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Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 56 of 138

Location Scouting & Test Photoshoot


Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 56 of 138

Location Scouting & Test Photoshoot


Lesson Info

Location Scouting & Test Photoshoot

We're here on set to shoot our final series of this class. And we're going to shoot 11 images. We might not use all of the images. So that's kind of the question right now; is exactly what we're going to use, and where we're going to shoot. We have tons of props here on location, and we're at this beautiful farm where we have a barn, and a basement to use. I'm really excited about both, but I actually haven't even seen the location yet, at all. I've even been covering my eyes ever since I got here just to make it a surprise. I have seen a couple of images, but they weren't great quality. I didn't get a sense of the space. So all I know is that we've got some creepy spaces, some dark spaces, some really rustic spaces. But I don't actually know anything else, other than that. I do have my sketches here. And we talked earlier about the importance of having a sketch before you actually go in to do a photo shoot. You don't have to have that, of course, but some thought ahead of time is real...

ly good. The other thing that we talked about though, is coming up with a plan before you know where you're going to shoot, or what materials you're going to have to shoot with. I think that's really important because then you can let your imagination completely go wild, and you have so many options then, of what you might be able to do. So what I have here are some sketches, and they're really, really simple sketches, absolutely terrible, of these 11 set ups. I'm only hoping to get maybe six or seven, maybe eight images out of this shoot, so I have extras planned just in case. One of them that we're going to do is going to be with a whole bunch of sand in a room, and an old chair. So the goal here is to put some natural elements in these spaces, and incorporate our model into those sets. So we've got sand, we've got a fish tank, we've got moss, we have vines, and we have all of these natural elements to bring in as though our subject is part of this decaying, abandoned space. The goal here in the end is to make the viewer feel like the house is almost coming in on, or eating our subject, or that our subject is sort of, breaking out of this abandoned space. So there's this really neat play between this lively, bright subject and how almost decayed we can make her feel in this falling apart space. So we're going to go take a look at all of these locations, see what lighting is best, what images are best, in which locations, and I don't know yet, what's going to happen. So, let's go find out. This is my first time walking into this space. I've never seen it before. I kept my eyes closed; I wanted it to be a surprise. So this is my first time looking at everything, and I have to, very quickly, decide what I'm going to shoot where. I don't know yet. I have a whole bunch of ideas, and I have to see what's going to work in which space. All I know is that there is a basement space that has some natural light, but not a ton of natural light. So if I need to create an image that needs a lot of natural light, then this is probably going to be my best bet for where I'm going to shoot that particular picture. So the first thing that I'm looking for is where is the light coming from? Is it directly in front? Is it coming from the side? And which of my images are going to be best in a brightly lit space? Also, this is probably my only option with a lot of direct light coming from the front. So if I have any image that needs to be really evenly lit, this is going to be the space to do it in. So, I'm looking at this whole, entire barn space, and first thing that I think to myself is can I use any of the props, or what was already here, to shoot with? So I notice that there are these gorgeous chains hanging from the ceiling, and I love them, and there might be a way to incorporate them, especially because we're doing this photo shoot where I'm going to have it look like our model is being trapped in vines that are hanging from the ceiling. So she'll be dangling from these vines that are coming down into the frame. And just to further the idea of there being, sort of, man made, built up structures along with this natural decay, it might be really interesting to take some of the natural hanging chains that were already here and mix them with the vines for that picture. Maybe we'll do that, maybe we won't. But this is a really good option. So as I walk around the space, I'm just starting to get a sense of where we are, what it's like, and what works here. And if I start to look even closer, I notice that every single step that I take back, I'm losing a lot of light. Everything is getting darker, and darker, and darker. So I need to really be aware of, am I going to shoot toward the front of the space, or toward the back, because as we move toward the back, again we're losing a lot of light. So I'm going to keep looking around this space and noticing some small changes in light, some small changes in texture of the walls, and what kind of atmosphere we get the further in we go. And as I start to think about this, I'm noticing the clutter. So I notice that we have these cabinets that don't really look very good in the background, particularly because they're white. They have a lot of reflective surface, so if I'm shooting looking into this space, and this big, white cabinet structure is in the background, that might not be the best thing for us because it's going to reflect light and really show up. So there are a couple of things that we can do in this space to really make it work for us. One thing would be to just get a big, black sheet and put it over that. Would that look good? No. But the great thing is that if you have tons of natural light at the front of the space, and it falls off toward the back, in post production I can darken the whole entire background to fall off into nothingness. So that you don't even see that there's a big structure covered in a black sheet. So, that's going to be an option for us that we will very likely have to utilize in this space so that you don't see all of the clutter. I think that it's super important to have a really blank slate, a clean frame to put whatever in that you want. If you don't have that clean frame, then you have somebody else's story all around you. These cabinets are not mine, they're not part of my vision. So I'm going to do everything possible to get rid of it. So, I'm going to walk around, I'm going to see what other spaces there are. So let's go to the back room here. Okay, the first thing that I'm noticing in this space is that there isn't as much light, and that's okay because I can work with low light situations as I'm going to have to do here. But the first thing that I see is there is light coming directly in this room with a big, wide door frame. So there is a large light source, so that's going to be okay. I notice though, that is has almost more of a barn feeling in here because of these hinges that are on the wall. It just has a more rustic feel. And this is something that I have to decide right now, can I get rid of that in post, or can I not? Is that too daunting for me? Do I not wanna deal with that? Or, can I? Because this is a really good blank wall that I could use to photograph against. So my choice now is, first of all, what can be moved? What can we move out of the way to have a really blank canvas? And then, are the details of this wall too much for me? Do I not wanna deal with that later? We also have the question of, well we have very natural wood beam walls here, and that ccould be really interesting, but I don't know if that's exactly the look that I'm going for. I have to make a choice. Do I want this to look like a barn, or do I want to try to make this look like a room? My initial vision was to have only interior rooms, but then we found this barn to work with. So, do I want to try to cover up this wall later? Do I just wanna use the structure, and the space, and the floor, and then maybe add a wallpaper texture later, or add a wall from a completely different room? And that's gonna be something that I have to think about. I don't know yet, if this will be appropriate for any of the images; just depending on the look of it with the walls. It's not a very big space. So I might reserve the smaller interior spaces for the house instead of forcing an image to work in this smaller room that doesn't have the height and the grandness to it. So let's go ahead and take a look at the next room over and see if that will fit any of these images. As we walk into this room, there are a couple of things that I notice, and one of them is that there are some natural props in here. Things that we did not source, that just happened to be in this space. And that's pretty neat. It gives me some ideas, just like the chains in the other room. How can I use this, if possible, in this series? Maybe it doesn't work, but I'm really learning to be a little bit more flexible when I get to a shooting space. But the main thing that I am concerned about right when I walk into this room, is this lighting. So, we have tons and tons of direct light hitting the floor, and this means that if I want to use this space for the way that I shoot personally, I have to make absolutely certain that I'm not shooting in the morning. Because right now, we're here in the morning, and this light is hitting directly on the floor. I shoot only in diffused, overcast lighting, so this isn't going to work for what I wanna do for the series. What I do like about this space, same as the first space is that it's very long, and it's very tall. And that's really good for me because I can set up a shoot where there's a lot of blur in the background and foreground, really making the subject stand out beautifully. So we have a couple of images in my little packet of ideas that I think would go really well in a room like this. Specifically we have an image with a lot of feathers, and I wanted there to be a really great depth of field in that image, where the background is very blurred, and the foreground is blurred, so this would probably work very well, not to mention, we have this sort of funny connection between feathers and a barn, and it could just be the right space for that image. So that's something that I might do in this space, where I'll have somebody sitting down, in the middle of this room; we'll clear it out as much as possible, and really focus in on that subject getting extreme blur by using a really low F-stop in this room. So that's what I'm thinking so far for this barn. And maybe something else will develop in this space, but before I know that, I have to check out the other rooms. This is the space that I was most excited to come into. This is the basement space of the house. And I had only seen a few pictures; I didn't get a sense of how big it was, or where the light was coming from. So this is fantastic to see. I walked in and I immediately saw these chairs which, I don't know if they exactly have a place here, but look how neat they are. They're so neat! And I would love to be able to incorporate some of the things that are already here into what we're doing. So I'm just looking at all of the amazing... Look at this. Look at this! It's like, it's so amazing. I'm so excited. But this is just my initial excitement of, wow, I love this place, and I love the things in this place, and how can I use them. But I don't wanna get ahead of myself and commit to saying I have to use these milk bottles, or I have to use these chairs because they might not fit the actual concept that we're trying to go for, and I do think it's super important to have some sense of the final concept and really sticking to something that means something to you instead of just using something really, really neat from the space. So, as I walk around, I'm gonna try not to trip over everything in here, and I'm just going to look for two main things, I would say. One of those things would be, is there enough light in this space; and I think that there is for what we're doing. But, mostly the backgrounds. Because I'm not interested, for example, in these cabinets. I wanna make absolutely certain that these get moved out, that anything dangerous gets moved out, and that we have a nice, blank slate in here. So, as I look through, I notice this corner is really good. There are some things that I have to get rid of, such as this power outlet going around the floor. That would be something that obviously I can't get rid of right now. I can't just pop it off the wall. So, that's something that will have to be done in post. And I wanna make sure that there's no broken glass. We have some broken glass on the floor, things like that. But aside from safety issues, now I'm just looking at, okay, what images work best in here? And I think, realistically, I could create almost any of the images that I have planned in this space. I like the idea of doing the majority of the images in the same room, or the same space because that will create good continuity from one to the next. But it was also important to me when I was planning that there's some diversity in the locations. So as I look through, I notice that we've got the vines, which will happen outside, I believe, with the chains. And we have the feathers that will happen outside. And aside from that, I think that everything else will probably be within this space. We have an image that we're going to do with moss. I have to really take a step back and ask if I have enough room here with this window cutting in. Is this going to be the best corner space? What angles can I get in here? We have kind of a low ceiling in here, so if I need to get anything from high up, that's going to be a consideration. But I'm also looking at the color of this space, and because I'm bringing moss in to create an image in a corner of a room, I wanna make sure that the moss looks good with the texture and the color palette of the wall. So if we go over to this corner, I think this might be a better option. Here we have a little bit more of a yellow feeling on the walls, and a little bit more of a wood texture. So we actually have dual textures here, which I think would be very neat for this moss picture because the moss has such a color to it, and such a texture, and we have enough space, because as you can see, the window here actually is pushed back from this corner, which is great. So I have a lot more corner space to work with here. So that would be a really great image to create within this particular space. So let's go look at the room that I'm eyeing over this direction and see what that has to offer. This is an interesting space because there's actually a lot of light coming through this tiny, little window that I have here. But, at the same time, it's looking a little bit unfinished, but not in a way that I think is going to be photographically beneficial. We have these wood beams that actually look quite new, don't they? They have this sort of, blond finish on them, which is natural wood, but then it has this really old fixture in the back. And I think that photographically it's not gonna look very good to have those straight lines, really standing out so much. So I probably wouldn't shoot anything against this wall. But, as I look at this wall, I like the combination of the gray, and the wooden floor right below. And this might be a really good area to, maybe put the sand in that we're going to be utilizing for one of the photos, because we're gonna have a lot of sand. I'm also noticing something totally logistically, which is that the floor slants toward this wall. And that's actually a pretty good thing if we have a bunch of sand that we're trying to get to pile up in one place, because it'll naturally fall back instead of spilling away from the wall. So that could be really good for creating our sand picture in this room. So let's go ahead and walk to another space in the basement. Whoa. (laughs) This is like, sensory overload. Okay, we've got a lot going on here. And I think that that's going to deter me from using this space, probably. We have a lot of seemingly built in structures like stairs, and cabinetry, and this thing, which looks completely impossible to move. (laughs) So, probably I wouldn't be able to move this stuff, so this might not work as a shooting area, but I notice that there's another room back here. So let's go see that, which might be even more appropriate for the sand because it looks very dirty. Look, it's already sandy! This is great! So we might be able to do something in here with the sand given that it is already sandy. This would be a totally appropriate space to be able to do that, but there isn't a lot of light, so I'm just testing with my hand right now, where does the light fall? How high up does it go? It looks like we have pretty good latitude here, but it stops really at this range, I think. So, as long as we can keep our subject lower, we might be able to utilize this space. It does have interesting light. It's very directional in here. This is perhaps the most directional light we've seen so far. So if I have any images in here that I think could benefit from less diffused overall light, and something more directional, that could be really good in this space. My only concern about shooting our sand in here is that the entire floor is dug up, and because of that, it might not have the right feeling, where you can see a little bit of the wood floor underneath the sand in some places; just showing that contrast. This might just look like a construction zone. So I might have to really think about this; if it's going to be utilized in that way. But we do have other images that I feel could work in this space with a fish tank, and that could be really interesting in this space. The way that the light would reflect on the water. The way that it would look so dark and mysterious with just the water and the fish tank lit up by this one little window. So that might be something that we try in this room, and particularly because it's so small, so closed in, and you really get that claustrophobic sense here. That could fit really well with a fish tank theme of somebody being trapped in a fish tank, which is also trapped in a small room. So so far, those are my thoughts. I have a few more images to plan out. A couple more walk throughs of this space will probably do me good. And I'm going to make some decisions soon, and do some test shooting. I decided that I'm going to create most of the images that we didn't already talk about in this room, with the exception of one that we might head over to the barn for. So that'll make three images in the barn, and the rest of them in these smaller rooms in this space. But I wanted to specifically talk about one of the images that I'm going to do that's going to require the most amount of Photoshop work. And I think it's important to recognize when you're going to have a huge Photoshop process, that you have to plan so much ahead of time, so that you aren't coming back again and again to the same space, trying to shoot different elements. I need to be totally prepared because right now we are two hours away from where we need to be doing this editing. So I don't wanna have to come back again and again to get what I missed. So this is the room that I'm going to do the most Photoshopped image in, which I'm calling the tree image because in the end we're going to have a tree coming up through the floor and out the ceiling, just completely destroying the center of this room. So I needed to have a really big space to shoot in, so that there was room to put a tree in here. And I wanted it to be a very airy, open space, so that you had room to Photoshop in little elements like leaves falling, and sticks on the floor, and things like that. So my decision to shoot that image in this space was one, for the space; to have a lot of room. Two, because the lighting is fairly even in here. There are a lot of light sources, which is going to make compositing just a little bit simpler later on, depending on if we have to photograph anything outside of this space. It'll be easier to replicate that type of light, and the quality of light, and the color of light. But also because I think that having a mix of images in a series, some that are in very tight spaces, and some that are in wide spaces, is really great for a series. Just to let it breathe a little bit. If you're always in one little tight space, of course that can be your whole series. That would be totally fine. But, I love looking at images that have a little bit of room where maybe some are really tight, and then some you can really just see the whole breadth of the space. So this will be one of those images, also perhaps one or two out in the barn, where you're going to see a much larger room space, instead of such a small nook. So that's what I'm thinking, and we are going to do some test shooting now, especially with self portraits, so that I'm totally ready for the model to come in and be in the space.

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.