Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide


Lesson Info

Working with Galleries

We're talking about galleries right now. And I decided that we needed an entire segment just on galleries because there's a lot to think about in terms of the relationship between artist and gallery, what galleries expect from an artist, what you wanna have prepared for your gallery, and a whole bunch of things in between that. And I'm very excited about this particular topic because we get to actually speak to one of my gallery representatives today and hear from their perspective what they're looking for from artists, which I think is just really neat to be able to hear about that straight from the horse's mouth, as it were. Not that she's a horse. She is a gallery owner and we're gonna hear it straight from the gallery owner's mouth. And I think it's gonna be really helpful just to get some questions answered and figure everything out. So the first thing that I wanna talk about is artist versus gallery. But not in a combative way, just what you can expect the artist to have to do ve...

rsus what you can expect the gallery to do for the artist. So here we have a few different things. First of all, the artist pays for prints. The artist is the one to go to their printer, give them the file, something comes out of the machine, you pay that person money and then you bring the prints to the gallery. It's really unlikely that the gallery is going to say to the artist, I'll pay for your prints. Because, just as a general standard, those things are separated into artist versus gallery. Galleries don't pay for prints generally speaking. Then we have artist pays for shipping and artist pays for framing. And all of this might be a little bit, I don't know, maybe it's not second nature to you to think that. Maybe you would think that the gallery would have to do that. But the fact is that the artist really has to incur all the costs leading up to the exhibition. So if there's framing to be done, if there's shipping to be done, if there's prints to be made, that's usually the artist's territory. And if it is not, then you have a very special relationship with your gallery. So something to keep in mind before you approach a gallery you'll want to know that you're going to have to incur these costs. Now that's not to say that if you can't incur these costs that you shouldn't ask the gallery what options there are. Because a lot of the times a gallery will work with you to say, okay well if you can't pay for this then I'll help you out with this, maybe we'll split this framing or shipping or something like that. Or just come up with easier ways of doing it. I mentioned earlier that I often say to my galleries, if they want framed prints, I don't have the budget to ship you my framed prints. So can I ship you my flat prints and then you can frame them there? It's a good option. So just something to remember. I just recently had an opening in New York City. And for that opening I had these really large-scale prints and I had to get them from California where I print my work all the way to New York City. And I just kept thinking, wow it's already gonna be very expensive to ship these huge prints whether they're rolled or flat, it's gonna be expensive. So if I have to frame them in California and ship them, it would've been thousands more dollars on my end. So I decided, nope. So I asked my gallery in Mew York City and I said, if I ship these prints straight to the framers can I just deal with them there? Are you okay with that? They said, of course. So that's one option. The artist ensures the delivery of works. So you have to make sure that the art is safely getting from you to the place it's trying to go and that's not something that you can claim that the gallery should've taken care of. That's all on you. The artist earns 50% of the sale price. And I'm not saying that this is standard all across the board. There are certain times when the gallery will take a lot less, or maybe even slightly more. But I would be wary of a gallery who wants to take more than 50% of the sale price. In my experience, galleries are either in a really acceptable range or way off. And then you know that you're kind of getting scammed. So if a gallery comes to you and says, we take 80% of the sale price, I would have a lot of questions regarding what exactly they're doing to earn 80% of the sale price of an image. Typically it's 50/50. And oftentimes less as well. So the gallery will take a smaller percentage depending on the type of gallery it is. For example, if you're just starting out as an artist and you are maybe doing juried shows, you pay to have your work get into those galleries, things like that. They'll often take more like 25% of the sale price because they don't expect to sell a lot of work. So those galleries that take a lot less than 50% are not generally making their money off of their artists. They're making their money off of people paying to come to openings, for example, $5 at the door. Maybe they'll sell alcohol at the event, things like that. They have artists who pay, let's say $25, $50, $ to submit their work for juried shows. And then they keep all the money from the submitted artists and if you get in you get in, and you bring your work for that. So 50% of the sale price. And I believe that this is a really perfect split, not just because it's right down the middle, but because a gallery has a lot to offer an artist and an artist has a lot to offer a gallery. And I think it's important to remember both of those things. That without the artist, the gallery would not exist. They would have no income, nothing. But on the flip side, the gallery is offering a lot to an artist. And some of those things would be promotion of their work, putting their work in magazines, maybe local maybe international, helping to get grants and things like that, depending on the gallery. Galleries will take the work to art fairs, which we discussed earlier the importance of art fairs and how incredibly expensive it is for a gallery to do that. So if I were to just look at one of my galleries and total up in my mind all of the prices that they have to pay to bring me different places and do different things with me. They're probably taking me, let's just say, to one art fair a year that costs $10, for them to get into. So my work is going to one art fair for $10,000. And then they might place ads throughout the year in their local magazines to get people interested in their exhibitions. So that's probably, let's say $2,000 per ad that they're placing in these magazines that are local. So we've got $10,000 for the art fair, we've got maybe let's say $6,000 for ads. And then on top of that they have to rent that space or buy the space that they're showing the work in, which is really expensive in a lot of places. I have a gallery in Laguna Beach and I am sure that that oceanfront property is extremely expensive to rent. And then there I am, their little photographer artist, making almost no money for them in comparison to the painters who are selling their works for $25,000. My price point is way below that. So when I think about all they're doing for me, it's a pretty fair split in my estimation. And the thing is that you have to feel that way too. You have to feel like your relationship is an equal split. And sometimes it's not. Sometimes the gallery won't keep up their end of the bargain and you sometimes come out of it with a bad deal. But the good thing is that we have contracts for these things and you can write into a contract and say, you know what I need you to advertise three times a year for me in some magazine. Or maybe your contract is that you have to have a certain number of exhibitions per year with you. Otherwise it's not worth it to have any exclusivity with that gallery. But we'll talk about that in a second because that's getting a little bit ahead. So first of all, the gallery pays for the gallery space. Always true, unless the artist is paying to hang their work on the wall. In which case you might consider that the artist really is helping to pay for their gallery space. Galleries pay for advertising, always good to remember. They pay for art fairs. The gallery insures the prints. So when the prints are in their space, those prints are insured. I had a gallery once where they had flooding and they had to make sure that all their prints were insured because there were some that were sitting on the floor in the back room, for example. So that's up to the gallery to make sure that everything is good. And then they earn 50%, which is pretty easy math.

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. :)