Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide


Lesson Info

Analyze Composite Mistakes

So let's just quickly, before we talk about our props and get to shooting, let's go through a couple of images of mine here, that I have, that I think perhaps had some compositing, not errors, 'cause I think I worked through them, but potential pitfalls in these images. We looked at this image already, if you guys remember, it was like that tree stump-looking thing, and then you guys made fun of me, because there was a car in the background. I remember, I don't forget these things, and it was a pretty sad image. So we already liked at this one, so this is a good one to start with in terms of what could have gone wrong in this picture? And that's what I'm asking you. What could have gonna wrong? So if I said to you, right now, pretend you've never seen this picture at all, and I was like, guys, look at this picture. Okay, just take a look at the details. Take a look at the angles. Now go recreate this picture. You have a day. What would you be thinking about? What are the different chec...

klist items that you would need to go through in your head to be able to recreate this picture? So if you wanted to shout them out, or repeat them, and what first runs through your mind if I were to say, break, you have one hour. I just took it from a day to an hour, you know, gotta make you feel really nervous. Okay, you have one hour. What are you gonna do? I love doin' this to people. What are you gonna do? I'm so mean. I would really wanna find a tree. Did it have a lot behind it? Oh yeah, sorry, could you use a mic? That would be awesome. I would really find a tree that didn't have a lot behind it. Yeah, that would be good If it's possible. Yeah, so find a tree that already looks good in its environment. Yeah, yeah, smart thing that I will do next time for sure. (laughs) Yeah. I would photograph my model where I could control the lights so that it would be on her as opposed to behind her. Good, yeah. So controlled lighting in this situation. And it's interesting to note also controlled lighting, because one thing that I showed you when we went through how this image was created, was that obviously there was a tree here and I didn't show you where she was. Oop, I'm touching my print, where she was in relation to the tree. I didn't show you the original image of myself running through the forest, but I photographed myself against this tree. You would think, oh yeah, that makes sense. Of course, you photographed yourself against the tree and it was great for lighting, but what it wasn't good for is the fact that I had to add this black hole behind me. It was not there before. There was just a normal tree there, which was much lighter. I ended up darkening the tree down, but the tree was kind of beige in color, against my beige hair. I'm so beige in this picture, right. I turned my hair a little bit red, but it was beige. So you had a lot of beige going on, and that was my mistake. I remember getting home with this image and thinking, why didn't I just photograph myself against a black backdrop. It would have been so simple, right. Instead of having to cut all along my dress and along the little flowers and everything, it would have been so much easier. So controlled lighting, controlled backdrop, so what else? You guys, you're down to 55 minutes. Yeah, that's how long you have. You don't have much time. Okay, so I've got controlled subject, a cleaner background. What else do you have to consider? For example, do you think it's likely that you're gonna go out and find a tree that looks this cool, with all of these? No, I mean maybe you will, right, like, you know, I go to India every year and every year I feel like I just miraculously do not have my camera where I need to be when I find trees that look just like this. So I don't have very easy access to the roots. So another thing that I'm considering is not just where can I find these things but what angle am I going go photograph them at? Do I need to get down low with them? What angle do I shoot my subject at? What is the main angle that you're getting, first and foremost? So, for example, you might photograph your subject first. That's the first thing that you do. Well that's going to be your standard angle that you're gonna wanna photograph things at, 'cause that's your first shot that you're taking to go in this image. I photographed the tree first. That was my first angle so I photographed myself at that some angle. Then what about the tree roots? And there's always some latitude that you have in Photoshop with perspective shifts, because there is a tool called perspective and you can change the perspective. And that's really great. But the more you change the perspective, or skew or distort your images, the more your pixels are literally stretching in weird directions, so when you go to print an image like this, suddenly you're going to see that, oh, that little tree root that I tried to warp into place has a weird look to it, where all the pixels are sort of stretching in one direction and that is terrible. You can get away with it on the internet generally, where your images are really tiny, and you can't see the details, but not in a print like this. So that's another thing that I'm thinking about. And I would say those are the main things for this image. So if we look at a new picture here, we've go a much simpler image. (blows air) I hate when little things are on my prints. Oh, okay, I got it. Okay! So we've got this image here and I say that it's simpler, although it was an editing challenge as all things are when you having done something before. So if told you, okay now you have 30 minutes, because you guys aren't sweating enough about this. You have 30 minutes and you have to go make this happen. You have to make it look like stuffing is coming out of somebody. I know that this image freaks some people out, but you have to do it, okay. It could be coming out of your arm. It could be coming out of your throat if you're really creepy and distorted, who knows. I think Samantha is, so, yeah. You can do the throat image. So what would you do? What would you go grab? Yeah. Some sort of a pillow that you could put, skin tone around it-- Awesome. Easier to cut out. Exactly, and that was my thought process as well, when I did this image. So I went and found a pillow and I took a knife. I don't know, I just love knives, like just (roars), and anyway, so I opened up this pillow and it had this perfect stuffing in it, and I seemed to match pillows really well with my skin tone, and I opened it up, and it fit perfectly. So, okay, you've all have a pillow, you found the pillow of your dreams, that has just the perfect stuffing in it, and it matches your skin tone, so then how do you photograph it? 'Cause let's say I have a pillowcase, and I've got my pillow and I've got me, and they're two separate images, how are you working with that? Make sure that it's the same angle that you shoot you're model at, essentially. Exactly. So we've got the same angle, which is easy in this situation, because I'm shooting this on my bed, so it's not like, you know, I'm in two separate places or anything like that. The lighting is the same, yep. Oh, I took it from you. I took it from you, I'm sorry. So the lighting is the same, and there's one other thing that I didn't think about when I photographed this, and that is the background, because this whole area here of the image, wherever you see that cut, was the pillowcase, blended into my skin, and I photographed that, just against my wall in the background. My wall is beige. I have a lot of beige going on in my life. This needs to change, just mental note, but the wall was beige and I darkened it later, manually in Photoshop, so this was an almost white wall behind me. And I photograph this pillow on that wall, but then the top of the stuffing had to intersect with my head, which was much darker. I'd wet my hair for this image so that I would have darker hair. So that was a little bit of nightmare because I had all of these little pieces of stuffing sticking out and it was against a white backdrop. So I had to go in, and this is the same thing as the fabric, I just made it up wherever I thought I should cut around the edges 'cause you don't know, right. Like you're not lookin' at that, like, oh clearly you just edited that however, you wanted, no. And I made it fit into this space, and these are the things that need to be thought about ahead of time with compositing, is not just what is the lighting, what is the angle, you know, that kind of thing, but how is this gonna go together? Like I've got a pillowcase, I've got a person. How do they blend? What are the points in which the pillowcase meets my back. What is the point at which the pillowcase will intersect with the wall and my head? All those things I totally forgot to think about that, because it's not there in front of you. Lighting is there in front of you. Perspective, you have to make a choice about that right. You just have to, or you don't and then things don't look very good. But it's still a choice that you're making right there in the moment when you're shooting, but how this intersects with my head is not a choice that you're making in the moment. So it's just something to think about, and then if we just look at this last image, which we've already talked about some. Okay, so now, you have five minutes to make this picture, 'cause we're just upping the ante, right. Okay, so we've already talked about perspective, right, and things like that, and in fact, I often, do you guys have someone that you always show your images to or frequently show your images to when you create? I do that with my husband and it's a bad idea, generally, you know, because there's always gonna be something wrong that I'm too lazy to fix, or whatever the situation is, but I finished this image and he actually had one major problem with this picture, and I wanna know if you guys have the same problem with this picture. If you looked at it and you were like, something is off here. And you know what, you might say something totally different and I'm like, oh shoot, that's also wrong. That's okay too, but does anything pop into your mind as being wrong? And it's okay, you won't offend me. I mean no one's perfect. Yeah. Well one thing, maybe the hair would probably blow much higher in the wind-- like the dress. That's true. I have thought about this many times since then. But that wasn't the thing. But I still agree with you. Lighting on the field as opposed to the very dark skies. Okay, let me give you a hint. It's this area that he's upset about. And I'll tell you, it wasn't what I thought he was gonna say. 'Cause, you know like once you get to know someone, you approach them and you're like, I know, I know what you're gonna say! You don't even have to say it 'cause I get it, but he actually had a problem with the perspective of these clouds on this fabric. Think feeling like it wasn't quite the right perspective. It wasn't shot from the right angle, based on how we're looking at this picture, and that it wasn't quite mapped correctly over the wrinkles of this sheet, and you know, we have our differences, and I'll just move on and I'll be like, look it's already printed, it's done, oh well. And that's just the difference between some people, but still I would argue is an issue in this situation. Well five minutes is up. I hope you guys have made your picture, and I hope that you did not make that mistake that I just made.

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. :)