Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide



Lesson Info

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I've got this little mashup of images here. And what I started to do was to go through my work, and start to create exhibitions, creating my own work. I didn't actually print them, I didn't hang them. I didn't have an actual exhibition, but I went through my whole portfolio and I started to say to myself, "Okay, I've got a lot of random pictures in my portfolio. They don't necessarily go together. They're not connected, but if I were an art curator, if I owned a gallery and I were looking at my portfolio, which ones could I pull together to create an exhibition out of?" We talked earlier about the importance of a series, and presenting a series to a gallery because the gallery is more likely to sell multiple images if they relate to one another visually, thematically, or both. So I went through my work, and I said, "You know what, I need to pull together some exhibitions, what looks good thematically, visually, or both." And this was a little series that I pulled together of all these ...

tree themed images, foresty, natury images. I did not create any one of these thinking about any of the others. They were totally random out of my imagination, and I just happen to have a very one-track mind, so this was what came of that. And these are realistically part of a series, aren't they? At least you could imagine so. If I went to a gallery and I said, "These are all part of a series," you would probably believe me, 'cause who are you to say that it's not, right? That's for the artist to say, but it has to relate visually, and these all related visually. Same with these. Again, not created as part of a series, except for these three in the middle down here. Aside from that, not related at all. But, you can see how the combination of birds, butterflies, fog, smoke, all go together. Same color palette across the board. Really, really easy to exhibit together. And as we talked about with these three images, you could pair any of these together and argue that they could be sold together because of how visually similar they are. And then we have this weird, creepy series that I decided to just throw in there, because why not? 'Cause these are my favorites. I love the weird, creepy ones more than anything. And particularly with all of these ones at the bottom, and then the one with the flowers growing out of my back here, those are very similar. Same composition, very similar location, all having to do with my back. I don't know what the obsession is, but there it is. And then the rest related 'cause they were all indoors, they all had this creepy minimalist vibe to them, and I felt like you could pair those together and have a pretty solid little series, but they were not created in a series. And I wanna drive this point home, because how many of you guys create in series when you work? Sort of, but no, generally. Same with me, and I don't want that to discourage you, because my experience with galleries has been a lot of advice along the lines of, "You have to have a series to show with us. You just have to have a series." And that discouraged me at first, because I didn't have anything, and I knew it would take a long time to get something, and I wanted to get started with my career. I wanted to put things out there and have a gallery take it, and so I take the idea of a series somewhat loosely at times. I love working in a series, it's really fulfilling, but you know what, if I don't have a perfect series to show a gallery, why not do this? Why not gather your images that relate to one another and put it together? I've had galleries do exhibitions called fairy tales, and stuff like that where I take all of my fairy tale pictures and put them together. And it's not for anybody else to say if it's a series or if it's not a series. It's just whatever works and whatever looks good on the wall. So this was created as a series, and it's more related, I guess, than some others, but I actually don't see that much of a difference between this and this. I think it's believable if I said, "These were all created for a series." I guarantee you you would believe me, right? You would believe me. And then these are all in very similar locations dealing with some of the same things. But, you could argue, well the outfits are different, but there are different props in each of them. So, it's really up to the artist to make that definition and say what works and what doesn't work. And then this series that we've been talking about, which is my newer work, my fourth wall series, is quite obviously a series, I would say. I don't have anything else shot from this perspective into a room in my whole portfolio. It's much more muted. Much more physical with what's in the space. So, there are a lot of different ways that you can present an exhibition to a gallery. In this case, it was a really easy sell because there were a lot of layers to talk to people walking into the gallery about, and that's something that galleries, in my experience, have really enjoyed, is being able to not just say, "Oh, this is such and such model in the picture," or, you know, "This is about x story," or whatever it is, but to be able to say, "Well, this image is a self-portrait," which is an interesting note for buyers. And then to say, "Well, she actually built a room in a swimming pool for this." And then to say, "Oh, and if you zoom in, if you really look at this book, you can see that this book is titled Epidemic of Fear." And then you see all these little details in the images, and I believe that that's why galleries stress a series, because you're much more likely to create in a much more meaningful way if you're putting your effort into lots of images that fit really well together. And that won't always be true, but it is often true in my experience. Here I have just another little series, and this was created as six images originally, but I think these were the three strongest from the little series that I did. And, this was not something that I spent copious amounts of time doing. This was a quick, fun project where I made that center image and then just really enjoyed doing it, really liked the color palette, so I decided to make a few more of them, and then it turned into this little, tiny series that I didn't mean to make. But I'm showing you this because look at how sellable these images are as a grouping. Not necessarily that you like them or anything, but they fit together so well. So if this fits your color palette at home, then you can have three prints on the wall that all match each other. That could be really good. I've had funny conversations about these three images, and, you know, like the other day someone said, "But the middle picture's blue, and the other ones are more cyan." And I'm like, "Nitpicker, I don't care." So those things are important to some people though. So, if you're creating with the thought in the back of your head, and I mean really far back in your head, 'cause I don't want you to create, you know, thinking about who you're going to sell to, but if you're creating knowing that you might sell something, maybe you do think about those little, nitpicky things. Like, "Oh, is that color blue too far off from the others that they won't go together in a series." Something that might inform the decisions that you make. And then these three images were created to go together. And there are lots of little details that I think will sell them as a package rather than individually. Now, the middle image here is the most popular image from this little mini-series that I created. So, when I do sell this image, it often sells alone, but, I have sold all three images together before in multiple occasions, and there are a couple of reasons. One, is the perspective, how it's showing something a little bit closer and something further away. So, you have a little bit of detail, and a little bit more pulled back storytelling. The other thing is that you have butterflies in different configurations, which I think helps, so they don't look too similar. The color palette is right across the board, but my favorite thing about these images is, like, such a small thing that maybe nobody would ever care about, but my favorite thing is the way that the, the background, it goes in steps with the field, and then up a little higher, and then up even higher. And it's just little details like that that for me, would sell an image. If I were going to buy this, that's what I would look at and think, "That's a neat detail, maybe I'll want to display this in my home." And maybe not. Maybe you hate it, and that's okay too. I don't mind.

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.


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