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Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 15 of 138

Creating an Original Narrative


Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 15 of 138

Creating an Original Narrative


Lesson Info

Creating an Original Narrative

So the series had cohesion. There was Proof of Concept. And what I mean by that is, have you ever wandered into a gallery and you see a piece of art where you're just so certain that there was no thought behind that? It's the moment where you're like, "I could've done that blue dot," you know? And of course there is because you can't get to the place where you hang your stuff on gallery walls if you didn't put any thought into your work. It's a very childish way of going in to view art, of course. But we probably all had that experience. We're like, "I coulda done that." But you didn't. But you could've. And that's how we feel sometimes. So, Proof of Concept is not... It's basically saying, "OK, their image is out there, where somebody says "that there was something behind it, but was there really?" And you have that moment of like, "Or did they just put this up really quick "and hope that it looked good?" Proof of Concept is when you look at it and you know that the artist had to put ...

a lot of thought into this idea to make it look how it does. So Proof of Concept, instead of just concept. Is there a through-line in your series? Now, when you're creating a series, one image necessarily must relate to another in some way. Visually, conceptually, technically, whatever you want to do, there has to be some through-line there of cohesion. Commitment and Dedication. This is another reason why galleries and other organizations love to see a series. Because it shows that you, as an artist, can focus your attention. Now a lot of us artists have a reputation for being a little bit scattered. So you can focus your attention on something that's really meaningful to you. If you were looking through an artist's portfolio and you saw a whole bunch of different things but then just saw a few images that all went together, that would sort of clue you in to the fact that, "Oh this is something that they felt so passionate about "that they created many images about this thing." So it's sort of a little bit of like, letting people trust you a little bit more. It will lead to multiple sales potentially, I mean that's the hope. It won't always, but you have a better chance of selling multiples if they're all within a series. So how do you create a series that contains an original narrative? This is what we've been talkin' about, isn't it? How do you do it? So I think that one way that you do it is by analyzing these four things: interest, experience, reaction, and emotion. Now we all have interests, okay. It's like, the most boring thing that we have. Everybody has interests all the time. We're all interested in lots of things. So then, what interest is so important to you, that you have to pursue that? Once you have that, that one thing that you feel like you could really dedicate time to, what is your experience of that interest, of that passion? What experiences in your life have come to lead you to a place where you want to pursue that? What reaction do you have to that? I think that some of the best art comes from things that make us uncomfortable, from not wanting to do something, from not wanting to experience something. Like April here, we were talking about how you wanna do a series where you're in this water and you were like, "I don't wanna do it." And I was like, "Yes!" And then we had this moment of like, "That's why you have to do it!" And we're all so excited to one day see this. And that was a really beautiful moment because it's this exact idea of, the experience is sometimes the thing that you have to work through and then the art that comes from that becomes your cathartic experience. It's really beautiful. And then emotion. How do you feel about a certain thing? How do you feel? What emotions can you put into that? And this is how we start to build an original narrative. Now the question of "Why" comes into play. And I have to say it. And I know it's a big, big horrible question. But I believe the best art has this big question of "Why" at the center of it. Why is that artist personally compelled to create? Why is the viewer compelled to look? And if you can answer both of those things, then you're probably creating some pretty interesting art. If you can get a person to want to view it, and they are connecting with why they want to view it, and then you can create it with the connection of why you need to, that's a beautiful marriage. So why do you have an interest in something? What if you just wrote down every single interest that you have, in the world? Every single interest that you have. It would probably be a long list. You can probably think of tons of things you'd be interested in learning more about. What if you went through that list and you just instinctually pick that one thing that stands out to you the most. And then you actually pursued that thing. I think more of us should do this more often. First of all we get stuck in what we've always done. So for years I was like, "I'm a photographer. "I'm a photographer. I'm a photographer." And I'm still a photographer, and I love being that. But I felt so chained by that one thing, that I felt like I couldn't do anything else. So I was moonlighting as a writer. Whenever I'd be home, I'd be writing my novel and I wouldn't tell anyone or share it with anyone 'cause I was like, "Oh I'm a photographer, "I'm not a writer. That's not me." 'Cause it feels bad to say, "I am a blank," if that's just an interest that you have. So what allows you to say, "I'm a photographer, "I'm a writer, I'm an artist," when you feel like you have nothing to back that up? And my answer is, do you have an interest in a thing? Why do you have an interest in a thing? If there's a deep personal connection to your interest, and you commit to pursuing that, then you are that thing. Your commitment to you passion, gives you the right to say that you are this thing. I am an artist because I am passionate about art and I am pursuing that art, consistently. Why is this experience meaningful for you? The experience of creating the experience that brings you to the point of creating? What is meaningful for you about this experience? And why do you react in certain ways? What makes you react in certain ways? If I were to come over and pinch you on the arm would you punch me? Would you laugh at me? Would you push me over? What's your reaction? That's a really silly example, but we all have very instinctual reactions to things. Why? Why do you react that way? Why do we tend to feel certain emotions over others? If I had to define my emotions I would say usually joyful, I would say highly anxious, I would say very passionate, very dreamy. These are emotions that I feel all the time. All the time. I'm like a weird little ball of anxious and excited and passionate. And why is that for me? And how can I channel that into my art? I think that negative emotions, for me, are way more likely to make them into my art, versus the positive side of things. And you might be different. You might feel joy and want to express that. Why? Why is that you over something else?

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.

a Creativelive Student

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. :)