Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide


Lesson Info

Write a Descriptive Paragraph

Looking at more images here, this is one that I created earlier this year and I had a lot to think about here because almost none of this image existed, it was just a field that I went out to, and I had to create something in that field. I didn't have to, I chose to, but I needed to put something in it for sure because how weird would it be if you just saw me post a picture of a field? You'd be like, "Hm, what's Brooke up to? "Not much, she just took a picture of a field." So I need to put something in it, so I've got these stars, which, I should say this is not quite the before image, there were no stars in the sky or stars on the ground, there was just a field, but I added stars, I added more stars. Stars and stars, stars in the sky, stars on the ground, and then I built this box tower and then I photographed myself in multiple parts trying to get my body in there. I changed some colors, I changed the lighting, I changed a while bunch of stuff about this image and then I ended up the...

re, but what I really wanna talk about with this image is not how it was created but why. And I think that what's important to do is to write about your images, and you might be very resistant to that, you might think, oh I really hate writing, and that's okay. I'm not saying become a writer, write a poem about the picture you're gonna make or anything like that, but if you can answer how, what and why for the images that you're creating: what is it, how did I do it, and why am I compelled to do it? Then you're much more likely to be able to speak more meaningfully about your work, and I think that's very important to be able to speak about your work and we're actually gonna talk about that later on in the class, but to me, if you can answer how and why before you even start the picture, aren't you much more likely to create something meaningful that actually ends up working out if you think it through how you're going to do it and why you're doing it ahead of time. I think that you should do this both for new pictures as well as old pictures. So I love going back through my portfolio and choosing a random image and writing down why I created that picture. I think that it's really fun to do, it just gets your mind thinking about, oh, what was I thinking on that day, why did I wanna do this, how could I put that into words? But especially doing it before you create something new is, in my opinion, one of the best things that we can do to start training ourselves to think more deeply about our images. Okay, so I've got a wall of text for you here. I'm going to read it to you though. And this is my description of this image, what I would write and what I did write before I created this image. I put it into nicer terms, cuz I did a lot of bullet points, but you get the idea, so I wrote, too often we face gray sky days and wish for something better. What if we could pull the curtain over those clouds and create our own blue shy day? I will achieve this by standing on crates that allow me to reach higher into the sky. I will photograph a blue sheet so that I can impose light clouds on to create a blue sky look. I will blend gray clouds into the being so that they are being covered. I want to create my own reality, one that I can control and define as I wish. This image represents that power that we have as artists and creators. So that was my how and why for this picture. I went through, I said exactly what I wanna do, how I plan on doing it, and then further, why it's important to me, what is the concept here, what am I trying to communicate with this image. And I find that when I go through this process and I show people my images, they're much more likely to say, "Oh I get it, I get what that concept is, "I get what you're trying to say." But when I don't think about it enough and I send someone an image and then I say, "What do you think?" They're like, "Uh, what are you trying to do here?" You know? So the point I'm saying this is that I think that the more you can do this, the more that you can talk about why you're creating and how you're creating then someone is much more likely to understand that thing, the how and the why, they're likely to say, "Oh it works, it flows, I understand not necessarily "how you created it but I get that this looks like "a picture that was created well." And that is the worst thing when someone says, "It looks photoshopped." I don't wanna hear that from anybody, ever. But then more importantly, they're going to look at it and say, "I understand why you did this." And I think that if we can write that out ahead of time, perfect. All right, so I just thought that I would show you how this image was built since we just talked about it. But first, let me tell you what, how and why. So if we can break it down. If you don't feel like writing a paragraph, you like, "Eh, I don't wanna write a paragraph about "every single picture," fine, don't write a paragraph. That's okay. All I want you to do is write what, how and why which is a part of our guide for this class, so we've got our little work book and it's going to ask you some of these questions like, what, how and why, and how you can try to work that into when you plan your photo shoot, so what for this image is literally what, what is happening? I mean we can all answer this, it's just a girl pulling a blue sky down over a gray sky, that's what the image is. And then we have how, so how did I do it? I used a blue bed sheet, that was how I did it, I used a blue bed sheet to be tugging on to pull it down over the sky, and then why. To show the power that we have as individuals to create our reality. Great, simple, simple, simple. Now if I know these things in three easy sentences, then I can communicate that so fast to people. I have been in gallery shows where someone comes in and they'll say, "Why did you do this?" Like really easy question, right, except not an easy question for a lot of people. You have to be able to say, "Boom, that's why I did it. "I know exactly why I did this picture." If you can't say that, I mean, just think about if you're the client, you're going into buy someone's print and the artist is there and you say, "Why did you make this?" And they're like, "I don't know." Or, "I can't think of anything." Then aren't you gonna be like, oh, I don't really wanna buy that print after all, there was no thought put into this, it just sorta muddies it up a little bit. So this was how this picture started, with a field. As apparently so many do with just a field, and I ended up using various compositing magic, just kidding, to put this together. So this was my really awful next stage where I've got like random colors put in here, cuz I thought it'd be covered later, like right now, and I have this, I'm not gonna say bad habit, I'm gonna say really effective but potentially what other people would call bad habit of just painting over things with my brush in Photoshop, it's my favorite thing to do. So I just painted over the sky, cuz I didn't need it, I knew I'd be putting my own in. See if I had kept this image, it would have been okay, those are stormy clouds, it would have been okay, but it wasn't quite the right field, it was still a little too bright in the background. You can see how some of the whites, some of the highlights are being really blown out back there. So I'm just covering that up so that I have a blank canvas to create my own version here, whatever I want. There are my crates. There are my legs. There's my body. There's some hair. I don't know why, I'm always photographing myself in multiple parts and I really don't even have a reason for you, but it just happens. Then I've got my clouds that I chose because they were nice and dark at the horizon line which is where they're going to be showing most. Okay. Now we got the sheet, so there's my sheet. That's my blue sheet that i was clearly not holding to begin with, so I was posing with just my arms in the air pretending like I was holding onto something, because I'm working totally by myself, so I wanna make this clear. Had I had a crew with me, had I had just one person with me, then I might have had them try to hold the sheet up or I might have tried to fix the sheet somewhere, but I'm just one little girl, and I did it like this because one, I'm very impatient. I don't have a lot of patience when I'm shooting so I don't wanna take the time to clamp things in places, but also, I was by myself and it was just easier to photograph the sheet separately instead of while I was posing, so I did that. Then we've got the sky blended into that sheet, just a totally different picture of clouds that I blended into that shy. And now we have some overall adjustments, which in my opinion make it mine at that point. It's like there's the compositing and there's the making it your portion, which is the lighting and the colors and how you choose to go about finishing the image, and so there we have it. It was a very cold day where I was. So that was me photographing the crates, and I knew that I wanted the crates to look a little bit bigger in the final picture, so I knew that I would be cutting them out anyways, so I didn't bother going into the space to do it, not to mention, this field was from New Zealand and I don't live there. So that's how this came together, New Zealand field and sky from California and crates from my house and a sheet from Goodwill, and there we have it.

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. :)