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Fine Art Conceptual Photography from Shoot through Post-Processing

Lesson 6 of 48

Building A Character

Bella Kotak, Pratik Naik

Fine Art Conceptual Photography from Shoot through Post-Processing

Bella Kotak, Pratik Naik

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Lesson Info

6. Building A Character


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Artistic Vision and Inspiration


Personal Projects


Creative Motivation and Defining Your Story


Organizing Your Inspiration


Building A Character


Creating Wardrobe and Props


Location Scouting


Lesson Info

Building A Character

I'm gonna talk now about building your character. As we know, my love for fairy tales and fantasy channels a lot of what I shoot, and what I create. And I'm gonna just talk about that a little bit more. So, what do you need to tell a story? And again, this can be applicable to anything. If you're shooting a couple for their wedding, if you're shooting fashion, a story for a fashion shoot, a beauty series, I always like to think of anything that you're making up as a character. So what do you need? Props, lighting, what is essential to the story that you're trying to tell? And what is a personal connection, what's the objective of that shoot? So, in my case, I'm shooting this for myself, it's personal work, and it's for a series, and this series, like, if we're going to see, if I tell you my goals for it, it's essentially to be in an exhibition, be in galleries, which actually, some of these pictures are. They're in galleries. I sell them, and I want them to be a collective piece, a col...

lective body of work, which, you know, I want to present a book, or something beautiful one day, and have them available to everybody. But that is my goal. And so, that's why I'm quite excited to share the stories that I'm making with these pictures with you. So we're gonna talk now about styling, because I get a lot of questions about styling. Especially when, at the moment, I'm using a lot of pieces from designers, and stuff like that. But I wanted to show you a picture which, at the very beginning, I was using a leotard. So this is a nude leotard, that I bought off eBay, and actually, it was inspired by Sia. Sia's "Chandelier," that song, where the girl was running, frolicking, in her leotard. So I was like, "Oh, that's great!" So I got myself a nude leotard off eBay, and this picture is literally a girl in a leotard covered in weeds, 'cause these are literally weeds off a path. So you don't need much, and that's the point I'm trying to make with this photo. You don't need much to tell a story. You just need to have some imagination, and that's pretty much what I used here. It could have very easily been a girl laying down in some weeds in her leotard. But what makes this picture a little bit more engaging and interesting, is the things that are happening here. You want to know, you kind of, there's more interest in the photo that catches your eye, and that just makes it work a little bit more cohesive as a storytelling image. So for example, she's being covered by the weeds, so you're like, "Oh, was she sleeping? "Was she just waking up? "Is she a part of that scene, maybe that's her little home, "her little den?" These are things I think about. But, you know, I put the same flowers on her head as a headpiece, I just pinned them on. I made a couple of plaits, really simple, pinned them on, and that connected her to the scene as well. So I was like, "This girl is from this scene, "from this setting." And then the color tones as well. The greens and the golds. There's a bit of gold down here, and a bit of gold up there. And all of that just works really well together to tie the image together.

Class Description

It’s one thing to have a creative imagination but bringing your visions to life requires a specific skillset. You need to understand the technical challenges facing you to move from concept to planning production and finalizing your image. The amazingly talented duo of Bella Kotak and Pratik Naik will walk through every detail to creating your conceptual vision. Bella will help you understand how to evaluate locations and environment, pose your model, see color in a new way, and create beautiful props on a budget. Pratik will share his vast knowledge of color theory, color toning, and compositing images to streamline your retouching workflow. This class will offer an in-depth look at creative production and retouching process. 

You’ll learn: 
  • How to concept and develop a scene
  • Color theory and how it applies in camera and in post production
  • Location practices to guide your eye toward beauty in common environments
  • Communication tactics for collaborating with other artists
  • Lighting techniques for composite images and fine art portraits
  • Basic retouching of an image
  • Color toning techniques in Capture One
  • Compositing techniques for bringing an image together

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Practice PSD File - Sleeping Beauty

Pratik Naik Retouching Actions

The Royal Collection - Fine Art Actions

Practice PSD File - Location Shoot (~700mb)

Practice PSD File - In Studio Shoot (~1.3gb)

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Great class and great instructors. Genuine and informative. Practical tips to create stunning images. Seeing them work through the process from shoot to finished image was great and I loved that they shared the thought processes behind the creative decisions. Definitely recommended!


Truly a remarkable duo. Bella is so down-to-earth and humble for a photographer with such a strong beautiful and ethereal voice. Her explanations of her process really inspired me--I was sketching concepts throughout the class. Pratik's process really opened my eyes to "smart" retouching--understanding what can be done in fewer brush strokes and slimmer PS files. All in all a really unique and inspiring class that makes me excited to realize my next conceptual shoot. They're also adorable together!

Mai Her

I've gained sooooo much from this I can't even contain my appreciation and excitement! So much inspiration and so much generous advice and tips to help me! Thank you so much Bella and Pratik and Creative Live!