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Fine Art Photography

Lesson 16 of 38

Shoot: Indoor Scene Part 1

Brooke Shaden

Fine Art Photography

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

16. Shoot: Indoor Scene Part 1
Starting with a blank canvas, learn to build a scene for an indoor shoot. Begin with a vision and an empty room, and watch how Brooke begins to bring her creative vision to life. See the inspiration and the blank scene, then watch Brooke build the scene.

Lesson Info

Shoot: Indoor Scene Part 1

all right now today we are doing something a little bit special because we are decorating set it's the sets that were decorating or a little bit strange because they're not traditional sets like you would find in a studio so we're working in these really blank room and all we have is nothingness around us I came in and we didn't have the luxury of having a prop house or studio lights or anything like that we have a location that I love what I love more than anything else in the whole world is coming into a blank space and being able to bring in my voice into that space so we're working in a room that has almost nothing it's just got blank cream colored walls nothing else so I brought in a whole bunch of sticks and vines and leaves and logs anything that we could get to fill the set so what I'm going to try to do now is work with all of this stuff that we have worked with these vines in the sticks to build a scene in an actual story so let me walk you through a little bit of why we chos...

e this location now I went into every single room that we had available here and they were both pretty similar with the exception of some different paint colors and things like that so I intentionally avoided any room that had bright yellow for example I don't want bright yellow because I don't use that in my work if that's what you love if you have a bright color and that's your style go for it shoot it but for me I knew that I would just have to change it in post solarz a really a point in doing that anyways so I chose a room that was very neutral I was actually debating between this room and another that's actually really dark brown I thought that could be really interesting because it would have that nice dark background already but then I thought you know what let's challenge ourselves let's do something a little bit interesting and use a room that's a little bit lighter in color so we can talk about how to darken that down later and photo shop if it's too distracting so I'm using these vines what I'm going to do in this space is placed the model in the light and I'm going to talk about lighting in just a moment we're going to build all this vines that leaves the six we're gonna build that up all around the model and we're going to build a scene where the model looks integrated into this space I still want it to look like a room though my goal here is not to create a scene where you can't see the space that were shooting it at all or else why would we be in this amazing abandoned location I want to see the peeling paint and I want to see the decrepit floor and things like that so I'm going to still let that show but then bring in enough things to make it look really full of life as though the outside is creeping in so this goes back to what we talked about yesterday with storytelling and understanding your voice now like I said I can't tell you exactly how to master your craft when it comes to the space civic story that you want to tell but I can explain how I came to master my craft or att leased if not master then at least it's something that I'm proud of that I really enjoy doing so how did I come to get here today I saw the space and then I thought what can I do in this space that would really take advantage of my style and the location at the same time so I brought in nature because like I said yesterday nature is my all time favorite thing I love working in nature so if I can't go outside then I want to bring it inside so I have leaves I have sticks I have vines and I'm actually going to start to duct tape them to the walls so I'm just going to take tape I'm going to put it up on the wall I'm going to make sure that I have everything that I need to be able to put the props where I need to put them so that's what I'm going to start doing in fact we have the model around somewhere or is she still downstairs okay there is our model you look amazing so we have the model here today this is jane you matter yesterday we're going to be using the same model all three days and we made some changes to her she no longer has dark hair and we did that for a couple of reasons first of all we're going to be shooting on a dark background later today and I didn't want her hair to blend into the background so simple solution is to change her hair instead of changing the background so we got a wig for her looks beautiful but love it okay good so I want to run you through exactly what we're going to be doing first thing I'm going to put her in her place that sounds terrible put you in your place but we're going to it so I want you to stand right in the corner of the room right over there you don't to do anything just get comfy with all your vines and what not for jane in the corner that's right and I want to talk about a few things that we have going on in this space so I'll come over here with the model I mean traipse through our wilderness okay wait okay we're in space now what you can see here is that we only have one window in this room that's all we have to work with which is all I want to work with if we had multiple windows and competing light I wouldn't really know what to do with it because I like to have one light source hitting the model evenly so what we're going to do here is the window is right over here I've got this light coming in you can see it hitting this side of my face the other side is in shadow that's what I'm looking for because I want to position her in a place where the light's going to hit her and it's going to fall off of the background so we're naturally creating a dark environment for her to be in obviously everything that we have here on the floor is a little bit darker so when we put that on the walls that's going to dark and down the walls naturally the shadows from the vines and all of that will also naturally dark and down the walls so we won't really have a problem there in terms of keeping our background dark I put jane in a really really pretty soft light colored dress and I did that very intentionally so jane has very paint pale skin which is really good for the dresses then I can expose it all at once and I don't have to worry about the dress being too overexposed or under exposing her face or anything like that although I should mention her face is slightly or relevant in this shot on ly because we'll be covering it in vines which I will tell you about it just a little bit so let's actually go over here to the white board that I have and I'm going to start to draw you my sketch of exactly what I want this image to look like before I start every single shoot I am always sketching I can't sketch as many no so I do the best that I can with a stick figure this is going to be particularly painful to sketch because there are some perspective issues in my brain that I don't know howto work around so we'll see what we can dio but I always start with my square frame now obviously that's something that not everybody is going to start with because you have to decide what frame you want to work with so I'm working with a square frame so I have that drawn now I'm thinking about ah whole bunch of different things which I have written here just to help me as a checklist so something that I do very often is I will write a check list for myself and just keep it folded up in my camera bag and I go through every single one of these things when I'm sketching and when I'm shooting so I'm thinking about light angle the pose the set design the color choices the wardrobe I'm thinking about am I going to composite this image or will this be one straight shot that I'm going to work with I'm thinking about the believability of the scene how can I pose the model so that it's a believable image so I'm storytelling here I'm doing fine art photography I'm not really looking to create a scene where the model looks posed in the image I don't want her to look like she is simply a prop in this scene I want her to look integrated into the scene so believability is a huge thing and that is what I'm focusing on when I do my little sketches and then we have the background what is the background look like where is the best light things like that details what details are going to make this image amazing I have to think about details because if we have too little going on in the scene there will be nothing to watch on to and really say oh I get it because of this little detail so I'm going to think about okay where the leaves going to be placed maybe I would place one leaf right over her eye and that is one little detail that's really fascinating for a viewer to look at so believability the background that details and then of course her makeup and her wig that we have in the hair and what am I going to do with that so we go said hair wasn't as important for this scene however it looks really good with the greenery that we have so I'm going to be working with that red hair leaving some of it out when we see but let me draw you exactly what I have in mind right now for this shot when they say by the way I've never done this before I intentionally did not do this because I want you to see if it works or not I have a good feeling that never work because I am quite skilled in the art of taping vines to a wall but just in case I don't know and I think that's the beauty of doing something like this is that we're experimenting were going through our checklist of every little thing that we might need to know and if it goes wrong then we can easily go back to our checklist and say ok where did I fall short what didn't work in this situation it might be technical it might be something that's conceptual where it's just not reading in the right way but whatever it may be we're gonna work through that together so I'm gonna go ahead and start drawing and what I'm going to do is start to write first I like to write out in sentences exactly what it is that I'm trying to draw because I can't draw so first things first I'm going to start writing okay a girl in a room filled with vines she is a ghost because I am really into that in this abandoned space so we have an abandoned location and I know that's why I'm writing that into my description now what does this ghost doing with all the vines we know that there's a girl she's a ghost she's in the vines but why so we have to ask that why when we're writing our story out what is it that makes her stand out in this place why does she need to be there so she's in an abandoned space now this is the action what is she doing and how does that translate into a story so she's in the abandoned space why she has her this is the interesting fired head being swallowed all right that big letters five lines so why do I have that why don't I have her head swallowed by the vines that's personal you might not know I know which is a good thing because I'm taking the picture so I've got her head being swallowed by the vines and I'm doing that because I wanted to look like this place is so abandoned and she's been here so long that the outside is creeping in and her head is just being swallowed up by all these vines I could do it any way that I wanted I could have her arm being sucked in or maybe she's pressed up against the wall with all the vines all around her and we're going to do a little bit of a variation as well we're going to change up the post so we get a couple of shots here but the first thing that I want to try is having her head swallowed by the vines so let's go ahead and attempt to draw this let's see that's the corner of the room oh no I'm already I don't know what I'm doing okay that's the corner of the room celebrating corner room yeah okay kind does so we're going to have all the brand along the floor that's my brand bull just like that not going all the way into or frame because I do want to see that floor a little bit so we can see how disgusting it is and then we're going to have vines going up the walls all over the walls just like this upon this side upon this side so we have the scene set but where do we want the model to be in this scene now we know let's just put a little son here we know that the sun is coming in in this direct ction coming into the room this way so because of that I'm going to allow the light to hit her right on this wall so she's going to have her head just like this I'll draw her little dress you know what I know that this makes no sense to you guys but that's okay so now absolutely e t actually but you'll see is okay we'll do it with the model so that's my little drawing and I have drawn her pose on there so now I know generally what I need to do in this image so let's start with the pose I'm going to show her how to pose before I start to build the scene because I don't want to have to undo things and then have to redo it just because I didn't tell her what's going on so I'm gonna come over here back to jane and we're going to figure out where she needs to stand which I know needs to be over here uh okay there we go so I'm gonna have you standing right about here let me just clear your spot oh there we go maybe I'll just hold it here for the rest of the day they're ok so you'll be facing the wall now I'm kind of blocking her light right now but of course I won't be when we start shooting like like like I want to make sure the lights hitting her right evenly just along her side like I said we're not seeing face in this shot so what I'm going to do is have you take just a slight step back good and then push your head against the wall just lean your head good now what I want you to do is actually hunch your shoulders yep so not the back though so keep the back pushed in push the belly back good good hunch so look at me look at me you're gonna go like this good perfect just like that and then you're going to have your arms just behind your back like really sweet like you're just sort of like this well let me get my cloak out take a look at my arms just like that really soft yep so she's just sort of here she's just relaxing this is her environment she has been subdued she is being sucked into the wall so we're going to start to build the scene around her now I'm not going to make her lean her head on the wall for the entire time that we're building this scene but I am goingto have her just stayed generally in that position that way I can start to create the scene around her and I don't need to try to get her inside the scene so I'm going to start teo just sort of get the log out of the way start with the big pieces see what I can do with these things and see how we can start to build the scene okay I think that looks good now one thing that I noticed that I thought was a really good for the detail part of this is that if I take a stick this stick looks really good and I find a spot here where the paint is peeling that I could just feel more paint off of these walls and that creates a really really good detail because I'm creating little bits of color in here we might not see it we might see it but that's the kind of thing that people latch onto you say oh I get it that it's abandoned because we have these little bits of peeled paint on the wall so especially I'm gonna build up here keep your eyes closed good and I'm just feeling that paint that noise is horrendous by the way I don't know if you can hear it but it's like nails on a chalkboard okay let's see I can't find any more good spaces to peel the paint so that's good enough well here's on ok so I would feel some painting here obviously this site is really good for that as well you guys hear it terrible okay so I've got some paint peeled now I'm going to start with the big pieces so I've got my log over there in the corner that I really like maybe we'll get this one as long as it's safe and we don't hurt the model in any way shape or form and getting your toes okay great and I'm just going to start building so how do I know what to start with I have done shots like this not frequently but enough to know that if you're not starting with the big things then you're going to have a really big problem later on so I'm trying to untangle my bramble and like I said I haven't touched this stuff yet we just threw it in the room so I don't know what to expect now the story here storytelling is so incredibly important because if I didn't know why I was doing this then I wouldn't know how to pose the subject and her pose in this case is extremely important if she didn't have this posed to work with then we wouldn't know what the story was at all it would just look like somebody threw a whole bunch of random things inside this space and I definitely don't want that the other thing that I think is really neat about this space is that it can be used in so many different ways so imagine that you didn't want to do a creepy picture about a ghost and let's say that you wanted to dio a senior portrait or a family portrait or anything like that in this space think about bringing a kid here and we had this whole amazing set for them to work with and you had it just built up beautifully in the room and you had that even light coming in that means that you can create a scene that's really beautiful on the child could look like she's playing in it or you could have the family may be sitting on a bench with all of this amazing this around them so things like this are so fun because it doesn't cost any money it doesn't really take any effort to be able to do it you just go outside you gather what you need and then you bring it inside um I actually admit that I didn't gather these sticks I feel kind of guilty about it but somebody else did and it wasn't that big of a thing it was just going out into the forest using some scissors and starting to build the scene how am I doing there we go so I've got the big stuff built up it looks like and now I'm going to start to grab some of the smaller vine and I'm going to use the duct tape jane just let me know if I hurt you okay how're you doing hungry okay you're good okay so I've got my gaffer's tape and I'm going to start to tape some binds to the wall let's just grab a bunch got him okay so I'm gonna take these and I'm gonna start to put him right around her head because that's where I know this needs to happen so I'm going to get some gaffer's tape we got brown gaffer's tape so that's really good because it's going to blend in with the wall and the sticks I don't care if I see the tape that is not a concern of mine because I know that I can get it out leader okay done super simple and now we just need to keep building the scene up if only I was stronger I could get the rice okay now at the end of this I'm actually just going to take all this bramble and just push it all up against her and that way we don't have to worry about taping a lot of it because it's just going to naturally fall up the wall when we push it in as long as we don't push the sticks over on top of her now I want to talk a little bit about how imposing her because I thought a lot about this and about how we could really get some good motion going in here that would look nice in creepy because that's kind of my style but then I thought a little bit more about that about do I really want to do something overly creepy and I think that this is sort of an interesting thing to talk about because a lot of people get caught up in the idea that once you have a style it has to look a certain way and I get caught up in that to where I think well I know that if I post this on the internet and you know there's a red flowing dress or something like that then I'll probably get better feedback then if nothing's happening if it's a very stagnant shot where I don't have anything like that going on and so I tend to think well should I do that and just have a safety shot and then I think safety shot for what does it really matter if nobody responds now it's kind of sad when that happens of course everybody feels that way but I know that I am doing this picture because I love it because I think that it's really exciting I think that it's going to turn out really magical for me and so that's why I'm doing it I'm very strong so I keep grunting I'm sorry larry go okay now I've got to find more vines more little lines is it possible to get somebody else in here to start on that side a little bit is that ok I'm not strong enough yeah go for it katerina I'll handle the tape in a second okay now what is going to make this believable it's the idea that we have vines everywhere and not just in one specific spot so I'm going to make sure that I'm covering her a little bit down here is well I'm going to tape this up on the wall here and this actually doesn't take that much work at all thank you it's just maybe an hour or two of trying to get everything set and I mean start to finish like going out in the woods getting your vines bringing it in all of that I really like how that's looking no so I'm just going to get some more vines in the corner here and once I get those in I'm going to start to take my test shot and we're going to see how that goes so I've got my vines I've got my tape and this really is a do it yourself project I mean it's really awesome that katarina could come in here and help me but it's not totally necessary and I think that some of the best shoots are the ones that you khun due entirely by yourself so I'm going to get in here and straddle this branch I'm not stepping on your right jane ok well I might in the second so whole diet hold tight huh okay huh gotta reach there we go who was a good one that was all right now I think that we've got a lot coming up the walls I think that's really good so now I'm just going to start to fill it in on the bottom here and this is all about making it a believable scene I don't want it to look like somebody just dropped a whole bunch of stuff in this room now I'm looking at her I just got instantly inspired by looking at what I am building here and I thought I've got this great vine so why don't I take one of these and start to wrap it around her arm so let me just pull your arm away there you go okay put that back on top there you go and we can have this sort of broken and coming in towards her and this is one of those details that I think that people will latch onto it'll be something really interesting she's being integrated into the scene we have her head being sucked in at least a little bit in there I'm going to write my address at some point I'm pretty sure of that and I'm just going to keep filling it in

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.