Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide


Lesson Info

Where Do You Want Your Images to Live?

The first question that I'm very interested in is where do you want your images to live? Literally, where do you want them to end up? And this is actually how I started my, I was going to say business, but I really mean my whole entire photo career was by asking this question. I started photography with this idea that it could be whatever I wanted it to be. I had no concept of how you had to create, or why you had to create, or who it was for. I just thought, "Okay, I'm gonna pick up my camera. "I'm gonna make whatever picture I want, "creepy as it may be, whoever wants it, take it." And that's how I started. So I started by saying first, what do my images look like? And second, where will they live? Where will they find their home? And my answer to that started my business, and has continued in my business for the last seven years now. And the answer to that question for me was super simple. Okay, I don't want to create for other people. I don't want my images to live for somebody els...

e. Just like I don't want my life to be lived for somebody else, I want my images to have their own home with somebody who really will treasure that for what it is, not for what they want it to be. So where my images live are in galleries where they can sell them to art buyers who appreciate the art, not the process behind the art, not because, you know, they needed me to fulfill their version of what art was, but simply because of what it is. I allow my images to live on book covers and album art, which is really meaningful for me, because I love stories. Stories are my thing. It's like what makes me feel alive, so of course I want my images to live on book covers because books are the best thing in the world. I mean, like, wouldn't that be a dream if one day, you could have your picture on the cover of a Harry Potter book or something, like, oh my gosh. That'd be the coolest thing ever. I'm reading Harry Potter right now, so I'm a little bit into that, but yeah, I just love that idea. So where do you want your images to live? If I were to ask any of you guys right now, would you be able to tell me where you want them to live? Just think about it for just a second, and ask yourself, "Do I know a concrete answer to that?" Because it's one thing to be like, "Oh, it'd be kind of cool maybe if my images were "on billboards or something." Okay, that would be really cool, you know. How neat to see your image, you know, like a story tall or something like that on a billboard, but why? Do you really want it there, or do you just think it would be cool to see it there? You know, what is the process involved in getting it there? What kind of connotation does that give your art if it's on a billboard? Things like that have to go into this decision, so we're gonna talk a little bit about that as well. I wanna talk about your actual potential clients. So if you are entering the fine art world, let's say that you don't know very much yet about what your options are, which I have to say, I've been in business, I guess you could say, in the fine art world for seven years now, and in those seven years, I've had to ask myself many, many times, "Who are my clients? "Who could my client be?" And I have a list that I'm going to show you, but it's not by any means a comprehensive list. It's not, it's ever-changing, ever-evolving. If you have an idea to add to this list, just shout it out, because it's not complete. So we have galleries. Obvious one, right? Like if I say, who is your client in the fine art world? You're probably either going to say, "Gallery or art buyer." Those are the two really obvious ones. It's what you think of when you think of a fine artist, which I have to keep using air quotes, because it sounds a little bit pretentious sometimes to say fine artist, and you sort of think, "Oh, well, if you're a fine artist, "then you must be a painter, or you must, you know, "have like your work in museums," and that's not always true. That's not always the goal of a fine art photographer, or any fine artist. So galleries, yes, that's the obvious one. That's where your work can go, and it's, in my opinion, a really wonderful route to go, but it doesn't have to be. Art fairs, so some of these clients are going to be in the same realm as each other, so often galleries will go to art fairs, for example. You can also get into an art fair yourself as an artist, and that's great. You don't have to go through a gallery to get into an art fair necessarily, though sometimes you do. So art fairs are a potential client in the fine art world. Designers, I really like this one. It's one that, in a way, took me by surprise when I started. I wasn't totally aware that there was this whole world where designers came into play. I don't know. It's like, maybe because I have no sense of design myself, you just don't think about those things, but the first time that my gallery representation came to me and said, "There's a designer who wants "to look at your work for their client." And I'm just like, "Oh my gosh." There are all these different people involved in choosing art for different people and it's so confusing. Designers are awesome. That's my end phrase with this, because designers are people who are looking for very specific art, and if you can get connected with them, well, they're constantly in need of art. Because that's their job is to find art. We have art and literary publications, and I think that it's really good to note that publications, art publications specifically, maybe even more literary publications, they're not gonna be a client that pays you very well. Sometimes they will pay you something. I think maybe in, and I'm gonna talk about money very openly and freely, so just warning you, because I'm about to say a number. But I've found maybe over the last seven years or so that I've been selling my images for various things, I've made maybe $1000, maybe $ in the last seven years from publications. So I'm not getting paid to have my images on covers of magazines, or have a story done about me, or anything like that. It's just not really a revenue stream, so I want to make that clear, but that's not to say that that publication won't get you something else, which is, of course, a whole can of worms, right. Because then there's the whole topic of should you do something just for exposure, or should you get paid for your work. We're not gonna talk about that right now, although I do have many thoughts on the subject. And then you have book publishers, writers. This is another avenue that you can go, licensing your work. We're gonna talk about this in quite some depth, so I'm not gonna go into it too much right now, but book publishers and writers are an amazing route for an artist to go, because we have so much in common. We're all telling stories in some way. Maybe not in a narrative form, like a writer might be, but there's a lot of connection. I have found that some of my greatest friends are writers, because we connect. Because that's how our brains work. So it might not be the same exact creative form, but book publishers and writers are going to very much identify with a photographer. Twitter, for example, is the best place to find a writer, because they love the challenge of trying to write a story in that little tiny box. I love going on Twitter. I find so many book publishers, so many writers that way. And then in conjunction with that, music labels, musicians, that's another great avenue. I do square work, for example, which is really, really good for album covers, because if you've ever seen a CD, they're square, and still, even though a lot of people don't even end up with a CD, you know, they just sell digitally online their music. You still see on iTunes or wherever you're buying your music the square album covers representative of the art. So that's really good for me, and it could be good for you too. And this all goes back to how you're formatting your work, how you're cropping your work, but we'll talk about that in just a bit. Commissions is another way that you can try to make your money as an artist, and there's a very fine line here with commission and fine art. Because fine art, technically, refers to when you're creating art for yourself. Fine art is the practice of creating something for yourself first and foremost and not for a client. So you could argue that commissions are strictly commercial. But I would argue something a little bit different, which is that commissions can fall under the fine art category if you're still remaining very true to your vision and to your artistry. And I'll talk a lot more about commissions, how I approach commissions, how I turn down commissions, and how that works, but just know that it can be fine art. Stock agencies, so if you're interested in book publishers, in music artists creating album art, stock agencies can be amazing for that, and I'll tell you which ones I like, which ones I don't like so much. Why you might like one over the other, and it's all a matter of preference. There is no good or bad, right or wrong. It's just the direction that you want to go with your art. And advertising, again, you might be saying, "That's commercial. "This is a fine art course. "You can't say that you can advertise with your work "if you're not a commercial photographer." But I've had a little bit of experience in the advertising world, and my experience thus far has been very much the same as licensing for a book cover, for album art. People come to you, they say, "Okay, we're going to advertise this thing," let's say it's a vacuum cleaner. That's a super random thing, because I've never used a vacuum cleaner in a picture. But let's just say that I've got a vacuum cleaner in my, this is a photo of me with a vacuum. This is terrible, but let's just say that this is your art, (laughs) okay, and you've got a vacuum cleaner and you're making a really awesome picture. Let's just say you're outside in the snow, and you're gonna vacuum the lawn, but it's snowing everywhere, but you've got this. Okay, so this is terrible. But anyways, you've got a really cool picture with a vacuum, and you're like, "I could sell that vacuum with this picture." It might work. You created it for yourself because you love vacuums, and who can blame you. Vacuums are great. And then the vacuum company comes. So okay, we're a little bit off topic, but my point is if you create something for yourself and it happens to advertise in such a way that's authentic to that company, maybe you can use advertising in your fine artwork. And then museums, which really do go with galleries and art fairs and designers. Museums are the type of thing, like if I asked you guys right now, do you think that your work will be in a museum? How do you feel about that? It's like one of those things where you're kind of like, "Oh, I really don't want to answer that." Because you don't wanna say, "Of course my work will be in a museum." Because how do you know, right, first of all, and how do you know you're worth it, and how do you know your art is good enough, and how do you know that it's provocative enough, and all these things start to come into your head. And the same with galleries even, you know, how do I know if my work is good enough for a gallery or a museum. So we're going to just break this down a little bit into how do you know? How do you get to that place where you feel confident about that?

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. :)