Fine Art Portraits

Lesson 17/19 - Creating an Elaborate Image


Fine Art Portraits


Lesson Info

Creating an Elaborate Image

So we're going to be talking about how to create an elaborate image so you know that the heart of what I do is trying to build an elaborate set it's storytelling it's it's creating that image that's going to spark something and not only myself but somebody else so this is where I feel really in my element you know if I am talking about creating a library imagery that is what I love to dio so while I love doing environmental portrait's and things like that that is the stuff that is sort of step one for me and getting to where I want to go and that is building even more on top of that base knowledge so I want to jump right in here we're gonna talk about storytelling I think that story telling is the heart of an image that is what I love to do I love telling stories if I didn't have a camera I would still tell stories I would find some other way of doing it we're going to talk about layering layering the story layering the image literally all the things that can go into creating an elabor...

ate image we'll talk a little bit about mood boards now I don't tend to create mood boards that are very traditional um I tend to create mood boards that are vory textural hands on I don't usually pull pictures from the internet but I will create a mood board in the sense that I have sketches I have words written out I have some other pictures that I've taken pulled from that saying I like this background or like this color things of that nature and shooting with intent now if I'm not shooting within ten if I don't know why I'm taking the picture, then I'm not going to take the picture something that I've been saying over and over again and I will really, really mean it if I don't know why I'm doing it, nobody else can figure out why I'm doing it either then creating a believable image now believability can come from so many different things it can come from having movement in the image it can come from the story easily coming across in the image whatever it might be it's important to include those elements that make the image stand out as a believable picture so what elements help tell a story drama symbolism, presentation character backstory, texture, composition, time of day, time period equipment choice color location, point of view, wardrobe props, pose emotion camera angle theme that's a lot of stuff, right? Super overwhelming, but it just goes to show how many things we failed to think about when we're creating an image all of that goes into one singular image whether you've put it there or not that's what we subconsciously you're looking for in pictures so emotion I loved focus on emotion, I've been saying that as we've been going through what's the emotion of the image, what are you trying to pull out of this character? So if I know the emotion that I can figure out the post, so what is the emotion of the images it happy or sad that's where I tend to start? So if I'm helping somebody out creating an image, I say, well, do you want this to be happy? Or do you want it to be sad to very, very basic emotions? Is it joyful, or is it angry? So what kind of happy is it? And what kind of sad is it? Is that the kind of happy where you wantto do this and jump up and down and show a lot of lot of lot of happiness? Or is it the kind of image that's, so sad that you want to sink down and be really, really depressing? Or do you want to take this clicker and throw it at somebody I know sorry, not you, but because you're so angry, what kind of image is it loved or hurt? So what is the emotion beyond that? You know, why is the person feeling joyful, is it because they're loved why're they feeling angry? Is it because they're hurt? So we're fine the emotion as he build the image. Now, as much as you khun simplify and define what that emotion is, then you can put the model into that pose, so allow the emotion of the image to dictate the post. I pretty much do this one hundred percent of the time I'm thinking about the emotion, and then I choose the pose, so obviously I'm not going to say, ok model go lay down on the floor and then be like, what kind of emotion is this? I want to think of it the other way around. What is the emotion and how could oppose reflect that it's all about the details. So I'm going to be going through a lot of pictures that have a lot of different details in them, and these are details that could be anything it could be the believability. It could be just this little tiny thing that once you look at the image for a minute, you notice something that you hadn't seen before. That's what helps create an elaborate image, putting one detail on top of another detail on top of another. So you're building one thing on top. So, for example, this image, if we go in for a close up here, you can see that her hair is moving. And here it is where it's not moving so you might look at that picture and say it looks just fine as it is, you know, you might not notice anything, but having that detail of the moving hair is going to be one more thing that you're I can focus on in that image that's going to help create an elaborate image. So here again, we have that whole image. All right? So now I want to go into this image here, which, if like, step, step back there, you can see that it's an underwater picture it's, not actually an underwater picture, this is a picture that was created with the intent of having it be an underwater picture, but it wasn't when I shot it so again, planning the images, I had to know exactly what I was going to do with this in order to make it happen now, because I knew that I wanted to end up with an underwater picture, I knew what I had to do in the camera to get to that step in post processing. So I'll take you through this it was done in my sewer, so like I was saying, this is my local sewer and that's where the sewage goes and it's really, really gross, but I kind of embraced situations like that, so if there is a dirty ah, water area then I'm going to jump in it if there is a dangerous place to be than I'll probably be there at some point I don't know I just have a knack for it, I guess but the thing of it is that you know it may be dangerous and may be dirty it maybe this and that but it's really, really fun at the same time because it gives you a story to tell, so if you could get into character and go to those spaces and that means your character is going to be more believable. So that's how this image started? I added the hair to it see that that was done by doing a hair flip I do it right now, but I'd probably injure myself or fall over something. So I hear foot which is good added that on there's, the dress that I added on and this was all done by myself that's the thing to remember so you don't have to have a huge crew to go out and do these kinds of images I was there by myself, I was wearing this dress so you can see it right there same exact dress I stood in the same spot, took the dress and flung it out this way and then I flung it out that way and then I had dressed to composite on later and that somehow turned into this not somehow I know how it happened, so from one slide to the other there's that drastic change and I keep flipping back and forth there now because I had that dark background to the image I was able to paint that black all over the entire background foreground not overlapping the subject because I was able to do that that location could have been anywhere and because I was able to do that I could add the bubbles in in the reflection and make it a believable image. So I have bubbles from a different underwater picture altogether a reflection from a different underwater picture, adding that in using different methods of layering and compositing and photo shop I was able to make it look like it was underwater there a few things that I have to think about when creating this picture this step in particular I'm thinking about the dress now if I were actually underwater, how would that dress be moving? What kind of shape do I need to create? Do I want to throw it directly up in the air to make it look like it's floating upwards? So I want to make it flow out, which is what I did decide to do a lot of different options but you do have to make it look like it's actually underwater, so here you can see I've added the murkiness so by overlapping a little bit of that black very, very softly over the dress it looks like the dress is moving out into murky water that's what I wanted I didn't want it to be this clean, crisp subject standing there in the middle of the picture if it's underwater it's underwater there's going to be some element of murkiness unless you're in a perfectly clear pool on a sunny day all right, so I have this really, really overwhelming list of words again we've got theme setting time period, time of day costume character color backstory conflict, emotion pose drama props, texture, symbolism, composition, point of view lighting equipment, camera angle so how often do you guys think about every single one of these things when you create an image? Hardly ever hardly ever and I failed tio it's not like I do this every single time I forget to think about these things it's a long list of things to consider, but think about how much more powerful your imagery khun b if you do specify each of these categories and you write down what each one means to you into the picture, you're probably going to come out with an image that has a lot more intense than you're used to, so I'm actually really glad that I wrote this list because I've never written it out for myself before until now and by doing that I'm able to see it and see how great of a list it is and how much I have been missing in my own imagery so from here on out I'm going to fill this out for every picture that ideo I'm going to say ok what is the theme what is the setting what is the time period but beyond that what is the back story what is the conflict that we're dealing with what's the emotion let's suppose the drama all of this stuff I want to specify that so for this picture in particular I wanted to go through each of these categories and I'm going to tell you what I was thinking of when I created the picture so theme loneliness now what we have is a girl on a boat we have another boat coming it's going to be way more awesome than this one wave a girl on a boat we can see right through her bathing suit that she has on we see that she is completely alone she's in a desert very very abandoned so I'm doing as much as I can to put that theme of loneliness into this image feeling invisible again seeing through the subject it's that idea that nobody notices you that you're all alone you're standing by yourself even if people are looking at you they're looking right through you the setting way of the sand dunes this's the obvious one there's nothing you know conceptual to this is just the fact where my shooting this picture I'm going to the sand dunes now I chose the sand dunes very specifically so I didn't just say oh, the sand dunes look cool I'm going to go there I decided you know, I have my theme if I go back here my theme, loneliness and feeling invisible so if that's the case, then what does that say to me about the setting? You know, I'm not going to choose a marketplace where there are tons of people bustling around, I'm going to choose a very, very lonely abandoned location time period. Now for me, when I'm answering that question, I'm saying any time period, but our own that's typically my answer, the reason why I'm saying that is because I want to create a timeless image so as long as it is a time period that is not our own it's something in the past it doesn't have to be an exact time period for me as long as there is nothing super modern in the picture that's what I'm going for right so time of day, late evening that's what I'm going for in this picture either that or early morning it doesn't really matter for the story, but as long as it's not mid day bright sun, that kind of a thing I don't want people to think that this is a happy picture, so I'm going for the overcast look that really dark, really dreary atmosphere, costume, nude, bathing suit. So when constructing this image, I knew that I wanted the subject to be wearing something very neutral, appropriate for the sand and the water at the same time. But I did want to create a very antique feel. I already knew the colors before shooting this, so if I knew the colors, I could pick out the wardrobe accordingly character with a girl she's lost. She is emotionless, so that was something very important. What kind of a pose would convey that? She's, anonymous and she's very frail. So I'm choosing a model who's thin, somebody who is holding her body very stiff, somebody who has her hair in front of her face, where we're not seeing the model. We're seeing a character color antique like I talked about hired you to the post processing before I went in to create this image. So by having the subject wearing a very neutral color palette, I could easily turn that into a very antique effect. All right, the back story, this is where it gets really fun, because you can make up whatever you want. And you don't to be self conscious about it it doesn't have to be anything in particular but whatever you want the back story to be so I went to film school and backstory for me you know, I learned all about that all about how imp fortunate is that your character comes from some place rather than just being a character that was created for that moment in your picture. So I want my character to have this back story to have something a story that she could take with her into this one singular picture so she sailed on her own she got lost and she ended up stranded that's the back story that is how this character came to be in this picture conflict she can't get back to safety that is the literal issue happening in this picture her boat is stranded in the sand so there doesn't always have to be a conflict all of these categories they don't always apply to every single picture maybe the conflict is that there's no conflict who knows? But in this picture I have that pretty obviously displayed in here where the boat is in the sand so clearly she cannot sail to where she wants to go the emotion is very aloof and I had her in a very stoic position like I talked about very stiff showing that she is not addressing in the situation in any way the pot's very stiff like I just mentioned and that goes along with the emotion so I know that she's supposed to be aloof so how do I show that? Create a stiff post the drama of a barren landscape. So what could I do to this picture to create drama? What would have that sweeping effect of saying wow and there's always that wow factor that I'm hoping to get, I do not always achieve it that's for sure and you might even be looking at this picture thinking that is not a wow factor that's fine, but it was for me personally I really loved this landscape, so I want to take advantage of that hair in the wind that's another way of creating drama, so if you can create that motion, that idea that it's not a perfectly still image then you have the the idea of drama, the suggestion of drama in the picture so the prop it's about super obvious we haven't or two texture, so I used a gritty old texture. The boat had an awesome texture, sand had texture, so there were all these different conflicting elements of texture which actually worked really well together I tried to put a cz many textures into my images is possible said it looks like you can sort of reach out, grab the picture and feel some thing from it so if I have a picture where you don't think that you can imagine feeling the texture of what's in the image then I feel like I failed because I want it to be something that you can connect with on that level the symbolism feeling lost and alone so what does this picture mean to you how can you take that theme and the emotion of it and put that into a symbol so feeling lost in alone the only person in the boat signifies being alone in life so we're going literally into what do the elements in the picture mean why is it happening the way that it is so if she's alone in the boat then she's alone in life she has stranded in this area and then there's a barren landscape which represents her state of mind now if you're looking at this and thinking that you're not getting this you know you look at this picture and it's just not translating for you it happens you know I don't create images every single day that everybody's going to connect with but I connect with it you know I thought about this beforehand I thought about what can the symbolism be and how can I put that forward so to me her standing alone on the boat it works for me the fact that there's a barren landscape that works for me and that probably means that it works for somebody else it might not be anybody watching this right now but there's probably somebody out there who understands it with me I hope so the composition I have the subject centered as I've been talking about I love a centered subject on di have the boat in profile and I had to think a lot about this about the composition because if that boat we're straight on that I would only see the very, very tip of the boat it might not translate so by having it turned to the side and being able to see inside the boat a little bit the's are all things that I have to think about before I set up my camera point of view voyeuristic onlooker so that is who we are as the viewer we are seeing a subject that doesn't know that we are seeing them if that makes sense so the subject is there standing alone she can't see there's hair over her eyes but we can see her we are looking into her life camera angle level with the subject so I wanted to make sure that I was on her levels than we were staring directly at her now if I wanted to give her a position of power I could have gotten really low and looked up at her um same as the opposite if I'd gotten a really tall camera angle could have looked down at her and that helps to give those effects equipment can in five d mark two fifty millimeter lens on the tripod I don't really have to write this down for every picture that I do or anything I use the same equipment every time. So but if that's important to what you do, if you have a certain lens that you love for certain kinds of portrait's, write that down. Remind yourself there is a reason why I'm using this lens lighting overcast important thing to think about goes into the technical aspect ex so when I think about light, I always want that overcast light or the window light, something very indirect. It's very, very rare that I say, yeah, I want to use a flash I've been made fun of, like, relentlessly from my students for saying flash photography, strobe ist I learned something new every day, so, uh, I guess I won't be doing flash photography because that's what? I'm coining that phrase no s so I won't be doing that most likely in my images, so I'm pretty consistent with my lighting techniques, but I do want to specify to make sure that it fits with the image, okay, so I want to go into this picture as well, now the famous flight. Um that's something that I'm putting out there based on the props and that airplane in the background I don't really know what to call the airplane in the background we can call it another prop I suppose even though I couldn't touch it and then we have the costume so it's a gown made of paper airplanes now the costume is extremely important to this image whereas in the last one it wasn't as important it wasn't the star of the show the whole point to this image is the fact that there is a costume made out of paper airplanes that is the the grand event happening in this picture that was extremely important that it got on well and it got to him for a reason character she's a girl she sad she's longing and searching so that is the character that I am building I know that she's a girl that's always the most obvious one is that male or female young or old? What is the emotion she sad she's longing and sheas searching and that is actually what she's doing in the picture then we have the backstory so she wanted to fly but she couldn't so she made herself a dress of paper airplanes so it's it's sort of ah sad sort of whimsical fairy tale kind of image where we do have something dark and sad going on but at the same time it looks very vibrant it looks happy in the colors so there's that juxtaposition there and I know that because of the back story I was able to make those decisions because I knew where my character came from conflict, so she wants to fly away, but she can't. That is the issue in this picture now by having that airplane in the background that creates that conflict, you know, that she's trying to fly their paper airplanes everywhere, and yet the airplane is behind her and she doesn't see it all right, so for this image, we have the theme of dreams and escape, and this was a really, really fun picture for me to dio I love playing with these two concepts together, so the fact is in the picture she is dreaming and she is hoping to escape. So we see these two realities happening the bedroom that she's currently in and her dream world where she has escaped, too, the setting a mixture of nature and man made spaces. So we've got the structure of the room, we have the outdoor space, and then we have the two colliding time period victorian, something that I chose purposefully based on what costumes I had and also this beautiful room that I got to photograph, so I went ahead, I used that as inspiration, so if I do have something in an image that is already from a time period it's pretty recognizable then of course I tried to match the costume to that so I'm not going to put this girl in, you know, a jumper from those made two years ago in a victorian room and listen trying to make a sum of statement about I don't know jumpers and victorian rooms or something all right? So the pot's sleeping on the bed now if this is about dreams if this is about her sort of escaping into a dream than of course I want her sleeping it's the only thing that really made sense for the picture symbolism the split house is her dream taking over reality so I have this put in the house you can see that it's cracked down the middle and that's because the outdoor spaces coming inside and that's shown by having the snow coming up over the room so details again details if I didn't have that snow coming into the room it might have been the room that was moving in on the snow and that could have totally changed the meaning of the image. So little details like that are going to help tell the story so I won't talk a little bit about mood boards and this is one of my sketches it's my best one so I like to show it first uh actually I think it looks just like the picture that resulted personally other people don't agree, but whatever they're the haters, so create them for yourself it's most important thing now I don't like to go on the internet I don't like to find inspiration from other photographers too much it happens because I see art a lot, but I try not to find inspiration in that way uh, so these kinds of things creating a mood board it's going to help hold you accountable so if you have everything written out sketched out all put together in one place and you can always go back to that, you've already put the work into it, so you mind as well follow through with it and get it done helps organize your thoughts super helpful for me. I am so forgettable, so I'll think of an amazing idea and then two minutes later not have any idea what I was just thinking about, um, which is really, really terrible, so I try to write everything down and I tried to, you know, work in such a way where I'm going to hold myself accountable did a little sketch right now and just before you showed that slide that's awesome. All right, so it is a challenge to have no outside inspiration and it's nearly impossible to do that because everything in your life all of your experiences of what you've seen culminates into your inspiration you know that is how you see the world so when I look at a tissue box and I'm staring at it for an hour and I get all these meanings from it I get those meanings in the inspiration because of what's happened in my life personally so you know when I say don't have outside inspiration that doesn't mean that you could never have outside inspiration it doesn't mean that all the things in your life shouldn't go into creating your art but it is saying that you know, maybe you shouldn't hop online every single day and then be inspired by a different artists every single day try to pull it from within because if you can then you're always going to be able to inspire yourself okay so this is that image um the sketching and the resulting picture you see is pretty close right? I know pretty good though mood wards I use the two term mood board very loosely it's just a way of organizing my thoughts really it's nothing more than that. So these sketches and all the texts that I write out and stuff that to me is a mood board there's closest I'm going to get pretty much aside from gathering sticks and leaves and things like that and then being inspired by them so found objects, sketches, writing pictures of inspiring things things of that nature I try to collect them into folders on my desktop and and it can be really ridiculous, like I might put a picture of a stick in my inspiration folder and it's, like there are six outside's, those probably really unnecessary, but I do it anyways just to remind myself what this picture could be inspired by. So think first, then shoot, we have talked about this already, and I can't say it enough. If you're not thinking before your shooting, then that means that nobody else can be expected to understand what your shoot is about. So there's less room for disappointment, I find if you are creating an image and you know what you want and you do everything in your power to make that happen before you click your shutter, chances are what you click that's going to be a more inspiring image for you. So here is another one of those images, um, the before and after the sketch, and then what ended up happening, and I was I was very impressed with the way I drew the hands and that one in the arms I'm just saying, uh, I'm just kidding. By the way, everybody, I totally know that these sketches are horrible, so if you know where doing, then you're going to feel more confident doing it. So if I already know the pose that I'm going to be doing and the props and all of that and I have that already to go then when I get onto set I'm going to feel a lot better about actually taking the picture I'm not going to struggle through it I'm not going toe be like uh what what kind of pose should they do? I don't want time my lights running out everybody's getting annoyed at me blah blah blah you're going to know what you're doing and everybody else is going to feel confident with you if you're working with a team so this is a tree picture I don't think you can tell from that but it is that it's probably my worst one that I'm going to show you so I wanna talk a little bit about working with the crew because that's something that I don't often do but I have been doing a little bit this year so I'm working with the crew I have a designer that's helping to make dresses for some of my chutes I've been working with somebody who's been assisting a little bit I'm doing video things like that and trying to get new models into my work this is something that I wanted to try out not because it particularly interests me necessarily, but because I hadn't done it before and I thought why not challenge myself get a crew together I'm very, very adamant about working alone a lot of the time, and I do that because I'm stubborn, so I don't like to give creative control to anybody else, and I've been struggling my way through it, but enjoying it at the same time, you know, working with a designer has been amazing and I don't know how it would go because I didn't want to lose my creative control over the design, but it's been amazing. I've been working with a designer, michelle, I bear she's been incredible, she designed on dh created one of the dresses that we're going to be using today, not for the shoot in particular, but I love all of her designs that was awesome that she let me borrow it, and I'll show you that leader, so everyone has to feel secure on set and your idea has to translate to others. These are the two things that I'm finding our most important. If you want your crew to work for you in the best way possible, then they have to be on board with the idea if they're not. If they don't understand that there's just going to be confusion, and I've made this mistake once, and I will not make that mistake again and made that mistake when I was working for a fashion magazine, I did a shoot for them. And I don't think I properly communicated the story of what I was going for, so we had me trying to put the model in one pose and in the magazines saying no, we want her in this other pose and it was a clash because I wanted my story and I thought that I told them that but they didn't understand what the store iwas so being able to make sure that everybody is secure is a really, really good tool tohave that's why I make these sketches but more importantly, since nobody could understand them that's, why write out a whole bunch of text so everybody can read all of those details that we've been talking about? What is the backstory? Who is the character? What is the dress like? What is the pose? I often pull pictures that I've done previously to show people so I can say ok, so she's going to be sort of facing this direction with her dress moving in this way, things like that so they get a sense of what it's going to be like on set I had to do that for creative life, you know, we were doing the environmental portrait and I pulled images that I have taken personally to show everybody here to let them know this is what the setup will look like and then they felt a lot more secure after I did that so this is that before and after image so we have a dress made of sticks we have um sticks coming from her head wrapping around the tree um so yeah she looks a lot more elegant hopefully in the actual picture instead of a giant box dress of six but as you can see it didn't turn out pretty close hopefully we think all right, so the better everyone understands the goal the more efficiently the goal can be completed so if you're working towards a singular goal everybody has to be working towards that singular goal. You know, if I had a designer on this this is michelle who I talked about she made this dress for me you know, if I had her designing this dress and then all of a sudden she showed up with her own design that did not get consulted with me about then that wouldn't be working towards the same goal she would have her own agenda, I would have my agenda so I have to be extremely clear with everybody about what the plan is and why that's the plan. So instead of just saying this is what I want to dio I'm letting them know okay? This is for a gallery or this is what is gonna happen with the image, so I have to make sure that the's certain things are done correctly so I want to show you the behind the scenes video for this picture. Um, I created this with my friend devin spiro he's. Amazing. He made this video for me. Hey, came along and helped out. So I just wantedto sit back and watch this five minute video, because I want to show you what it's like on a shoot typically and what it's like working with a team. So about six months ago I came up with this idea on the idea wass to create a whole siri's based around good and evil in nature because those with themes that I am constantly inspired by so I decided for the very first photo I was going to do a picture in which I enlisted a designer to make a dress for me out of sticks on not michelle on dh she is an amazing designer on so she started putting together a dress made out of sticks based on some little sketches that I gave her an ideas that I had and so I'm creating a character where the forest has sort of swallowed her up and in this picture she's being released she's sort of breaking away from the trees and escaping from the captives that have her sort of trapped in this winter wonderland hey here's the ones like I mean you know you get what you can way need to start scraping I was up so early this morning picking sticks so right now I'm just pretty much spray painting vines that brooke got for me so that we can wrap around the tree and create a whole vision she had all the shooting from this spot right here and we're shooting towards this area this tree right here is the one that we're trying to decorate and that's the tree that we're going to be shooting with. We have some branches that we've attached and we're going to attach even more once the model gets in place way still have to put her in the dress and then I'm going to set up some smoke bombs around and that's going to just give sort of foggy mystical effect that I'm really excited about. Okay, so this thing please know that when you get here fall this's a jeffrey jeffrey find smell like butterscotch between the bark sounds good when you're not smelling scraping it makes you forget that you're cold moment butterscotch so the way that michelle did this dress was to do it in two pieces since it's made almost entirely out of sticks yeah, I mean it was definitely a new a new obstacle because usually I just sip from upper button them in but given that it's so rigid there's no way that would work so mike brooks said had to do it in two halves and the funny thing is even though I had sketches I kind of just, like started to winning as I went forward with the project I mean I had it on the mannequin you know, as you see it coming together you make changes depending on how it looks and that's kind of what happened it just spur of the moment things like moss and he's old twigs that wasn't expected but ah like twenty five degrees out here so it's kind of miserable but also really happy and fun and my hands are really cold is always helping me so that I can hold my camera we're going to do this you're reaching forward like this with your hand delicately wonderful that's perfect wonderful okay, now I'm going to come over here and shoot you for a second just close up so if somebody wants to put a blanket on her way to show you this, how are you doing way would have been absolutely lost without price today who came along to help assist he got us out of so many situations like a freezing bottle and our cars stuck on the ice knocking of move and there are several others that I can't even remember but many things he was s o e just finished the shoot and it was very, very chaotic and stressful there because it is so cold so bitter cold and she had to be, you know, near naked in this dress of just sticks on dh she did a brilliant job, you know it's just amazing that after all of that the model can say that you know she's honored to be a part of something like ah it's a fuzzy it feels really nice e no there's just something nice about really getting into everything and, you know, being close with wei e t a movie I wanted to chime in and say fashion tv in the chat rooms says let brooke know that that was an amazing stick dress and kudos toe everybody for braving the cold thank you it's really funny because you know, creating that picture I had location scouted beforehand went up to the woods it was great no snow anywhere, you know, fifty degree day and then we showed up that day and there was a foot of snow it was twenty five degrees is miserable and nobody really expected that. So that's funny, though I released that video and somebody said, you know, it's really horrible that you said how cold it was when the model was naked, it makes me laugh because I was actually outside for six hours before we shot, so it was a little cold no, but we did we shot quickly and this is really my point in showing this video is that, you know, it took a lot of team effort to do and there were a lot of moving parts to that shoot and, you know, did I have to have a makeup artist that I have to have a dress commission toe have that same effect? Maybe I don't know, but that was the route that I wanted to go and every single person did their job because they knew exactly what that picture was supposed to look like in the end so because I had the sketches for them because I clearly articulated what we're trying to dio everybody came together for that same exact goal. So I love shooting like that now I love having a team, I don't do it often. I've only done it twice, maybe three times. Um, so it's, not something that I'm doing a lot of, but it is something that can be really, really fun to dio, and if you are able to delegate tasks like that and say, ok, you're you're the model, you're going to get your hair done in the car and you're the designer and I need you to help me dress the set and things like that. Then you're going to have an amazing picture because everybody's working for that one goal instead of just you. So this is another one of those images that I worked with a team on we have this is my initial sketch where we have a girl in a dress of feathers and birds coming out of her head, which is enveloped in a plume of smoke sounds really weird, but you know how it goes. So knowing what you want ahead of time is going to make. Striking image more practical so you know if you have a lot of parts to an image in this case I had to photograph birds I had to set off a smoke bomb I had to have a model I had to have a dress made of others I had to go to the desert there are a lot of different things that I had to do to make this image work so by having thie ability to delegate that really helped and being able to bring everything together so this is that before and after image the sketch to what the picture actually ended up looking like and now I wasn't sure how this was going to come together when we got there we had to sort of drive a little bit to find the perfect location that we wanted to shoot out and we did and I ended up loving it but it wasn't what I envisioned so when I made the sketch you can see that they're sort of ah hill coming up in the background I don't know why but I thought that there was going to be some hills in the desert apparently so eh? So little things like that change but it does not change the story of the image or the content of the image in any way so those are the kind of change is that I'm very amenable to making I'm okay with that you know if if what's in the background has to change that's usually ok for me, but at the same time, I'm going to try to make it happen as much as possible. So understanding what inspires you will not only inspire e once, but many times over. So if you think about it, you know, I know that I love birds, it I put them in so many different pictures of mine, and knowing that I love birds is able to inspire me for multiple pictures, that doesn't mean that I'm taking the same picture of birds and then publishing that on the internet. I'm putting those birds in two different settings, so because I know that I love birds, and I know the reason while of birds it's about flight it's about, you know, being able teo, leave the nest it's about being able to travel whenever you want to things like that. I know that I love birds, so I can use those themes that derive from just a single bird and put that into many, many pictures here we have a fish stink, so with our fish tank did a lot with it where it tried teo, we've already looked at this yesterday that how we composited that fish tank together, so planning an elaborate image, figuring out what you want extremely important. But then you have to plan your dream location and your props and your wardrobe in your character. Then you have to make it all come together, which is the very, very difficult part. You have to find a suitable location that could be really hard to dio. But here, just a couple of different ways that I do that, um, these location scouting agencies, when I have a budget to do so, they charge anywhere from fifty dollars, onto a few hundred, sometimes over a thousand dollars, it just depends on who you're working with. So location scouting agencies you can also, if you want to like typing google to try to find one, you can type locations, giving agency location, library. These are different things that you can type in. Teo have all of those different resource is pop up for you now, when I do use that it's only because I have a budget meaning that I haven't having a workshop, so I go ahead and I splurge for the really, really expensive locations when I know that I have my cost covered and other people are going to get something out of it, too, so use google maps if especially for an outdoor location, I can easily use google maps to find a body of water or a forest, things like that, um, and then abandoned blog's so there are a lot of blog's out there dedicated to abandon things, and if you get on those logs and you're in the forums, you confined so many re sources of abandoned buildings and things like that that make amazing locations, and not just for creepy photos or anything like that. I mean, you khun taken amazing fashion image there, or you might be able to have an engagement session. It just depends. S o I often go on the abandoned blog's and sort of see what's out there. And when I traveled to a new city, I try to find what's abandoned there, so abandoned and y si dot com that's just a new york city scouting agency that I've used recently that I really liked location works is the one that I use in london when I'm going there for workshops v r b oh, so we're talking like a vacation rental site. Those are incredible. So finding your props I try never, ever to settle when I am going for props. Now this fish tank was a funny story because first I thought that I had one fish tank. It was beautiful is gorgeous. He got taken away from me, so then I had to find another one, and I found one. I forget exactly what it had it had multiple bars going across the top, so I couldn't fit a model inside it, so obviously I'm not going to settle for that the people we're trying to sell it to me said, well, you can just break some of the bars off the top and then put the model in, but I thought this just has danger written all over it, breaking plastic and inputting a model in, so I decided, no, I'm not going to settle, so I ended up finding a fish tank that was open on the tops of my model could get in that was clear shape that I wanted big enough and I didn't settle and ended up having to pay more money for it, but sometimes it's worth it to put that investment in and put the time in and then have the picture come out right instead of putting the money in having the picture come out wrong and then having to do it again all right, so props they're not easily used twice, so if I have a prop that's really recognizable like that ship that I keep bringing up in the photo where the girls holding the rope in the ocean you know, if I were to use that over and over and over again if it's not for one singular siri's than that vote is going to get really repetitive so these are some of the sights that I used to come up with props I use etc love etc you can find lots of homemade things lots lots of vintage things stuff like that and then you're supporting artists which is really cool ebay I never actually considered ebay before last week and then all of a sudden I found myself in need of a unit cycle and a victorian dress and I found them both so I was able to go on ebay and I found both a victorian dress and a unit cycle exactly what I wanted for about one hundred twenty dollars with shipping so now yes that's more than I would normally spend on a photo but think about how much less that is that if you went to some vintage store or something like that and you found a unit cycle in a victorian dress eso ebay was great for that amazon and in local thrift stores and so if you ask me you know where do you get your props where do you get your wardrobe stuff like that these places that's it I don't really have any other resource is for that that I personally used okay so gathering the wardrobe same thing that we just talked about really choosing your time period very important so making sure that you know what you're going for choosing a color that's going to complement the location um so a great example of this is I was with my friend recently were in a craft store she was buying a bunch of moss to make a dress out of moss and then she said I want to get some flowers to decorate the subject as well so she picked out these vibrant red flowers and she kind of put them together and seeing how it looked and I noticed that when she had this bright green moss in the bright red flowers it looked like christmas you know, it was like these two really conflicting colors together and she ended up changing I think two purple flowers and it looked beautiful because those two colors messed a lot better so making sure that your wardrobe goes with your props and goes with your setting is so important american vintage is one place that I go to get a lot of my props but that's only in l a so unless you're in los angeles with me, huh? That's what I get most of my stuff but aside from that, um I go to any thrift store anywhere that I am I go to goodwill, salvation army things like that I'm going to vintage stores pretty much every city that I've been to has all of these resource is eso whenever I'm travelling I like to stop into whatever thrift stores available and see what they have because it's definitely going to be different than what I have at home all right, so choosing your team I try to choose the model based on the character so you know, like I talked about earlier why do I do self portrait sir? When do I do them? I only use myself if I fit you know, if I need long blonde hair than yellow use myself perhaps if I need a really tall model I will not use myself things like that so if you're working for a client than I tried to build the scene around the client so you know if you're shooting wedding if you're shooting a senior portrait whatever it may be it can be very important to build your set build your story around that person now that's not what I do typically in fact, I don't think I've ever done that maybe once when I did an engagement session I did get the couple's input and I said, well, what do you like what you what don't you like? And they said to me that they wanted lots of lightened their picture and they said that they liked levitation so we did that and that was just some simple guidelines that they gave me that I could work with sticking to your vision you have to remember that when you're working with a team it's still your vision if I give in to something like that, then there's no point in moving forward with the picture so if you know from working with a designer and here she says, okay, well, I'll do this for you, but it has to look like this, this and this and that's not my vision that I'm going to say no, I'll find another designer um, if I have to compromise in a location that I'm going to change my concept to match the location, I'm not going to compromise the idea, so everyone wants to feel secure when they're working together. That's why it's so important to stick to your vision if you have a big team going on in one person's being too too strong, being too loud about everything they're saying let's do it this way, then everybody else is not going to know what's going on. So I try to make sure that I am working with my vision on lee. So the fish tank in this image was two hundred dollars, the location was twenty five hundred dollars, the dress was sixty dollars, and the assistant was two hundred dollars, so you can see it's a lot of money coming together to create a singular image. So two thousand nine hundred and sixty dollars is what this image literally cost. But there are ways to get around things like this, so you have to get creative, borrow props, you know, if I had more time, if I had been really on it and planning this image way ahead of time like I should have been, I guarantee you I could have gotten a free fish tank it's a given so that's something that I needed to think about ahead of time, which I didn't now, given that I only had the space rented for one day and it's in new york city, and I don't live in new york city, I had to jump on it, so I paid the two hundred dollars, but the bullet did it, but there's, a way to get around it now like I talked about before getting a bunch of different photographers gathered together, so then they can rent two space together it's an amazing way of renting an expensive location, you can assist each other, which is awesome, so if you do need somebody to help you out, you can go to that location, pay your small feet to get in with all the other photographers and then shoot with each other because you're going to make friends, you're going to be each other's assistants and you're gonna learn something, too, and then instead of paying for a wardrobe, you can always trade they're always up incoming designers people who have things that they want to put out there into images that they have pictures you can always trade so say you know I'll give you these high res pictures of viking use your dress or whatever it might be so locations vacation rentals I didn't I touched on this a little but I wanted to go back to it because these air a bunch of sites that I used to find locations so if you think about it if you rent a location from a vacation rental site you're getting a whole house or apartment for one whole day and night for us pretty small feet you know like you know, one hundred dollars two hundred dollars something like that but that means that you get the whole entire day and night to work in that space you can have as many people come over as you want because you've rented that space you can work within that location as a set instead of having to be in and out of a specific location so v r b o dot com homeaway dot com airbnb dot com vacation rental rentals dot com flip key dot com and then any bed and breakfast is awesome too so I have gone to several bed and breakfast and said do you mind if I shoot in your common room or something like that and they're almost always happy to let that happen and for no charge to I mean I've been able to just get in and out do a shoot and really really beautiful locations because they have their house is set up to accommodate tourists so they wanted to look really neat all right? So for the creative live elaborate shoot prop concept location symbolism model interaction costume these are all the things that I am thinking about when I am building my elaborate set color backstory so the prop is going to be a boat we have a boat we're excited to use it it's filled with flowers I can see it right now but you can't uh and it's gonna be really awesome um so the concept dreams that is what I am working with here hopefully we can make that come across in the image the location is a bedroom now it's not literally a bedroom we don't have a bed in here in fact, you're looking at the set right now, but it will be transformed in just a little bit symbolism wanting to sail away so we're going to have a boat in here we're going to have a sale, we're goingto have fog machine a wind machine we're gonna have it all we're going to create an elaborate image model interaction I'm goingto have the model swaying and holding the mast of the boat, so we're going to create an image where the model is working with the props if the sale is blowing, she has to be blowing as well as if something is really happening inside this room. The costume is a beige flowing dress, so we've got this this beige dress, it has a nice long trail to it train to it, not trail and it's going to blow in the wind color antique, so I asked them very, very specifically to paint these walls to match my vision, and they did such amazing job of it, so I'm really excited to photograph it and then backstory. She wants to escape very, very simple. She is in her room, she is an indoor space, and yet she's in a boat imagining that she's out sailing somewhere. Okay, so questions do you always ask permission to shoot in a place like let's say you're in london and you're visiting a caso if you feel like you're outside in the garden and your love that would you just that I stop and take a quick picture? Or would you actually right and asks permission for that? It depends because it depends on a few different things, I suppose, how intimate the spaces, you know, if I'm going to be bothering somebody or if I need to move something around? Then, yeah, I'm going to ask, I'm gonna get permission now if I'm in a space that, you know, maybe I paid to go into and it's a big thing, and there are lots of people walking around that I'm probably just going to do the picture if I'm in, you know, a public space, then, yes, I'm just going to do the picture, but if ever there is a time when I know that I can get in trouble for doing something like big trouble on dh it's likely that somebody will see me, then I'm going to ask pretty much another question from adrian far uh, what advice can you give for getting other people involved and being as passionate and committed for a shoot like you did in the snow, especially when you are unable to pay them? Mmm, that yeah, well, you know what? The thing is that everybody, if they're involved in a shoot it's because they want something in return and it's, not necessarily money. If there's a makeup artist, there are so many makeup artists who just need teo to start getting their work out there, get connected with other photographers. One thing that I did, teo get around paying once, no, because, you know, I was getting if I get paid, everybody else gets paid but um but I just want to do a shoot for fun my very first like fashion he kind of shoot and so I went to a makeup school and I said, do you guys have anyone who would want to help out on the shoot? And they had five different people who wanted to come along and do make up for free and they got the images in return, so being creative like that, you know, finding students in design school, you know, they're doing amazing things, so I mean, you saw the dress made out of feathers and sticks and, you know, michelle is still in school it's incredible to me, she is making countless dresses for countless people doing so much professional work but she's still in school, so there are just so many people willing to help out in that way. Um, I have a question on when you do hire a model for trade and then you produce a print and that makes you a lot of money, the plant makes a lot of money. How does that work like for the model? Because she did a trade for prints, but you are making a lot of money on it do you compensate the model afterwards or I don't, and the reason why I don't is because imagine that you use twenty different models in one year and you have prints that were created from the sessions they go on to make money in the future? Well, what happens when thirty years later that print makes the money are you going to go contact in that model every single time? Probably not and that's why a model releases the perfect thing to have because you can say right up front either you're not getting paid or you're getting paid x amount and I could do whatever I want with these images later um and you know, when I work with the model, I let them know, you know, if I'm doing something that I know is going to sell later I pay because I know I'm getting paid for it and if not then generally not you know, it's a trade and I I mean, quite honestly, I've created I have four hundred fifty pictures in my portfolio, you know? And maybe fifty of those has have sold us prince so for those other four hundred times, I can't pay every single model and that's just where I am in my career right now and hopefully I get to the point where I can pay everybody tons and tons of money, but right now, you know, I'm still sort of a starting artist about starting starting about thie the ones that you make the prints on, like, you know, yeah I mean because it could potentially make you a lot of money it could yeah it definitely could on dh and there's just really nothing to do in that situation to be fair to everybody because they can't chase everybody down in the future thanks. So I asked a question from what's up doc who would like to know if you have any translation problems when working with the team and communicating your vision to them and how you deal with that? Yeah well, you know I do so much planning beforehand that I usually don't have that issue on set uh so I mean I'm a little ridiculous when it comes to planning shoots like this like I'm sending out call sheets I am like making sure everybody is at this place at this time really really you know, detailed about it so typically they know what my work is going to look like if they can't imagine the exact pose or something for some reason that usually doesn't change their opinion of the image. So I just try to make sure that each person involved knows what they need to know. So the makeup artist is going to know that for example I'm not going to smooth the model's skin perfectly that's her job or as much as she wants it to be smooth that's what chains to dio so little things like that you know, if I'm going to use an outfit and it's from a designer and it's really not going to be shown very much I'm going to tell her that right up front so then she knows this dress is not going to be front and center on display and then you can take the job or leave it if you want right so um him hawkins in new jersey huh does brooke think being in film first gave her a different view or passion for light that possibly a photographer wouldn't have experienced otherwise I think so yeah um I love thinking about that because you know it's so easy tio sort of say well I wish that I had gotten into photography sooner I wish that I hadn't done this this and this you know and I had just gone straight to it but if I hadn't gone to film school than you know that that's the base for me of what makes a cinematic image and what makes an image that you know tells a story I have training in how to create a story from start to finish and that's from screen writing and directing and understanding how film works and I realized very very quickly that if all of that can go into a movie then you can condense that into a picture and that's why I love photography because I'm not spending ah whole entire you know year making a movie I'm spending a day and getting the same impact for me I have a question from tim, our athens who asked if you create a mood board but then see something better when you get on location, do you change, shoot both or just passed on the new thought? And I've asked you this question in in two different varieties in the last two days. Yeah, so the reason I'm asking it again is because you talk about all the preparation that you put into a shoot, and I don't know if it's your personality that you're just dedicated to your concept or if you if you could go deeper into this question, if you think there's some importance and developing a concept and sticking it out versus being pulled in different directions. So I like that you sort of mentioned the options that we have of either, you know, doing something new, sticking with the older doing both, I will do both, so I never want to pass up inspiration, I don't want to leave that location and say, I really wish that I had just shot that because, you know, it's like this is a great example I showed you guys that image of the feather dress in the desert with the smoke on the head and everything. When I got to that location, I saw a chair that was just totally stripped down and looking really, really old and abandoned and I thought about it for a while, and I thought that is just so cool, and I really want to use it in my picture, but I don't know if it'll be worth it. It wasn't in my original design, and I talked it out with my friend, who is with me on that shoot, and I decided in the end, you know, I'm going to shoot one picture with it, one picture without it have it both ways that way, if I like it still in a week or in a month, it's there and I can use it, and if not, then I still have it without it. So if I'm inspired on location, I will do as much as I can to shoot both ways. I don't want to pass let up. So mr wookiee in the chat rooms that's, his name I's, asking when, uh, you bring when bringing an emotion to self portrait, does it always reflect something really? Or do you find yourself being an actress and spending time building up the character you want to portray? You know, I I think that all of my characters come from from within so much that when I am doing a self portrait, it's very, very natural to me to portray that emotion or that character, so you know, if you have an actor and they're going to be in a movie, then they might spend months building themselves up to be this different character, but that's because they're given a role that is not, you know, in eight of them, but when I'm doing a self portrait, it's, because I love that character it's developed from within me so I can easily portray that because I have already thought about the pose, and I've thought about the emotional that because I'm also the creator of the image, so I find that I don't have to do a lot of prep work for self portrait ce, but when I'm asking somebody else to portray that character that's, when I really have to be specific about all those little details, well, then you've already planned out all of your keywords and can communicate that concept to them pretty easy, actually nickel. So delta day forty four would like to know what you do with all of your accumulated props. Do you play the tree dress and you keep all that stuff? You said your house was very sparsely decorated, so yeah, but my garage in closet aren't there packed, um, so there are some I try to filter my props through and give them away as much as I can, um, I keep some props on those air usually the props that I want to exhibit in a gallery along with the images so I try to keep those on hand until I need them but that said I feel like I'm turning into a hoarder or something because I have got like I mean I've got an octopus sitting on top of my carousel horse sitting on top of some plastic dress and like it's getting really absurd so yeah, I keep my props in general until I feel like it's just taking up space and I'm not going to use it again and then I pass it on do you reuse dresses and then would you record them in photo shop or I do reuse dresses especially if they're very neutral so I shot uh did I shoot? Yes um now I can't remember somebody yesterday wore a dress that I shoot a lot with but I can't remember who in any case I have a very, very neutral beige dress that I wear all the time I mean I actually wear it personally to events and stuff but we also just I use it a lot because it's neutral you know it's not really defining the character if there is a dress that is defining the character that's very elaborate says something about the image that I'm not going to use that too many times but if addresses neutral enough that I do re use my dress all right, so, um, leeann is asking, does brooke concentrate on one idea at a time for a picture? Does she have a couple of ideas brewing all the time? Yeah was going on in that brain? I have a few ideas s o in my little book that I showed earlier, I have, I think, five ideas in there at the moment that I have not yet shot, and those are ideas that I'm working on currently tress trying to get the props together, trying to get the dresses, whatever I might need. But then, aside from what I have written down in that book, I have about, like, an idea I don't know every single day or so and and those are ideas that I might never do and there just stuff that's floating around in my head, but this is why I can't get work done because I'm thinking way too much about this stuff constantly and it's a lot more fun, sometimes in answering emails. So so that's kind of an issue in my life right now, we can talk it out later. Well, once you know it's an issue, you can pay attention to it and exactly what some attention if it needs teo. All right, well, way did have a question from brandi, who would like to be your model? No question, can I please see your model? Yes, they say your art process are both so beautiful. I would die to just watch you in person, on location. I would love that film. Yes, maybe, maybe especially, where your, maybe I'm sure that there's probably a thousand people online are saying.

Class Description

Forget flashy studios and expensive props. Join award-winning photographer Brooke Shaden to learn inexpensive ways to create elaborate, gallery-style works of art from scratch.

This fine art portrait photography course is dedicated to teaching you how to add fine art sensibility to your portfolio. Through the use of her creative techniques, Brooke shows you how to transform mundane images into dramatic, eye-catching works of art. Intended for motivated beginners and experienced pros alike, this course walks you through everything you need to know to create jaw-dropping fine art portraits and have them hanging on gallery walls in no time. After taking this course with Brooke, you will have mastered new, innovative lighting techniques, Photoshop editing, pitching your images to a gallery rep, and much more.

This class is part of the Fine Art Photography courses


Gallagher Green

I started photography nearly three years ago, and came across Brooke's work a little over a year ago, and loved it. I have been leaning more into Fine Art ever since. I was gifted this course by a friend, and it is outstanding in everyway! Not only does Brooke do a great job in this in every way. But the Creating Live crew does a wonderful job, and the filming is done very well! Even though this was a gift, I am so impressed that I will definitely buy more Creating Live courses in the future, they are worth every cent!!!