Circle of Focus


Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide


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.


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