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Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 130 of 138

How to Work With a Print Lab


Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 130 of 138

How to Work With a Print Lab


Lesson Info

How to Work With a Print Lab

Home versus outsourcing. How are you going to choose if you should print at home or if you should outsource the work? First things is that if you print at home you get on-demand printing. You can print whenever you want which is really obvious. Now, I don't like the printing process. I'm not interested, personally, in getting a printer and printing, but I do recognize that there are many, many moments where I wish that I could just have that print right away, and I don't wanna wait for it. So that's something to consider. Faster calibration, and what I mean by that is that you can figure out if your print is going to look how you want it faster, cause you're the one doing it. Although, depending on your skill level it could take you quite some time to actually get it calibrated and matched and ready to go. So, Tori, you print. Do you find that to be something that was a learning curve for you, in terms of trying to get your printer to actually do what you wanted it to do? Yes, definite...

ly. It also made me a better photographer cause I had that cycle more quickly and thought, oh, I need to change these colors cause it's coming out weird on the print. Oh, interesting. I never thought about that. I bet it would be an amazing challenge just to really dissect your lighting and your colors, and then figure out, how does that translate. Okay. Challenge accepted, one day. Okay, so then, the argument for outsourcing would be you have more free time, cause you just have to send the file, and you don't have to worry about fidgeting with things. And if you're like me, I'm not a very technical person, so my enjoyment of my time would be better spent reading a book, for example, than printing a piece of paper. But that's just me, and I know that a lot of people love the printing process. Now, I wrote cost-effective as one of the pros to outsourcing, which you would think would be quite the opposite, and it can be, okay. So, I'm not saying that it's going to be more cost-effective if you outsource, but what I am saying is that when you print yourself, you're going to have to replace your inks quite frequently, you're going to have to pay for the actual printer, you're going to have to pay for the paper, and that can start to add up if you don't print frequently. So here's the thing about Giclée printing, for example, is that those inks, I hear, dry up after about a month, and you have to keep replacing them. Now, you could probably stretch it. I understand that, but I ended up calling someone, a printer once, and saying, "Do you recommend printing at home versus outsourcing?" And the said, "If you're printing something like 20 25 prints a month, then you're keeping your inks fresh and you're really printing a lot, then definitely print yourself. But, if you're printing quite a low volume, then it might not be cost-effective to print yourself." And again, Tori, you are the printer here, so maybe that is wrong, but that is the advice that I was given by somebody who did not seem to be trying to trick me into paying for their services. So, I like to think that that was accurate. Okay. Now how do we find a printer? We're going into this process. How do you even find the person that you want to print your photos if you're going to outsource it? And, there are many, many things that you can do, but I like to choose just a few key words for Google. Now, I'm notoriously the worst Google searcher ever. I type in every single word in every sentence that I'm thinking. And you know what, it usually works. Cause there are lots of other people who also don't know how to search Google, and there we all are, typing our sentences together. But the key words that I would use to find a printer might be 'fine art reproductions.' That's often a really good way to find somebody who does painting reproductions and things like that, who'll also do Giclée prints. Fine art photography printing, something like that. Let's see, fine art printer. Pretty obvious one. Giclée printing, or the method that you would want to print in. And these are just some of my productive searches, so when I've searched in Google, these are some of the key phrases that I have used to find printers in many different cities. I would also recommend looking in your city or some place near you, otherwise you're going to have to pay for shipping back and forth, potentially. And that can get a little bit costly. Now, that's actually what I do, which seems very odd, to send my work off and then have to pay for it to get shipped to me so that I can pay to send it to the client. But, the reason why I did that is because I used to be local to Los Angeles. I had so many printing options, as you can imagine, in LA, where there are lots and lots of artists. And I developed a really great relationship with my printer. He ended up teaching me so much of what I know about the whole fine art world. And then I moved away, to a really small town and there was one person who could print my work, and I went in to get one of my first prints and there was a giant footprint on my print. And then I went in the next time after I thought, oh this is very odd, maybe it was just a fluke. And my prints were just laying all over the floor in their space, and I was like, this is really terrible, you know. And I just couldn't deal with it. And I confronted them, and I said, "Why is there a footprint? Why are my prints on the ground? Why can't you just pick them up?" And they just didn't seem to want to answer. So here's the thing, printers are just like any other business. Sometimes you get a good vibe, sometimes a bad vibe. Sometimes they're professional, sometimes they're not. So because I live in a really small town, which I suspect a lot of people watching will, I outsource to another city where it's a more reliable relationship, that I can really count on. Now I could have picked some place closer. I don't live that far away from the closest city, just a couple of hours, but for me, I knew that I didn't want to drive those couple of hours back and forth every time I had a print. I just knew I wouldn't do it. So I'm sticking with the guy I love and we're gonna just keep that relationship going. So that's my printer, and I'm going to tell you exactly what I'm going to ask a printer if I'm going in for a little interview. Now, this had to happen to me after I had a printer. I had to print some very large format images and my printer couldn't do it, so I went somewhere else. And these are some of the questions that got brought up both from me, and also questions that they informed me to ask, which was super helpful just to have them say, "You know what, these are some of the things that we offer," and it triggered a thought process in my mind. So, questions for a printer, do you allow proofing before final printing? Most people will, they should. I would recommend not going with someone if they're not going to let you proof a print. Proofing is so important, and we're going to talk about that in a moment. What papers do you carry? So if you don't have a paper yet, ask your printer, what do you carry already, and see if that's compatible with your work and how you like to print, and that can be a great symbiotic relationship already. How much do your prints cost per square inch? Now you might not be living in a place that uses inches, so translate that to whatever unit you use. And, it's good to mention, it might not be in square inch format. That's how most of the printers that I have found do it, where they charge per square inch of the print. It makes it really simple and easy to do the math if you start to get into a groove with the sizes that you print at. But it might be different for you, just depending. Okay, and then, what's your turnaround time? What can you expect from them. How long with it take for them once they receive the file, to when they can tell you that the print is ready to be picked up. What printer brand and method do you use? Method being Giclée, C type, et cetera. What printer brand, just in case you have a preference, just in case there's a certain paper that's compatible or not compatible, that's good to know. Do you offer matting and framing? Do you offer extra services so that you don't have to take your work from one person to another person, to another person. One extra weird little service that I really like is shrink-wrapping. So I will often get my little tiny prints, I'll get them framed and matted, and then I'll get them shrink-wrapped so that, in a gallery setting, you can have them in a bin and people can sort of thumb through them without getting them all dirty and scratching them, and stuff like that. Just a couple things to ask. Now, will they ship prints? If so, how will they ship those prints? So, it's so important, I've had countless, countless prints damaged in the shipping process. It has been such a long learning curve to figure out how is the best way to ship, and, in my experience, if it's a larger print, roughly 30 inches or bigger, I like to have it rolled so that it doesn't get bent or anything like that. If it's really big and flat, then you need extra cardboard to really sandwich it together and make sure that it's sturdy. But if it's about 25 inches or smaller, or so, then I'll usually ship it flat just so that it's not too curly, so that you don't open up your print and it's like (sucking sound), you know. (sucking sound) like that. Okay, how do you handle your prints? Of course, my bad experience with the footprint on my print has caused me to ask this. But a lot of really nice printing places will use gloves. Just soft white gloves to handle the prints, that way they're not smudging anything, getting their dirty finger on it after they've eaten their cookies or anything like that. Do you have ghost signers? A ghost signer is someone who will sign your print for you if you can't be there in person to sign. I don't recommend this, necessarily. I like to sign my own prints, but this is a thing that you can ask about should you need to. How large can you print? What is the maximum size that you can print at? My printer can print up to 44 inches full bleed. That's a really standard size of a printer, but there are other places that will print much larger, so be sure to ask. Do you do discounts for large orders? You can be a little cheeky and ask that, I think. It's good, you know, sometimes you have a really big show. It's good to know if they're gonna give you a break. And your preferred color profile. RGB, CMYK, that type of thing. Okay, expectations of a printer, and that the printer might have a view. Clear communication, I expect this. I don't always receive it, but I expect it. And I don't always give it but I expect myself to. The issue with communication with printers is that it's really easy, with so many files to be sending out, that they'll print the wrong size of a certain file that they give, or whatever the case may be. So it's good to be really clear about that, and the way that I like to do that is to name my files with my last name, the title of the image, and then the size at the end of it, so that they cannot get confused. They'll receive the file with the size written into the file, that way they always know the size. Full resolution files, they're going to expect you to not send them something that's unprintable, or that will print badly. Protection of files, so how are you sending those files and how are they keeping those files in their computer. That's really good to know. If someone's going to break in there, are they gonna be able to get those files easily or not? Where are they keeping them backed up? Damages. Who pays for what, if the printer scratches the print do I have to pay for the to reprint that or not? It's important to ask. And then we've got handling with care and shipping method. So handling with care is going to be, are they gonna do it the right way? Will they wear those gloves, will they package them correctly, are they going to tape everything down so that nothing shifts in the boxes? And the shipping method, which is rolled or flat, and then specifically, how are they going to insure that the prints aren't moving all around inside the box? Alright, process of printing. Send the file. This is what you're gonna want to do with your printer, send the file, sized and clearly labeled. Proof the print, make the print, sign and number your print, if that's something that you're going to be doing, and then ship it. Now, I always view all of my prints before I send them out. It's very, very important to me that I lay eyes on them, I sign them, I number them myself, and then they exit my hands into the world. That way, when the client receives it, they know that it's been looked at and proofed by me. I think that's an important part of trust, so I like to do that. I like to size my file to my print size ahead of time. So if I'm making, as these are, a 20 inch print, then I want to make sure that my print is sized ahead of time. That way, again, there's just no confusion when it goes off to the print, to the printer. And then naming your file with the print size. I save as a TIF, I should say a flattened layer TIF, because you don't need the extra layers, but this is a lossless file type, and uncompressed. Okay, now location of the printer. We already talked abut that just a little bit, the importance of knowing where they're located, being able to either go in, or have a really good relationship with them. So I highly recommend just being very, very confident in your printer or being very close to your printer. One or there other, hopefully both. That's the ideal situation.

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.

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. :)