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?

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.


Class Introduction
Storytelling & Ideas
Universal Symbols in Stories
Create Interactive Characters
The Story is in The Details
Giving Your Audience Feelings
Guided Daydream Exercise
Elements of Imagery
The Death Scenario
Associations with Objects
Three Writing Exercises
Connection Through Art
Break Through Imposter Syndrome
Layering Inspiration
Creating an Original Narrative
Analyze an Image
Translate Emotion into Images
Finding Parts in Images
Finding Your Target Audience
Where Do You Want Your Images to Live?
Create a Series That Targets Your Audience
Formatting Your Work
Additional Materials to Attract Clients
Which Social Media Platforms Will be Useful?
How to Make Money from Your Target Audience
Circle of Focus
The Pillars of Branding
Planning Your Photoshoot
Choose Every Element for The Series
Write a Descriptive Paragraph
Sketch Your Ideas
Choose Your Gear
How to Utilize Costumes, Props & Locations
What Tells a Story in a Series?
Set Design Overview
Color Theory
Lighting for the Scene
Props, Wardrobe & Time Period for Set Design
Subject Within the Scene
Set Design Arrangement
Fine Art Compositing
Plan The Composite Before Shooting
Checklist for Composite Shooting
Analyze Composite Mistakes
Shoot: Black Backdrop for White Clothing
Shoot: Black Backdrop for Color Clothing
Shoot: Black Backdrop for Accessories
Shoot: Miniature Scene
Editing Workflow Overview
Add Fabric to Make a Big Dress
Edit Details of Images
Add Smoke & Texture
Blend Multiple Images Into One Composite
Put Subject Into a Miniature Scenario
Location Scouting & Test Photoshoot
Self Portrait Test Shoots
Shoot for Edit
Shoot Extra Stock Images
Practice the Shoot
Introduction to Shooting Photo Series
Shoot: Vine Image
Shoot: Sand Image
Shoot: End Table Image
Shoot: Bed Image
Shoot: Wall Paper Image
Shoot: Chair Image
Shoot: Mirror Image
Shoot: Moss Image
Shoot: Tree Image
Shoot: Fish Tank Image
Shoot: Feather Image
View Photo Series for Cohesion & Advanced Compositing
Edit Multiple Images to Show Cohesion
Edit Images with Advanced Compositing
Decide How to Start the Composite
Organize Final Images
Choosing Images for Your Portfolio
Order the Images in Your Portfolio
Why do Some Images Sell More Than Others?
Analyze Student Portfolio Image Order
Framing, Sizing, Editioning & Pricing
Determine Sizes for Prints
How to Choose Paper
How to Choose Editions
Pricing Strategies
How to Present Your Images
Example Pricing Exercise
Print Examples
Licensing, Commissions & Contracts
How to Keep Licensing Organized
How to Prepare Files for Licensing
Pricing Your Licensed Images
Contract Terms for Licensing
Where to Sell Images
Commission Pricing Structure
Contract for Commissions
Questions for a Commission Shoot
Working with Galleries
Benefits of Galleries
Contracts for Galleries
How to Find Galleries
Choose Images to Show
Hanging the Images
Importance of Proofing Prints
Interview with Soren Christensen Gallery
Press Package Overview
Artist Statement for Your Series
Write Your 'About Me' Page
Importance of Your Headshot
Create a Leave Behind & Elevator Pitch
Writing For Fine Art
Define Your Writing Style
Find Your Genre
What Sets You Apart?
Write to Different Audiences
Write for Blogging
Speak About Your Work
Branding for Video
Clearly Define Video Talking Points
Types of Video Content
Interview Practice
Diversifying Social Media Content
Create an Intentional Social Media Persona
Monetize Your Social Media Presence
Social Media Posting Plan
Choose Networks to Use & Invest
Presentation of Final Images
Printing Your Series
How to Work With a Print Lab
Proofing Your Prints
Bad Vs. Good Prints
Find Confidence to Print
Why Critique?
Critiquing Your Own Portfolio
Critique of Brooke's Series
Critique of Student Series
Yours is a Story Worth Telling


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. :)