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Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 28 of 138

Planning Your Photoshoot


Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 28 of 138

Planning Your Photoshoot


Lesson Info

Planning Your Photoshoot

We are talking about how to plan your photo shoot. This is something that, of course, will vary for people, depending on what type of work you do, how you like to work, but there are certain ways of creating that I think that can benefit a vast majority of people and I wanna share a little bit of my process, as well, and not just technical. You know, how do you build a photo shoot? How does this work? But, also the concept behind it, the ideas behind it and exactly what you're trying to communicate, making sure that that goes into the image. You can see a little before and after picture here. I'll be showing you a number of those during this presentation, just a little bit of how I like to work, how it comes together in the end, and how an image of just me doing a weird back bend in a field can somehow turn into something that communicates an idea to somebody. I love looking at before and after images because when you see this before image, what if that was it? What if that was the pic...

ture? I mean, would you have any idea of what I was trying to communicate? Maybe. You might be like, yeah, I can kinda see the pose. It might be saying something, but the concept isn't quite there yet and that's why it's so fascinating to me to be able to go through something like this. The first thing we have to do is determine how you work. I mean, how do you really like to work? I think that it's sort of something that's lost a little bit is how you like to work. You get into this mindset of this is how I should do things. This is how I've always done things. And then, you forget to change it up or really ask that question to yourselves and I like to ask that question because it can really alter the direction that I take my work in and this happened to me about a year ago, maybe a year and a half ago. I asked myself this question of how do I wanna work. If I had to change things, what would it be like? And, I ended up creating a totally new series where I built a set in a studio. I never do that. I mean, I was very anti-studio. I didn't want that. I didn't enjoy that process before. I mean, I went so far as, my studio ended up being in an abandoned high school. It was not even a real studio, but it was a space that I could create in and I found a lot of joy in that process that I really hated before. How do you like to work? I wanted to ask about this picture in particular. I know that it's kind of a creepy, crawley picture, but nonetheless, we're going to ask this question. I wanna know how this could've been done. So, just think. Brainstorm right now. If you were going to make this picture, you're probably like I would never have made this picture, but if you were to have made this picture, how would you have done it? What would be your process? If you were gonna go get your props and stuff and actually sit down and do this, what would you do? Does anyone have an actual idea of what you would've done to make this picture happen? Okay. Let's hear it. From anyone. If I was gonna do it, I would use a blank wall. I would hang a black sheet so that I would go ahead and have a black background that I wouldn't have to change later. Always good. I would get a white sheet for the bottom and I would buy a dress that would be easy to unzip and photoshopped to look like a skin texture later and post and then I would use myself because I am a self-portrait artist. Awesome! Okay. So, I'll show you how I did it, which is very similar to how you did it. I used this dress and I unzipped it. I took a pillow with a black pillow case and I stuffed it in the dress and it looks so much like my body. I was so impressed. Just a pillow, right? This was the actual raw image that I started with. I stuffed that pillow in there. Just crunched the blacks down for this visual that I'm showing you right now and this was what I used and it was really great because it had the shape of a person, so I didn't have to struggle to hold the dress in a certain position and get little pieces of dress. It was just there, like that, because of this fantastic black pillow case that I had. I used that and that was what I used to blend into my skin for the previous image that you just saw there. It was really, really fun to do, but there are so many ways you could've done this. Right? Like, so many ways. Maybe this person was actually wearing a dress for the image and then, you photoshopped skin onto it. Who knows? I mean, whoa! Who knows? It could've been anything. There are so many ways to do it and I'm gonna show you a little bit of how I like to do things, as well. I think the first thing that we need to do, though, is to really look inside of ourselves and ask how do I work. How do I like to work? What do I want my work to look like? And to really break open your mind because I think that we just don't delve into that space very often, of saying how do I work. How do I work? You watch people, even on CreativeLive, working in a certain way and you adopt certain things from them and then, you go out, and you shoot, and you're like, oh! I really like that thing that I did and then you take that and then, all of a sudden, a year goes by and you have a process and that's your process that you've taken from pieces from other people, from other things, from experiences and then, something really horrible happens, which is that you have a portfolio and you know what you're doing and that's what you've been working for is to know what you're doing and then you know what you're doing and then you don't do anything else. You just do that thing, over and over because it's easy and it's familiar, and you get what you want from it, but what about the potential that you have to create something different from what you've done before? I believe, truly, that the biggest obstacle that we have in achieving any vision, a vision, is that we don't know how to cultivate a vision in the first place, that we see other people doing things, and so, we do that thing, that we have an idea of maybe what we want, but we settle for however it comes out because that's way easier than doing it over and over and over again. For some reason, we think that it's supposed to be easy. We think that being an artist is about just poof! Our pictures exist and that's how it's supposed to be. But, in my opinion, it's supposed to be really hard work. I think that being an artist is something that is often thought of as being this simple thing. Oh, well, if you're an artist, then you're naturally good at that, right? I mean, obviously. If you're doing it, then surely you're good at it. You don't have to think about it. But, what if we did take the time to think more deeply about how we create and why we're creating? What could it turn into? And that's the question that I really want to answer because I also believe in this idea that if we're more decisive and if we simply try more things, then we're gonna be so productive in our craft. But, if we don't, if we flounder, if we're not really sure what wardrobe to use, what location to use, if we settle for things, if we simply stop trying different things, then we're going to be unproductive in our craft. I think that it's important to talk about what it meant to be productive in your craft. I don't mean that you're gonna create tons and tons of images. I mean that you're going to create images that are more meaningful, more impactful for you, and for other people. I believe that if we can think more deeply for ourselves, if we can challenge our craft, then it will start to mean more to other people. That's what I want to encourage that we do. Specifically, that we understand why we're compelled to create. And we've already talked about this, the why. Why are you compelled? What is it? For example, I don't even like photography that much and I'm okay admitting that. It's not my favorite medium. I love writing more than I love photography, in general, and that's not to say that I don't love photography, I do, but I love other things a little bit more. That will evolve over the course of my life. That's okay. Why, then, do I take pictures if that's not my favorite, favorite, favorite medium to create in? Well, because it's the most satisfying at the end, because the process is really fun. I love going on photo shoots. The reason why I was so anti-studio for so long is because I didn't wanna be cooped up in a studio, and I didn't wanna just have my white walls and have to put a backdrop up. I wanted to go to the forest and I wanted to go to the desert and I wanted to experience things. That's why I'm compelled to create. That's what I love is the experience of it. That's why I would call myself a photographer and I don't necessarily go up to strangers and say I'm a writer because yeah, I love writing and I'm a writer, but also, I love this experience so much.

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.