Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 28/138 - Planning Your Photoshoot


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.

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.


1Class Introduction 2Storytelling & Ideas 3Universal Symbols in Stories 4Create Interactive Characters 5The Story is in The Details 6Giving Your Audience Feelings 7Guided Daydream Exercise 8Elements of Imagery 9The Death Scenario 10Associations with Objects 11Three Writing Exercises 12Connection Through Art 13Break Through Imposter Syndrome 14Layering Inspiration 15Creating an Original Narrative 16Analyze an Image 17Translate Emotion into Images 18Finding Parts in Images 19Finding Your Target Audience 20Where Do You Want Your Images to Live? 21Create a Series That Targets Your Audience 22Formatting Your Work 23Additional Materials to Attract Clients 24Which Social Media Platforms Will be Useful? 25How to Make Money from Your Target Audience 26Circle of Focus 27The Pillars of Branding 28Planning Your Photoshoot 29Choose Every Element for The Series 30Write a Descriptive Paragraph 31Sketch Your Ideas 32Choose Your Gear 33How to Utilize Costumes, Props & Locations 34What Tells a Story in a Series? 35Set Design Overview 36Color Theory 37Lighting for the Scene 38Props, Wardrobe & Time Period for Set Design 39Locations 40Subject Within the Scene 41Set Design Arrangement 42Fine Art Compositing 43Plan The Composite Before Shooting 44Checklist for Composite Shooting 45Analyze Composite Mistakes 46Shoot: Black Backdrop for White Clothing 47Shoot: Black Backdrop for Color Clothing 48Shoot: Black Backdrop for Accessories 49Shoot: Miniature Scene 50Editing Workflow Overview 51Add Fabric to Make a Big Dress 52Edit Details of Images 53Add Smoke & Texture 54Blend Multiple Images Into One Composite 55Put Subject Into a Miniature Scenario 56Location Scouting & Test Photoshoot 57Self Portrait Test Shoots 58Shoot for Edit 59Shoot Extra Stock Images 60Practice the Shoot 61Introduction to Shooting Photo Series 62Shoot: Vine Image 63Shoot: Sand Image 64Shoot: End Table Image 65Shoot: Bed Image 66Shoot: Wall Paper Image 67Shoot: Chair Image 68Shoot: Mirror Image 69Shoot: Moss Image 70Shoot: Tree Image 71Shoot: Fish Tank Image 72Shoot: Feather Image 73View Photo Series for Cohesion & Advanced Compositing 74Edit Multiple Images to Show Cohesion 75Edit Images with Advanced Compositing 76Decide How to Start the Composite 77Organize Final Images 78Choosing Images for Your Portfolio 79Order the Images in Your Portfolio 80Why do Some Images Sell More Than Others? 81Analyze Student Portfolio Image Order 82Framing, Sizing, Editioning & Pricing 83Determine Sizes for Prints 84How to Choose Paper 85How to Choose Editions 86Pricing Strategies 87How to Present Your Images 88Example Pricing Exercise 89Print Examples 90Licensing, Commissions & Contracts 91How to Keep Licensing Organized 92How to Prepare Files for Licensing 93Pricing Your Licensed Images 94Contract Terms for Licensing 95Where to Sell Images 96Commission Pricing Structure 97Contract for Commissions 98Questions for a Commission Shoot 99Working with Galleries 100Benefits of Galleries 101Contracts for Galleries 102How to Find Galleries 103Choose Images to Show 104Hanging the Images 105Importance of Proofing Prints 106Interview with Soren Christensen Gallery 107Press Package Overview 108Artist Statement for Your Series 109Write Your 'About Me' Page 110Importance of Your Headshot 111Create a Leave Behind & Elevator Pitch 112Writing For Fine Art 113Define Your Writing Style 114Find Your Genre 115What Sets You Apart? 116Write to Different Audiences 117Write for Blogging 118Speak About Your Work 119Branding for Video 120Clearly Define Video Talking Points 121Types of Video Content 122Interview Practice 123Diversifying Social Media Content 124Create an Intentional Social Media Persona 125Monetize Your Social Media Presence 126Social Media Posting Plan 127Choose Networks to Use & Invest 128Presentation of Final Images 129Printing Your Series 130How to Work With a Print Lab 131Proofing Your Prints 132Bad Vs. Good Prints 133Find Confidence to Print 134Why Critique? 135Critiquing Your Own Portfolio 136Critique of Brooke's Series 137Critique of Student Series 138Yours 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. :)