Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide


Lesson Info

Shoot: Black Backdrop for Color Clothing

I wanna photograph something fun though and really artistic and yeah, that sounds terrible, really artistic. This is gonna be so artistic you guys, it's just gonna be so great. But what we're going to do is a little bit of practice here with how do we create with nothing through compositing. So we've got this red fabric. Let me open it up. This is extremely expensive fabric. No, I'm just kidding. This was like three dollars from a fabric store. And I usually go in and I ask if they have any fabrics that they can't sell because sometimes they'll have something that got stained or for whatever reason they can't sell it or it's just a weird amount of it and I usually ask for that because then they'll give me a discount and then I don't have to pay full price because apparently I'm making myself sound super cheap and like I can't even pay for one yard of fabric, but still, why not right? If you're just gonna get it all dirty and it's gonna be disgusting, then you might as well. One way tha...

t I like to work is with fabric instead of dresses because I think that fabric is very moldable and dresses already have a certain look. So you saw April in this dress that I forced her to wear today and it's messy and it's all yucky and it has a certain look to it. I mean, first of all, it is a wedding dress, so I've already had several people ask me if I'm getting married when I've been out wearing it and one time I said yes and it was fun to lie to people. But yeah, this will not have that look. No one's gonna look at this and say, oh that's a cocktail dress or that's a wedding dress or it's this or that. It just is. But how do you make it look realistic? So I've got this dress and generally what I will do with creating a dress is to wrap it around my subject something like this, obviously without wearing a black shirt underneath it, just to give it some shape. And I'll sort of wrap it like that so then you can see the body shape of the person, but I'm worrying exactly about exactly what type of dress I'm gonna make. Will it be a princess dress? Will it be an A line dress? I don't even know. What is the other one? A fishtail dress, is that what's that called? Mermaid dress (laughing). Fishtail, mermaid, whatever. That's a braid. Fishtail is a braid. So I'm not worrying about that yet. I'm just making sure that it's form fitting enough. And then I'm going to take this fabric, once I've got that general shape to the person and just fling it all over the place to create nice flowing fabric and then it can be whatever I want it to be later on. I am, however, paying attention to a couple of things. One, making sure that when I fling it out it comes back to the person so that there's a believable perspective here, so that the fabric isn't like swoosh up in the air, like okay let's photograph this fabric even though it's supposed to be down there as a dress. You know, like if I'm trying to make it look like my dress is flowing out this way, I would rather do it like this, connecting it to my waist, flowing it out this way instead of doing these crazy things up in the air. It just won't work. The other thing that I'm thinking about is lighting, so I'm simply not changing my lighting situation in between. And then we go through our little checklist. Is there going to be blur on this, but not somewhere else? Something to think about. Where is your focus going to be and are you changing it? And in fact, focus is a big one for a lot of people because I'm on a manual focus lens, so I'm not switching my focus back and forth between like the background, the subject, the foreground, all these different things. So if you're on auto focus, you might find, depending on how you're using your camera that when you go like that your focus shifts to this piece of fabric up here or the tip of the fabric or something like that. So I like to keep my subject standing in one place, just move the fabric around like this and always pull it back to the subject so that this part of the dress is more in focus than what's in the foreground. Other things that I like to do if you're creating a gigantic dress out of this fabric, then maybe you want the fabric to come toward the camera more, so then maybe you'll take a step forward and this will be the lower part of the fabric coming closer to the camera. But that's something that we may or may not need to do here. So Tori, are you ready to be my model? I am ready. Yay. And what I have here is we're just using people in the studio today to photograph. And this should be pretty simple. I am going to, oh my gosh, you're so tall. Should I take my shoes off? No, you're good. I'm looking at her like wow this is like a giant dress on me and just a piece of fabric on you. But we're gonna make it work. So I'm going to tie this around here like that. Sorry. And I'm just getting like a knot in the back going because I am not even remotely organized enough to have any safety pins or anything like that with me. Is that okay? Uh-huh. Okay, well it's not okay for me, hold on. So instead of having safety pins with me, I just tie knots in fabric and people always say, but that doesn't look realistic and who cares. I don't know if you guys have heard, but pictures are 2-D things. So I don't care how the back of it looks as long as the front looks alright. And you're looking okay. You're looking a little baggy here, so let's pull it in a little bit. And I'm just going to make sure that when I take the picture this is pulled in so that she has some shape. And if she doesn't, I have been on many a mountaintops where I have this tied just exactly as you see it and then later on I'll just give myself some shape in Photoshop because that's possible. And you don't have to do it in person, but best to do it in person if we can. So I'm actually just gonna steal one of these clips because it's not everyday you're in a studio and you find clips just sitting in the corner of the room. So let's go for it. And I'm just gonna clip this fabric together. Perfect, okay, well you look perfect except for your straps. Would you mind pulling those down a little bit? Do you want it off the shoulder or-- Tucked into the dress fabric dress. Is it tight enough to be able to do that? Okay, good. I don't want any accidents on set today. So what I'm going to do is just take a quick step back and frame you up while you're doing that, so no pressure. And as you can see, I'm up kind of high right now, like I have my camera held up, not quite to my face, but pretty much, and I think that I would rather get a slightly lower angle on this because I want this to look really dramatic and you're already so tall. Good. So I'm gonna get down a little bit lower. I can't believe our luck with this black fabric. It's like so great. But I need to fix my settings because right now I'm at F2, which I'm okay with, I like a shallow depth of field, but I'm at 125 and I need to switch that, so I'm gonna go into manual mode here on my camera and I'm just gonna reset my settings because what I'm considering now is do I want blur? Do I want there to be blur on this dress or not? And that's something that I need to decide now, not later. So I'm at 125 for my shutter speed and I'm gonna take a quick test. Would you mind just kicking your leg out a little bit. Yeah, good. No, that was perfect. It doesn't have to look good, just have to see if we have any blur. And right now, we've got a little bit of blur, but I actually like that amount of blur. I think that that's kind of an interesting amount and I like the lighting too. And you might look at this and think, whoa that is so opposite from how I would shoot this. Like this is so dark and this so, like you're gonna have grain in that. And I know, I've been told over and over and that's fine with me. So right now, I'm sort of prioritizing my shutter speed, making sure that it's fast enough, that it's not just like a ghost of fabric that we have here because that would be really weird, but also making sure that my ISO isn't too high, so I'm just balancing those two needs here with my F2 aperture.

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. :)