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Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 26 of 138

Circle of Focus


Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 26 of 138

Circle of Focus


Lesson Info

Circle of Focus

So this brings me to the Circle of Focus. And this is a concept that's been talked about many times in different ways, and this is just my way of thinking of it. So what is a Circle of Focus? You'll notice my really awesome graphic here in which there is a circle in it. I know, I was very proud of that. So in my opinion what is the outer ring of this Circle of Focus, think of three concentric circles, bigger, smaller, smaller. And what is the outer ring, so what do you do? If you think about, let's say you're on Instagram, you're scrolling through Instagram and you stop on something, it catches your eye, the first thing you're gonna see is what is this? It's just like an automatic, is this a picture, is this a video, is this a song? Well you can't see a song on Instagram but you know what I mean. So what is it, literally. And then you have the middle ring which is how. So this is the ring that might get skipped over for some people. For example, for somebody who's hiring me for a commi...

ssioned shoot, they might not say to themselves, how did they do that? Because they're not a photographer, they might not care how I did it. But generally how is the next question. So when I, let's say I'm on that train, and I meet somebody and I'm showing them my work for the first time, and they see this picture, this is how it always goes. What is that, they say, what is that, like is that a painting, is that a photo, what is this? And I'll tell them this is a photograph and I composite things, and they'll say but how? Like how are you hanging there in that picture? And I'll say Oh well I did it like this, I say on a stool and I had this hula-hoop, and you know I did this whole thing, and then I'll explain. And then they'll say but why. I mean like I have been asked that so many times, in that same tone, but why, like, I don't, what are you, I don't understand this. And then I'll explain why, so we've got how, and then we've got the why. Why is the center ring of your Circle of Focus. And I try to work this from the inside out. So when I'm posting online, whenever I have something that I want to share with people, I make sure that first and foremost, yes you're gonna see what it is first, because that is nature of social media. You're going to look at the image first. But I want to make sure that as quickly as possible, I skip over that how and I make people funnel into the why. And I'm gonna make them see why I created that image. I'm not gonna, I'm just not that kind of person that says, well I used f/2.8 on this picture, because that's not me, and if it is you then that's you and that's why you're doing it, you see. That's why, because you love f-stops, or something, I don't know. But that is why, because you love the technique. I don't love the technique, I love the why, so that's what I'm really focused on. And I believe that you should be at the center of your circle. That no matter what you're doing, no matter what you're putting out there, if you're trying to get a target audience to look at what you do, you need to be at the center of that. And then you work your way out, and you say this is why I created this, this is how I created this, this is what it is but that's not really that important. What's important is that you understand why this came to be. And that's been really important for me in figuring out how to create. So then I've got this idea that everyone is scared of sharing why, because that means that you're alienating people. You know the more I tell you, okay, um, I love kale. I eat a head of kale every single day for lunch. This is true, I love kale. Then you're gonna be like, she's a hippie, I don't like her anymore. And I'm gonna be like, fine, I only want people in my life who love kale. This is an extreme example, but my point is, that the more you start to share why about yourself, the more people are going to disconnect from you, right? Like if you say, you know I grew up in a really bad situation, I didn't feel like I was loved, and these things happened to me in my childhood, and this is why I'm creating, a whole bunch of people are gonna be like, whoa, TMI, I don't wanna know that, that's, I don't connect with that, I don't need to know this, and they're gonna go away. And then you're gonna be sad, you're artist self is gonna be like, I lost people. But the real part of you that actually matters is gonna say but I didn't lose people, The people who didn't actually matter to begin with, who didn't connect with me, are now not here anymore, and the people who are still here are the ones who connect so deeply, that they are the ones who are going to buoy my career from here on out. And that's what I'm trying to get people to do with the Circle of Focus is to think about why and let that be okay. You have to make your work unique, you have to make it personal and in my opinion, it should be important, it should be important to you, what you're doing, and to other people as well. What's important to you is necessarily going to be important to somebody else. I really believe that. I think that there are just too many people on this planet for that not to be true. I have found that to be true for me, that a lot of people will say to me, I don't care about what you're doing, it's not important to me. Fine, that's okay, but it's important to one person at least. I know that much because I've made a dollar. So I know that it's important to somebody in some way. The celebrity test. This is one of my favorite things in the world. Imagine this, imagine you're about to post a new photo online and right before you hit post, your favorite celebrity has just started following you. What are you gonna do, are you just gonna hit post and be like, oh well. Or are you gonna really read again what you wrote, and really look at that image that you're posting and be like, my favorite celebrity just followed me online so if I post this right now, they're gonna see what I've just posted. Is this good enough for them? And you might be like, I don't care about celebrities, this doesn't, who cares? Just think about your favorite person in the world, the person who you would most want to look at your images and read what you're having to say. It totally changed the way that I post online. I would post things sometimes where I was like, ehhh, I could have worded that better, but I'm running late to the grocery store, because I only go to the grocery store so that's what I'm running late to I guess. So I stopped doing that. I started really looking at my work and saying, what if this person who I hold in such high regard is going to see this post, is this good enough for them? And that's how I think we should look at all of the people who are looking at what we do. Not just that one celebrity that you hope will one day follow your work, but every single person who is looking at your work is equally important to that person. And what they need to see might be what you have to put out. So I think it's really good to just remember everyone is a celebrity, that's my little hippie way of wrapping that up. So I'm selling an idea, and an emotion, but most of all a story. And I think that that's why people feel connected, because they understand your story and they see part of themselves in that story. And in fact the more you start to build your audience they become part of your story. And that's a really good thing to acknowledge, that, you know what? We're sitting here in the same room together, you are all now part of my story, no matter what. I will always look back at this and I will think, whatever happens here today, you four people are part of my story, and I'm part of your story. And if we can start to include people on that level? That's amazing isn't it? To have a community that feels included in something, I think that's just the best thing in the world. Oh we're back on branding. So let's just get through this really fast, okay?

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.