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Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 134 of 138

Why Critique?


Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 134 of 138

Why Critique?


Lesson Info

Why Critique?

Not just critique, I'm not just going to critique you but self critique and how do we start to look at our portfolio in a really constructive way, where we can give ourselves some feedback. Which is really hard to do because it's hard to be objective about your work and impossible I would argue. You can't be totally objective about your work. But we're gonna talk about a few ways that you can take a fresh look at what you've been doing and figure out a way forward. And if you can't find a way forward, that's where other critiques come in and we're gonna help each other today, so what we're going to do is I'm gonna critique you four, who have been sort of like the stand in studio audience for everyone else out there who's watching. And you're gonna critique me and it's gonna be a really good thing, I hope. We're not gonna offend each other at all. Because I have the self critique checklist. And I'm hoping that this is going to really help us just going through the elements in the portfo...

lio that you'd want to look at, that you would want to make sure you check off your list if you're trying to figure out what's good, what's bad, what needs work, things like that. So we're going to be going through that and that's a bonus material self critique checklist that we have for our final segment, I'm so sad. Okay but let's talk about critique. Why, why bother critiquing? It's gonna give you better aim at your goals, which is an obvious thing. That's what you hope for from a critique. It can also break you soul into a million pieces if you get the wrong critique. So let's first of all recognize that there's almost always something valuable to be found in a critique, even if it might come at you from a harsh perspective. Technical advice, just literally improving your technique, which I think is probably one of the main reasons why people get critiques, is to improve their technique and their work flow, but I would argue that that's one of the simplest things to change and the simplest things to figure out about your own work. So I actually prefer to get critiques that are more centered on concepts and where my work is going to go after that. It helps you form an opinion of your own work and it helps you do that because essentially what you're doing is you're saying here critiquer person, here's my portfolio, what do you think? And the second somebody tells you what they think, you immediately form an opinion. Either yes I agree with that or no I don't agree with that. You know the feeling? I do this all the time with my friends. I'll be like, "oh I really want to make a picture, I don't know what to make a picture about, do you have any ideas?". And then they'll be like, "Okay yeah do this". And I'll be like, "No". They'll be like, 'Okay do this". I'll be like, "No way". And they're like, "You never take our ideas". And I'm like, "Yeah it's because I actually do know what I want, I just like to hear what I don't want". And that's what a critique is a lot of the time, where you're giving your images over and you're like what's good, then what's bad? And then they'll tell you and then you're either like I agree, or I definitely know that I don't agree with that person. And it's really good for that, it helps you form opinions about your work and you know right away if you feel strongly about something or if you don't. Clarity of vision, helping you to move forward in a way that feels really good, really authentic, really personal. Which images are the most popular. If you hand your portfolio over to enough people, eventually they'll start to say, "oh this one's my favorite, this one's not my favorite" and you'll probably start to get some consistent popular images cropping up. And then print worthiness. I had a review recently where I had my portfolio given to five different people and at the end of it nobody had mentioned this one print that was in there. They didn't say it was their favorite, they just kept moving right past it and the last person pulled out this image and she goes, "Get rid of this, this should not be in print, this is not good enough quality, do not print this image, don't keep it in your portfolio". She literally set it aside, she was like, "Don't even put it back in, put it somewhere else for now". I was like okay. You know what, two days later I sold that print. So you can't always trust people, but she was right about that print, it was not as good of quality as all the other prints. But sometimes the technique, the quality, sometimes those things take a back seat to how somebody emotionally feels towards something. So it's very difficult to get critiques because while she was absolutely correct about that image not being as good of quality, what she overlooked was the emotional tie that somebody might have to it. So, that's why critique is very, very difficult. So who can you trust? Everybody, everybody has something valuable to give. Now they might not give it in the most constructive way. They might now think of anything good to say right away. I've had my portfolio critiqued where we sit there in silence for way too long and you're very like, "Oh, what's gonna come of this, they can't even think of anything to say". And it's really, really scary. So I think that everyone can give something constructive. Everyone out there could look at your portfolio and say something that will positively impact the direction that you go. But at the same time, I don't trust anyone but myself. So this is a very confusing, conflicted set of emotions, because I'm very open to critique, I love being critiqued, I think it's massively helpful, but at the end of the day I can't listen to anyone, unless what they say aligns with my goals. And that's how I always judge a critique. Now I have a self critique check list and this is part of what you have in the bonus materials here. And this checklist is just really centering in on things that might need improvement, really big areas of connection with images and how can we work through that in a logical, technical way. Alright, overall cohesion. When you hand a portfolio over, they're going to expect there be cohesion from one picture to the next, to the next, all the way through to the end. Unless you're entering into a review, saying I have multiple portfolios here, they're going to expect one continuous portfolio that really works well together. So how do we determine cohesion? As we talked about in the printing segment, that there are ways of flowing form one image to the other be it visual or conceptual and either of those might apply to you portfolio. So whatever would make a series work together, same goes into your portfolio. Is there something that connects one to the other, to the other?

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.