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Overview of Brooke’s Journey

Lesson 2 from: Creating a Fine Art Series

Brooke Shaden

Overview of Brooke’s Journey

Lesson 2 from: Creating a Fine Art Series

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

2. Overview of Brooke’s Journey

How Brooke went from creating only for herself to building a multi-faceted career in fine art photography.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Overview of Brooke’s Journey


Your Timeline is Nonlinear


Using Curiosity and Intention to Build Your Career


What Factors Dictate Growth


Organic Growth vs. Forced Growth


Niche Branding


Brooke’s Artistic Evolution and Timeline


How Can You Get Ahead if You Feel Behind?


Ideation and Conceptualization to Identify Meaning in Your Art


Idea Fluency


How to Represent an Idea


How to Innovate an Idea


Creating a Dialogue With Your Art


Conceptualization For a Series vs. a Single Image


Transforming a Single Image Into a Series


How to Tell a Story in a Series


How to Create Costumes From Fabric


Brooke’s Most Useful Costumes


Using Paint and Clay as Texture in an Image


Create Physical Elements in an Image


Shooting for a Fine Art Series


Conceptualization: Flowery Fish Bowl in the Desert


Wardrobe and Texture


Posing for the Story


Choosing an Image


Conceptualization: Rainy Plexiglass


Posing for the Story


Creating Backlight


Photo Shoot #1 - Creating a Simple Composite


Photo Shoot #2 - Creating a Dynamic Composite


Photo Shoot #3 - Creating a Storytelling Composite


Shooting the Background Images


Editing Samsara Shoot #1 - Working With Backgrounds


Editing Samsara Shoot #1 - Retouching the Subject


Editing Samsara Shoot #1 - Color Grading


Editing Samsara Shoot #1 - Floor Replacement Texture


Editing Samsara Shoot #1 - Final Adjustments


Editing Samsara Shoot #2 - Cropping and Editing Backgrounds


Editing Samsara Shoot #2 - Selective Adjustments


Editing Samsara Shoot #2 - Adding Texture + Fine Tuning


Editing Composite Shoot #1 - Compositing Models


Editing Composite Shoot #1 - Expanding Rooms


Editing Composite Shoot #1 - Selective Color


Editing Composite Shoot #1 - Selective Exposure


Editing Composite Shoot #2- Masking Into Backgrounds


Editing Composite Shoot #2- Creating Rooms in Photoshop


Editing Composite Shoot #2- Compositing Hair


Editing Composite Shoot #2- Global Adjustments


Editing Composite Shoot #3- Blending Composite Elements


Editing Composite Shoot #3- Advanced Compositing


Editing Composite Shoot #3- Cleanup


Materials for Alternative Processes


Oil Painting on Prints


Encaustic Wax on Prints


Failure vs. Sell Out


Create Art You Love and Bring an Audience To You


Branding Yourself Into a Story


The Artistic Narrative


Get People to Care About Your Story


Get People to Buy Your Story


Getting Galleries and Publishers to Take Notice


Pricing For Commissions


Original Prints vs. Limited Edition Prints vs. Open Edition Prints


Class Outro


Live Premiere


Live Premiere: Layers of Depth 1


Live Premiere: Layers of Depth 2


Live Premiere: Q&A


Live Premiere: Photo Critique


Lesson Info

Overview of Brooke’s Journey

This is the first segment of my new class, all about how to create a Siri's. And I thought that it would be very important to talk about artistic evolution and how you, as an artist can evolve in a way that explores growth naturally but also strategically, because I think that a lot of artists gets stuck in one phase or another, which is really pushing growth from a standpoint that is not necessarily healthy. But the other opposite end of that spectrum is trying to grow so organically that you kind of fall behind and you tryto wait for inspiration to find you. But it won't necessarily do that, and certainly not on any productive timeline. So I want to talk about artistic evolution and specifically share about where I've come from, how I got to where I am now and where im going after that. Because it's really important that you can always maintain a sense of where you were, where you are now and where you're going in three separate stages so that you could make total sense of it and use...

it as a road map. I'm a fine art photographer and within fine art there are many, many sub genres that you might practice. And if you're watching this and thinking that you don't do fine art at all, that is totally okay. I'm not going to try to push a specific style on you. I'm not going to try to say that you have to do fine art, but I want to explain why I chose fine art. Fine art literally just means it's personal work that the idea for the art was yours. And you're doing it because you want Thio. And then maybe you sell that later, Or maybe you release it to the public, and that's totally fine. You don't have Thio, you know, say I'm going to create this for somebody else and then for me. Second, you don't You don't really have to think about that so much. If you want to do it, you do it. Then it's fine art. Very, very simple. So my sort of artistic evolution started there from this really sort of, I guess, perhaps a perspective that most people go through, which is I want to do what I wanna dio and you may realize that really early on, you may realize that really late in the game, but it doesn't matter. We all have that realization. I want to do what I want to dio. That's fine art and I do find art, photography and mixed media work. My evolution, though, started with filmmaking, and I went to film school and I thought that I was going to be a filmmaker. When it turned out that I didn't like film making like I thought that I would, I decided to switch to something that I enjoyed a lot more. And this is where that really sense of. I want to do what I want to do, kicked in because I was trying to do filmmaking because I thought that that was the height of creative expression. But I didn't like the process of it at all, and I was unhappy, and I wasn't expressing my ideas in the way that I thought was best. So I switched over to photography. I could work alone. I love that so much. I hate working in a team, so I just don't I just did what I wanted. I did self portrait in my house every single day. I didn't worry about what other people thought I didn't know to even think about what other people we're thinking. It just wasn't. It wasn't a thought in my mind. So when I started photography, it was self portrait. It's largely It was really, really simple setups. Just me. Ah, window a wall. That's kind of it. There wasn't a lot else going on, and that made me happy. And I remember thinking in the beginning of my journey, if this makes me so happy, then it will probably make somebody else happy to. I wasn't thinking about trends. I wasn't thinking about popularity. I didn't have any agenda. I wasn't thinking about making money from the things that I was doing. I just did it because I loved it. I woke up every single day at five in the morning. I set up my camera, I did a photo shoot. I had nonstop ideas and I think that in all of our lives there comes a point where you start to realize that the thing that you're doing is in alignment with where you want to go in the future, and that happened for me with photography. I realized that what I was doing every single morning at 5 a.m. In my apartment felt like it was the right path to be on and where I wanted to stay for the future at least assed faras I could see and I could tell. So I started to do fine art photography. I didn't know what it was called when I started. I just called it weird photography. And to be honest, I still do, and that's what most people call it anyway. Whenever somebody finds my work, they always say, Well, you do weird stuff and it makes me happy because to me, the word weird is synonymous with original and innovative and something that makes you think if you think about the weirdest person that you know, they probably are labeled weird because they're doing things differently than other people are. So, yeah, I create weird art, and the proper title is fine art, because I make it for myself and then for other people. Second and I started my journey with a lot of self portrait with a lot of intention that I wanted to create from themes that were important to me in my life. So I started to create work that was largely about death. That was about sadness, decay, rebirth. These were all things that I had a huge interest in at the time and still dio So my evolution began with this simple idea. I have a fascination and I want to put that out there visually. What does that look like? And I didn't have a road map to follow. I didn't know what that should look like or how I should express it or what was expected of me, because to me, I was just a girl in apartment. I had just graduated college. I was working as a receptionist and there were no expectations. Nobody expected anything from me whatsoever. So I had the privilege of being able to do what I wanted because it didn't have to make me money. And I didn't have to please anybody else while I was doing it. So I made weird pictures where I laid dead in different places. And this is one of those pictures where I'm laying dead in an abandoned silo with light just pouring in graffiti all over the place. And I started in my apartment. But I would just find random places anywhere I could. I would go driving and try to find whatever I could to take a a portrait of myself laying dead largely in those places. I started to use really fun stuff like I would go into my kitchen and just open my cabinets and stare at what was in there to see what I could possibly take a picture of. In this case, it was flower exploding from my head because that's what I had in my kitchen at the time for so many of us. When we start out with photography, we don't have a budget. We don't have anyone saying, Here's five grand. Go do whatever you want with that money. Make whatever you want. That's like a dream that rarely happens. Instead, you have wherever you happen to live, whatever happens to be in there, whatever resource is and assistance you have on the table. I had myself and I had whatever I could find in my apartment. So in this case I took a part of fan that I had. You can see how incredibly dirty it is, which is kind of gross and speaks to my slightly post college creation at the time but I used this fan. I attached it to my back. I remember using some red string. I just attached it and took this photo. This is Ah, you know, I always debate, like, what should I show and what should I try to? Pretend never happened. And this is one of those that I should probably pretend never happened because it's pretty embarrassing. But I had just moved to Los Angeles. As far as my artistic evolution goes, I was about one month into taking pictures from the first time I picked up my camera and I decided that I would go to the beach because I had never really been able to do that before where I lived previously. So I went to the beach and I went in the water and I decided to make a sea monster out of myself, which is so embarrassing and not the greatest moment in my photo artistic life. But here it is, and and I just tried to find innovative ways of doing things. So I said to myself, How can I make myself look like a sea monster? Well, I photographed my back coming out of the water and then diving into the water. And I created this weird morph of human into this really weird photo. Some of my photo shoots have been really uncomfortable, and I take a lot of pleasure in that, which sounds really weird and maybe, like I shouldn't say stuff like that. But I just love being uncomfortable. I think that it's one of the most magical states of being because it makes you appreciate everything else. So I had my husband, Saran, wrap me to the wall, which took a couple of hours to Dio and was quite painful. Um, this is my most embarrassing picture that I've ever taken in my whole life, and I hate it, and I'm showing it to you because we don't always start at the top. We start at the bottom, we start not knowing anything, and we try everything that we can try not knowing in the future what will look back and think. And I know that if you look back at your first images or your first art that you created, you'll probably look at a lot of it and say that was terrible. What was they thinking? It's easy to do that that's the easy way out. Just look back and say Oh, I made that and wow, that was so bad. I can't believe that I didn't do better But I look at this image and I don't think to myself Wow, that's so bad. Why didn't I do better? I think Thank goodness, I was willing to try it and I put it out there and I let it be a part of my artistic evolution because we need those moments in our lives where we make something bad where we make something ugly or disgusting or technically terrible. And we need those moments because they teach us how to do better. So I look at this image and I'm so proud of it because I did it because I put it out there and any time I was willing to make something and share that thing, I will never lose pride in it because it's a moment in my career that symbolizes where I have been and where I'm going. Ah, lot of the images that you see our experiments and I can say that there was a moment in my career. In fact, that stretched many years where I gave up on that exploration where I gave up on my curiosity where I rested on what I knew was going to look okay. And I'm not as proud of those years as I am of my stick head picture, because in the stick head picture, at least I was trying something new. There are images of mind that show growth and some that show a lack of growth. But I want you to remember no matter where you are in your artistic journey right now, whether you feel like you're behind or your head or your stagnant or your productive, no matter what, it is necessary. So even if you feel like you're taking two steps back for every one step forward, it's OK. It is OK to take those two steps back because two steps back is exactly where you need to be right now. So a lot of this art that you're seeing represents all of those periods of time where I felt like I was lagging behind or I felt like I was surging ahead. These two pictures in particular I remember feeling like I am so ahead of the game right now, like I was so excited by what I was creating. I just had this energy flowing through me like it's the best thing I've ever done. And equally there were times when that wasn't the case where I felt like I was so far behind my peers or behind where I should be in my career. And we will always find those places. So wherever you are, let it be. And don't worry too much about it. Some of these images are moments that really pushed my career forward and some were unexpected, like this image with the umbrella on my head. I never knew that that would become an iconic image in my career. That propelled me forward into different business opportunities and creative opportunities because you just never know. And to be honest, sometimes you can't predict it even after it's happened. I look at this picture and I have no idea how it's different from any other picture that I've taken, and yet other people find it to be different enough that it stands out in my portfolio. So then art over time if we have to think about your art over a period of time, which I have just showed you my timeline and for the record, that's been almost 12 years. As of the time of talking to you that I've been creating, I started creating pretty much right at the start of January 2009 and I've been going on ever since then with my creative journey and I've never stopped. I don't think I've ever gone more than two weeks or so without picking up my camera to create something new and the work that you just saw spanned over that whole period of time. So if you look at your work overtime, is it recognizable is the work that you're putting out there recognizable as your work, And I think that that's where we all wanna be is artists, especially if you're looking for a career is at that place where somebody else can look at your work and know that it's yours without seeing your name next to it. And that's what I really hope for my images. If I go back and I look at some of these, there are definite similarities in a lot of my work. Just between these that you're seeing here, there's a center composition where the person is in the center of the frame. You've got no true white point or true black point. They're all square images. They're all timeless images and their feminine images thes air, all hallmarks of my visual style, so that if you look at my work, hopefully you can tell that it's mine. And of course, some people won't and some people will, and that's okay. But is it recognizable? Is your work recognizable? Let's talk a little bit about how we can create work that is coherent, and that pushes you forward. And that's why I'm so passionate about talking about a Siri's. Because if you can create a Siris of work, say 10 images that all go together thematically and visually, then you are well on your way to developing a really great, cohesive style. My style started out as very dark. I played dead a lot. It was my favorite thing to Dio. I have frequented trash cans in my day. I just love laying in them very, very awesome. Okay, anyways, so I love all those things. I love darkness. I love death. I love decay. I love destruction. And that always surprises people because I don't really exude that type of darkness personally. And every time I meet people, they always say You are so not like your art. But here's the thing. Everybody is like their art in some way. And it's a mistake for a viewer to say that that person isn't like their art, because what you don't see is whatever caused that person to create that art in the first place, and that's going into this. That's going into the journey and the art and the process. And over time I lost sight of that darkness that I loved so much when I started creating and I found a real piece and I found a new interest in exploring things that weren't dark and disturbing, and I focused on fairy tales and locations that were super beautiful, and I found locations in France and Scotland, and I started traveling that I thought were so lovely, and I made pictures that were lovely, but they weren't really me, and maybe they were at the time, and maybe they represented a time in my life that I have since moved on from. But for me, darkness has returned as a central theme in my work and the images that you see here. We're all created in the last few months, and they're all represent representative of the work that I want to be doing now. Dark, disturbing, bold, visually arresting. That's what I described these images as, and they are disturbing some of them you might wanna look away from or some of them you may find triggering. And I want to say, If that's the case, then I'm glad that you're looking at it because art should not be for the people who like it, it should be for the people who also do not like it. It has to be because art is essentially a conversation. It's a dialogue from one person who felt compelled to say something to another person who feels compelled to respond no matter how they feel compelled to respond. Over the years, many, many people have written to me about my work and said, I hate it. I hate what you dio. I think it's ugly. I think it's disturbing. I think you shouldn't be able to do that. I think you shouldn't put it on the Internet. What's wrong with you? Essentially, it is what they're asking and I have to turn that right back over to them is a question which I'm happy to answer, but equally What's up with you? Why can't you look at this? Why do you feel triggered by this? Let's have a conversation about it. Instead of shutting it down too often in the way that we operate with social media. We do shut it down. We scroll right past things that we don't wanna look at. We say No, not today, maybe another time. But another time doesn't come. And the goal of my art and my artistic evolution and specifically with darkness, is to open that conversation. Why can't you look at this and let's have a conversation about that? So if fine art is just personal work, essentially, then why doesn't everybody do fine art? That's what I always ask myself. If fine art is just doing whatever you want, then why doesn't everyone just do that? Well, because there are, ah lot of decisions that go into fine art that make it a difficult thing to dio. First, there's the business conversation, which is how do you make money from fine art if you're just doing whatever you want, then how do you make money from that? And we're going to have that conversation very openly about how you make money from fine art and I will share everything that I possibly can about that. But then there's a deeper conversation that has nothing to do with money and nothing to do with business. Why don't you do fine art? If you ask anybody, why don't you do what you want to dio? It's always based in fear. This fear of what? I won't make money or nobody will care or people will care and they won't like it and I will be judged. So why not fine art? Because it's personal Because fine art is saying this is who I am and I'm going to put that into an image into a painting into a song into whatever you want. And when you do that, you're laying yourself bare for people and you're saying this is who I am. So when people say to me, you're nothing like your art, I say you just have to look a little bit deeper and ask the right questions because there is always a connection between the artist and the art. So why am I focused on a Siri's? That because we could be just talking about fine art in general, and we will, to a certain extent, we will talk about fine art and creating single images. But what about a Siri's? Ah, Siri's generally consists of about 10 images. Orm or it can be less. But generally, for the purposes of this class will say, 10 images is like an average sized Siri's and a Siri's. Is your your ideal situation as an artist with something to say, because you have, ah lot of different images to be able to say it, and that feels great to be able tohave that breath of conversation. But it can also be very difficult because creating a Siri's requires you to ask yourself, What do I want to say? Times 10. What do I want to say over the course of many images instead of a single image? And I have always had a proclivity toward single images just wanting to say Okay, here's my idea. Once and done, move onto the next thing. I'm always very quick to move onto the next thing, but focusing on a Siri's has allowed a more meditative practice for me, where I can focus slowly on expressing a single idea over an extended period of time. And if you ask me, the most challenging aspect of doing personal work in fine art is knowing yourself deeply. It's being able to sit with yourself for long periods of time in silence and admit that you don't know what to do next and then having that epiphany and saying, I do know what to do next and what does that feel like? And what is that for you? A. Siri's lets you do that. It brings a more meditative practice to your photography into your work, if you let it, so I think it's extremely vital.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Student Practice Images (large 1.9gb zip file)

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Brooke never fails to deliver. I found this course superb from start to finish. From exercising your creative 'muscle', demystifying taking self portraits, and showing that they don't have to be perfect before you begin editing, to walking you through her editing process and how to price your work. Brooke's enthusiastic personality and excitement about the work shines through it all. Definitely recommended!

Søren Nielsen

Thank for fantastic motivating an very inspiring. The story telling and selling module was very helpful - thanks from Denmark

Rebecca Potter

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Brooke for this amazing class. Inspired and so full of practical knowledge, this is the best class I've ever watched. You have given me the confidence to pursue what I've always been afraid to do. Watch this space!

Student Work