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Fine Art Photography

Lesson 25 of 38

Shoot: Outside with Open Sky

Brooke Shaden

Fine Art Photography

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

25. Shoot: Outside with Open Sky
Move away from the computer and jump into more complex fine art composites. Working with multiple images and objects pasted together, start with the shooting process. Work with matching lighting, capturing the right angle, creating a strong composition, and telling a story in fine art photography.


  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: Outside with Open Sky

now I'm going to go through a little bit of a slide show here first just to show you guys a few examples of what my compositing is like when it's a much more elaborate composite because that's what we're dealing with here is a composite that's going to be dropping a sky in adding different props in later on we're shooting at all in the same space aside from the clouds but other than that we're going to be working with a pretty extreme composite so creating an illusion how do you do that how do you create an illusion with images where you can't even start to envision what the final product is going to be survey your location that is exactly what we did here today we surveyed our location we decided that multiple things we're just not going to work and so he said you know what we're going to do whatever we can as a work around so we're using the sky as our backdrop as much as is possible and that gives us a nice even canvas where weakened raap really pretty clouds and tomorrow lighting o...

bviously we're trying to work around the lighting I don't shoot natural light so that's where the problem is coming in here where if I'm trying to shoot in you know completely overcast lighting and we've got this direct sunlight coming in that's going to be a really big problem so I'm not working in the direct son I would rather shoot with this very large contraption with lots of people standing on them to hold it down rather than shooting the direct sunlight because that's not me and we have to be true to who we are as artists so this is my lighting setup blocking the light off of the subject and then having just very simply a clear sky in the background angle's very important you're going to see me laying flat on my back trying to get the right angles when she is against the sky so that is the angle that we're going to get on this the story we have two different shots that were going to be doing today we're going to be doing a shot with our model in a beautiful flowing red dress holding onto the most gigantic balloon you've ever seen and that's going to be almost carrying her away and skye and then for the other story we're bringing out the model in a wedding dress and a big veil because I thought why not show how this kind of a setup could be so incredibly versatile story composition so what is the composition I'm going to send to her in this composition most likely going to shoot her against the sky very simple now I want to talk about this image this is an image that is very complicated to put together and that's why I wanted to start with this because within this image there were probably fifteen different shots that I needed to put together to finally create that that final version that tells a story so I started out like this I photographed the model standing on the beach she was just jumping a little bit to get that height so that I could cut her out and move her up higher in the frame I was confronted with a situation where we had a tower I couldn't get the whole entire tower in one picture so I had to composite by expanding my frame this's another really good example of expanding the frame I tilted the camera up I got the rest of the tower in and I moved my model up in the frame so I cut her out but left her on the same background so I kept her on those stones that you see there moved all of that and then erase very generally around the stones here I've added the left hand side of the frame in some of the right hand side of the frame the bottom half of the right hand side of the frame there's her dress being added on that was shot separately the rest of the frame so you can see many different images went into building this picture there's the rope that we have I photograph that in two different parts the rope was going up leading into the window and actually we had a perfect toss on that almost went right in the window I added a sky in this is the most important part of this image for me because it without that there's just no atmosphere so I want to make sure that I have a sky in here that can add to the story darkening everything down to make it believable adding some light going through making it overall darker changing colors changing some more colors because that's part of my process like I just said in editing I often have so many different curves changes because of so many different color change is that it doesn't really make sense so often to have so many layers of adjustment layers adding some light to that tower overall making those changes making it believable with pulling that dress up a little bit adding some more light lighting dynamics as we just talked about editing and then finally getting to a point if I zoom through I've added the texture here overall adjustments now getting onto this picture this is an image again shot in the sewer this is the one that I was referencing earlier that we have hanging up in our studio space and in this image I shot this with that same backdrop that I showed you during the editing where I had that beautiful beach backdrop I put it into this picture and it started like this this is the main shot that I used that I started building on top of it was a self portrait took a very simple picture tied a piece of grass around my waist to try to cinch the waist a little bit I'm going to start a building so I'm building on top adding a different dress on to make it flow adding and just a little bit of a hair flip on there to make it look like my hair was moving upwards and then I'm making the background dark everywhere instead of just where the hair is I'm adding in that beach scene which clearly doesn't blend together yet and then making my overall adjustments adding and leaves and there are a lot of leaves there we go adding it even more so the way that I'm building this image is to start with the main shot and once I have that main shot of me standing how we need to stand the poses put together the dresses on that and consider adding all of those little tiny bits the details that make it really special adding and more of those leaves that did take a long time changing the colors and trying to make everything flow together texture is really important for that then moving on to this picture which I also did on creative live last time I wasn't happy with the shot in the studio there's too much light spilling onto the subject so I decided to put her on a different background where that light may be motivated so we start with this blank shot of the ocean I put the subject onto that background which we just talked about how to do that expanding my frame to make it a little bit bigger adding a haze to the background because I thought that that would make everything flow a little bit nicer adding a sky into the background that was backlit which would motivate the light on the subject mimicking that skye now in the ocean so that it looked like there were actually clouds in the sky that day making some overall color adjustments as I move through here making it darker adding light to the ocean where the light in the sky was to make it believable and that is it for that so let's get started shooting because I know that everybody is shivering over there and we've all got tissues in one hand and a little heat packs in the other hand so let's bring her model out and I'm going to get my camera before she gets out here I'm going to start laying down on the ground and I'm going to see what angle I need to get in order to shoot this and any sort of a believable fashion there we go okay so I'm driving my camera thank you ruth the sun feels good we're feeding the camera to me and I'm going to step back pretty far here just so I can get really low on the ground like this to try to shoot this against this guy and this is going to be fairly decent I'm going to have to move over just a little bit so that I don't have any trees in my skyline or as much as possible I'm going to avoid that so I think this is going to be a really good spot to sit and I'll probably stay planted here for the majority of the shoot so I'm not standing up in laying down standing up laying down and that's going to be all right so when the model comes out the very first shot that we're going to dio I decided that I really really wanted to have a bright red dress out here because what's better than a flowing red dress against a moody sky that's really exciting to me so I'm having her come out in this bright red flowing dress that I just got the other day just for this shoot and she's going to have a balloon in her hand so we're going to take this balloon photograph it separately because we don't have a lot of room to reach up very high in this shot we're goingto have her hold it lower and then edit it to look like it's a little bit higher in the sky so when I have repose she's going to be posing with one hand up holding on to this balloon and then we're going to photograph the balloon again to make it look like the balloon is actually starting to lift her up out of the air there she comes hi she's going to be freezing so we're going to move his fast as we can so when she doesn't hate me right on top of these apple boxes don't fall off perfect can you reach your arm up for me anyone good okay now I am testing to see where the white is on her hand so go ahead and reach the other one up good okay now reached the other arm up right where it is not in front of you but behind good so now by doing this by having her raise her hands I couldn't see that if I have her face to my left which is her right then she is going to be in the sun when she reaches her hand forward and we need to make sure that we're blocking the sun but her right left and my right hand is not in the sun so I'm going to have her I'm gonna have you faced that big black thing good perfect now let's get a balloon over here if we can now your pose jane is going to be your left hand up in front of you and that you're going to be holding on to this rope this giant balloon that's coming for you good hold it anywhere you want doesn't really matter that's fine good now reach forward now just like we talked about yesterday with posing I'm goingto have her jump into action no actually jump she's not jumping in this picture so nobody freak out but she is going to jump into action so I am going to stand up just so that I can show her exactly what I need to happen so she can get out of here faster so I'm goingto have you with your arm up this arm will be back like this you can you can let go perfect and then I'm going to have you just do this apart and tiptoes and then one leg back there you go just like that and then if I could have an assistant come on over and just move this dress for us then we can get that all in one shot and we don't have to worry about doing that in multiple segments perfect hello grabbed onto the bottom of that just hook your finger underneath it there you go when I was going to wave it this way back and forth perfect little bit harder there you go that's what I want all right now I'm going to move her hair off of her shoulder and I am doing that because I actually want her hair to be moving a little bit in the shot so if her hair is also falling forward doesn't make sense to be going backward and so I'm trying to think of these little details before we start shooting so that I don't feel really frustrated when we edit tomorrow thank you nope you're good okay you think you're ready yet okay perfect so I'm gonna try to get back in my angle here see what looks good and I'm actually probably I'm going to get her feet in this shot but I probably won't use her feet tomorrow I just want the movement of the dress all right no I need to move just a little bit okay oh that's so much better okay so now I am flipping over to auto focus and I'm going to start to get my settings so I mean I s o one hundred I'm going to do f four and we're going to see what our shutter speed needs to be by taking a simple test shot okay way too high so I'm gonna take my shutter speed down to fiftieth of a second take another test and I can't see but I think that looks better yeah that looks a lot better I'm gonna make it even brighter the brighter I make it the more I exposed for my subject that means that the background is becoming even brighter which is perfect for being able to add a sky in the background later so I'm going to take this to one sixtieth of a second lay down on the ground okay that looks perfect so now at this point jane I'm gonna have the hand that's down I'm gonna have limp fingers from you yet and then just like you're sort of like tossing your dress almost in fact why don't you just let you toss your dress we'll see how that goes at first but beyond stand my catarina we'll see okay so whenever you are ready I will be ready okay great okay now we're gonna do that one more time this time throwing the dress a little bit more vigorously but I don't want your hand to look like you've just thrown address so instead of going like that just tossem unlike let your hand go win yeah just like that but toss that as hard as you can uh I'm scooch in a little okay I am ready okay one more thing is that I would like you to lower your arm or after you throw it so keep it pretty low okay okay I wasn't watching okay well we've got a great pose so that is the good thing now let's have katarina come in and do the dress because the wind is blowing you in all sorts of different ways and let's have your chin tilted up more perfect and then armed back yes just like that okay catarina you can drop the dress uh not yet though now perfect we've got the dress okay wonderful so we got all of that in one shot isay clouds okay now we need a little bit of a hair toss so you can stay right where you are and just toss your hair up for me I'll let you know when I'm ready okay all right this time let it all go on your back and then just put your hand underneath like this and just flip it up yeah just like that no try to get all of it though okay yeah okay good we got some hair movement now let's just have you can you do a hair forth in that thing ok bend over this way and we're gonna have you go back ah okay already okay perfect yeah we got a lot of hair on that one that was really good all right so now I'm gonna have you go change into the wedding dress and I'm going to talk a little bit about this set up while you're doing that now with this setup that I just did I went through it really fast because I know how freezing cold she is but I want to talk a little bit about why I made the choices that I made I decided for this set up that it would be best to have her in the shade here shot as much against the sky as was possible sky was completely white so that was really good I had her pose very simply because she could not jump on those apple boxes I'm afraid of them slipping and sliding off so I had her stay grounded instead of jumping whereas I might have in another circumstance at her jump in this case though I'm thinking about that dress about how I could probably extend it if I needed teo and instead of saying feet or apple boxes I could just make it look like she has a big long dress on so the next dress that is coming out is a big long dress which is perfect for this because I want to make sure that we don't see that full boxes or her feet or anything like that in this kind of a situation it would be really great to get a shot that's a little bit closer to the subject and shoot just the face or maybe just the upper body against the sky and that would make a really moody portrait of somebody so I could go in there shoot somebody just to get into the sky and that would work for any genre of photography whether it's a kid or well maybe not a baby but anybody else I think you could shoot against this guy you don't throw babies I guess you could throw a baby up I don't know I don't I don't shoot babies so I don't know these things but perhaps yeah so the story here there always has to be a reason behind doing everything so the story behind this is that is it's a girl dreaming again so we're sort of continuing what we were thinking about that butterfly shoot we had her sitting in the butterfly room we had all those butterflies coming from her head and so what was that but her imagination so in this case she's imagining flying away she's got this incredibly giant balloon which was the prop and so we have that photographed in multiple parts so that is already done if we wanted to shoot it again now that it's overcast we could absolutely do that and get it at the right angle so in fact let's do that wall it's overcast let's bring that balloon in case you want to hold that for me now that it's overcast the reason why I am deciding to do this even though I already have a shot of it is that we can actually get it at the right height that will need it at instead of trying to move it up later on in photo shop so I don't have you just stand up there and hold that balloon up yeah you don't line so this is getting the right angle got it thank you so now we've got a shot of the balloon and that balloon is at the exact right angle so I don't have to worry about that later on moving that balloon in the frame now in the last shot I went really quickly when I did it but we got movement of the dress and movement of the hair and I want to talk about why did both of those things I did both of those things for consistency for believability because if we don't have the dress moving and the hair moving then you have the issue of one not making sense with the other if there is wind and it's moving the dress it has to be moving the heras well because that's how the wind works it blows everything that canoe so if I only had one and not the other than we would have a really big issue there where it just wouldn't make sense and this is a problem that I see a lot something that I do a lot where I'm trying to do ah very heavy image composite and it becomes very difficult because I am trying my best to think about every little thing that would be happening in the world that I'm creating so if the world that I'm creating is not visible to me yet if I haven't thought about everything it's going to be extremely difficult to actually work through that and figure out okay when the picture is finished what needs to happen what will make sense and so in this case that's what I'm doing I'm saying if the dress is moving the hair has to be moving the balloon has to be shot at the correct angle um I can't necessarily move it too much in the frame although I think we would have been ok the sun is coming back of course it is because our models back and that's just how things go around here you look so pretty who's getting married all right gone in so we're getting the wedding dress in and this is really just to show how versatile this kind of set up is so go ahead and stand up their face this direction this time perfect oh look at that window go how perfect I love it oh my face yeah over your faces great now I'm just going to come and just the veil just slightly and I'm goingto have whoever wants to come over here and be the veiled tosser that would be great yep that works very well I'll just need you to hold it just like this maybe that side up a little bit higher so now I am trying to make sure that we get the dress moving and the veil moving I don't want to have to wait for the wind so let's get one more assistant up here whoever wants to come running up good andrea yep no warm tea on this one and if you just want to crouch down right here you can grab the end of that dress exactly and I'm going to let the end of this dress go off frame most likely and all I want you to do is take it just like you are just do this up unknown harsh yeah there you go really get going we might have you go from side to side as well I can't decide yet and jane I would like to pose you now so let's dio let's see let's have arms back there you go and then arch your back good just like that oh oh I'm stuck in my dress but it looks so good oh my gosh okay now I'm getting my focus and taking a shot now I'm going to darken this one down a little bit so I'm going to to fiftieth of a second good I love that now let's get really like vigorous movement on that dress ah you're good on the veil good got it we I like that that's really in fighting so let's have one more assistant come on over here yep I'm making you work guys yeah perfect and I would like you right in front crouching down here and if you wouldn't mind grabbing the front of that dress right in front of her in front of the apple boxes there there you go and then just hold it out yep and then when I say I just want you to drop it from there because that's going to create just the slightest bit of movement in the front of the dresses well now I want you guys moving that stuff and drop it okay perfect that's the shot that I want yes that's my shot so I really like that shot because the front of the dress is moving just slightly it's moving just enough that there's a nice little curve to it and the back of the dress is moving in the same way so everything is really symmetrical she has posed beautifully I really love what she's doing there I'm trying to make her well essentially I'm doing that bird pose that we talked about before where she's got her arms back into her head up and it's almost freeing toe look at the sun is blocked the reason why we did the veil and the dress on this side was because if we did it on the other side it would hit the light eventually so I'm making sure that the lighting is consistent the angle is good I'm making sure the subject is posed nicely and then it all makes sense

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.