Creating an Original Narrative


Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide


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.


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 39Locations 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


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. :)