Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide

Lesson 80/138 - Why do Some Images Sell More Than Others?


Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide


Lesson Info

Why do Some Images Sell More Than Others?

So we've got all of our images here. Well they're my images, but they're ours for right now. And these were all of the images that I looked back on the last year, like literally from the day I chose these, I looked back one year, and then I picked out these images from the last year as being my portfolio. And I decided that I wanted to really analyze what images were in this selection and why they were in this selection. So I started looking and a lot of them made sense to me because they were images that excited me when I made them. They were images that I felt like, wow something has changed here, something, I've just moved into a different realm of creating. It might not be better, it might be worse, I don't know, but just a different place. So I wanted to point out a few images that stood out to me in this portfolio. First of all we've got these three images, the blue and the oranges, that had a color palette that didn't quite fit the rest of the images. If you look at them, especi...

ally if I just step back, yeah you see oranges throughout, you see reds throughout, you see blues throughout, but these three images just seemed a little bit brighter, a little bit off my color scheme normally. And I'm not saying that I should remove them from my portfolio because I believe that you should have some surprises in there, but be aware that if you're in a portfolio review, somebody might pull those images out and say, this one's a little bit jarring because this doesn't quite fit with everything else. And then I have these pictures that I've chosen just being aware that they're a little bit similar, that in each one we have like this smokiness sort of floating in the air, that they have this sort of, I don't know what the right word is, textured smoky quality to them. And each of these has that. So someone might see this as being repetitive if they were to look at my portfolio and see a bunch of these in a row. I wouldn't argue that they're too repetitive per se, but just something to be aware of. And then we've got these two images which are very largely the same, very much so. So that we've got the zipper going down the back as well as a hole in my back, same exact perspective, same exact lighting, same bed, same bedsheets, everything. So I'm going to be really aware of that. And then I found these three images once I started isolating the pictures that are all very busy and they all have the same color palette. And that's unusual for my work because these all have reds and blues in them, and I don't have a lot of images that have contrasting colors in my portfolio, but they're really really busy compared to all the rest of those images. I mean the rest of my images are like center composition, one single person, not a lot going on, and then we've got like 5,000 hands, a weird bush, and then like 12 me's, and that's a lot of stuff going on in my images there. And then I singled these out. Can you guys see why? Cause, what? Pose. The pose, yeah, exactly. Once I saw that I was like oh wow, I've got a thing going on and I need to check that because I didn't realize that I had been doing the same pose in so many images, particularly considering I shot three of those in the same month. So definitely something to be aware of. Maybe that's a little bit of a crutch for me in terms of posing. So I started to just look at what's similar, what's not similar, and here we have all of them again as a whole. And that's going to inform my decision of what I include in the final portfolio and what maybe I don't. Now this would be a fine sized portfolio for your website, for a gallery meeting for example, but I wanna make sure that I have smaller portfolios that I can show people or at least order them in such a way that will be more pleasing for the person looking at it. So I reordered my portfolio here. And you can see that there is a certain flow to the images now. If I just go back and forth you can see that this one's kind of random, there are colors all over the place, and then this one, there's a definite flow. And I ordered them sort of like across the screen and then back to the next row and across, which maybe I should've done in a zigzag. You know that game Snake, just thought of that. Okay anyways. So we've got, I did this by color largely, so we've got the red images, images with bold red, up at the top, and then we move into some more neutral pictures, and then we move into the cooler tones all at the bottom. And this is a way of ordering a portfolio that's perfectly acceptable, and it's one that probably most people will latch onto visually first, the color flow of your images. Starting with something that has a bold red and ending with something that has a bold blue could be a really good idea for taking someone on a visual journey through your work. I think that as important as visual would be concept, and making sure that you don't have really opposite concepts right next to each other. So for example, we've got this girl in this field painting the sky you know and it's a rather hopeful image, except I totally get how it looks like blood, but aside from that, it's a very hopeful picture. And if I had paired that for example with one of these freaky back pictures, you know where you've got a hole in the back or you're unzipping your skin, that could be a little bit like whoah what message are you trying to send here, especially not so much online, but especially in print. If you've got this big print and it's this like pretty picture of the sunset sky, and then you flip and then you're like oh you're unzipping your skin in this picture. What the heck are you trying to do as an artist? People are gonna notice that. They're gonna be like oh whoah this is weird. What are you trying to do here? So I'm keeping that in mind as I'm ordering these prints. So I went through, and I did it, I chose my favorites out of all those. I just split them in half. I didn't just split them in half, I choose intentionally which ones I liked. And these were the ones that stood out to me. And I decided that these were going to be my favorites, so I put them in order of my favorites, not like first favorite, last favorite, but with the same color flow. So it's going from warm to cool. And it's really important that when you're creating a portfolio that you start with a bang, that you present something that people are gonna have an opinion about, that they're gonna love or they're gonna hate, especially for gallery reviews. If you're going to go let's say to a portfolio review where you sit down with some sort of creative professional and you present your work to them, they will always tell you when you're preparing for your review, it's a really good idea to start with something bold and to end with something bold. So I always try to do that when I create my flow of my images. And then these were the ones that didn't make the cut, sadly, but knowing that they're still in about my top 30 images, I would still include these in many different portfolios of mine. And these four in particular, I feel I could easily shift in and out of the flow, and then they would work really really well within that. Okay, so back to these sad images. Oh no wait these were the good ones, oh no these were the bag ones. See I can't even remember because I really did, it was really hard to tell. But this is what I thought about, same exact list that I gave you before. Is the technique polished in all of these? Is it uniquely presented? Is it attention-grabbing, cohesive, and non-repetitive? And the reason why I took some of these images out is because it was repetitive, because there were similar concepts or similar techniques or similar colors, for example, and I didn't want that. And so these were the ones that I used. And the funny thing is that we just, I just showed you how these first three images that you see up here have the same pose. Did we not just talk about that? But that could be an interesting way of easing somebody into your portfolio. So it's just a choice you have to make. And in the long run, who knows, right, like who knows how someone's gonna react to your portfolio and if they're gonna look at that and say, oh wow yeah you have a really cohesive portfolio because of this pose, or they're gonna be like, you need to work on your posing because you have the same pose in three pictures in a row. I don't know honestly. I'm just taking the advice that I've been given over and over from different people and trying to make it work. So this is reviewer advice that I have received in terms of creating a portfolio to show. One advice that I hear all the time is to create a series, to have a series of images to show within your portfolio or outside of your portfolio that you still have with you to show. So portfolio reviews for example, they happen at photo conventions, art conventions, they happen at art fairs, there are portfolio review events that you can go to that are a thing unto themselves. And you can sign up for portfolio reviews, and I used to be very anti portfolio review. I was really like, who are they to tell me what to do, and you know like I know what I'm doing already. And then you know like how much can this really help me? But I wanna point out that reviews are really good for two reasons. One because they actually do have great advice sometimes about how you can move forward in your career. The other thing though is that it's really good to get your work in front of certain people. And sometimes a portfolio review is one of the only ways that they make it possible for that to happen. There are certain galleries, especially I was just at a portfolio review earlier this year, and one of the galleries even said, we don't even look at submissions all year. We only go to portfolio reviews, and that's exclusively how we find our artists. It's like, oh, I never considered that. And they made the point of saying well, you know it just makes a lot more sense for us because we get all these random emails and we don't have anyone designated to look through them, but we can carve out three weeks out of the year to go to these portfolio reviews, find the artists who are super serious about their work enough to go to a review, and then that's how they get their artists. So it was really just eye opening for me to realize that about reviews. So creating a series is something that most galleries will tell you to do at some point, depending on where you are in your career. You know the, galleries that will take any artist or I should say like any starting artist, which always sounds like starving artist, but I don't mean to say that but it's like way too true too much of the time. So if you're looking for galleries that will take anyone whether you're emerging or mid-career, whatever it might be, they are often not looking for a series. They're not gonna be like you have to have a series to be in this gallery. They're probably gonna accept one, two, three, four prints of yours to put in a show, and then they'll give them back to you. So they're not looking for a series. But the more high-end the gallery gets, the more they're going to look for a cohesive series of images to put on an exhibition. So having a series even if it's just a small portion of a series, for example my fourth wall series that I have that I've shown you some of so far, I have three of those images printed in my printed portfolio that I can show galleries for portfolio reviews. It's not the whole series, but it's just a little example of this is what I'm working on now, this is my newest series, and look I can create with cohesion, sometimes if I try really really hard. A unique opinion, they always say, they're like you know what, we sit here reviewing portfolios for five days straight morning til night, and they just always say please give me something unique, like something that makes me think, something that makes me feel something different than everyone else that I always see coming through here. And that's really daunting to be told impress me basically by a gallery that you're sitting down with, but what that means is just be bold in your selections. Don't be timid, you know do something that's really gonna make you stand out. Make sure that your ideas have depth. So make sure that what you're presenting that there's some sort of layering to them. We've already talked about this too with your inspiration, layering your inspiration, just making sure that what you're putting out there has something more to look at that you wouldn't just scroll right past in your Instagram feed, something to really catch your eye and stay looking at. And I wrote perfect technique, which makes me sound like a real jerk. But it doesn't have to be perfect. I put that last because I think that that's the least important part of the portfolio process. But I mention it because you don't wanna have these amazing concepts with techniques that look like you don't know what you're doing, and that's an obvious one. But do be polished as much as possible. So I've pulled up some of my bestselling images in terms of prints, and I wanted to make this point that sometimes the images that we choose for our portfolios, sometimes certain images that we create, are going to sell better than others. This is a fact. And these images that I have chosen here, you can see all have these things in common. They all have a center composition. They have a clean background, and they're bold in some way, whether it's through color, composition, whatever it may be. And this might just be a coinkydink, I don't know, and I'm not at all saying go out there and make images that have center compositions and that are bold and have clean backgrounds because it'll be different for everybody. But within my style of what I do, this is what sells best. So these are just a few more images that are my bestselling images. There we go. So I find this to be really interesting to look at because it's not what I expected. This image in particular. I created this picture really not haphazardly but in a way that didn't feel quite right when I did it. I went out on a whim because it was foggy and it's never foggy where I live, and it was foggy and I just had to get the fog and I was so excited. And I did this picture and I put on this blue dress to match the blue fog in the distance, and then I got it home and I was like, I don't like this at all. I just didn't like it. So I was like let's just have fun, and I decided to throw some orange clouds in that I had photographed and I made my dress orange and I was like, I hate the color orange, what am I doing? And I did it anyways and I created this picture and I put it out there, didn't really think anything of it. And then all of a sudden it started selling. And I would've said for sure that this picture would never sell, that I would never sell one print of this image, and I don't really get it. So you have to analyze it against your other images in your portfolio or images that have sold really well. Because I start to notice a pattern here, right, like between this image and this one. No there aren't umbrellas, but it has the same composition, it's bold, right, and I can't, oh, clean background, clean background. And so that's what each of these seem to have in common with one another, maybe. And you might see something different. You might be like no obviously you know people like it because there are women in the pictures, I don't know, whatever you might say. I can't find any other connections between these pictures though. So it's good to analyze which images maybe people respond to best. And I'm not saying only put those pictures in your portfolio, but do consider how people are responding to them. If you have a history of sales, look at that. If you have no history of sales, ask your friends. If you don't like your friends, ask people on the internet. That doesn't seem much safer, but still, I would rather ask people on the internet personally.

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. :)