Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide


Lesson Info

Find Confidence to Print

Is it okay to use stock images when you're printing your work for shows? And this is a question in general as well, can you digitally sell your images if you're using stock photos? What's the deal there? And I have my own personal code of conduct and then there's the general acceptability. And in general, if you pay for a photo that you're using, a stock, and they say that you can use that stock image for commercial purposes then you can. You can use it, you can sell it, that's commercial use. If you're paying for something but it says for personal use or not for commercial use, or that you can't make money off of it, then obviously you cannot sell it. If you're grabbing free things off of Google, definitely don't sell it. Okay? Just don't do it. If you go somewhere and you download an image and you don't have an agreement or you're not paying for that image, definitely don't try to sell that in galleries. It can get the gallery in trouble. It can get you in trouble and people will be ...

very unhappy if they discover this. Now, is it likely to be discovered? Honestly, I don't know. And that is not a risk worth taking, in my opinion. But is it okay to use stock images? Yes! If you're doing it properly. So, yeah. this image right here. Now I had photographed a hole in the ground, when we were on location and I was really excited about it. But I just didn't quite get the right depth of field on it and it just wasn't usable. So I actually paid for a picture of just some wood splintery pieces and so those little pieces, just right there, were stock images that I purchased. And I purchased the commercial license so that I could sell these images. And for me, I said I have a slightly personal code of conduct, simply because if I am using a really large element of a stock image, I don't want to sell that. I feel like I should go out and get my own picture. And this is just personal. You can sell stock images, if you buy them. But I'd feel better about using just a tiny little aspect of it, rather than having it be a very large portion of my image 'cos that's just a little bit... causes a little bit of pause on the art buyers part if they know that you actually didn't take a very large part of that image that you're presenting. So that would be my hesitation there and answering that question of can you sell stock images. Yes, but be very wary of that process. So then how do you gain the confidence to print? How is it that you go into this process and feel really good about your work? Enough so that you invest in printing, because I promise that a lot of people are going to be looking at this whole process start to finish of creating a series and saying, yeah well it's one thing to think about it, and have an idea, and then go do a photo shoot, and then edit, and have these images. But it's a whole other thing to invest in the printing process. It's very, very costly. So when I had these images printed, this cost me 500 dollars to print these images and have them displayed here. That's a lot of money. That's a really big amount of money, to have your images displayed in a show and these aren't even framed. So you can imagine the costs really add up. So, how do you know when your ready to take the leap? One argument that I have is that, you're always ready to start printing. You don't have to print really big. You don't have to print a ton of things. But printing is going to change your perspective on your work in some fundamental way, that I think is vitally important. I think it's really great to be able to see your work in print, to hold it and the process of doing that gives you confidence, in my experience. When you start to see your work as something that's tangible and holdable that you can give to somebody else, you have this whole new perspective of what your work is like, how it can effect others, and the way that it can be a gift for somebody else. So I would highly recommend printing. But if you can't print that many images or that large, fine. Start small, print something little and start like that, and build a small little portfolio that you can give to people, that's still going to show them that you print your work, that you know the paper that you wanna use and that you're on top of your game. So I would highly recommend it. Get reactions to how images make people feel. And that's probably a really good indication of what you might wanna put into print. Now, I have certain images that are very uncomfortable for people to look at and anytime anybody says to me that they feel a little squeamish when they look at one of my images, I'm like, printing that one! Ha-Ha! Cannot wait. Because I know that it's going to have an even greater impact in print than it does digitally. And this is almost always true. Now, if I'm going to a portfolio review or if I'm going to a gallery, I want to make people feel a lot. So if somebody has a reaction to a small digital file, they're probably gonna have a bigger reaction to a large print. That's my thought process in choosing what to print, is how do you feel towards this and let's try to multiply that by ten, by putting this in print. Challenge yourself to create something new every month. This is one of the biggest arguments that I have for creating a portfolio that's worth printing. We often coast through our work. We create things that maybe are not worth printing all the time and that's okay. But if we're consistently creating something new and challenging for ourselves than it's very likely we're going to hit on something that really, really resinates with us. And this was an example of that, this image, where I had created a very similar image and then I decided to recreate it under water to see how I could challenge myself to create something that I had done before but in a really new way. And it's been really interesting for me to print those two images and see how they're so similar but one prints really well and the other one prints really terribly. This one prints really terribly. The other one, prints really well. I just wanted to point out that it's such a good idea to appreciate every small success you have. When it comes to finding the confidence to display your work and to get your work out there, you have to see every little thing as being a really big boom to your business. I do this very naturally and I accredit my very annoying tendency to see everything as being really great, as a huge part of any success that I've had. Because all print and image and even if it prints poorly I'm excited about it. I am so excited about everything. You know, I'll have maybe like a publisher comes to me and they offer me 50 dollars to put my image on a book cover and I think that's the greatest thing in the world. I don't care if I'm gonna loose money, it doesn't even matter because I'm so excited. Every little good thing that happens, will add up to something much bigger and better. So always see small successes as being really big and then learn from your failures. You know, if we get out here and we roll that printer out and it prints out a terrible print, learn from it. Do it better next time. We get so stuck on our failures that we don't realize that it's fine. It's just part of life. Who really cares that much if something fails? It's just something to learn from and I think that's really exciting. These are those two images that I was talking about, creating one versus the other and that's what I tried to do with this picture. I worked on this image until it matched my vision. I did three different photo shoots like this. The other one was extra bad, so I didn't put it in here. And then it sort of got progressively better, until I finally found a place where I felt happy with the image. Now, it's really funny showing these two images because some people are very much prefer the underwater picture, some people very much prefer the other one. It doesn't really matter though. It's my vision that counts. So I'm going to confidently move forward with printing the one that I think is better, in the hopes that I will attract people who think the same thing. That's really the whole goal isn't it? And then be excited about improving and don't dwell on weaknesses and I have to say over the course of this class and we've been on quite a journey together now in the last few weeks, I've been watching you, Sareet and how you just, you just soak in information and within a second, you're like, I'm doing it. Like you just, you just fix it. You just get it done and honestly I think that's one of my biggest takeaways of this whole class personally, has been watching you just create. It's been amazing and 'cos you do this. You're excited about improving. You're genuinely excited. I meet so many people who are just so down on themselves, like this was bad and I'm never gonna get better, but you just do it and I love that. So don't dwell on weaknesses, because weaknesses never stay weaknesses unless you allow them to stay like that. They are going to get better and better until they're a success. What's better than that, right? Then taking something that was so terrible that you did so wrong and then making it the best thing that you ever did. That's the best like, in your face, moment to somebody, right? To be like, no I can make this way better. And something to just end on here, which is that you will improve, you will. We're not stuck in the moment that we're in forever. We will necessarily evolve and nothing is bad either. We tend to tell ourselves, this is bad, this is bad. What I'm doing is terrible. This looks awful. This is so much worse than this other person's photo. But it's not. It's not bad, it's probably not even good. What is bad and good, right? There's just how we feel about our process and how we evolve from there. That's very exciting for me and that's why I wanted to talk about printing in this whole segment because printing is so important to this process, to figuring out how your work is going to evolve, how you're going to display your work for other people. Because as we've been mentioning, our art is a gift for somebody else. Maybe no one that you know yet, but somebody out there needs to receive that work. So if we can print it and we can display that and we can physically give this to somebody else, that will change their life and that is why printing is not only important, but necessary for somebody in the world. So go print your pictures people.

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. :)