Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide


Lesson Info

Choose Every Element for The Series

I think if we start breaking down images, then we can plan them so much better. If we really consider every single element of what goes into a picture, first of all, you'll probably have more confidence to sell your work, at better prices. Because if you really think about every decision that goes into an image, there's a lot of decision making involved. And in fact, I have a friend who's pretty indecisive, and she, one day, was like, I'm gonna make a self portrait. I'm just gonna do this. I've seen you do it so many times. I'm just gonna do this. And she sends me these pictures; she's texting me these pictures of her like, laying in her apartment wrapped in a bed sheet, and with the text, this is so hard. And I was like, yes! What a great feeling for a photographer to have somebody that you know be like, wow, what you do is really hard. It's very satisfying because they're thinking about every single decision that we make really easily oftentimes. What camera angle am I going to use? ...

How do I choose my settings? What wardrobe am I gonna use? All those things. There are so many decisions. So let's talk about them. All of the decisions. First of all there's lighting. And I'm just gonna make a comprehensive list of everything I could think of. And if you think of something that's not here, just let me know, and we will add it to the list at some point. But we've got lighting, okay? That's like, first and foremost. You're a photographer, you definitely have to know something about light. Composition. So, I want you to put yourself in the mindset of somebody who has never taken a picture before, and how daunting this list will be to think about. Composition, props, any objects you wanna put in the frame. We've got the set, the location, where are you going to do this when you have literally every option in the world. You could do it anywhere with anything. What are you going to wear for this particular image that you're trying to create, or will your model wear, if that's applicable? Hair and makeup, you know? Are my pig tails appropriate for this photo I'm going to do? Or are they not? Most likely not. But one can dream. Camera lens. I mean, literally, what are you going to use? So, are you going to change your lens, do you want it to be wide, do you want it to be tight? Posing. How am I going to sit or stand, or jump in this picture? What am I going to be doing? That's the hardest one for people who have never taken a picture before, I find. They're like, oh, there's a model. Do something, model. Have you ever heard people say that? Just do something. Oh no. We have to tell them. The time; time of day, time period. Could be either one, but we have to think about those things. The emotion or feeling that you're trying to communicate in the image. The mood and atmosphere. How do you want it to feel, how do you want it to look? The colors that you're choosing; super important. The editing of the image; if you're going to edit it, or not. What will this turn into later? Your physical shooting process. How is it going to go? Do you wanna have five assistants who are all doing the work for you? Do you wanna do it all by yourself? What is your process? Is there a certain genre that you're trying to work in? Do you have an idea of a fairy tale princess photos shoot that you wanna do, and if so, how do you make all of these things fit that genre? Will you print the image later on? Do you ever want this to be in print? Are you paying attention to the resolution? Are you paying attention to the file sizes? Things like that. I couldn't think of a better word for this, but does it have any ephemeral qualities? Is it a piece of art that will go away one day, that has a short shelf life, or is it something that will live on and on, and on? How are you going to work within that? And then theme. Is there a theme that you're working with? So, this is a lot, oh, one more. (laughs) Interactivity, yes. So is this an art piece that is interactive for people? Do you want people to engage in any certain way later on, or is this something that you're gonna keep just for yourself? That's a lot of things to think about. I mean, and this is just what I came up with off the top of my head when I was trying to make a list. And you might think of something else. And if you have anything else, let me know. Still very long list though. But if you do have something, do say. Okay? Okay. That's a lot of things though, and so, when my friend sent me that picture, and she said, this is hard, I didn't just think, ha-ha, she knows how hard it is. I really thought, it is hard. It should be hard, and too often it's not hard for us, 'cause we don't think about these things every single time we take a picture. Let's just be honest. I know that I don't. For sure. I mean, there are so many times when I go create, and I'm like, I love the look of that tree, I'm just gonna make something with it, 'cause it looks cool. And then I start. And, I always get to the end of that process feeling a little bit, one, guilty that I didn't really think it through, and two, I don't really like it that much. It could have been better if I had just thought about every single one of these things, which is daunting. Nobody wants to go out on location, and like, you've got your camera, and you've got this model doing something really cool, and you're like, one moment, while I go through my checklist. Nobody wants to do that. But what if we did? That's my point. What if we did. What if we went through every single one of these things for every single picture we took? I feel like, inherently they would have to be better, or at least more meaningful, 'cause better is a bad word, but more meaningful. In my opinion. So that's what I try to do with my images. And this is actually an image that, I did not love how it turned out. And there were many reasons why I didn't love it. And it was okay, I mean, I'm not saying like, oh, look at this horrible picture that I did, but there were some things lacking. But nonetheless, we can still talk about all of these things, all of these crazy things that went into it. So I thought about, where am I going to take this picture? It was 4am when I got up to take this picture, and part of me was like, you know, I'll just do this against my wall here at home later after I sleep in til seven o'clock. That was part of me that said, I could do this by compositing. I could just put myself in this location later, and who really cares? But then the other part of me said, no, I like to create with experiences. I want to be there. I want to have this experience. So I went there at 4:30 in the morning, and I took this picture. I brought my hula hoop, my trusty hula hoop, that I love so much. It's purple and glittery, and I always have to fight that, but, there it is. I brought a stool. So, so far, what you know is this: I went on location, I brought the props with me that I needed to do everything there without having to composite too much, except for the actual hula hoops that I photographed on location for lighting consistency and angle consistency. And then, I've got this dress, so I'm making conscious decisions about location and wardrobe. I've chosen a location that's pretty nondescript, I've chosen a wardrobe that is certainly nondescript, very simple, all blue, no real time period associated with it. I'm not showing a face, so there's no character consideration here. It's not about the person, it's about the form. And then if we go back, we can probably choose something for every single one of these things that was a consideration, and I would even argue that maybe was not a consideration; that I just forgot to think about. And that's probably why it fell short for me with this particular image.

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. :)