Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide


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.

Creating a great photo for a client is one thing - but turning your passion and ideas into a series that is shared, shown, and sold is a whole different business. If you do it right, you’ll be shooting what you love all the time. Learn how to choose which ideas to create, how to turn your concept into a production, and steps to getting your work seen and even sold in Fine Art Photography: A Complete Guide with Award-Winning Photographer, Brooke Shaden.

This is an all-inclusive workshop that provides the tools you need to run a successful and creative business as a fine art photographer. You’ll learn creative exercises to find and develop your ideas, how to create an original narrative, how to produce your own photo series, post production techniques and skills for compositing and retouching, how to write about your work, ways to pitch to galleries and agents, and how to print your pieces so they look like art.

This workshop will take you on location with Brooke as she creates a photo series from scratch. She’ll walk through every step for her photo shoots including set design and location scouting, she’ll cover techniques in the field for capturing your artistic vision, post-production and compositing techniques, as well as printing and framing essentials.

She’ll round out this experience by discussing all of the details that will help make your career a success like licensing, commissions, artists statements, social media plans, gallery prep, and pricing your work.

This comprehensive course is a powerful look into the world of fine art photography led by one of the world’s most talented photographers, Brooke Shaden. Included with purchase is exclusive access to bonus material that gives exercises and downloads for all of the lessons.


Class Introduction
Storytelling & Ideas
Universal Symbols in Stories
Create Interactive Characters
The Story is in The Details
Giving Your Audience Feelings
Guided Daydream Exercise
Elements of Imagery
The Death Scenario
Associations with Objects
Three Writing Exercises
Connection Through Art
Break Through Imposter Syndrome
Layering Inspiration
Creating an Original Narrative
Analyze an Image
Translate Emotion into Images
Finding Parts in Images
Finding Your Target Audience
Where Do You Want Your Images to Live?
Create a Series That Targets Your Audience
Formatting Your Work
Additional Materials to Attract Clients
Which Social Media Platforms Will be Useful?
How to Make Money from Your Target Audience
Circle of Focus
The Pillars of Branding
Planning Your Photoshoot
Choose Every Element for The Series
Write a Descriptive Paragraph
Sketch Your Ideas
Choose Your Gear
How to Utilize Costumes, Props & Locations
What Tells a Story in a Series?
Set Design Overview
Color Theory
Lighting for the Scene
Props, Wardrobe & Time Period for Set Design
Subject Within the Scene
Set Design Arrangement
Fine Art Compositing
Plan The Composite Before Shooting
Checklist for Composite Shooting
Analyze Composite Mistakes
Shoot: Black Backdrop for White Clothing
Shoot: Black Backdrop for Color Clothing
Shoot: Black Backdrop for Accessories
Shoot: Miniature Scene
Editing Workflow Overview
Add Fabric to Make a Big Dress
Edit Details of Images
Add Smoke & Texture
Blend Multiple Images Into One Composite
Put Subject Into a Miniature Scenario
Location Scouting & Test Photoshoot
Self Portrait Test Shoots
Shoot for Edit
Shoot Extra Stock Images
Practice the Shoot
Introduction to Shooting Photo Series
Shoot: Vine Image
Shoot: Sand Image
Shoot: End Table Image
Shoot: Bed Image
Shoot: Wall Paper Image
Shoot: Chair Image
Shoot: Mirror Image
Shoot: Moss Image
Shoot: Tree Image
Shoot: Fish Tank Image
Shoot: Feather Image
View Photo Series for Cohesion & Advanced Compositing
Edit Multiple Images to Show Cohesion
Edit Images with Advanced Compositing
Decide How to Start the Composite
Organize Final Images
Choosing Images for Your Portfolio
Order the Images in Your Portfolio
Why do Some Images Sell More Than Others?
Analyze Student Portfolio Image Order
Framing, Sizing, Editioning & Pricing
Determine Sizes for Prints
How to Choose Paper
How to Choose Editions
Pricing Strategies
How to Present Your Images
Example Pricing Exercise
Print Examples
Licensing, Commissions & Contracts
How to Keep Licensing Organized
How to Prepare Files for Licensing
Pricing Your Licensed Images
Contract Terms for Licensing
Where to Sell Images
Commission Pricing Structure
Contract for Commissions
Questions for a Commission Shoot
Working with Galleries
Benefits of Galleries
Contracts for Galleries
How to Find Galleries
Choose Images to Show
Hanging the Images
Importance of Proofing Prints
Interview with Soren Christensen Gallery
Press Package Overview
Artist Statement for Your Series
Write Your 'About Me' Page
Importance of Your Headshot
Create a Leave Behind & Elevator Pitch
Writing For Fine Art
Define Your Writing Style
Find Your Genre
What Sets You Apart?
Write to Different Audiences
Write for Blogging
Speak About Your Work
Branding for Video
Clearly Define Video Talking Points
Types of Video Content
Interview Practice
Diversifying Social Media Content
Create an Intentional Social Media Persona
Monetize Your Social Media Presence
Social Media Posting Plan
Choose Networks to Use & Invest
Presentation of Final Images
Printing Your Series
How to Work With a Print Lab
Proofing Your Prints
Bad Vs. Good Prints
Find Confidence to Print
Why Critique?
Critiquing Your Own Portfolio
Critique of Brooke's Series
Critique of Student Series
Yours is a Story Worth Telling


  • I tuned in for most of Brooke's lessons in this course and watched some of them more than once as they were rebroadcast. First I want to say that Brooke is a very good instructor. Her easy-going, friendly, down-to-earth, somewhat quirky manner cannot be mistaken for unprofessional. She is very prepared, she speaks well (not a bunch of hemming and hawing), she is thoughtful, she is thorough, she is very relatable and at ease, and she is definitely professional in her presentation. I really thought when I first tuned in that it would mostly be background noise while I was at work, sound to keep me company. Not because I didn't like Brooke but I really didn't think I was into fine art photography nor did I think I cared about the business side of things much. Not now anyhow. I was really wrong. Brooke sparked a deep interest in me to delve into fine art photography, to consider creating images for myself, from my imagination. In fact, I realized that this was something I'd been thinking about for a couple of years though I hadn't put a name to it (the idea of creating pre-conceived images based on my own creative goals). I gleaned many little treasures from her about image sizes, working with printers, different types of paper, selling, interacting with galleries, and so much more. I may not need all of what she taught right now because I'm definitely headed in another direction at the moment, but she planted ideas and information in my head that I know will be useful at some point. Things I may not have thought of on my own, but that seed is in my head now so when the time comes, I'll know. I'd really like to buy her course but at the moment, with the holidays right around the corner, it's not in my personal budget. I'm grateful to have caught the live and rebroadcast lessons though, and her course is on my list to own. I think it's a great reference to be consulted over and over again, not watched once and forgotten. Kudos Brooke for really putting together an excellent course.
  • I'm retired now, but spent decades in the people and training business. Brooke is extraordinary! Even though this course is extremely well organized and she's left nothing unattended, she moves through it with friendly conversational manners and without a sense of it being stilted. It's as though we are all her friends, not students, as she shares her heart and passion with us. What a joy it is to listen to her. And what a clear, unambiguous command of her subject. Wow! She explains it with such ease using explanations and techniques that won't overwhelm artists just starting their portfolio or the Photoshop-squeamish among us; but despite its simplicity her resulting art is breathtaking and beyond original. I wish more of my professors at school were as engaging. This was by far my best buy at Creative Live yet.
  • What an amazing 20 days this is going to be! Brooke is so enthusiastic and has such a lovely manner. What a bargain for all of the information Brooke will be sharing with us. So excited. Thanks Brooke and Creative Live. :)