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Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 84 of 138

How to Choose Paper


Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 84 of 138

How to Choose Paper


Lesson Info

How to Choose Paper

I know that I've personally been really shocked by different papers. The more texture they have, the more gritty they are. The more a small print on that paper is going to look a little bit muddier on that paper. So, just be really aware of that. What we need to know about prints. Oh gosh, there are so many things that we have to know about prints. What paper you're using, what texture the paper is, what color the paper is, if it's in stock or not, which sounds really obvious, but just asking the manufacturer, will you be discontinuing this paper anytime soon? The weight of the paper is really important, which will determine thickness of the paper and how sturdy it is. If you can do any treatment to this paper afterwards. So, for example, maybe you like to do encaustic wax prints, where you put wax on the paper afterwards, ask them, can this paper be treated afterwards with different post-processing effects? We've got some papers here, and it's a lot of papers, and there are a lot of p...

apers out there that you can use for fine art, and I would make a very clear distinction here in saying that the paper that you're looking for has to have certain specifications, and if you're looking for a quick, cheap, easy solution online, where you can just send your images off and get them back right away, and it's more of like a mass production type of company, that's probably not going to offer the type of paper that you need. So just keep in mind that these are some really good papers. The top one here is Breathing Color. That's my paper company that I love and I'm not paid to say that, I just love my paper. Hahnemuehle is a really good one, we've got Ilford, Epson, Moab, Innova, Somerset, Red River, Chromaco, and Canson, and I'm sure that there are more. So, if you have one that you use that you know is really good, add it to the list, you know, let us know, but these papers I have found all meet certain requirements. Some of those requirements being that the paper is archival certified for 100 plus years. There are certain fine art terminologies that you'll start to see on all of these sites that match, that link up, and that's what you're gonna look for, is making sure that it's a true fine art paper, rather than a commercial paper that won't hold the ink as well when you apply the ink to it, since it won't come with ink on it to start. There are lots of textures of paper that we can think about as well, and I've constantly been really shocked at how different my prints look depending on the texture of the paper that it's printed on. I've had my work printed more commercially on glossy paper, versus a matte paper, versus a rag paper, versus canvas, versus acrylic, versus wood, all of these different things, and my prints look drastically different, and you have to decide personally which one you like best. So always consider texture and what I have written here is simply, is it going to be textured? Will it be smooth? Will it be velvet or water color paper? Satin, semigloss, gloss, matte, oh my gosh, there are so many, and this is not a comprehensive list, so, again, if you have something to add, add it to the list and we can just keep that going, because there are so many things to consider, and then we have colors. So there are a few different colors of paper you can choose, and it's kind of a funny conversation because I remember once, I was sitting at a dinner, and there were two people from two different paper companies there, and they were just having this like really intense debate about the different color papers, and I'm like, guys, I cannot see the difference in these papers at all, but a lot of paper color is not something that you can see with your regular eye, it's something that will change over time. So for example, a bright white color paper, will often end up losing its bright whiteness over time and it'll turn a little bit more yellow, whereas a pearl color, warmtone paper, natural white, will not change color over time as easily as a bright white. There are so many things to think about here, so I recommend just doing a little bit of research on each one, and your selection, might be determined by the paper that you end up really liking your image on, and that's okay, I'm not saying there's one better than another here necessarily, but something to keep in mind, and then we've got weight of the paper, which is expressed in grams per square meter, which is not something that you would ever have to use in the day-to-day probably, but average paper weights are from 200 grams to 400 grams, and I can't remember, I think my paper is maybe 310 grams or something like that, and it's a pretty thick paper. I have a really thick paper, and that's what I personally prefer. I find that the galleries that I've worked with, the museums that I've worked with, have all really expressed an interest in the thicker the paper the better, and that might just be my experience, but that's been my experience. So I would say, go with the paper that has some weight to it, and you're going to save yourself a big headache as well, because if you're trying to print on really flimsy paper, you're probably going to have a lot more dents in your paper, it'll be more easily mishandled. So the thicker the paper the better in my opnion. These are the things that you're considering when you're choosing your paper. One, is that it's archival certified for 100+ years, as I mentioned. There's printer compatibility. So if you are already have a printer at home, if you already have somebody picked out that you want to print your images, make sure that that paper can be fed through that printer, literally. Something to think about, and then post-processing finishes, so what will you be doing to that image afterwards? I know i had an idea to sew through my print, and immediately, I was like, hmm, I don't think that's gonna work, 'cause my paper's really thick, and I don't know how to sew. Yeah? This might be a silly question. You keep mentioning paper separate from your printer. Is your printer not supplying your paper? Are you buying that separate? That is a fantastic question actually, and it depends on the printer. So, when I went to my printer, he said, I have two different papers that I stock, well many different papers, but two different companies, that I stock paper from, and he said, so you can choose from my papers, or if you have your own paper, you can either supply that paper to me, and then that could be the relationship we have, or, he said, if you end up being a regular customer, and you have a different paper, than I'll just start stocking it. So, it's good to just have that conversation. There are companies where you will have to send them the paper yourself. Mostly you won't though. But in my experience, I've worked with two different print labs, no three actually, and they've all been willing to get whatever paper I'm gonna stick to. So, I would say generally, it's good to know for yourself what you want, and than just bring that to them and say work with me on this, but, or you can just settle for whatever they have. Generally, printers know what their doing and they'll have really good paper options, but it's still good to know I think. Okay, so my paper, just in case you're curious, is called Elegance Velvet Fine Art Paper. They all have fancy pretty names I find. Yeah, and it's from Breathing Color. So that is my personal paper. I have seen beautiful papers from so many companies, especially you know, while at different photo conventions, you get to touch all the papers and get the samples, and almost every company will have a sample pack. I'm sure every company does in fact. If they don't, that would just be a bad business choice. So, I'm sure that they'll send you packs of paper that you can touch and print on, and do whatever you want to, and then you can make your decision based on that. I have a lightly textured finish on my paper, which is kind of interesting 'cause if you have a chance to hold the paper that I use, you might think, wow, this feels really thick and textured, and it gets a lot more texture than that. So this is a Lightly Textured Finish, I got it right 310 grams of weight. It's a bright white paper, which is something that I did not know about when I started with my printing, so I just used, you know, like my printer said, hey, here you go, here's this paper, I think this will be really good, and I liked it, and I had no idea what bright white meant or regular white, or warm white, or all the different whites that you can have for paper, and so that's what I used, and it is a 100% cotton fiber paper. And some things that you might need to think about are maybe, how environmentally friendly it is, if that's of concern to you. Different companies will list on their website what is eco-friendly and what is not, and things of that nature. So that's just another consideration that you might have. This is just a really quick example of different papers. I pulled this from the Breathing Color website, which I find to be a super incredible resource for learning about paper and printing types, and things like that. So you don't need to read this, it's just listing the different papers in order, but it's very interesting to be able to see how they photograph and see the texture in the different papers. So, something to consider, is that a lot of websites will list their papers, just like this, where they'll have photographs of the paper, and it's never the same as being there in person. So even though this is a really good learning tool, and you can sort of see the differences between the papers, it is really, really difficult to judge a paper by a picture of paper, as it should be, 'cause it's a physical thing. There are two different types of printing methods, and I'm not gonna go into this super in depth yet, because we will be talking about this later, but I want you to know that there are two different printing types, Giclee versus C-Type prints, and I'm gonna tell you a little bit about them, what they are, what the differences are. So, a C-Type stands for a Chromogenic Print, am I saying that right do you think? Chromogenic, chromogenic, what? genic. Chromogenic, (laughing), I'm really bad at this apparently. So, Chromogenic, I'm just gonna say it really fast, Chromogenic, (audience laughing) it's a chromogenic print, and this is a C-Type Print, so you might see C Print or C-Type Print either way, it's referred to as back and forth as that, and this is as closely related to a laser print as you can get. So it's when the laser exposes the photo sensitive paper, and this is actually a wet chemical process, and I found that very interesting, because I wouldn't have thought that modern day fine art reproductions would use a wet process. I was really surprised by that. Something to note about the C-Type Prints, is that they are not environmentally friendly because of the chemical process that they use, and I'm not saying it's terrible necessarily, just saying if that is a consideration, you might stay away from the C-Type Prints. If it's not, than maybe you will enjoy that versus the Giclee Print, which is an inkjet print where the ink gets sprayed on to the paper, just like any normal inkjet printer, except that this is a more archival process. It's a microscopic spray, so that they're actually little tiny dots of ink hitting your paper, and I was reading about this, that if you zoom in, so like some crazy amount under a microscope, than you can see the separation of the dots on the print, but you would not be able to detect that with your eye normally. Okay, so the difference between Giclee vs. C-Prints, because I can use all these fancy words, you know, and do chromogenic and stuff like that, and that's fine, but what I want you to know mostly is that Giclee Prints are more costly, and I'm just gonna say that right up front, in case that is a big consideration for you, something to keep in mind, okay. So Giclee's are more costly, but they have much greater longevity. I read a couple of articles about this saying that the longevity of a Giclee Print versus a C-Type is actually quite great. So, if you want your images to last a lot longer than you might want to go with the Giclee method of printing. There's a greater color range on Giclee prints, another thing to keep in mind. Paper choice. So you will probably have more paper choices if you go with a Giclee print. It is a slower process. I was also really surprised by that knowing that the C-Type Prints go through a wet process, I thought maybe that would take longer, but oh man, if you have ever watched a Giclee print come out of a printer, it's like, (imitates printer), it's so slow, oh my goodness, and so that can be a little bit annoying I guess, but you know, you put your order in with enough time and you'll get it back. It's not gonna take more than a day, generally, to make prints and that's pretty good for me. So it's a slightly slower process but it accepts more file formats, so something to think about, and the environment as I mentioned is a consideration here. Oh yeah, non-continuous tone, that's what the ink spraying on with those little dots, so it's not a continuous line of color, it's going to be in dots, which as I mentioned, is a microscopic detail.

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.