Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide


Lesson Info

Add Fabric to Make a Big Dress

We're gonna open up these Photoshop files and just peel back the layers, take a look at exactly how they were created and why they were created in the ways that they were. I should mention that I'm in Bridge right now, and that's how I prefer to look at my images. I know that a lot of people will prefer Lightroom or Capture One or something like that, and I don't have a great reason for not doing that except that I just don't need to. So I work in Bridge because all I'm doing is choosing maybe from a few different images that I've captured and just pulling them straight into Photoshop without doing any extra work to them. So I'm almost never taking a single image and editing that one image from start to finish because I'm compositing, so I just don't need to. So I'm in Bridge, and that's how I choose my images; and I've got these Photoshop files, and each of them has a slightly different way of being put together. So we're going to open them into Photoshop, just take a look one by one,...

and see exactly what had to happen here. So I've got a few different elements open here in Photoshop. I've got my navigator which is just, for me, a really great way of being able to see the image that I'm working on but much smaller, really quickly; and that's important to me because I think we spend a lot of time, like, really, really zoomed in to something, and then it's nice to just be able to see the whole picture there on the side. So I always have my navigator open. I always have history open; and I keep my layers open, of course, since we're working on many, many different layers. So I'm just gonna zoom back out, and we're gonna take a look at how this picture was created. So if I go and scroll through, the first thing that I'm looking for is did I not end up using any of the layers, but this looks pretty good; and I'm just going to, I'm not usually on a Mac, so sometimes I'm a little clunky. Option or Alt click on our bottom layer to reveal how this was put together. Now, I do tend to be a little bit lazy when I shoot; and, yes, I could have done a better job with this backdrop in smoothing it out and making it look really nice. But when it's just you and you know that you'll be able to get what you need from that one image, then sometimes you might tend to be a little bit lazier about things. So that's what I did here, and I started this image out with as much as I could get in one photo, which is important to mention because if you're a one-person show, it's often really difficult to get everything set up by yourself, especially if you are the subject. So in this instance, I knew that I wanted the veil to cover my face. I knew that I wanted there to be many, many layers of veil and dress in this image. But aside from that, I knew that I only was one person. I had to be able to, sort of, get my main shot here that I could build everything off of; so I had the veil covering my face. And I used this image as my main shot, and then everything else got built on top of that. So let's go ahead and just take a look. First, I sort of put this white layer over everything, just a soft curve layer to sort of soften everything; and then my very favorite step in every single image I create is just painting a certain color all around it, which is just making my own backdrop. So yes I could've simply put white in the background and made this much easier on myself, but instead I painted it; and I did so by sampling a color within this white that was in the background. So I didn't just choose white or gray, but I found a color that was already there. Then you can see I'm just adding little bits of fabric on. So this little bit of fabric doesn't match. You can see that it sort of connects right through here where the lace was, but you can also see in the background that it's really dark in comparison; and that's because I'm layering even more images on. So sometimes you'll see a little piece that doesn't look like it fits, but then something else pops in and suddenly it fits a little bit better. And so what you're seeing here is my playtime, my compositing playtime, which is to take all of the images that I shot outside of this main picture; and I'm seeing what fits where, what shape is appealing to me. I don't subscribe to a lot of different, you know, photo must-do things like creating certain shapes for your eye to move around; but in this case, I do love triangles, so I was trying to create that triangular shape here in multiple ways. And then I'm just changing light. So we're gonna talk about how to do each of these things in more depth once we get into editing our fresh images; but for now, all I want you to know is that I'm playing with where fabric goes. I have no formula for this. How can you, you're just playing; but aside from playing with where the fabric goes, I'm simply blending as I go. So I'm making sure that since I put these images in, you can see here that these little changes are just blending with the light and the contrast and things like that. And then we have this layer five, which is this very different looking image, which is smoke that I've added in as a separate layer that I photographed separately; and I'll show you those images later that I have from my stock. And you can see when I click on layer five that this little dropdown box says overlay, and that is a blending mode that I have changed. So if I were to go in and put that layer on normal, it would just be a normal picture of smoke; but instead I went through all of my options. I probably clicked in just like this and tried to see what each one would do and eventually ended on; what overlay was it? Okay, good; lest I forget. And so we just have a few more images just blending in that background so that everything looks super smooth. And I could go through every little detail of how exactly I made those changes. We'll do that later, but the overall gist is important here. I decided I didn't wanna be married for this photo, so I got rid of my wedding ring; and then I'm adding even more fabric. And a lot of this image was about playtime, just figuring out what goes where and how it can work. And this was another smoke layer, just making that even more apparent that she is coming out of smoke. So you might say, well, why didn't you just photograph that smoke there? I mean, why add it later? Then the answer is you could've done it then, and you could've tried to get the smoke and your subject all in the right position, but I find that with self-portraits I have a hard enough time just getting my face to look normal; I don't wanna deal with smoke as well. So I like to do it in separate pieces, and it tests my editing skills as well, which is fun. Here's a little bit of changing the light so you can see the light on the subject there. And then these are just some finishing touches with texture and one more pop of contrast. So that was this image; and if you guys have any questions as we're going, feel free to, yeah, please. So from start to finish, about how long did this take you to do once you started in post? This was probably, maybe two hours or so. I would say that my average edit is about two to four hours; and if it's on the lower end, then it's usually a very quick composite, so usually the images will come together really fast and then I can spend, you know, an hour-and-a-half just playing with colors and light and things like that. But if the compositing is really heavy, then it takes a lot longer; but I try to spend at least an hour, at least, just doing colors and lighting changes because that's really where my style comes in and that's where I feel I need to spend most of my time. But for other people, you know, maybe compositing takes a lot longer; and I'm not a perfectionist, I should mention. So I tend to just get in there, get it done. Maybe it's a little bit dirty and gritty; but, you know, I try. And I should say that I definitely make sure that the end product looks seamless, but there are certain things that you sort of catch on to that you know will be able cover up a little bit later as the editing process goes on.

Creating a great photo for a client is one thing - but turning your passion and ideas into a series that is shared, shown, and sold is a whole different business. If you do it right, you’ll be shooting what you love all the time. Learn how to choose which ideas to create, how to turn your concept into a production, and steps to getting your work seen and even sold in Fine Art Photography: A Complete Guide with Award-Winning Photographer, Brooke Shaden.

This is an all-inclusive workshop that provides the tools you need to run a successful and creative business as a fine art photographer. You’ll learn creative exercises to find and develop your ideas, how to create an original narrative, how to produce your own photo series, post production techniques and skills for compositing and retouching, how to write about your work, ways to pitch to galleries and agents, and how to print your pieces so they look like art.

This workshop will take you on location with Brooke as she creates a photo series from scratch. She’ll walk through every step for her photo shoots including set design and location scouting, she’ll cover techniques in the field for capturing your artistic vision, post-production and compositing techniques, as well as printing and framing essentials.

She’ll round out this experience by discussing all of the details that will help make your career a success like licensing, commissions, artists statements, social media plans, gallery prep, and pricing your work.

This comprehensive course is a powerful look into the world of fine art photography led by one of the world’s most talented photographers, Brooke Shaden. Included with purchase is exclusive access to bonus material that gives exercises and downloads for all of the lessons.


Class Introduction
Storytelling & Ideas
Universal Symbols in Stories
Create Interactive Characters
The Story is in The Details
Giving Your Audience Feelings
Guided Daydream Exercise
Elements of Imagery
The Death Scenario
Associations with Objects
Three Writing Exercises
Connection Through Art
Break Through Imposter Syndrome
Layering Inspiration
Creating an Original Narrative
Analyze an Image
Translate Emotion into Images
Finding Parts in Images
Finding Your Target Audience
Where Do You Want Your Images to Live?
Create a Series That Targets Your Audience
Formatting Your Work
Additional Materials to Attract Clients
Which Social Media Platforms Will be Useful?
How to Make Money from Your Target Audience
Circle of Focus
The Pillars of Branding
Planning Your Photoshoot
Choose Every Element for The Series
Write a Descriptive Paragraph
Sketch Your Ideas
Choose Your Gear
How to Utilize Costumes, Props & Locations
What Tells a Story in a Series?
Set Design Overview
Color Theory
Lighting for the Scene
Props, Wardrobe & Time Period for Set Design
Subject Within the Scene
Set Design Arrangement
Fine Art Compositing
Plan The Composite Before Shooting
Checklist for Composite Shooting
Analyze Composite Mistakes
Shoot: Black Backdrop for White Clothing
Shoot: Black Backdrop for Color Clothing
Shoot: Black Backdrop for Accessories
Shoot: Miniature Scene
Editing Workflow Overview
Add Fabric to Make a Big Dress
Edit Details of Images
Add Smoke & Texture
Blend Multiple Images Into One Composite
Put Subject Into a Miniature Scenario
Location Scouting & Test Photoshoot
Self Portrait Test Shoots
Shoot for Edit
Shoot Extra Stock Images
Practice the Shoot
Introduction to Shooting Photo Series
Shoot: Vine Image
Shoot: Sand Image
Shoot: End Table Image
Shoot: Bed Image
Shoot: Wall Paper Image
Shoot: Chair Image
Shoot: Mirror Image
Shoot: Moss Image
Shoot: Tree Image
Shoot: Fish Tank Image
Shoot: Feather Image
View Photo Series for Cohesion & Advanced Compositing
Edit Multiple Images to Show Cohesion
Edit Images with Advanced Compositing
Decide How to Start the Composite
Organize Final Images
Choosing Images for Your Portfolio
Order the Images in Your Portfolio
Why do Some Images Sell More Than Others?
Analyze Student Portfolio Image Order
Framing, Sizing, Editioning & Pricing
Determine Sizes for Prints
How to Choose Paper
How to Choose Editions
Pricing Strategies
How to Present Your Images
Example Pricing Exercise
Print Examples
Licensing, Commissions & Contracts
How to Keep Licensing Organized
How to Prepare Files for Licensing
Pricing Your Licensed Images
Contract Terms for Licensing
Where to Sell Images
Commission Pricing Structure
Contract for Commissions
Questions for a Commission Shoot
Working with Galleries
Benefits of Galleries
Contracts for Galleries
How to Find Galleries
Choose Images to Show
Hanging the Images
Importance of Proofing Prints
Interview with Soren Christensen Gallery
Press Package Overview
Artist Statement for Your Series
Write Your 'About Me' Page
Importance of Your Headshot
Create a Leave Behind & Elevator Pitch
Writing For Fine Art
Define Your Writing Style
Find Your Genre
What Sets You Apart?
Write to Different Audiences
Write for Blogging
Speak About Your Work
Branding for Video
Clearly Define Video Talking Points
Types of Video Content
Interview Practice
Diversifying Social Media Content
Create an Intentional Social Media Persona
Monetize Your Social Media Presence
Social Media Posting Plan
Choose Networks to Use & Invest
Presentation of Final Images
Printing Your Series
How to Work With a Print Lab
Proofing Your Prints
Bad Vs. Good Prints
Find Confidence to Print
Why Critique?
Critiquing Your Own Portfolio
Critique of Brooke's Series
Critique of Student Series
Yours is a Story Worth Telling


  • I tuned in for most of Brooke's lessons in this course and watched some of them more than once as they were rebroadcast. First I want to say that Brooke is a very good instructor. Her easy-going, friendly, down-to-earth, somewhat quirky manner cannot be mistaken for unprofessional. She is very prepared, she speaks well (not a bunch of hemming and hawing), she is thoughtful, she is thorough, she is very relatable and at ease, and she is definitely professional in her presentation. I really thought when I first tuned in that it would mostly be background noise while I was at work, sound to keep me company. Not because I didn't like Brooke but I really didn't think I was into fine art photography nor did I think I cared about the business side of things much. Not now anyhow. I was really wrong. Brooke sparked a deep interest in me to delve into fine art photography, to consider creating images for myself, from my imagination. In fact, I realized that this was something I'd been thinking about for a couple of years though I hadn't put a name to it (the idea of creating pre-conceived images based on my own creative goals). I gleaned many little treasures from her about image sizes, working with printers, different types of paper, selling, interacting with galleries, and so much more. I may not need all of what she taught right now because I'm definitely headed in another direction at the moment, but she planted ideas and information in my head that I know will be useful at some point. Things I may not have thought of on my own, but that seed is in my head now so when the time comes, I'll know. I'd really like to buy her course but at the moment, with the holidays right around the corner, it's not in my personal budget. I'm grateful to have caught the live and rebroadcast lessons though, and her course is on my list to own. I think it's a great reference to be consulted over and over again, not watched once and forgotten. Kudos Brooke for really putting together an excellent course.
  • I'm retired now, but spent decades in the people and training business. Brooke is extraordinary! Even though this course is extremely well organized and she's left nothing unattended, she moves through it with friendly conversational manners and without a sense of it being stilted. It's as though we are all her friends, not students, as she shares her heart and passion with us. What a joy it is to listen to her. And what a clear, unambiguous command of her subject. Wow! She explains it with such ease using explanations and techniques that won't overwhelm artists just starting their portfolio or the Photoshop-squeamish among us; but despite its simplicity her resulting art is breathtaking and beyond original. I wish more of my professors at school were as engaging. This was by far my best buy at Creative Live yet.
  • What an amazing 20 days this is going to be! Brooke is so enthusiastic and has such a lovely manner. What a bargain for all of the information Brooke will be sharing with us. So excited. Thanks Brooke and Creative Live. :)