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Working with Talent

Lesson 10 from: Fine Art Conceptual Photography from Shoot through Post-Processing

Bella Kotak, Pratik Naik

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Lesson Info

10. Working with Talent

Next Lesson: Building Community


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Artistic Vision and Inspiration


Personal Projects


Creative Motivation and Defining Your Story


Organizing Your Inspiration


Building A Character


Creating Wardrobe and Props


Location Scouting


Lesson Info

Working with Talent

Working with talent and communicating with talent before the shoot. So I kind of briefly did go over that, where I did say, be very honest and forthcoming about what exactly you're going to deliver and what you're not going to deliver and that will save you and them a lot of trouble because then, you both know where you're standing. I always allow my model to be creative. Yeah, you get input from your whole team, which is great. I do. I always have a vision that I want to capture, but then I very, very much encourage people to share any particular angles they see, I can't see. I think several pairs of eyes are sharper than just one. Sometimes you've seen a picture. Right. And I'm like, oh my god, thank you for telling me. I got mad at you once didn't I? What was it, what was it? One of the first things we shot together, he filmed it, but he didn't tell me that framing from this particular angle wasn't so stunning. Oh, she's really mean, I'm telling you. When you're on set...

with her. Why didn't you tell me? I was really like, next time just tell me. Yeah. Yeah Yeah. I did have a question that had come in from Jeremy who said, "Can you talk a little bit more "about what you look for again, "when you are selecting models to work with." What are some of the things that you do look for? If I'm selecting a model, specifically for a shoot, so most often than not I'm not working with actual models, I'm working with friends, people that I have approached. But if I had to select a model, then it just depends on the type of character I want to capture. For me, I know that I like to go for delicate built girls. It's funny, skin color is not a problem for me. I actually love diversity, but it just so happens in Oxford, I don't have that much options. I don't know any like, that's why I send these of myself and my pictures, because you know, you get some diversity in them. But I don't know, but if I could, I would happily look for diversity as well, because I think all colors are beautiful. Delicate features are something I always look for because they photograph really pretty and I'm going for that pretty soft look. So you know like little, not little, but nice lines on the nose, a nice line in the eyes. Even if it's not perfect, that's okay because we have Photoshop. So, you know, what else? And using painting as reference like big eyes. Yeah, yeah and I don't worry too much about the height because I'm shooting a fine art piece. However, if I was shooting a fashion shoot, then yes I would have a taller girl because the longer lines, lead for the clothes to sit a little bit more properly just because a lot of clothes are designed for taller girls, you know. So for fine art stuff height isn't a factor for me. But it's really just the features that I'm looking at. If I could be more specific, if they have a history in dance that's great as well because people who've done ballet before can do ballet soft hands. That's been trained since they were little and they're hands are naturally very soft and gentle and I don't have to guide them too much into those poses. So, that's pretty much what I look for. Thank you. Just one quick question, with that last photo of Scarlett, as well as the one you recently posted, she had pearls on her skin Yeah I was curious how you attached those as well as the flowers on the strips of fabric that you used. Yes, so whenever I stick things on faces I use eyelash glue, so if it's safe enough to use around your eyes it's safe enough to use on the face. And it's pretty strong, so you just apply a bit of glue, wait for a little while 'til it gets tacky and then stick things on. So I stick like flowers on, I stick pearls now, and at one point I was taking, you saw some gold leaf on the eyebrows, I would just put eyelash glue there and then just stick the gold leaf. So, super handy thing to have in your bag. Another thing about the strips of fabric, I was using the strips and then sticking the flowers on there using a glue gun. Then I would just pin it, it was really as simple as just safety pinning the strips of fabric onto the dress and it made the dress all flowery. And if something falls off that's what I'm there for. Yeah yeah if something falls off Pratik just pins it back on. No we make sure of that before we get into post pressing because you don't wanna deal with that. Yes, so be respectful of the models time and comfort. And then share the success with your talent. So whenever I share a picture I always credit. Because I think everybody on the team should be credited. Yep And I credit you as well. And we all appreciate it especially the retouchers we like it, I like it. Yes, I always credit just anybody even if somebody's assisted me, but they haven't contributed to the actual final picture, like there's nothing of theirs in there, I would still credit them, because they're assistance on the day lead to that photograph. Good point. Yeah. So, this hasn't come up very sharp unfortunately and I think that's probably because it's a PDF so so sorry about that, but we'll sort that out. This is a model release. I make sure that I get a model release for every shoot and I would highly recommend all of you do the same too. And the reason for that is even if you think right now you don't need it because you're shooting a friend, it's all great, it's all lovely, you don't know where you're going to be in five years time. You don't even know where you're gonna be in two. People grow so quickly in this industry and it literally takes a project to propel them. So I honestly think, get a model release, make sure you are covered as a photographer. And just have it safe on the outset, again, communicate with them right before the photo shoot. Just be like, hey just so that you know, I normally get a model release from all my models, would this be something you're comfortable with? If they're not comfortable it they'll let you know. And that's fine, you go with another girl. Cuz you know, it's okay. So I think that's really something that's quite important. Right, or negotiate because then Yeah, negotiate You get an agency model, but you really like their looks, you can negotiate through usage. Yes. Negotiate the usage. Because a model release is essentially just a contract between you and the model. Scarlett, she's under age so the contract is actually with her parents. But Scarlett's read it and I've gone over it with her as well and she's like, "Yeah, I don't really care". Most of the times they don't, they don't mind. And actually a lot of the people I work with actually are happy if their pictures do well. Because it's supporting and I wanna support them back.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Practice PSD File - Sleeping Beauty
Pratik Naik Retouching Actions
The Royal Collection - Fine Art Actions
Practice PSD File - Location Shoot (~700mb)
Practice PSD File - In Studio Shoot (~1.3gb)

Ratings and Reviews


Great class and great instructors. Genuine and informative. Practical tips to create stunning images. Seeing them work through the process from shoot to finished image was great and I loved that they shared the thought processes behind the creative decisions. Definitely recommended!


Truly a remarkable duo. Bella is so down-to-earth and humble for a photographer with such a strong beautiful and ethereal voice. Her explanations of her process really inspired me--I was sketching concepts throughout the class. Pratik's process really opened my eyes to "smart" retouching--understanding what can be done in fewer brush strokes and slimmer PS files. All in all a really unique and inspiring class that makes me excited to realize my next conceptual shoot. They're also adorable together!

Mai Her

I've gained sooooo much from this I can't even contain my appreciation and excitement! So much inspiration and so much generous advice and tips to help me! Thank you so much Bella and Pratik and Creative Live!

Student Work