Subject Within the Scene


Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide


Lesson Info

Subject Within the Scene

Then we have backgrounds. We have location, we have color, we have lighting, we have all of these elements, props that go in, wardrobe, but what about the background of an image? I know that you might be thinking, "But the background is the same thing as location." Yes and no, because it's how we choose to photograph our locations that give us the background. I can say with some certainty that these are not my best photos that I have ever taken, and it's because of the backgrounds in these pictures. I remember taking this image in the forest, and this was, like, week one of taking pictures, that I had just started taking photos, and I decided I was gonna go out, and get some balloons, and do this photo. I ended up with an image that was so confusing to look at. It just drove me nuts because I'm wearing a black dress, and the trees are all dark, and it's winter in Philadelphia, and it's just so crazy to look at. I ended up in this church in New Zealand, and I thought it was gonna be the...

best location to photograph in, and it just looked really confusing when I finally got my camera there. Could I have chosen something else? Yes. What if I had just set her down on this beautiful ornate floor and photographed from above? I would've been so much happier with this image than I am now. This was also from my first week of creating, at the train station. I can solidly say I did not know anything about taking pictures at that point, so I've got these distracting lights in the background, and this sign that says, "Danger." I wouldn't do this again. Just so you guys know, I'm very into safety now, in train stations, and I wouldn't do that. Then we have this picture, which, I actually loved the background. I had seen pictures of this. It was used in the Les Mis film. I was so excited. I was like (gasps) "I'm gonna shoot there, and it's gonna be wonderful." And I got there, and I loved it, and my thought was, "Okay, I'll put my subject "in the stream of light so that she stands out." My problem was, putting her in this nude leotard where she doesn't actually stand out at all. There's plenty of light going on in the picture, so the fact that I put her in it is, I guess, helpful, but not quite right for this background that's so confusing to look at. That's where I feel that I've gone drastically wrong. But in stark contrast, I visited this chateau in France. It was gorgeous, my favorite place that I've ever photographed, and there were plenty of rooms with a lot going on, with furniture, and mirrors, and fancy doors, and all sorts of stuff, and I just, I kept taking my camera in there, setting it up, and thinking, "There's so much going on in the background." It kept distracting me. I love simple backgrounds. It's just my favorite thing. So I'm going for a background where there's almost nothing in it, where it has enough character, it does tell a bit of a story, but really, the focus is not on the background at all. This was photographed in the same place, just in the room right next door to that, and again, making sure, there were about seven bathtubs in this place, and I could've chosen any of the bathtubs. Some had windows behind them, some had curtains. This was the only one that had a blank wall and nothing touching the tub, so I decided to use this one 'cause it was as simple as it could be. This background was very complicated, but in this case, I decided to edit my subjects into the scene so that I could light them as bright as I wanted to without having them blend into the background. So I could darken the background manually, brighten my subjects manually, and then there wouldn't be so much confusion with the subject and the background here. Here we have another one, which, I don't even think you can get any more simple than this, where I took my favorite tool, my brush tool, and I just painted the background out, which, I'm sure, had a house back there or something like that. I simply painted it out because I wanted to make sure my subject would be the thing that stands out in this image. Now, I'm not saying that you can't have complicated backgrounds, but simply to know if that's going to be your focus or not, and if not, consider, is it complicated for the right reasons, or is it complicated because that's just what it looks like, and you're there, and you're gonna shoot what's there? Always important to remember. Here's another image that is made very simple after being very complicated. That was the original image here, just a tree. (laughs) It looks like a cell phone picture even. I will admit, this is really embarrassing. Yeah, there's a car in the background. I actually have the next picture. The car's over here now, you know, really fast. Okay, so I decided to use this tree, and see what I could do. It was a challenge to myself to see if I could transform the space. I started to expand the tree outward. We've got some roots popping in here that I photographed from a different spot right around the same area. There I am, hello. And then there we go, no more car, isn't that great? What if I had left that, you guys? What if I had left that? It would've been a drastically different photo, right? This would not have been the same image, and even without this building, and the car in the background, it's still so confusing to look at. You almost have trouble seeing the separation between the tree and leaves in the background. So I painted it right out, and I started to refine the image, making sure that it is cohesive, making sure that the lighting works, that the wardrobe works, that the colors work, and just doing everything that I can to refine, refine, refine. There, we have the first picture that I'm very glad that you laughed at 'cause it's really bad, and I need to be kept in check, and then the final. You may think, "Why did you bother with that picture? "Why didn't you just try harder "and go get a better photo?" I agree, I have nothing to say, except I am lazy, but it worked, you know? The fact is that there's a lot that you can do with the location to really alter it to fit your needs. This is my very fast little speed edit here, but I like to start with nothing. You'll see, as this comes around again, that this was just a hill, like, a hump of dirt with grass on it. In case you didn't know what a hill was, that's what a hill is, okay? I decided to manipulate it to fit what I needed it to be. I wanted there to be this straight line going through the image, this straight, dark line, really bold, really graphic, and then I mimicked that with the smoke that I added in later. This location just didn't exist. It just didn't. I couldn't find something like this, so I used the background that I had, which was a normal little hill, and I shaped it to what I wanted it to be. I'm not saying, "Do that." I'm not necessarily saying, "Go out and composite any background you want," though it is really fun and very convenient. What I'm saying is, just really pay attention to shape, and form, and what a background looks like so that you can make it how you want it.

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. :)