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Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 131 of 138

Proofing Your Prints


Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 131 of 138

Proofing Your Prints


Lesson Info

Proofing Your Prints

I caution you against large prints to start. They're very difficult to handle. It's really easy to lose resolution, to have that resolution distort, and stretch pixels too much and it'll be too soft, it'll be kinda muddy looking, so that's a little bit difficult. Ease of sale: are you in a region where people buy really big prints, or are you not? And if you're not, really think about where you're gonna put those gosh darn prints. 'Cause I have so many big prints in my house just rolled up, I have no idea what to do with them, I need a whole other house just to store my prints that didn't sell that are really really big. So think about that. Now, proofing your prints. What you're gonna think about is lighting, are you wearing gloves, do you have paper to cover the prints, compressed air is a really good thing to have. I like to have compressed air, and the reason why is 'cause you can just blow it on the print and get all the little dust and specks off instead of trying to wipe them aw...

ay or touch them. Make sure that they're tightly packed. So while we're talking about proofing, let's get a print out here and let's see if we can just pop one out, see how it goes. Yay! Oh, hello. Okay, so the print that I chose to do here is going to be this one, with the vines, for a number of reasons. I chose this print because I thought it was the most likely to go poorly, and I thought, "Let's just go with that." Because this is going to be the one that I would worry about most. So why am I going to worry about this one more than any other? There are a number of reasons. I still think, like, for example, this print could print very poorly. It's really dark. Really dark. And it's meant to be. The one with the feathers could print really poorly, 'cause it's really dark. But the reason why I chose this one specifically, is because it has a lot of darkness around the edges where you can just barely see some detail up in here, and that's a really sensitive zone to get right when you're printing. I've seen tons of prints that come out way too dark, you can't see any detail, some that come out so light that you start to lose color and things like that. It doesn't look very good. So I chose this one for how dark and light it was, because our subject has a good amount of contrast on her, and I want to make sure that she pops. But the other thing is that it has one very particular color in this image, and I want to make sure that this color is right. Because if you know me, I do not like green in my images. And this was a stretch for me to do. I couldn't even do it on this one. I changed it purple, 'cause I just couldn't deal with it anymore. I did one and I was like, "No more green. We're done with the green here." And so I kept this one green and I didn't keep the other one, and I kept this a very particular green. I changed the color of that green, what felt like 50 times. Because I was so paranoid that I wouldn't like it. So when it comes to printing it, I want to make absolutely certain that it is just that exact type of green that I want. So that was my thought process in choosing this one. Now all of these have a lot of darkness, and probably any of them could have worked as a test print, but this is gonna be a really good one for us to start with. And we printed a couple the other day, didn't we? Do we have those handy? And I want to show you just some of the process that we've been going through, when it comes to prints. So, I don't know if you guys can see this fairly well, but let me just show you. This was one that we did. It's crazy dark, right? And it's so dark that it's sort of just crunching the colors, so there's just a blue strip here, instead of the floor board that's in there, and we've got this really magenta circle happening here. It was really bad. But, this one was not my least favorite, let me just say that. There were some that were worse. And then this one was just slightly lighter, but you can see just tons of contrast on it. Here it is. This is the most terrible thing I've ever witnessed in my art career. Not really, but it's really bad. And this was lightening too much. And because of that process of making it come out lighter, it also lost the color, it lost any impact that it has, and she looks totally just blended into that scene, like she's not supposed to. And then we have just a couple more. We did a lot, can you tell? There's that one, and then it's just varying levels of darkness. And different printers are going to produce different results. The person working the printer is going to produce different results. And that's important to remember. So if you're going to some place to get your prints done and frequently you're thinking, "These just are not coming out right." Remember that it could also be the printer, the person doing the printing, that you're not jiving with, and you might need to try somebody else. So we're gonna see if Casey and I jive today. Good luck. Yeah, hope it goes well. Okay, a couple other things that you're gonna want to think about when you're proofing. One of them is going to be the lighting that you're under. So right now, we're under very white lights, and that's pretty good for proofing. So I can sort of get a true sense of color because it's white light, but earlier, for example, we were under blue lights, or at least some in the background. That wouldn't be good for this situation because you don't want any color cast coming in. The other thing that I'm wary of is only checking it in one light source. So instead of only looking at it in this space, under this light, I would love to just put the blinds up, see how the natural light comes in and how that affects it, and just see how that goes. The other thing that I want to do when I'm printing is to really think about the angle that I'm holding it at. For example, if I hold it straight up and I let the light hit it directly, that'll look different than if I hold it down at an angle. And a really good thing to do is instead of just holding it in one way versus the other, it's a great idea to start to shift it, just lay it down, and see if you can see any dents or scratches as you look at it at eye level, which I love to do. Because you can really really see if anything weird is going on here. And there is one image that I had printed from these that are hanging that had a bit of a scuff on it, and I can't remember which one it was now, but it stood out immediately to me when I picked it up. Of course I can't see it now, but there was one that just had a scuff. And I would have to reprint that, if there was a scuff on it. I feel like I should be able to make a scuff. There we go, I made a scuff. That was a little sad to do, wasn't it? I know. Now, I don't know if you guys can see this. Probably at home, you can't see it that well. But can you see right there, where I made that line? And you can see it depending on which way it's tilted and, so it's good to just really proof it. Really proof it. Don't just look at it once and be like, "Yeah that looks fine. I can see the detail in the shadows." 'Cause it's not only about that. It's about really angling it and seeing exactly what we've done. One day I swear, I'm just gonna like... This is how I'm gonna start signing my prints from now on. Right, right? Is it good? Do you like it? Okay. So, that's why it's really important that you handle your prints with care, that you use gloves, for example. I always have sweaty palms, which seems irrelevant. But my hands get dirty easily, and so I touch things and it rubs off on the prints. And you just want to make sure that, in everything that you do with your prints, you're treating this like it's worth $1 million. 'Cause one day it might be, you never know. I want to make sure that when I'm giving a print to a client, it doesn't have a dent, it doesn't have a scratch, and you can even see that just through the process of holding this right now, can you see the dents that are occurring in the bottom of this? I don't know what the right lighting is for you guys to see, but you can see a little bit. And of course I'm not handling them nicely, I've just been like this, talking to you guys 'cause I have this issue where I can't stop moving my hands. But that's already creating issues that would not allow me to sell this image, this print. So that's what I'm considering. How is it looking? Oh, it's coming. Oh, I'm a little scared about this one. (laughing) We'll see how it goes. Okay, let's look at more proofing here, if we can see that. So what I'm looking for are scratches, dents, missing ink, shifted pixels. Do you remember that picture that I showed you guys before where I printed and my pixels were way shifted off? Oh my gosh, worst day of my life. Scuffs and debris. Okay, so specifically missing ink is one that could really trip you up if you're not used to looking for that, and what I mean by that is this: when I get my images printed, because it's such a thick sort of cottony paper, some of the paper sometimes comes off in the printer and it will sort of sprinkle on to the ink, and sort of sit on there, and it's really easy to mistake a piece of dust for missing ink, when you're printing. So you want to really make sure that if you see a little white speck, that it does come off and that it's not just missing ink completely. Because somebody will notice if you don't notice.

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.