Skip to main content

Fine Art Photography

Lesson 20 of 38

Shoot: Using Props


Fine Art Photography

Lesson 20 of 38

Shoot: Using Props


Lesson Info

Shoot: Using Props

so we're going to put jane in the pool I hope it's still warm go ahead and tiptoe in there good so we're going to start with something simple and then get a little bit more complex with what we're working on here how is it okay I like that not that bad she says dip yourself down go ahead and get yourself wet and I'm gonna help yeah I just sit down not on not on the stump yet I want to get you wet and then put you on the stump so what we're trying to do here is we you could do it very good very good you're doing awesome so we just want to get your head wet your good oh no water is that way way well okay we'll help you okay we don't need you totally wet yet this looks good okay now that your wet go ahead and sit on the stool okay so I'm just going to grab this camera and try not to break it now I'm going to have you face this direction good just a bit perfect your great now I need to be able to see the tree stump because I'm just trying to create nature in this very strange space where I...

'm going to make it dark all around her and then just have this little bit of nature with her posing elegantly here so I'm going to pull this off your shoulder because I like to see this now let's take you and shove you back on that stool as much as possible which is not a stool can you get one leg up there with your feet this world there you go that's perfect that's what I want so I really want to see her toes here I want to see how they sort of dip down into the water a little bit so stayed just how you are I'm sorry that you're so cold I feel very terrible okay now go ahead and put your chin right here good and then faced this way good perfect now tilt your head towards me a bit more other way this yep perfect now I'm going to go ahead and not drop one camera in the wall and does it fling this back here just a little bit so I want to be able to see the delicate nous that a word probably not how delicate her shoulder is good I like this hair now we're going to take this and just drop that down and put it right there perfect oh dear I'm getting very wet I'm sorry that was unintentional okay you look fantastic and I'm going to take a test shot here and see how this is looking I'm just going to change my focal point to head up to your face and I'm going to have to change my settings so this is just a test okay it's a little bit bright I think for me so instead of it being so bright I'm just going to take my shutter speed up just a bit one sixtieth of a second perhaps maybe one eightieth we'll see how that looks on that one eightieth of a second I'm still a f three point two I s o four hundred right now okay so I've taken that shot that's how I wanted to look I can see her foot in the water which I think is really interesting and I'm actually going to change the angle of her arm just a bit let's just take this and have it come down here more there you go and you can just lightly rest her in your hand just like that I need to stop doing that uh let's do a little bit softer fingers here I like that you keep turning good just like that cloak is not a good idea for this kind of a shoot just so you know okay beautiful drop that arm even more good and the risk even more yep off your knee and keep going down perfect just like that okay so that's the first set that I wanted to do with this now in this case I would probably move the dress a little bit I would probably have it come up a little bit higher on her leg was going to tuck it in there yep right in there there you go keep talking that's good oh there we go again I feel like I'm peeing all over the floor or something good a little bit lower with the wrist there you go I'm just covering your tattoo there we go perfect now I'm going to stop there with that shot and I'm going to move on so you can go ahead and stand up and we're going to remove the tree stump so let me you know what I'm just going to take this cloak off so when I stop dipping myself in the water and I'm going to have you posed with this lifesaver so I'm gonna stick this over your head okay can you get your body through there at all okay e I love that okay now I actually want the dress to flow behind you so if you can put your legs behind you that would be wonderful or off to the side either way doesn't matter but if we're going to see the dress I don't want it to be coming in front because I want her to look like she's sort of swimming out of the water with it good that looks perfect okay so hold on to that lifesaver maybe have one hand on with the rope good that's perfect and the other one can stay right where it is now I want you to sort of push your chest forward good just like that okay I'm going to cover up your face because you need to look really what can you actually just dunk your head down in there yeah thank you ah perfect that's exactly what I wanted you are so brilliant and I really really am so grateful for you okay okay here we go good now you just like come out of a really terrible situations so angle your body a little bit more away from me to your left the whole body chest wait look at me yep that just like that and now push your chest out more good I'm just going to move the hair so then we can see what we've got going on under there little strand back in there just really wet oh good you look your lips look blue so this is perfect I like it okay now I am going teo focus um on her face and I'm shooting horizontally now I'm shooting landscape that way I can get some of the dress in I'm going to see a little bit on the edge is here um of the backdrop but that's okay it's not a big deal at all so I'm getting my focus taking my shot I think that looks really beautiful so I really love how that's looking now let's do one more with your mouth open a little bit good that is just beautiful and I love that one so I'm really happy with that shot now let's get one without it so we're going to get our final shot in the water you know how to get that off perfect I can't believe this wig is staying on so well all right now this one's going to be much simpler so go ahead and pull that dress down you could just sit on it or whatever you want to do with it that's good now I have this piece of twine and I have this and then we can define a waste for her so why go and tie that around your waist you want me to title tied around your waist and she's like uh here let me tie it for you I've got it this water is amazingly warm but the heiress so called hey does that sum up what you're thinking okay yeah okay perfect so why don't you go and kneel in that fabric wonderful now I would like you to pose like this you khun stay facing this direction how you were and I would like you to pose just like this with your hands sitting on top of the water wonderful okay now let's bring your elbows closer into your body and then I'm just going pull your arms out just just like that perfect and then that one looks really good wonderful now I'm going to have you looking up again good now I'm going to cover your face again you need to think about these things before I sit down wonderful just like that and now look up chin up good now push your chest forward good so when you say push your chest forward that's just another way of saying arch your back a little bit good now soft fingers if you can good and I'm going to get in really close there we go beautiful all right so we've got her in the water we've got places where the water is touching her body so we've got the water on her arms and on her her waist and even in her hair which I think looks amazing I'm really happy with this but now like I said what if the shot that we're putting her into isn't at the right angle when we shoot a couple different angles here then we have something to work with personal get really low and shoot it like that and I've already got a shot kind of kneeling so I'll stand up and crouch a little bit now get a shot from above good and I'm not I'm just making sure to fit everything in the frame and that's really all I'm interested in is making sure that I'm getting all of her I don't care what the backer and is as long as she is still on the black backdrop so thank you so much for doing that and I know labs plans for her oh you're amazing jane you not only have a huge number of fans in the chat room you also have a bunch of mothers in the chat room who want to make sure that you are in fact taking care of she says she's okay we're going to get her warm and definitely make sure that she's okay so big thank you to jane for being such a trouper awesome job wonderful so what scene in my setting what I'm working with is a desk so I need to take a look at this scene and say what needs to happen here in order to create something believable that has a really nice story to it so I'm going to be shooting from right in front of this desk set ups then we can see the chalkboard I'm going to have one person sitting here in this seat and then another back at the chalkboard so what do I mean by having one person here in one person there I mean that I'm going to do this as a self portrait in which I put myself in the frame twice so first shot that I'll take will be right here in this chair the next shot that I take we back here the chalkboard and by doing this I will also have a blank shot so I'm going to shoot me here I'm going to shoot me there and then I'm also going to take a picture of the scene when it's all finished so when I am doing that I will be able to make the person sitting in the chair look like a ghost like a ghost student who is sitting there in this really creepy scene details I keep talking about details how does the story come across to the viewer it's through the details so I'm going to go ahead and write on this chalkboard now what I'm going to write is very personal to me I'm going to mimic my tattoo that says fear is the mind killer I'm going to write that up on this chalkboard which I think gives a really awesome a theme to this image that might not have been available otherwise so I'm going to go ahead and just write fear is the mind killer okay now you are brooke love it you know so in this shot the person who is the other meat we'll be right here underlining this like scribble like this posing underlining and because of that we actually have some baby powder I wanted to look like there is there's chalk dust going everywhere because I am so furiously scribbling fear is the mind killer on this board the person sitting in the desk will be posed like this sort of like at tiptoe like hiding from the person behind so I'm going to get my camera I'm going to set that up right now and I'm going to see what this scene looks like I made the decision tohave one of the subjects in the scene standing at the chalkboard facing the windows and then we do see some light on the subject I really like this low angle so I'm going to definitely keep that and I need to choose a focal point so I need to know where I'm focusing in this picture is it the subject in the front or the subject in the back that is something that we need to know now before we start shooting so let's take a poll from you guys what do you think front ok good so I can do this very easily because you chose that so I could just focus on the desk and then sit on the desk and then I'll be in focus so I'm going to go ahead and do that I'm gonna go ahead and get my frame set I'm going to change my focal point so the desk is focused on I'm going to switch to manual focus and now I will switch over to my remote setting maybe we do have the remote I was going to dash thank you so I'll shoot that one first make sure it's in focus and then I'll shoot the other portion of this so what am I doing here come on manual focus I'm checking that I'm on my remote setting I'm going to adjust my camera settings based on this first test shot so without even sitting there just to get my lighting I'm just going to go out and click with my remote and that looks really good I think that it's evenly exposed I think that I won't be too bright I could stand to make it slightly darker so maybe we'll dio one one hundredth of a second for my shutter speed maybe one twenty five so I do like going a little bit dark that looks a lot nicer sir to me so I'm going to go ahead and shoot this self portrait now because I will be sitting down I could go ahead and sit with the remote in my hand because that won't really be showing so I'll be hunched over here so first thing that needs to happen is I'm going to go ahead and take my seat my dress is super wet okay uh details I don't want to have a wedding ring on in this picture important my house now that's a good idea so I'm going to just sit like this like I'm scared hiding all my little things here you could set them on the chair behind me doesn't really matter just as long as I don't lose it okay okay so we've got the first shot now if I wanted to add some motion to this shot I could absolutely do that and I could do that just by taking the dress and moving it okay so we've got another shot with the dress moving hopefully it caught I'm not entirely certain but I think it did yeah little bit so we've got some dress movement if we want to add that on that would be a great option I think I'm in focus so that's good I've got my head right exactly where that focal point was set I know that so now I'm going to ask for an assistant to come and help me with the baby powder cool you're on come on over now in the meantime because nothing is changing right now I could just step aside and take my blank shot so I can just trigger my camera step aside take a blank shot I'm doing that because I have my blank shot meaning that I can then lower the opacity on one of these shots of myself and make it look like the background is showing through so that's a really great thing to do got my blank shot I didn't take the blank shot while blocking the light I moved to the other side of the scene that way I wouldn't walk the light and nothing would change baby powder yeah okay now you've on all I need you to do is with that baby powder all be standing over here posing and I need you to not care about me at all for a moment and just proof that baby powder at me okay and so you just want to aim it kind of at the chalkboard so let's see we'll test it is it open it's open okay so with this baby powder you'll be doing this just like that and then I'm gonna rub that in because I don't want that is real good okay now I'm going to just set my remote down here at this point it doesn't matter because I do have a blank shot so I've got the remote in this hand I'll just set it down at my feet or throw it in panic we'll see which one happens and I'll start doing this you could be proofing that baby out of the whole time it does not matter so why don't you just start now you could be right here even you don't even have to because we've already got the blank shot so I'm just going to be like really acting yeah you're being awesome good okay I feel very powdered huh oh yeah that looks nice I like that so now I'm going to do one more shot just with my dress moving and I think that you can come back and do that again yeah so I think oh there's my remote I couldn't even see it has powdered on the floor okay so we're going to one more shot and I'm just going to move my dress again in this same shot if we can get it all at once you can start powdering don't worry keep going okay so let's see how that went yeah that's what we want okay so we've got everything going on now we've got a blank shots so if we don't want any of this powder on the floor although it's really really fun then we don't have to have it so we have a blank shot already we've got the powder moving everywhere we've got the dress moving the only thing we don't have his hair moving cause I decided to put it up today but that's okay so I kind of like it like that so that's where I would finish with my self portrait

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.


  1. Class Introduction

    Meet Brooke Shaden in the first lesson, and learn where the fine art photographer finds her inspiration. Then, gain an overview of the three-day class.

  2. My Evolving Style

    No one starts out creating their best work, Brooke says, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't get started. See how Brooke grew in her craft, where she started, where she is now, and how she's always motivated to continue to create beautiful images.

  3. Visual Examination

    How you describe yourself as a person will influence your art. In this lesson, embark on the process of visual examination. Learn to visualize yourself, your style, and the story you want to tell -- and how that translates into photography.

  4. Storytelling and Character

    Brooke is more motivated by storytelling than photography -- and you can tell by looking at her work. Learn how to train your mind to find your inspiration, to then start telling that story. Work on building a story by starting with an object or person from your inspiration, and asking yourself questions about that item. Build a story with elements like theme, setting, character, time, and conflict.

  5. Storytelling Q&A

    Build on the concept of storytelling with questions from students like you.

  6. Critique Yourself Part 1

    Critique is an important aspect of any type of fine art -- but photographers shouldn't consider critiques from others as fact. In fact, Brooke encourages photographers to learn how to critique their own work. Follow Brooke's process for self-critique in this lesson.

  7. Critique Yourself Part 2

    Everyone will have a different favorite image. After sharing her favorite and least favorite images, Brooke shares what some of the students in the class pick as their most and least favorite images. The insight helps build the skills to critique a photograph.

  8. Identify the Problems

    Learning to identify problems in your own work helps you focus on areas to improve your art form. Watch Brooke work through some problems in her images. Learn to correct the problems that you see in your images.

  9. Posing Overview and Q&A

    Posing for a portrait and posing to create a fine art photograph are often very different. Dive into creating a story through body language, emotion, and character after a brief Q&A on questions from the previous lessons.

  10. Ten Basic Poses

    Learn how to create a better pose using ten basics. Work with poses to create lines and shape while telling a story. From basics like creating separation to advanced topics like creating believable action, pick up essentials to building a pose in fine art imagery.

  11. Posing a Man

    Posing looks different for men and women. In this lesson, Brooke shares her tips on posing a man in an emotive manner, while keeping the "manliness" intact. See different examples of fine art poses for men.

  12. Shoot: Posing Demo

    Should the model look at the camera? Brooke shares the pros and cons of eye contact and why it's often avoided in fine art photography. Run through a checklist to perfect your pose. Then, jump into a live posing demonstration to see those tips in action. Watch Brooke direct a model to portray a specific emotion, then watch how she fine-tunes the pose to create the desired look.

  13. The Art of Self-Portraiture

    Even if you don't actually want to be the subject matter in your own images, learning how to photograph yourself helps you learn how to direct a model to create fine art images, along with building the ability to express yourself and create something from your imagination. Build a foundation for self-portraiture in this lesson.

  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.

  15. Shoot: Self-Portraiture Demo

    Go behind the scenes for one of Brooke's self-portraits. See the process in action, starting with the test shot. As she talks through the process, watch Brooke create a pose, critique herself, then improve the pose. Using student suggestions, Brooke goes through several different poses portraying different emotions to use in a self-portrait.

  1. 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.

  2. Shoot: Indoor Scene Part 2

    With the model and set in place, watch how Brooke captures the shot. Go behind the scenes on decisions like composition, angle, lighting, exposure, and focal point. Learn to evaluate the scene to get the details of the story in the camera.

  3. 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.

  4. Image Compositing

    Sometimes, those fine art ideas aren't something concrete that could actually exist in real life. Other times, shooting in exotic locations isn't feasible financially or practically. Brooke suggests shooting as a landscape photographer to capture backgrounds for composite work whenever the opportunity presents itself. Learn how to shoot with a composite in mind, considering factors like matching the lighting and the perspective. Then, gather some basics on editing composites.

  5. Shoot: Using Props

    Start shooting a composite image using some backdrops and a kiddie pool. With a composite in mind, watch Brooke work the scene and plan ahead to mix multiple images together. Work with multiple poses and props. Then, move into a second scene and watch Brooke work with props in a self-portrait.

  6. Editing Indoor Shoot Part 1

    Move into editing for fine-art photography. Go through the complete editing process from the first live shoot with the vines. Work with aspect ratio, merging multiple images, layer masks, curves, cloning, and more.

  7. Editing Indoor Shoot Part 2

    Continue working with the image from the previous lesson, making overall adjustments to the image. Here, Brooke shares how to edit lighting, replace color, adjust overall color, add make-up, and more.

  8. Editing Butterfly Shoot

    Work with the butterfly shoot in Adobe Photoshop. Analyze how to improve the image, then work with several different editing techniques, including composting, adjusting brightness, making local adjustments, working with color, and more.

  9. Editing Pool Shoot

    Start working with the indoor-outdoor composite mix from the pool shoot. Learn how to paste a subject against a different background with realistic results. Work with trimming out the background, blending edges and more as you learn to create realistic composites.

  10. 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.

  1. Shoot: Fairytale Scene Part 1

    Head behind the scenes as Brooke re-imagine a scene from The Princess and the Pea. Work with turning a well-known, traditional fairytale into something unique, beginning with the brainstorming and props.

  2. Shoot: Fairytale Scene Part 2

    Gain insight into the process of creating a fairy-tale inspired fine art photograph. Integrate motion into the image and work with motion blur, multiple exposures and more. Work with multiple poses with a model, then move into a self-portrait.

  3. Shoot: Snow Scene

    Move into the final live shoot of the course as Brooke brings the outdoors in. In this start-to-finish shoot, work on the story and vision for the scene, then learn how to create (and photograph) a snowstorm indoors.

  4. Editing Outdoor Scene

    Finish the vision from the live shoots in Photoshop, starting with the outdoor shoot. Work with complex composting techniques, like replacing the sky. Throughout the process, pick up editing tips, like choosing a brush and keyboard shortcuts.

  5. Editing Fairytale Scene

    Fine-tune the Princess and the Pea shot inside Photoshop. Extend the canvas, work with the warp tool, clone out a doorway, and more as Brooke turns her vision into a high-quality fine art photograph. Then, learn how to add textures to your image using photographs of textures that you can create yourself using desaturated black and white images.

  6. Editing Snow Scene

    See the progression from the test shots to the final shots from the indoor snowstorm image. Because the shot used a tripod, the editing options for adding snow becomes simpler. Besides working with the snow and adjusting color, learn how to add a fake light to an unlit lantern.

  7. The Business of Fine Art

    Fine art may seem trickier to turn into a business than something like portraits or weddings -- but it is possible. In this lesson, learn how to build a business as a fine-art photographer. Work with building a brand, finding a place for your work, sharing your talent, and selling your work as a product.

  8. Eight Business Practices for Fine Art

    Build your own fine art business with eight actionable steps. Here, Brooke shares a list of eight actions fine art photographers should do while building a business, from building a portfolio to contacting galleries.

  9. Beginning Your Artist Statement

    An artists statement should describe your photography thematically, visually, and technically. Writing an artist statement feels daunting -- in this lesson, Brooke simplifies it by sharing the process she used to write her own artist statement.

  10. Making Prints with Q&A

    Turn your fine art digital photography into art prints, wall art, and photography books. Decipher the difference between various types of printers, papers, and print sizes. Learn how to find a reputable printer. In your portfolio, learn why details like the order of the print matters. Then, find out how to prepare for a gallery meeting and what to expect during the meeting.

  11. Becoming You

    Becoming an artist, becoming yourself, is a process just as important as the business side. In this lesson, Brooke shares how to grow as an artist. Learn how to move forward, how to challenge yourself, and how to grow as an artist.

  12. Taking Risks

    Taking risks moves you forward on your fine art career path. Taking a risk that has nothing to do with money, Brooke says, helps you move forward, expand your reach, and grow your confidence. With that confidence, learn how to build opportunities like book publishing and more through risk-taking.

  13. Bonus Video: Expand Your Space

    In the bonus video, go behind the scenes as Brooke shares how to work in small, tight spaces by composting. This technique is good for both small spaces and shooting with a shallower depth of field.



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 Wilson

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.