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Creating a Fine Art Series

Lesson 30 of 70

Photo Shoot #1 - Creating a Simple Composite


Creating a Fine Art Series

Lesson 30 of 70

Photo Shoot #1 - Creating a Simple Composite


Lesson Info

Photo Shoot #1 - Creating a Simple Composite

during this photo shoot, we're going to do a self portrait together, and I'm really excited about this because self portraiture is really where I live. I don't love working with other people, although working with Anna was very, very nice. I tend to work by myself because I have complete control over the creative process, and that makes me feel really good. I love to know that the concept is mine. The direction of the cameras, mind the costuming, the set design and whatever the character does. It's all mine, and that's such a great feeling, because you don't have to answer to anybody, and you don't have to go over all of your creative ideas and then lose some of it to the process of collaboration. So while there are obviously pros and cons to both, I want to do a self portrait today because that's my normal workflow. I work in my office. It's about a 10 ft by 10 ft square room, and that's pretty much all the space that I have. So today we're in a studio where I have a lot more space, b...

ut I'm still going to confine myself to a single backdrop in a wall. And that's how we're going to do a few different photo shoots. As a bonus, you get to download these images that I'm shooting right now and you can edit alongside me. So if you are so inclined, please do download those images so that we can edit together later on. And you can do whatever you want with them. Just have fun and edit me into whatever seen you feel like today for our photo shoots. We're going to do three photo shoots, possibly even four right now. And they're all gonna be very similar in tone. So I'm basically gonna go from beginning to advanced and we're going to just kind of ADM or and Mawr to each shot. So then what are the pictures that we're going to dio? Well, let me show you. OK, I've got my notebook here and in my notebook. I have three different photo shoots drawn out. The first one will be the simplest because I'm going to, and I know that you have no idea what this is because it's just a really weird stick figure. So don't worry. It's just for my reference. But the first shot I'm going to be holding candles and that's gonna be the base image. When we talk about composited image we're talking about right now, this is gonna be composited. I want to make sure that I have every shot that I need, but I don't want to do it at the cost of attempting to do four different things at once in a single photo. It's hard enough with a remote in your hand, so I'm going to get my base shot and the base shot is going to be where I am simply standing and I get as much movement as possible in the picture. But I'm not gonna worry about trying to have my hair moving and my dress moving while holding burning candles because that sounds pretty dangerous to me. So I'm gonna get us much as I can in one shot that will be my base shot. Everything will build on top of that when you're compositing. It's very important Thio during the shooting process, think about which image will come first in your layers in Photoshop, and if you can think about post processing while you're shooting, you're going to have a much easier time with everything. The problem comes when you don't think about how it's going to come together and editing, and then you end up with so many images and you're not sure which one to start with. So think of it as building blocks. Which image has to be your base and which ones will be easier to build on top of Ah, good example of this is what we're doing right now. I'm going to shoot myself in my pose as much as possible. And then I'm going to add hair on that's moving and a little bit of dress that's moving. And by doing those things in that order, I know that I'll have the picture of me. Then I'll add the hair. Then I'll add the dress. Now think of it in reverse. What if you had just a really good piece of hair, but then you had to add the entire body onto the hair. It gets a lot trickier that way, and there's more editing and more room for error in Photoshop. So start with the base, where as much is happening as possible, and then move on to the smaller bits that you can add on later. So that's what we're going to do for the first shot. Holding candles that are burning, hair moving, dress moving, simple for the next shot. We're going tohave it hair galore, which again this looks like absolutely nothing. But that's okay. I get it. And for that shot, I'm going to be facing the wall. I'm going to have my hair moving in every direction. It's gonna be kind of like this big, sweeping mop of hair all over the place, hopefully looking like it's kind of attached to the wall behind me. And then for the very final shot that we're going to do, we're gonna kind of combine a lot of different things together. I'm going to use rope and I'm going to make it look like the rope is tied around my hands and that I'm being tied to the wall so the rope is going to go from my wrists to the wall. We're going to have to composite a lot of different elements together, from the dress to my hair to the ropes in all separate images. But it's going to be OK, I promise, because we will walk through it as simply as possible. So those are my three images that I'm going to do today, and I want to talk a little bit before we jump in about the self portrait process. In case you're interested in practicing that yourself. I've got my camera set up on a tripod here, and this is how I like to work. Because, of course, it's much easier when you have full control over your equipment. But if you don't have the resource is to create a self portrait easily. Chances are you still have. The resource is to create some sort of self portrait. If I don't have a tripod, I use rocks or a stool or anything. I confined to prop my camera up. I do have a remote here. This is the Sony RMT DSLR too remote, and it's great because it works just by pointing and clicking. Very, very simple. But if you don't have a remote, you can use a 12th timer and it's gonna go just fine, I promise. So there are easier ways to do a self portrait and more difficult ways, but don't worry about which ever one is right for you. Just go for it nothing really matters, especially with a self portrait, because you can delete it if you don't like it, and it's just something to try out for fun. So hopefully you enjoy these images that you get to edit, and I can't wait to see what you do with them. And I'm going to jump into my camera settings now to see if we can get everything working as it should. I've got my camera placed vertically, and the reason why I have placed my camera vertically is because I am going to fit my whole body vertically into the frame. And this is something that I do think about quite a bit when I set my frame is, Do I want it to be horizontal or vertical? And the way that I decide is will the body or thing that I'm photographing be wide in the frame or tall? And I always set my camera accordingly instead of leaving at horizontal as you naturally would. Essentially, that's just going to make the subject smaller in the frame, so I wanna fill the frame with the subject as much as possible so that I have the highest resolution image possible without cropping down or cutting out a smaller object in the frame. So I'm going vertical with this because I will be vertical in the frame. Let's get the settings. And right now, I I tend to shoot pretty dark. So I'm at 1. 60 from my shutter speed F 4.0, and s 0 12 50. What I know about the shoot that I'm doing right now is that there will be movement. I'm going to have my hair flinging and my dress moving. And if there's going to be movement, then I need to make absolutely certain that I'm not gonna have total motion blur in the image. So I wouldn't go under 100 for the shutter speed because that's going to cause motion Blur. I want to keep it ideally above to 50. Because if I could do that, then I'm going to capture the movement pretty well. I am all for a certain amount of blur. I think that it adds realism to the image. It makes it seem more cinematic, like what you're seeing is really happening. There's real motion. It's not totally constructed in a perfectly shot camera image, so I want a little little bit of blur. So I'm gonna aim for my shutter speed to be around 200 to 50 somewhere around that range. So let's see if we can adjust our settings just a little bit. I'm at 1 60 right now, so I'm gonna go to Let's see 22 50 will be good. And I'm just compensating with my f stop. So now my f stop is 3.5 and I'm leaving my eyes. So a 12 50 I don't know if you're very, you know, have a lot of concerns about isso, but I don't I just don't worry very much about eso because I don't really mind grain in My images were so often taught. Okay, get rid of the grain, make it clean, make sure the eyes air and focus. I don't really care about any of those things. So if my eyes aren't in focus, not a big deal to me. If it's grainy, not a big deal, it adds to texture. Right. And the point of my images is not to take a portrait. The point is not to say Okay, I'm taking a portrait of a person, got to get the eye and focus. It's just a character in a scene. So wherever the camera focuses on me, that's where it focuses. I am using an auto focus lens, so it's going to focus on me when I when I pushed back into the frame. So I'm not worried about nailing any particular focus, Justus, long as I am generally and focus Ah, lot of people ask me, How do you focus a self portrait? Well, there are two ways. One is you use your auto focus lens with a remote, and when I stepped back to take the picture, it's going to focus on me in particular. If you have a camera that can do, I auto focus, it will try to find your I. So that's one way to get your eye and focus, if that is of concern to you. The other way that I focus is manually. By switching my lens to manual focus, putting something where I'm going to stand like a stool or anything you confined that's, you know, kind of roughly. You're right, maybe a spare tripod. I love using spare tripods for that, and you know, if you go thio, your local thrift store. You might even find a very inexpensive tripod, which might be missing the plate for it. Ah, lot of those end up a thrift stores, but it's a great stand in for self portrait. So if that's an option to you, go ahead and manually focus on something and then move it out of the way when you're ready to stand in. And that's a great way toe focus. A self portrait. And in fact, I used that method for years and years and it was totally fine. So let's take a test shot. I think that we're ready for a test shot. I'm going to step back and get against my backdrop here pretty close because I actually want to maneuver this later on so that this backdrop looks like a really dark textured wall in a room, and that's going to be the goal here. So I'm going to step back and see what we can dio for our first test shot right there. And I think that I'll be all in the shot and I've got my remote and the best thing. If you're looking for costumes, look for pockets because I get to put this remote right in my pocket and pose, and it's going to be nicer than throwing it frantically across the room like I usually dio. So point click it focused post. Then I'm going to check it. So let's see how we did. It looks pretty good. And in fact, I am at a 24 millimeter focal length here and the That's great. I mean, I'm not going to get a lot of distortion or anything with that. I think that's totally fine. However, I'm back a little bit far from the backdrop, and I wanna make sure that I am filling the frame as much as possible. So I'm going to zoom in just a little bit here and see how that looks. And I might even tilt my camera down so that I could get my feet in a little bit easier. Let's see how that looks and we'll just take one more shot here. So I moved back. Okay, I think I'm good. I'm using a two second timer here. This is a two second timer that will allow me to click it focuses, put in my pocket pose. I always like to have my pocket ready Because two seconds is not that long. There, okay? And hopefully that was a little bit tighter. Okay, we're looking really good here. And I wouldn't want to go any tighter than this because if I dio on, I have some epic hair flip. It will probably go up and out of the frame. So this is close as I'm going to get, which will be great. And the millimeter that I'm at is about 30 millimeters on this doom. So I didn't go too much further in, but enough that I'm filling the frame. So let's try out our first test shot with the candles because this shot's gonna be with the candles. So I'm going to grab that here and I'll get them lit. And what I have learned is that it's a lot more fun Toe have lots of candles in the shot to make the flame bigger and have it be just a thicker pile of candles. That way it's a little bit more dramatic. So let's see what we can dio gonna light thes up here. I'm really scared of fire. I don't know why I do this. Maybe three candles. I'm getting scared of four. Okay, there we go. And let's light them. If you can't like candles or you want to do something like this, you can always like them in Photoshop. But I prefer to do it here because there's a chance that it's going to light my face just to touch. And then you can really enhance that later on. Of course, you can also dim your light down, shoot this in a darker scenario and really get that glow of the candles, which is really beautiful. Oh, why am I so scared of fire? Okay, here we go. Gonna back it up already. Have wax all over me. That's okay. Okay. So you can see I wouldn't wanna have to do all these hair flips with candles. I have I burned my hair on my stove all the time and it's a problem, so I'm not going to try to fling my head around right now. I'm just going to get my hair kind of back behind me. And the reason why I'm putting my hair behind my back right now is because I want it eventually to be moving outward just gently so that it looks like there's almost like a breeze coming in. And if my hair is laying flat in front of me like this, there's no way that it would be believable that it's also out here. So I wanna make sure that I'm thinking about every step of that process from now until I finish. When I bring this into Photoshop, what are going to be the barriers that do not allow believability in this image? That would be one of them. So I'm tucking my hair behind my ears. Okay. Whoa. That wax. Okay, here we go. I'm gonna get ready. I'm gonna get ready with my pocket, and I'm going to just put my feet together. I'll probably go up on tiptoe a little bit to make it a little bit more elegant, so I'm not just flat foot here, Okay, so I'm gonna check the images, check for focus, make sure that everything look good there, and it looks like we could see the smoke just a teensy little bit, but that's OK. We've got a good main shot here. Um, which looks really nice. Particularly because my arms are spread a little bit wider. So what I'm seeing is the definition of the waste. Their which looks looks really nice. And now we just have to focus on hair and dress. So I'm going to throw these down, okay and make sure that my cameras reset. So let's get the hair. It's really important when you shoot things like this that you think about believability. And in this case I don't really want the hair going crazy up and out because it's not following the laws of physics, which is super important. So I wanna make sure that it's just a gentle little hair toss, nothing too big and make it very believable. So I'm gonna keep my hair tucked a little bit behind my ears, just like I had it before. I have two seconds. I can hold the remote so I don't have to get rid of it. It's totally fine. I'm just gonna use the hair from the shot, so I'm going to click, and here we go, and then we'll just do that a few more times, and I'm just gonna keep doing it in different, different methods so that I get enough of options and we'll see what works out. I might even just do that a little bit. Come on. On the other side, just a teensy little bits. I'm gonna check thes and we got a nice one. We got a couple who they look pretty good. Those looked really good. So I'm going to reset and just focus on the dress now, And that's going to be even easier than the hair because the dress doesn't move as much and it doesn't have pieces to it. So let's go do that. Alright? Just focused on the dress, nothing else. And and that's it. It doesn't really flow because this dress doesn't have a lot of motion. So I'm not looking to go like that, necessarily. Just little bits of motion on the other side. It's also quite important to think about three dimensionality when it comes to shooting something like this. So instead of Onley going on the two dimensional field that you will see in the final shot, it's important to go forward and back and really take into account that you are in a three d space that Okay, let's see how those look good. We have plenty of good shots of the dress

Class Description


  • Beat “creator's block” by practicing exercises to help you overcome it
  • Conceptualize a series that nails story, emotion, and connection
  • Execute a low-budget, high-impact photoshoot for your series
  • Edit your images for series cohesion and seamless compositing
  • Brand yourself and your art into a story that others can connect with


Creating a fine art body of work can be daunting when you consider that a great series has innovative ideas, cohesive editing, and an undeniable connection to an audience. During this class, Brooke will walk through the entire process of creating a fine art series, from conceptualization, shooting, and editing to branding and pricing. The success of a body of work comes from the artist’s ability to go beyond the connection to an audience; it must land in the heart of the viewer and then instill a call to action within them. Brooke will lead you through not only how to make your work relatable, but how to take that extra step to become unforgettable, and ultimately, sellable.


  • Intermediate creators who want to focus on personal work and find a deeper level of creating.
  • Creators who not only want to tighten the cohesion of their work but ensure that the full depth of meaning is communicated.
  • Artists who want to learn simple yet effective ways of creating a body of personal work.


Adobe Photoshop 2020 (v21.2.4) and Adobe Bridge CC 2020 (v10.1.1)


Brooke explores the darkness and light in people, and her work looks at that juxtaposition. As a self-portrait artist, she photographs herself and becomes the characters of dreams inspired by a childhood of intense imagination and fear. Being the creator and the actor, Brooke controls her darkness and confronts those fears.

After studying films for years in college, she realized her love of storytelling was universal. She started photography then in 2008, excited to create in solitude and take on character roles herself. Brooke works from a place of theme, often gravitating toward death and rebirth or beauty and decay.

Ultimately, her process is more discovery than creation. She follows her curiosity into the unknown to see who her characters might become. Brooke believes the greatest gift an artist has is the ability to channel fears, hopes, and experience into a representation of one's potential.

While her images come from a personal place of exploration, the goal in creating is not only to satisfy herself; her greatest wish is to show others a part of themselves. Art is a mirror for the creator and the observer.

Brooke's passion is storytelling, and her life is engulfed in it. From creating self-portraits and writing to international adventures and motivational speeches, she wants to live a thousand lives in one. She keeps her curiosity burning to live a truly interesting story.

*This course contains artistic nudity.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. Overview of Brooke’s Journey

    How Brooke went from creating only for herself to building a multi-faceted career in fine art photography.

  3. Your Timeline is Nonlinear

    How to incorporate the idea of wealth into your journey as an artist.

  4. Using Curiosity and Intention to Build Your Career

    Too many people rely heavily on either intuition or goal setting as a means of propelling their career forward. Brooke believes that there is a blend between the two that sets most professionals apart.

  5. What Factors Dictate Growth

    A look at how improvement in the categories of technique, conceptualization, clarity of voice and vision, and impact all work together to create growth.

  6. Organic Growth vs. Forced Growth

    The most successful artists are able to use inspiration strategically to create innovative works that regularly impress their audience.

  7. Niche Branding

    If you brand yourself into a story, you will be less likely to fall victim to boredom within your branded niche.

  8. Brooke’s Artistic Evolution and Timeline

    Watch as Brooke shares every important event in the past eleven years as an artist to see which were the most helpful in propelling her career forward.

  9. How Can You Get Ahead if You Feel Behind?

    When you learn to celebrate small successes like they are big successes, you will rewire your brain to find optimism in the journey rather than pessimism.

  10. Ideation and Conceptualization to Identify Meaning in Your Art

    Walk through several categories of meaning to figure out how you create and how others perceive your creations. You will learn how to layer the concepts of your art, create controversy in your ideas, how to make viewers feel something, and figure out where you land on the scale of fixation.

  11. Idea Fluency

    Learn abou how your ability to generate many good ideas in a short time is directly influenced by brain science, and then learn how to control your own idea fluency through exercises.

  12. How to Represent an Idea

    Ideas are represented by four elements: visual, symbolic, experiences, and emotions. Learn how to control those elements in your work by figuring them out in your work.

  13. How to Innovate an Idea

    By examining your sense of style, sense of idea, and sense of innovation, we will walk through exercises to not only create what is in your mind, but to take it further to stir yourself and your audience.

  14. Creating a Dialogue With Your Art

    Dialogue comes from provocation and response. Take a look at how to provoke an audience through visual and thematic clues, and then how to issue a definitive call to action.

  15. Conceptualization For a Series vs. a Single Image

    Find out the differences between coming up with ideas for a single image vs. a series and see examples of series Brooke has created to deconstruct how they work.

  16. Transforming a Single Image Into a Series

    A look at how to take a single idea and transform it into a cohesive series by focusing on visuals, theme, and through-line.

  17. How to Tell a Story in a Series

    Storytelling can unfold thematically, abstractly, linearly, and/or concretely. Here you will look at how story structure can help create a more impactful series.

  18. How to Create Costumes From Fabric

    Look at which fabrics work best for costuming, how color plays a role in costume selection, and how to tea dye or coffee stain costumes.

  19. Brooke’s Most Useful Costumes

    See which costumes Brooke uses again and again and how to build a costume wardrobe with a few essentials that won’t break your budget.

  20. Using Paint and Clay as Texture in an Image

    Brooke will demonstrate how creating texture on both skin and costumes can create a more dynamic look in the final image.

  21. Create Physical Elements in an Image

    Brooke will share ideas of how to create sculptural elements in your images, like using wire, paper mache, and more.

  22. Shooting for a Fine Art Series

    How you can create cohesion and conceptual flow across images in a series.

  23. Conceptualization: Flowery Fish Bowl in the Desert

    A description of the image being created and why it is conceptually and visually relevant to the rest of the series.

  24. Wardrobe and Texture

    How to choose wardrobe based on the concept of the image, and how to add texture to make the image more visually appealing.

  25. Posing for the Story

    Brooke will photograph three different poses, each one changing the story of the image, to demonstrate how pose can alter the viewer’s perception of the series.

  26. Choosing an Image

    Brooke will explain why she chose one image over another to demonstrate the need for angles and dynamic movement within an image.

  27. Conceptualization: Rainy Plexiglass

    A description of the image being created and why it is conceptually and visually relevant to the rest of the series.

  28. Posing for the Story

    Brooke walks through poses that become more and more complex, from posing the model behind a Plexiglas sheet, then adding water, then adding syrup.

  29. Creating Backlight

    Using a portable LED light, Brooke moves the light from the side to the back to create a more abstract image.

  30. Photo Shoot #1 - Creating a Simple Composite
  31. Photo Shoot #2 - Creating a Dynamic Composite
  32. Photo Shoot #3 - Creating a Storytelling Composite
  33. Shooting the Background Images
  34. Editing Samsara Shoot #1 - Working With Backgrounds
  35. Editing Samsara Shoot #1 - Retouching the Subject
  36. Editing Samsara Shoot #1 - Color Grading
  37. Editing Samsara Shoot #1 - Floor Replacement Texture
  38. Editing Samsara Shoot #1 - Final Adjustments
  39. Editing Samsara Shoot #2 - Cropping and Editing Backgrounds
  40. Editing Samsara Shoot #2 - Selective Adjustments
  41. Editing Samsara Shoot #2 - Adding Texture + Fine Tuning
  42. Editing Composite Shoot #1 - Compositing Models
  43. Editing Composite Shoot #1 - Expanding Rooms
  44. Editing Composite Shoot #1 - Selective Color
  45. Editing Composite Shoot #1 - Selective Exposure
  46. Editing Composite Shoot #2- Masking Into Backgrounds
  47. Editing Composite Shoot #2- Creating Rooms in Photoshop
  48. Editing Composite Shoot #2- Compositing Hair
  49. Editing Composite Shoot #2- Global Adjustments
  50. Editing Composite Shoot #3- Blending Composite Elements
  51. Editing Composite Shoot #3- Advanced Compositing
  52. Editing Composite Shoot #3- Cleanup
  53. Materials for Alternative Processes

    Brooke shows some materials she uses for alternative processes, or applying texture to an image after it is printed. She shows oil paints, wax, and more.

  54. Oil Painting on Prints

    A look at applying oil paints to canvas prints and how that adds value to original prints.

  55. Encaustic Wax on Prints

    A look at applying encaustic wax to canvas prints and how that adds value to original prints.

  56. Failure vs. Sell Out

    Brooke shares how the most successful artists straddle a line between personal work and consideration of audience.

  57. Create Art You Love and Bring an Audience To You

    When you identify areas of your process and craft that are non-negotiable vs. negotiable, you begin to identify how you can work best with clients and what you need to keep sacred.

  58. Branding Yourself Into a Story

    When you consider that branding is a mixture of personality, art, storytelling, and business, you can feel more at ease with your brand not just being one single thing.

  59. The Artistic Narrative

    Defining what stories you want to tell about yourself directly influences how you tell the story of your brand through your business.

  60. Get People to Care About Your Story

    Your brand must inherently bring interest and value to the people who are viewing it. Take a look at how you can begin down that journey.

  61. Get People to Buy Your Story

    From identifying your clientele to figuring out how you can meet their needs, shifting someone from an admirer of your art to a patron of your business is important in becoming a full time artist.

  62. Getting Galleries and Publishers to Take Notice

    Steps we can take to get representatives to pay attention, like the importance of regular interaction and becoming a resource.

  63. Pricing For Commissions
  64. Original Prints vs. Limited Edition Prints vs. Open Edition Prints

    Brooke goes through the benefits of selling original prints and how they can be done simply to add to your arsenal as an artist.

  65. Class Outro
  66. Live Premiere
  67. Live Premiere: Layers of Depth 1
  68. Live Premiere: Layers of Depth 2
  69. Live Premiere: Q&A
  70. Live Premiere: Photo Critique


a Creativelive Student

Brooke never fails to deliver. I found this course superb from start to finish. From exercising your creative 'muscle', demystifying taking self portraits, and showing that they don't have to be perfect before you begin editing, to walking you through her editing process and how to price your work. Brooke's enthusiastic personality and excitement about the work shines through it all. Definitely recommended!

Søren Nielsen

Thank for fantastic motivating an very inspiring. The story telling and selling module was very helpful - thanks from Denmark

Rebecca Potter

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Brooke for this amazing class. Inspired and so full of practical knowledge, this is the best class I've ever watched. You have given me the confidence to pursue what I've always been afraid to do. Watch this space!