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Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 113 of 138

Define Your Writing Style


Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 113 of 138

Define Your Writing Style


Lesson Info

Define Your Writing Style

This is hard, this is meant to be hard. You don't just know automatically what your writing style is if you don't do this very often. If you write all the time, you might know immediately. Part of this comes from defining the kinds of pictures that you create. So, if I had to think about my images, I think they're pretty dark, atmospheric, melancholy, hopeful, these are all words that I would use to describe my art that might sort of cross over into defining my writing style. Now all of us in this room create different images. We've got horror images, we've got beautiful, soft images that evoke a very different feeling, I mean I feel like you guys sitting together are the best pairing, couldn't be more opposite of what your images make people do and feel. So, your image style will be very different. And it's kind of neat, because it actually kind of reflects your personalities quite nicely, too, which is exciting. (laughter) But that's for another day. So what is your style? Now there ...

is the visual style and there is the personality and we're going to talk about those things. The first question you want to ask yourself though is how do you want to be perceived? How do you want people to see you? You know how it's fun to play a game with your friends where you're like, OK, if you had to describe me in three words, what would you say, you know? Everyone plays that game with their friends at some point and then the friend is like, oh, let me think about the nicest way to say this, and then, you know, you try to describe the other person. I do this all the time, it's fun to like pick keywords for people and say, oh, this is you, this is me, this is this person. So, how would you want people to describe you, you know? If you asked me, if one of you guys came to me and you were like, could you describe me in three words? What would you want that person to say back to you? How do you want to be perceived? How do you want to make people feel? This is the question that is repeated over and over and over in this class, because it is, in my opinion, more important than how you want to be perceived. Because there's some famous quote that now, of course, I can't remember about how it's not the things you say, it's the way you make people feel or something like that. And I really believe that's very, very true, is that they're going to remember how you make them feel. They might not remember everything about you, what you look like, what your art looks like, but they're going to remember how they felt when they looked at that art, or when they read whatever it is you had to write about your art. And then, what words define your style? Now it is important to note that this can be split into two categories. Style is a keyword that means a lot of things. Is it your personality style, your persona that you're putting out there, is it your art style? How do you define your writing style if you're a visual artist? It's really, really hard to do and we're going to talk about that. But first we've got this image here, this image that people seem to love and hate, there's not a lot of middle ground, OK? Now it's important that we understand details about our work, visually about the work that we're producing. It's important that we take those details and we use a little bit of flourish to be able to speak about our work. Because nobody likes it when you say this is a picture. Yeah, OK, we all know it's a picture. But use a little bit of flourish, with the details of the image, to talk about it. Then you have tone, so you've got flourish, you've got the details, but what tone are you putting into that detailed flourish that you're describing your image as? So if we had to do this and use keywords these are the details that I would use to describe this image, ripped, stuffing, vulnerable, and these are just words that I think of when I look at this image, the keywords, the details of the picture, defeated, doll, spine, flesh. And those are, oh and dark and those are the keywords that I would pull out to say that's what this image looks like to me and that's what it feels like, whatever else. And if you guys would add anything, feel free to tell me. There might be another word that you think I missed and that's OK. So this is just a good, like I took maybe 20 seconds to write this list, the first things that popped into my head when I looked at this picture. So then I created a sentence based on those words, literally using those keywords to describe this image. Vulnerable, defeated, her stuffing spills from her ripped flesh. Those are very evocative words. For example, instead of flesh I could have said skin, a much more tame word that doesn't make people crawl as much, in their skin. OK, anyways. (laughter) So these are my keywords, so we've got vulnerable, defeated, stuffing, ripped and flesh. Like there are so few non-keywords in this sentence that this becomes very easy when we go back to that list, like 20 seconds I had all these words written down and then maybe another minute it took, to come up with the sentence. So it can be very, very simple to describe our images if we can work from a place of keywords, of the details that we put into the image. And we can do the same thing for this image. What keywords does it make you think of? So if you guys had to say, you're in the hot seat now. Smoke. Smoke. Dark. Dark, what else? Otherworldly. Otherworldly, I like that one, always liked that one. What else, one more. Release. Release, OK, so I went through and did the same thing. And I want to know how can we use those in a sentence now? So it was smoke, dark, release, otherworldly, was that it? Smoke, dark, release, otherworldly. Think for just a moment about how you would use those words in a sentence, not all of them necessarily, but some of them. She released her darkness with the smoke of her soul into the otherworldly atmosphere, how about that? Just something quick, I mean I don't know if that even makes sense. I need paper to write it down but, so, I don't know if that makes sense, but it was so easy to do. Because you're just filling in the words that don't really, that aren't very interesting, you know, like she, it, the, those words that have to fill in to make an actual complete sentence. I do this and then I rewrite it three times when I'm writing captions or things like that for my images. So I'll come up with all my words, I'll go ahead and write down a little blurb using some of those words and then I'll rewrite it three different times to make sure that I've properly expressed what I'm trying to say. Now this is an exercise, this is where people don't want to exercise. I mean the word exercise means that you are practicing something, that you are doing something and that's where people are like, nope, I did it once, I don't want to do it again. I mean they say that the majority of writing is rewriting and it's true and it's true for this as well. If you want to cultivate the right tone for your work, particularly since most of us will be sharing on social media, and we want to really put our best selves forward, you have to rewrite and make sure that it makes the most sense. So these were the words that I came up with for this image, rebirth, darkness, evil, control, power. Now let's put them into a sentence three different times. This was my first pass at this, the first thing that I thought of. Her rebirth will awaken an evil world, darker and more powerful than ever. I wrote that and I was like, OK, I successfully used my keywords, but that's really not what I'm going for here. Like I don't want to create an image about the evil and darkness of the world coming into power, that was not my goal. So, OK, rewrite, so I rewrote it and this is what I came up with the next time. Darkness will be buried under her ashes and from them will rise a new world. Closer to what I want, evocative in the language, but still a little bit like evil, like it sounds too like a dark fairytale movie or something. So this is my final one. She released control of her own darkness and in that rebirth found her power. Way closer to what I want to be saying here, way more. And if I had just taken the first one and been like, that sounds cool, I used my keywords, I'll just use that, it really wouldn't have been the right message that I'm trying to send, rewriting is so powerful, heh, heh. This is an image from one of my best friends, Lindsay Adler, I love her to pieces, I also love her imagery, we could not be more opposite human beings ever that existed. But I wanted to use this as an example to just mix it up, do something a little bit different than look at my images, which we have now sat through many, many, many presentations of my images. So what if we have this image, which is totally different, it's not meant to be directly a storytelling, narrative storytelling image like mine, if you just step back. This is clearly an image that's trying to tell a story. This is primarily a beauty image, a fashion image. So, how can we do this for an image that isn't trying to tell a narrative story? Now let's, I haven't even thought about this in depth yet, I'm waiting to do this with you. So if we had to just take a fresh look at this image, what words come to mind? Stare. Stare, OK, that's good, what? Futuristic. Futuristic, yeah, I like that, too, what else? It could be emotions, it could be whatever, you know. Submerged. Submerged, perfect, I would say icy. Powerful. Powerful, very powerful. Now, if we take some of those words, how would we describe an image that isn't trying to tell a traditional story? So what were some of the words again, remind me, I already forgot, I have no memory. Submerged. Submerged. Icy stare. Icy stare, we didn't even say water, we should've said water, that would have been a really good one, huh? OK, OK, so how about her icy stare dominates something, something, something, can you guys finish that sentence? I'm losing that one, but that was a good start, her icy stare, right? I like that, because it describes literally what she's doing, but also the way that the image makes you feel, which is icy and cold, in a way. Well, so, we can work on it later, homework. But it's really interesting to take images that aren't yours and just ask yourself, how would I describe this? What does this make me feel? How is this artist giving me the information that I need to describe this picture verbally? It's really a challenging thing to do in a lot of ways, but it comes with practice. I write about my work all the time. You would think that I was some crazy narcicisstic person because of how frequently I write about my own work, but we have to, we have to practice these things to get better at it. So here's how I would describe my photography, which I won't make the distinction is different from who I am as a person. My photography I would say dark, and now remember how we talked about keywords and how if you have a keyword that you feel strongly is associated with what you do, you should definitely tell people all the time, so that they start to catch on that that's how you want them to describe your work, so, dark. I want my images to be dark. I want you to think my images are dark. I don't always succeed at that, I produce a lot of happy images. We could argue that this is not a dark photo necessarily. It's not like creepy or anything, it's not sad, but I'm still telling you that it's dark, so believe it, even if it's not true in this situation. Whimsical, two totally different things, surreal, painterly and square. Now these are just some ways that I would describe my work. So, that's the photography part. Now what about my writing, am I going to use the same words to describe my writing? In part yes, in part no. I would say that my writing, this is just objectively looking at what I've put out there into the world, is hopeful, honest, inspiring, motivational and storytelling. Very different from my photography. My photography is dark and atmospheric and sad and all those things and then my writing is just the opposite, hopeful, honest, motivational. So how do you reconcile those two things? My writing is me as a person, my photography is my alter dark ego maybe. I don't know where that person came from, but there we have it. So how do we begin merging those two things together? We come up with our three keywords, three words that you can use again and again and again to describe your style. Now, I would say that my writing and my images are atmospheric. I would say that they're atmospheric in slightly different ways, but that's one keyword that might describe both. If there is one keyword that describes my photography that I feel is very, very important, I might keep that keyword, even though it doesn't influence my writing as much. Whatever your three keywords are, use that directly in the verbiage that you're putting out there. April, you're an interesting case, because I think that your photography matches your personality more than perhaps anyone I've ever met in my life, which is great. It's like extra easy for you now, because you've got one set of words to work with, instead of two, totally different personas. So I would say soft, beautiful, maybe even slightly whimsical, like a little bit, like you have to kind of look at it for a second, abstract maybe? Yeah, there are really easy keywords for you to pull out, because you match so well, which is great. Yeah, others of us might have a difficult time with that. So what are your three keywords? Start thinking about that now, because they're going to be extremely helpful when you begin to put your blurbs together.

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.