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Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 46 of 138

Shoot: Black Backdrop for White Clothing


Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 46 of 138

Shoot: Black Backdrop for White Clothing


Lesson Info

Shoot: Black Backdrop for White Clothing

We've talked about all of these little things that we have to think about when compositing. And it's one thing to talk about it, and it's a whole other thing to actually do it and hope that you're getting the exact right angles. So one thing that I like to do when I know that I'm going to be compositing is to get tons of angles on things. And I would argue that this is why my composited shoots tend to go a little bit longer than my very straightforward images. Because I'm thinking so much about, okay, I've got this box. And as we talked about with a box, depending on what you're doing with it, if you're shooting it close or really far away, I'm going to definitely need to figure out my angle now. And if I don't, then I could be very unhappy with how this is going to go. So if I've got my box, and I'm going to be photographing it up close, okay, then like we said with the marker example, if I'm here versus here versus here, that's gonna make drastic changes in this image. Versus if I ph...

otograph it from really far away, this change isn't gonna do anything. So how can I make sure that this works? Answer number one is I cannot make absolutely certain that this works, that it works exactly as you want it to work. And I know that I can't do it, 'cause I've tried to do it, and I can never be certain. I am like... My brain does not work like this at all. Maybe yours does, and I envy you if it does. I am not a logical person. This does not come naturally to me. And I have people say that to me every once and a while, "You're so lucky that these things just come to you." I'm like, "No, this is hard work for me." I would rather be at the dentist. No, I would not be. I heard that coming out, and I was like, nope, I would not be. (audience laughter) But very close to it; I don't like this. So when I'm thinking about this box, you could approach it two ways. One being, okay, I'm gonna think this through. I'm gonna look at my other stock images. I'm gonna shoot this at exactly the right angle. Or my solution, which I think should be everyone's solution, because it's so much faster, is just to be like, okay, click, click, click, click, and you have all of these different angles that you're getting. Those weren't in focus. Don't mind that. (audience laughter) You know I already told you it's my problem, right, I've got some focus issues here. That sounds like a bigger life problem, doesn't it? Got some focus issues. But I'm gonna shoot it from every angle because I just don't wanna get in later into Photoshop and have to really stretch things in weird ways or have to re-shoot it. I mean, photographing a cardboard box is hard work, you guys. I don't wanna do that again. So I'm gonna make sure that this looks good as it is. But I am not ready to make sure of that, because I wanna shoot something else first. So, okay, we've got the cardboard box. We're gonna shoot this miniature scene, and I'm really excited for that. But... And this comes later, my special mug that I use all the time for different things that you'll see in just a moment. But first, I wanna get set up to photograph something really, really simple, and just put this into action how this might work, with cutting somebody off of a background. So April, would you mind coming up here? And I'm gonna have you come up again later, so this one's gonna be way simpler than even the next one, which is so simple. And I'm just gonna have you stand against the black. And if we can get the houselights down and the other ones up, that would be great. Yeah, and what I'm doing here is so simple. I'm just going to show really quickly what I would be thinking of if I was going to cut you off of a background and put you somewhere else. And I'm not going to try to do anything fancy here. This is just going to be a quick example. And I have... You have very pale skin, which is good. You have red hair, which is my favorite thing in the world, and you're wearing white, so there's nothing to think about because we have this perfect situation of black backdrop, pale everything. We have so much in common; we're so pale. And so I'm just going to first get my focus here. Really, really simple. Oh, wow, and now suddenly everything is lit how I like it to be lit. And we've just got a quick photo. Now if I want you to be in a field with a dramatic, dark sky, there are two things that I'm thinking of. One, how dark of a sky, right? Oh, oh, yeah, great, okay. The lighting is down. Oh, yeah. So what I'm thinking of first is if I'm gonna have super dark clouds back there like in this image that I showed you earlier with the pulling the sky down, the clouds were very dark. And that could work really well for this image with the black behind because I'm going to be able to blend that well enough. But I would probably choose the gray backdrop just simply because gray clouds, gray backdrop. It all works. But let's say that you don't have that option. You have black and white, and those are your options right now and you can't do anything else. Well, think about this. So you've got a subject here who is wearing all white. Beautiful, awesome hair that doesn't have any darkness to it. You look perfect. And there are no shadows on you. You're just light and airy. So if I were to go in and Photoshop with this dark backdrop and it needed to be just slightly lighter, it would be really easy for me to do because I could just isolate this black, just select that color black, which is not showing up anywhere else on our subject, and lighten that color black to be gray. That would work in this situation because there isn't anything else black. So if you wouldn't mind just looking airily out to the side. Oh, that's perfect. Good, okay. So then we've got our subject with almost no shadows. And one thing that you can argue... Oh, and you can have a seat, thank you. So one thing that you could argue is that there are shadows down in this area on her chin and on her neck and things like that, but it's gonna still be pretty easy to isolate the dark background because I can just draw a quick outline all around it just to isolate it. You don't have anything on the subject. And then we can lighten that background up. So I'm gonna stick with that actually for this image, just assuming that one day she'll be on this stormy background looking very pensive and, I don't know, heroic in some sweet way. 'Cause I feel like I can't just say you're heroic and then not say sweet, because that doesn't make any sense, especially 'cause your sweater's so cute. So that would be one way that I would consider how to move somebody to a new background. And I shot her straight on. I didn't get some weird, low angle. So that means that if I am putting a sky in the background, I would've wanted to shoot that sky sort of off in the distance. One thing that I notice a lot in images is... And, in fact, when I've been out shooting with people, is you'll see these great clouds and then you're like, oh, my gosh, click, and you take a picture of this cloud that's above you. But how frequently do you shoot someone from this angle, right? You just don't do that. You shoot somebody looking straight at them. And that's why whenever I photograph clouds and things like that, stock images that are out in nature, I try to see a horizon line in the distance so that I know, oh, those clouds connected here with the horizon. In this case, we have somebody who is not in any particular background. They don't have any context to where they're standing, so she could be super close to the camera and maybe the clouds are way in the distance and there's all this blur between them. And that doesn't really matter in this situation. The one thing that I would mention here in terms of moving someone to a new background is the fact that April was standing really close to the backdrop generally. And the closer you are to the backdrop, that means the more the backdrop will be in focus, right. It's just how cameras work. If the subject is close to the background, both things will be in focus, depending on your aperture, of course, what your f-stop is, is you have shallow depth of field. So one thing that I could've done in this situation to make this even easier to cut would be to just have her step up closer to the windows and have all of this separation so that the background is super blurry and our subject stands out. Because just imagine right now... We're gonna play a little game where you're imagining that you're a tool in Photoshop. So just visualize you're a round eraser tool-type thing, okay. Yeah, that's what we're gonna do. Just go with it. And you're a little eraser tool, and your job is, because you're like this big in comparison to my head right now, okay. And you're like, okay, I've gotta erase around the hairs that I'm seeing. What are you gonna look for if you're the eraser tool? You're gonna look for, first of all, is there contrast between them so that I can actually figure out what I'm supposed to be erasing? And then, two, is there blur? Because if something is super in focus, and the thing in the background is really out of focus, that's going to create even more separation for that tool in Photoshop to isolate what you're trying to cut out. So that's something that I'm thinking about. And if I notice, I can see a few hairs around here. Okay, I definitely see that. And I notice that I can see some texture in the background as well. And that's probably not as good for being able to cut those hairs out. So would I re-shoot it? Yes. Am I going to? No. Because it's a really simple thing that we can all visualize, just that separation as much as possible. I mean, what's going to separate someone from a background? Contrast with the background and focus being shifted from the background to the foreground. So that's the big thing.

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.