Skip to main content

Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 53 of 138

Add Smoke & Texture


Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 53 of 138

Add Smoke & Texture


Lesson Info

Add Smoke & Texture

This image was pretty fun because, and I'm just throwing away layers that I didn't end up using, so that's what I'm doing right now. This image was really fun to do because I was able to go on location but it didn't quite look right when I went on location, so this was just field that I found and you can see houses in the background and things like that, it's a little bit busy, I don't really stand out in this field, especially with these bushes and stuff like that. So, my challenge here was to figure out how to draw attention to my subject in a space that was already really busy to work around. So I've gotten rid of my remote, you can see that hand just popping on there, and I'm expanding my frame out, which I did not remember to do when I was there shooting, so I just mirrored this side of the frame over to the other side, and then I simply stretched my image down because I thought I looked really short in this picture. I was like, you know, I'm just going to give myself a little bit...

of height and just stretch that down, and so you'll see a couple of changes, which these changes don't quite make sense yet, but they will when the smoke comes in. So this seems really simple, right? Like, I could just stand here and say, oh I just painted in the background, it was really simple. But of course it wasn't simple 'cause I had fingers to get around, and fabric and pieces of hair, and things like that, that required me to edit around when I put this piece in, and hopefully this is something we'll get to talk about later, is methods for that type of cutting and pasting, and things like that. Okay, so here's the smoke, which is totally normal white smoke that I photographed on a black backdrop, that I inverted the colors of, so that the smoke was black, the background was white, and then I didn't have to cut the smoke out, I simply blended the edges of it into the background there, which is much easier. This is another layer of smoke except this one is red, I just added a little bit of a tint to it and then I lightened it up so that you could really see the detail through that area, adding some smoke going around my body, which was quite the debate for me. I wasn't sure if I should do it and I'm still not sure if I should of done it, but it's done, and then I'm, that's it. I'm not going to think about it anymore. And so, let's see what else went into this. I'm just fixing up the top, making overall color adjustments, adding more smoke all around, so that it's believable, because you can't have one single plume of smoke with absolutely nothing else with texture filling in the background. And then changing the direction of light, changing how we see our subject in this space, which I think is really important to put the focus where you want it. If you're not using lighting or depth of field, or things like that, do it later. It's going to be worth it to just make sure that what the viewer is seeing is going to be seen, especially given how quickly people are going to look at an image online and move right past it, if they don't what they want to see. So that was how this one ended. Any questions on that image? Yeah? How did you, with the smoke on the white background, how did you match the gray that was in the image from the gray on the background? That's a great question. So if we go back to, mm, easier to do it this way. So we've got this layer, right? And if you can imagine it was just white back there, and if I were to use this layer mask to bring it back it wouldn't even show because what I did is I had this smoke that was now black, that used to be white and a background that was black, that is now white, and I went in to Replace Color. So, if I go to Replace Color, which I will do in more depth later, so don't worry if this is like, you're like, where are you going, don't worry yet. I went in to Replace Color and I selected just the white on the outside edges of the smoke, like this, and then I was able to change the lightness of that area. So it was like this, when I started, and I simply took it down to be as dark as the background. So that's one way that you could do it. Another way, for example, would be to go in to Curves, or Exposure, or Levels, and simply work from the highlight portion to take that down or up, or whatever you might need to do. That's one way that you could do it. But, in general I like to use Replace Color when I can, it's much faster, yeah. Any other questions before I close this one? Okay, now we're going to open the very last one here, and I wanted to open this because we actually have an image that we're going to be creating where there's going to be a very similar scenario for my series, for this class. And I thought it would be really go to take a look at how I've worked with this concept in the past and how it came together. So, we're going to take a look at the start of this image, which, was not under a tree but I did have a tree. And this was a lucky find, there's a tree, and there are roots coming underground in this sort of little alcove. So then you might be thinking why didn't you just photograph yourself under that tree? I should have, but I was embarrassed 'cause there were lots of hikers and I was in a nude leotard and I decided not to do it there. So I did it somewhere else in more privacy. And you're going to see weird things happen here too, as you will in most situations. I didn't like that tree enough. It was leaning kind of an odd direction, so you'll see a new one pop in. Oh, there it is. And then we've got some extra pieces of ground and that's a lot of what you're going to see here, is the ground transforming to cradle the subject in the end. Uh, I can't get away from it. I'm painting colors in ever single picture. So I'm just creating darkness because I don't know if you feel the same way, but I have trouble editing if this is all distracting for me. I really like to have as clean as slate as possible, and that's why you see this coming in so quickly. Here I'm taking extra shots that I had from the same little forest area that I found, just photographing the roots, and photographing little walls of dirt and things like that. Here are more, so I decided I didn't like part of that, and I put more in, oh, there I am. Okay, so then we've got our subject and I'm just darkening her down, and this is a shadow that you will see make sense, hopefully very soon. There we go. So there is my root and there's the shadow for it. And you can see the difference that it makes, one looks pasted and the other one, hopefully, looks less pasted. I won't say that it looks totally realistic, 'cause we're not finished yet and then we have more. I love the shape of this, just to mimic the shape of my body. Okay, more branches. I kept feeling like the tree was a little bit bare and I had to keep giving it little branches to feel better. There we've got even more, creating that circular shape again, and a lot of Photoshop, you know what? We can talk about compositing all day and we can talk about how things blends together, but at the end of the day, if you're not choosing the right images to go into a picture then it doesn't matter, you know? I needed this spiral shape to be able to create more believability here. So we'll just zoom through these. If I go up, there's my, another image from the same smoke shots that I had showed you before. I got so many good stock images and I use them all the time, and I've got some for you guys too, to download, with the class, so you will also have smoke images if you don't have smoke emitters where you are. And so here we go through this color process, it was very fun, and this is probably the weirdest layer that I have here. This is my rainbow layer, where I went through my normal process of just painting over the picture, but I did so at a very low opacity. You can see that that layer is set to 16% and if I take that percentage up, you can see what's happening here. Part of me regrets not just totally going for it with this picture and creating those vibrant colors, so there are things that I would choose to do differently. So this is 100% opacity of just painting over the image with different colors. And what I did was I thought, okay, I want there to be separation between the cool unground and the warm above ground and so I simply gave it that color by painting on a new layer and then blending it in to the image. So, we'll take that back down to 16 begrudgingly. It is something that I wish that I had done differently. Texture and we'll see how that comes together just by changing the light and bring our focus in. Okay, any questions on that last one? Okay, when you were out in the forest taking all your shots, did you know exactly what you needed, were you just wandering around, Yeah finding different things. A little bit of both. I mean, I was hoping that I would get lucky and I went specifically to a spot where the trees were, a lot of them were disconnected from the ground because I knew that I would need roots on their own, separate roots, so I was looking for a couple of things. One, walls of dirt, like where you could look at a wall, and there would be maybe some roots, and maybe some dirt spilling down, and just flat spaces, so that there would be a good background to my subject in this picture. Another thing that I was looking for were roots on their own, so like a tree that had one weird root just like out totally isolated, so that I could cut those out later and as in this root here, that went overtop of my subject. Just making sure that I had roots isolated that could go in that space. Aside from that, just lots of bramble, lots of little sticks to fill in the spaces that looked awkward, where there's just flat dirt, you know, 'cause that's not really believable. So those were the three things that I mostly looked for and I took tons of images that I never used here. Like, images of random sticks that I was holding up, hoping that they would look like roots and stuff like that, and textures that I might use, and specifically pockets of dirt, you know, where maybe it could look like somebody was inside of it, where there was natural shadow, but I didn't end up using those in this final one.

Class Description

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.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. Storytelling & Ideas
  3. Universal Symbols in Stories
  4. Create Interactive Characters
  5. The Story is in The Details
  6. Giving Your Audience Feelings
  7. Guided Daydream Exercise
  8. Elements of Imagery
  9. The Death Scenario
  10. Associations with Objects
  11. Three Writing Exercises
  12. Connection Through Art
  13. Break Through Imposter Syndrome
  14. Layering Inspiration
  15. Creating an Original Narrative
  16. Analyze an Image
  17. Translate Emotion into Images
  18. Finding Parts in Images
  19. Finding Your Target Audience
  20. Where Do You Want Your Images to Live?
  21. Create a Series That Targets Your Audience
  22. Formatting Your Work
  23. Additional Materials to Attract Clients
  24. Which Social Media Platforms Will be Useful?
  25. How to Make Money from Your Target Audience
  26. Circle of Focus
  27. The Pillars of Branding
  28. Planning Your Photoshoot
  29. Choose Every Element for The Series
  30. Write a Descriptive Paragraph
  31. Sketch Your Ideas
  32. Choose Your Gear
  33. How to Utilize Costumes, Props & Locations
  34. What Tells a Story in a Series?
  35. Set Design Overview
  36. Color Theory
  37. Lighting for the Scene
  38. Props, Wardrobe & Time Period for Set Design
  39. Locations
  40. Subject Within the Scene
  41. Set Design Arrangement
  42. Fine Art Compositing
  43. Plan The Composite Before Shooting
  44. Checklist for Composite Shooting
  45. Analyze Composite Mistakes
  46. Shoot: Black Backdrop for White Clothing
  47. Shoot: Black Backdrop for Color Clothing
  48. Shoot: Black Backdrop for Accessories
  49. Shoot: Miniature Scene
  50. Editing Workflow Overview
  51. Add Fabric to Make a Big Dress
  52. Edit Details of Images
  53. Add Smoke & Texture
  54. Blend Multiple Images Into One Composite
  55. Put Subject Into a Miniature Scenario
  56. Location Scouting & Test Photoshoot
  57. Self Portrait Test Shoots
  58. Shoot for Edit
  59. Shoot Extra Stock Images
  60. Practice the Shoot
  61. Introduction to Shooting Photo Series
  62. Shoot: Vine Image
  63. Shoot: Sand Image
  64. Shoot: End Table Image
  65. Shoot: Bed Image
  66. Shoot: Wall Paper Image
  67. Shoot: Chair Image
  68. Shoot: Mirror Image
  69. Shoot: Moss Image
  70. Shoot: Tree Image
  71. Shoot: Fish Tank Image
  72. Shoot: Feather Image
  73. View Photo Series for Cohesion & Advanced Compositing
  74. Edit Multiple Images to Show Cohesion
  75. Edit Images with Advanced Compositing
  76. Decide How to Start the Composite
  77. Organize Final Images
  78. Choosing Images for Your Portfolio
  79. Order the Images in Your Portfolio
  80. Why do Some Images Sell More Than Others?
  81. Analyze Student Portfolio Image Order
  82. Framing, Sizing, Editioning & Pricing
  83. Determine Sizes for Prints
  84. How to Choose Paper
  85. How to Choose Editions
  86. Pricing Strategies
  87. How to Present Your Images
  88. Example Pricing Exercise
  89. Print Examples
  90. Licensing, Commissions & Contracts
  91. How to Keep Licensing Organized
  92. How to Prepare Files for Licensing
  93. Pricing Your Licensed Images
  94. Contract Terms for Licensing
  95. Where to Sell Images
  96. Commission Pricing Structure
  97. Contract for Commissions
  98. Questions for a Commission Shoot
  99. Working with Galleries
  100. Benefits of Galleries
  101. Contracts for Galleries
  102. How to Find Galleries
  103. Choose Images to Show
  104. Hanging the Images
  105. Importance of Proofing Prints
  106. Interview with Soren Christensen Gallery
  107. Press Package Overview
  108. Artist Statement for Your Series
  109. Write Your 'About Me' Page
  110. Importance of Your Headshot
  111. Create a Leave Behind & Elevator Pitch
  112. Writing For Fine Art
  113. Define Your Writing Style
  114. Find Your Genre
  115. What Sets You Apart?
  116. Write to Different Audiences
  117. Write for Blogging
  118. Speak About Your Work
  119. Branding for Video
  120. Clearly Define Video Talking Points
  121. Types of Video Content
  122. Interview Practice
  123. Diversifying Social Media Content
  124. Create an Intentional Social Media Persona
  125. Monetize Your Social Media Presence
  126. Social Media Posting Plan
  127. Choose Networks to Use & Invest
  128. Presentation of Final Images
  129. Printing Your Series
  130. How to Work With a Print Lab
  131. Proofing Your Prints
  132. Bad Vs. Good Prints
  133. Find Confidence to Print
  134. Why Critique?
  135. Critiquing Your Own Portfolio
  136. Critique of Brooke's Series
  137. Critique of Student Series
  138. Yours is a Story Worth Telling


April S.

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.

Ron Landis

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.

Angel Ricci

When the title says comprehensive, it means comprehensive! I loved every part of this course. It's inspirational, motivating, and insightful towards creating art work. Even if you are not necessarily considering a fine art specialty, the concepts discussed in this course are applicable to many areas! I find this super useful as a videographer and photographer and look to apply all of these exercises and concepts for my personal and business work moving forward. It is lengthy, but you will not regret a single minute. Brooke Shaden is an amazing artist and educator. I recommend keeping up with her work, presentations, and any future courses that may come in the future.