in order that's not going to look good at all so that's why I'm overlapping some of the butterflies and I'm making sure that they're all going in different directions because yes there coming from her head but that doesn't mean that they're all going to fly perfectly straight out of her head in the same direction so I'm going tio continue here at his place these butterflies oops well when they fall in your hair I'm just gonna leave it because it looks really good there we go I just threw it on your head but you don't know that okay good okay now the background in this shot is going to be kind of bright because the wall is bright and we're not covering it up like we did before but I'm not gonna worry about that too much because I actually kind of like it being a little bit right in this case I typically will go for something that's a little bit darker because that's my style but that doesn't mean that I'm afraid to shoot something like this because it's not quite in my style it could be my future style it could be something that doesn't work but I try out but in most cases it's the kind of thing where I could easily make it darker in photoshopped leader so I was thinking a lot about this shoot before I did it and I'm really did to the symbolism of butterflies I think that if we don't think about that kind of symbolism then we're losing something when we create an image like this because butterfly zahra symbolism of metamorphosis in my opinion they're very very much like dreaming it's the idea that we can flap our wings and fly somewhere and do something unexpected or beautiful or something that has to do with the dream and so that's why I really want to go with that theme here and if I didn't know the theme of this image then I wouldn't be able to pose her I wouldn't have any idea why I was doing this picture and that's what I was really stressing yesterday was the idea that you have to have a reason behind why you're doing something and it might not be apparent right away like yesterday we talked about how is it okay to not know why something's happening initially and I think yes that is okay in my opinion it's not ideal because that's not how my brain works thank you uh thank you so I like to know ahead of time know exactly why I'm doing something and then I continue to do it this is working pretty cool I think I'm gonna switch over to this side quickly stick a few more on over here I really like how that's looking okay now the wardrobe choice for this shot let me talk a little bit about that because I just had her stuck in there and didn't really say anything about why I put her in a nightgown so she's wearing this interesting little white nightgown it's very simple but I want a simple what if I came in here and I put her in a nightgown that had twenty different patterns on it it would be really strange if I did that and it would be strange because it wouldn't go with the patterns of the butterflies so I need to make sure that no matter what I am doing I'm keeping it simple because that's how I like to work I think that's all the butterflies nearly I want to start getting my camera set up you're doing great jane thank you look that thing didn't fall off yet so I have her in a lace top and I have her in that top because that looked very vintage it looked very old and it had a really wonderful texture to it and so I thought if this has a great dexter that's really great because I can use the texture and have it be a little bit of interest in this room that is actually not very interesting we have a really blank wall space there so I'm gonna go ahead and lower this tripod I'm going to lower it down just to the point where I'm pretty much even with her so I think one more here on the tripod and then we will be good to go okay good hoop flares the tray okay so I'm level with her just about level with her and I want to make sure that I don't get so low that I could see right up her dress because of course that is not what we're going for you're good you're good oh you've got the bloomers on what do the bloomers okay good let's have the show actually let's go ahead and pull this up a little bit because I want to see this awesome detail of these bloomers underneath which I forgot we're under there and I love them so much I'm going to cover your tattoo with a butterfly you're good yeah that looks wonderful so now we have lots of detail she's the first person that agreed to wear these strange bloomers I've been trying to put a model and over ages so really excited about that oh dear they're broken she says so I'm taking a look at what I have just going to play around with my frame I'll put it back ok now for this one I definitely do want to do a square composition where she is right in the center of the image so I am going tio make sure that I am on auto focus which I wasn't I'm going to make sure that I'm getting her at the right focal point and take a test shot so here's my first has shot super bright why is that because I have my exposure the same that I had it before which means that I need the darkened things down a lot here the good thing is that there's no motion happening in this picture so I'm going to take my I s o down if ever I have a choice I take the I s o down instead of the shutter speed or the f stop tio adjust my white so I'm adjusting my s o today get down let's just see how this looks I think it's going to be still a little bit too bright so I'm gonna take it down to one hundred with my eyes so just as low as I can go there take my shutter speed up to one twenty five and I'm taking my f stop it three point two because I don't need a lot of depth of field here okay that is much better so we've got a much darker image now and I want to make sure that I'm actually getting straight on to her so I am not yet I need to move over and try to make sure that I matched the bottom of my lens the bottom of my frame with the bottom of the baseboard here at the wall that way everything is straight I like images that are perfectly straight and that looks much better much much better okay so refocusing you look perfect ain and let me repose your arms oh and the butterfly forgot I'll get that next okay so I want both of your arms up homes up and just resting at your sides just like that now let's see if I'm gonna put it right over your eye okay let me know if it hurts that hurt okay we're gonna try to get the shot with this on there so stay with your eyes closed good unless you have that talent of opening one eye at a time but no ugo wait that's the one I know I would like that hurt okay I feel weird touching your nose like those call huh okay I think that one will stay for just a moment there oh you do she's opening arise oh so excited you look perfect great okay now I could stand to brighten this a little bit but I don't want to because I like under exposing just a little bit so I have got my main shot I got the shot exactly as I envisioned it so now at this point I'm just going to go ahead and expand my frame again just like I've been talking about so I'm going to lock down my focus I'm going to loosen my tripod so that I can pan I'm gonna pan over just a little bit and I'm going to pan over the other way now what you'll notice in these shots is that the baseboard is actually becoming wobbly so you can see that it's sort of going up and the left one and then up in the right one and that's because of my perspective I am turning my lens instead of actually moving my camera so another option would be to pick up your camera and move it over and then move it over to the other side so for safety we couldn't do that although I know that I can change the perspective and photoshopped leader so I'm gonna go back straight on to the subject lock that down and then I'm going to actually pick up my camera and tripod and just move it over on the same plane and then take a shot don't do that right over here try to get a little bit more space on the other side of her as well great so now I've got those extra shots just in a different way whatever you prefer whatever method you prefer which that's a lot easier if you're not on a tripod so if your shooting hand held then you can always just pick it up move it move it really really simple to get those extra images how you feeling over there you can relax it could have okay now for both of these shots we did a lot of story telling so we use the model in ways where she was a character she was very obviously not just a model standing in a scene so when I'm doing that I'm thinking about all of these things that we talked about will I be compositing that's the first thing that I have to think of when I'm composing because I need to be able to either move back and shoot it all at once and build the scene that way or I need to be able to pull it in closer and expand my frame now with these butterflies that I have over here I could take any one of these and I could again do this through compositing I could take it perhaps just holding it from the little antenna here place it right there take a picture place it right there take a picture place it right there take a picture over and over and over again so if I'm doing it that way that I can be a little bit cheaper about it I don't have to buy one hundred butterflies I just have to buy one butterfly and use it in lots of different ways if you are doing that then you must be able to take the butterfly and change the angle then there's different light on it so that you have different angles of the butterfly moving in different ways all these different things contribute but what I love about a scene like this a room like this that's so incredibly neutral is it anybody can shoot here no matter what your style is so you could do product photography in a room like this you khun do family portraiture you could do fashion in here all of those things you have that option and with a set design like this it's so incredibly versatile you khun use anybody in this scene and make it work if you understand who your character is so I understand this character she's a young girl well you know we're going to pretend like we're not in our twenties and you're ten so she's ten years old here and that's our character we're creating the scene where this is her imagination now what if we were doing let's say a sixty year old woman in here let's just say that that was the scene maybe we would pose her a lot differently but we could still have that same theme going on of her imagining something but maybe it would be depicted in a little bit of a less innocent way so think about character think about your where you're shooting and what props you have to work with and how those things work together to tell a story if you don't understand why you're photographing each and every detail the way that you are that can really come back later and hurt you when somebody on the internet says oh I don't understand why you did this or this would look a lot better another way and if you don't know why the new tend to believe whatever they see say instead of saying no I thought about that I know why I did that so I feel good about this so I think that we are now getting a little bit close to the end of our time do we have any questions or anything like that let's see if we do what leo and ask wan a lot of people work we're asking about your lighting and if you ever use strobes or flashes or external lighting I don't I always use not to relight all natural no matter what the situation is I own a reflector but I only use it to block light actually so I don't really use it that often it's a good thing to talk about though because in a space like this now if you remember where we had the vines before and there were some spaces that were really bright somewhere really dark a lot of people would be inclined to come in with a reflector and about some light back into those shadows or put an external light here and that way you have just a little bit of light coming in to fill in those spaces but in my opinion just how I like to work instead of bringing extra equipment which I don't usually have the luxury of doing if I'm shooting on the flyer if I'm going into an abandoned space maybe there's no electricity whatever the case may be I don't like to bring stuff with me I like to travel alone liketo have a camera have a tripod and be able to drop everything on my back and go so in that case I might have taken multiple exposures and done emmanuel hdr so instead of having a reflector or light I would just take that same exact shot underexposed overexposed and then manually erase in wherever I might need those other images so if there was a dark spot in the corner I would take that bright shot overlay it and then just erase it except for that little dark spot in the corner and then do that kind of manual hdr for that kind of an image thank you fantastic and frank german eyes kind of wondering why not just cut a butterfly out and put it into the scene in photoshopped why go to all this effort of doing it physically well there are two reasons for that I would perhaps cut a butterfly out but only if I shot it on the same scene so if you have a studio maybe you're lighting everything exactly the same way and you want to shoot something in your studio and then cut it out and use it there then that's totally an option but at the same time I would never ever use this same butterfly shot right here cut that out and then put it multiple times in the scene because even if you start to rotate or try to make it look different the lights not changing in the angle of it isn't changing and so I want to be sure to even if I only have one butterfly to photograph it in multiple different ways and the light is hitting it differently in the angle is different and the perspective so if I'm shooting from down here and I've got a butterfly down here and I photograph that I don't want to move this same butterfly way up here in my shot because the perspective is changing on that butterfly so there are multiple reasons why would want to do it like this now I normally would shoot this as just one butterfly photographing multiple times but what if you have a family coming in or a child that you're going to photograph they're going to have so much more fun with this if they see what's exactly happening in the shot they're going to say oh my gosh look at all those butterflies that's really who I understand what your vision is instead of just being confused about the whole thing so this could be a really nice way to integrate the model into the scene let them know exactly what's happening and what the idea is behind it awesome thank you and I also was curious about how you keep your models comfortable if you're if that's crossing your mind that's on your mind I know that jane has been such a trooper the chat rooms are really impressed and buy your ugo yeah with how often do you think about that I know less than I should probably is the true answer but I am very concerned with making sure they're safe and and that they're comfortable I let them know that they're going to be uncomfortable I let them know that ahead of time like I mean there's no way that jane would look at my photos and then be like oh I bet I'm gonna have the most relaxing day if I shoot with you so they know to a certain extent what it's going to entail but I always let them know I say this is what we're doing if you're uncomfortable let me know right now before we get on set because I don't want to get on set and then have jane say oh I'm scared of butterflies and we can't do this and then I would be like oh crap what am I going to dio so I don't do that I always ask them well beforehand is this ok is that ok unless they're really good friends so I probably got some friends out there right now we're watching like my dear olivia and katie who are like she does not ask me if it's okay and she just does it and that's because they're my good friends but yeah I always make sure they're okay and I always let them know that I'm willing to do it too so if we're going to get in a really dirty puddle of water then I'm gonna jump in first I'm going to say look it's ok we're both doing it together if we're gonna be really really freezing cold somewhere I'm going to take my coat off and say we're going to be called together and we're going to do this and it's gonna be okay and I let them know but at the same time I shoot really fast so it's not like they have to be uncomfortable for that long so I always just tell them you know what I know you're going to be so uncomfortable but this will only take about five minutes so if you could stand it for that long that it'll be worth it in the end

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.



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.