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Marketing and Selling Composited Images Part 1

Lesson 39 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

Marketing and Selling Composited Images Part 1

Lesson 39 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

39. Marketing and Selling Composited Images Part 1


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction


Why Composite ?


Logic Checklist


What Not To Do When Compositing


Shooting for Composite


Changing Backgrounds and Light


Shoot: Simple Swaps Part 1


Lesson Info

Marketing and Selling Composited Images Part 1

we're going to talk a little bit about business and composited images because I get a surprising amount of e mails from people saying things like people don't want to buy my art if it's composited or you know clients don't want what I have to give unless it's a really simple portrait and stuff like that so where is the market for fine art and where is the market for a composited image and how does that all come together so I want to focus a little bit more not on galleries and things like that as much as a commission portrait and different ways that I use my compositing with clients because more and more I've been working with clients it used to be that I just saw my working galleries then I started licensing my images for book covers and album art things like that and then from there I moved into now creating new content for those same people for book covers for album art stuff like that so I want to talk a little bit about that process and about what goes into something like that doi...

ng a composited photo shoot and edit for a client so here we have this idea of marketing and labeling now that is probably one of the biggest problems that people have in terms of how do I actually sell myself and sell this type of art to somebody and I think the problem lies and not knowing how to pitch it and we're going to talk about pitch packages in a moment here too and how important that khun b because I very strongly believe that if you don't define yourself than somebody else is going to define you and if we go along with that theory then we need to know what we want to be doing with our lives and what that looks like to other people so it's one thing for me to say I'm a fine art photographer but if you are a client and you're not in the photo world then you might not have any idea what that means so then I'm just talking gibberish to you and you're not going to buy anything because you don't know what I'm talking about so I want to make sure that I'm marketing myself in a way that is is true to who I am yet also in an understandable way so that other people will hire me to do things to do my art to do what I love to dio so what do I call myself now I can answer this in a hundred different ways and depending on who I'm talking teo I might just do that so if a gallery contacts me and says what's your profession than I would say fine art photographer because I want them to know that I understand the fine art market but let's say that somebody e mails me and they just say hi I want to get a portrait of my daughter then I'm not going to say I'm a fine art photographer because that doesn't really make sense so instead I'm going to explain my process and I'm going to say well that sounds great I would love to do a portrait of your daughter and my process is to create one single piece of art with your daughter as a character in that picture so I'm explaining what I do in a way that lets them know the process that we're about to go through at least very roughly that this isn't going to be me just creating whatever I want but this is also not just going to be a pretty picture of your daughter this is going to be a mix of that it's going to be me taking your opinions into consideration while also doing what I do which is to create a single piece of art so knowing how to market knowing what you call yourself they go hand in hand so if you know how to describe what you d'oh in relation to other people then obviously you'll know a little bit better how to market then we have to determine the medium this is important which you wouldn't even think it is because we're all photographers but for example with what I do and how my pictures end up looking we run into this problem people thinking that the paintings so if somebody e mails me and says can you paint my daughter then I'm in trouble because that's not what I do so I want to work in some language about how exactly I work so I know that I'm a photographer but what else is an important part of your process for me that's compositing so I'm not just a photographer on the photographer who composites images together sir that means and why this is so important to a client is that if a client is coming to me and they want a picture taken that's a very incorrect usage of words there for what I'm going to dio because I'm not just going to take a picture and give it to fun I'm going to take many pictures and composite them together so that means that those people who are hiring me they can't really expect to get you know images that look right right out of camera they're going to get images that look very very disjointed right out of camera and they're just gonna have to trust me to put it together and that's not something that really gets easier either because I have clients where I have one hundred pictures that I've taken for the client and then I stare at them and I'm like how are they ever going to trust me when they see that there's like an arm over here and address over here and the backgrounds not even there yet and you know how do I create that trust and that bond with my client so knowing how you work what process of how you work that can be worked into your medium so maybe it's not even compositing thatyou dio maybe like I was just talking to rene earlier about this how she's been doing and caustic as a process that she does to treat her prints so that's something that could be very imp horton in selling your images if you end up creating an image and then you put wax on top of it then that's something that's going to sell to a client in a very specific way that means that you're not just giving them a print it's a print that's been handled with love and care and you've done something personal to it and that's a really different way of marketing to somebody so here's some questions for selling composited images do I want to draw attention to my process so is that something that is a selling point for you or not is that something where you'd like to say to your client I'm going to composite ten images together I can do anything in photoshopped that kind of thing to build trust with your client or do you just want to say I may be making a few changes these images but I'm not going to draw attention to what I'm going to be doing in pope most and depending on who your client is they're going to like that are not like that so an example is when I do book covers for people for publishing companies that means that I am going to that publishing company and just due to the nature of my work and tutorials that I have online and things like that they pretty well know that I'm going to be doing it overhaul to my images which works really well in my favor a lot of the time because I'm not working with the client directly so I don't have to worry about building that trust in person I don't have to worry about the client being here and therefore they need to see the process happening right in front of them I'm usually doing self portrait ce for book covers stuff like that so I'm working by myself with myself and then they see sometimes the images that I've shot and sometimes just the final product and the cool thing is that if we do build that trust together then the client ends up emailing made back and forth or calling and saying ok so can you take this from this picture and can you just put that over here and can you change your hair and can change your hand and they asked for these things without knowing if I could do it or not they just assume that it can be done and so we're going to talk about managing expectations in a moment as well because that's something that definitely khun get in the way here which we don't want that to happen and then do I price my work differently depending on post processing so you might be thinking well I khun dio a session for a family spend an hour shooting and in our editing and then I'm done I don't I don't know if that's actually a realistic time frame but not sixteen hours you wouldn't spend sixteen hours editing a family session most likely so are you going to price your work differently if you're doing a heavy composite image are you factoring in all of those hours that you're going to spend in photo shop may be the reshoots that you have to do because something didn't work out the first time and is that going to be something that you really care about and can I use stock images so that's something to consider when you're compositing if you can't get all the images that you need for the final product then are you allowed to use the stock images that you found I get around that by purchasing my stock images so I make sure that I have a licence that allows me to sell the image later I make sure that I have paid money for the pictures then at least I have that security of I paid money there for now I own this thing so that's something to keep in mind when considering and then should I edit a certain way for the client so you might have your own editing process until about a year and a half ago my editing process was to merge my layers now I try not to do that as much as possible and thinks tow learning how to pin a curve layer to my image is much better doubt so I have been learning how to edit for the client and all of this was because I had a client where I did not edits than they could see what the process was and that was a mistake I ended up needed to go back in the image and do something all over again but I couldn't because I didn't have my layers separated so that meant that I had to then start from beginning put the whole image composite together again and then do something differently so are you going to edit for your client is not important to you or are you going to edit how you add it and then just say this is it this is how I do it take it or leave it I'm not saying that one is better than the other I'm just saying that one perhaps allows a little bit more security and then the other so then we have the process and the process allows you to explain how you work to the client so understanding how you work who will allow somebody else to understand how you work a little bit better it makes people feel at ease I find so if I explain myself enough about what the process is going to be like then people are generally a lot more comfortable when we begin the shoot especially with clients that I'm working directly with so if somebody has commissioned a portrait then I'm going to be really honest about everything that's going to happen I'm going to say ok I'm going to take a picture of you on this hill then I'm going to take a picture of an umbrella over here and then it's all going to come together and all you need to worry about is is posing and we're just making sure you like yourself in these images that way they know that they can't expect anything to begin with it's going to take a little bit of time down the road to see the final picture and they have a complete understanding of what's about to happen and then always be open about how many skills you have I used to think that clients would not want to work with me if I didn't say that I knew how to do everything in photo shop so I felt like I would lie to people but I wouldn't offer up my limitations to people right off the bat but I have since stopped doing that so right when somebody comes to me let's say it's a book cover and they say which this just recently happened they said I want a new image where it looks like somebody is falling through some floorboards I could have said I don't know how to do that or I could have been a little bit more in depth and said I'm not sure if I could make that happen but I'm going to do a test shoot for you and I'm going to try to see how it's going to work so now instead of just saying I can't do that or I don't know how to do that or whatever something really definitive I'll say I'd be happy to do a test shoot for this and then we'll see how it goes if it's coming together and that way I get some practice in a swell it's not really something that I would charge for it's just something that makes me feel butter and makes the client feel better because now we've built this trust where I'm going to do work for you and I don't expect anything from it and you're going to be able to see what's being produced from that so I find that to be a really nice way of sort of working with a client and then I want to be able teo sell images to a client without then messing something up later so I want to be able to sell that image and be very very confident in the fact that it is a good clean image they could do what they need to do with it and by giving them that file sometimes even the psd file they're going to be able to break down those layers and see a really solid image come together talking about pricing pricing avery nothing to talk about as we all know but let's try so I tried to account for my hours spent which just like anything with pricing you always have to account for that how long is this actually going to take you how long do you need to make it happen is the shooting process really rigorous do you have to do many different reshoots to make it happen all of these things have to go into pricing and we'll talk about this in a bit a cz well but that also has to go into your contract so if you are creating for somebody and then they're going to then own that picture then he probably won't have a contract in place to say where they can put that picture what they could do with that picture if they can edit that picture things like that and then I set a limit for how many re edits I'm willing to dio which I have definitely learned my lesson about so I have had a client before where I've had teo do gosh I would say probably thirty re edits and it gets to the point as we all know that it's just not plausible I mean there's no way that we could just continuously re at it something over and over and over again and in this particular case the image wasn't even ever used so in that kind of a situation because I didn't have a contract I didn't really have a release saying I know where this image is going to go I know how they're going to edit this image if they take it further I know that I don't have to do this many re edits and that's the kind of thing that I tend to break a little bit if we're being honest so if a client says you know if I say to a client you get three re edits and then they come back a fourth time and say can you just tweak this last thing that of course I'm going to do that but if it seems like it's going to be a chronic re editing problem then I'm going to cut it off and just say this is it and I'm really sorry that we couldn't get there but you know I'm not going to continue this process because it's a little bit painful to continue that process stock images now this image we talked about before we talked about the editing of that imagine this is the shot that I ended up using to create that hole so that's just kind of a nice little you know throw back to what we talked about earlier but that was a stock image that I purchased so I purchased that stock image and then I added it into this image and I was allowed based on the terms and conditions of the stock too then sell that image that's something that I am very strict about I never want to essentially get caught with my pants down because that's a really awful thing so I don't want to you know find an image on google use it and then say well I hope nobody notices because chances are somebody's going to notice at some point so I'm not going to make that mistake I want to absolutely purchase my stock and just make sure that that is something that is going to hold the image together through and through so never assume that you can use a picture if you didn't take it yourself even if I borrow stock from friends I still have a release saying you can use this picture because you never know when a relationship's going to go south or something bad's gonna happen and I don't want to get stuck in that situation either and I just shoot my own stock I mean I go everywhere I shoot stock everywhere I know you're just in the back shooting stock that was a great idea gave me an idea to do that so I shoot textures I shoot birds I shoot mountains my goodness I shoot everything as much as I possibly can and now I shoot holes in walls because you never know what you're going to need something like that so when I'm shooting stock as we've already talked about a shoot multiple angles of everything low angle straight on high angle and that way I couldjust be certain that it's going to fit into any image that I needed to fit in so there's some things that I haven't quite gotten yet like I really need a new image of a goldfish for an upcoming picture that I'm editing and I had to buy stock I mean I could not find a goldfish I probably could find a goldfish but this goes into the whole animal rights thing that we really don't need to talk about right now but I got a stock image fitch so that's an example of how currently editing something like that and if I'm working with a client and I'm creating something for a client that I'm always going to ask them first how they feel about purchasing stock images because you never know your your client maybe it's a big publishing company and then they say we're not comfortable with the purchasing of stock we want you to have all the images yourself has never happened before but you never know because it wouldn't be out of the question I wouldn't think that's weird if they said that so I just always ask first before buying something and then you know you're out thirty bucks because you just bought a picture okay so editing for the client this is how I tend to edit for my client I try to preserve as many layers as possible so I tried to edit where I have every little detail on a separate layer and this could be really good especially if your client isn't used to photoshopped files or maybe they don't really know how a curve works or something like that when I read it I tend to dio like let's say I'm adding contrast will do occur for contrast then let's say I want to add red I do another curve for red I do another curve for greene I do you know another exposure curve then I try to do them each and tiny little separate layers so that when a client is looking at a file they could just peel back each little individual change that I made and then they can see what's happening individually because that way it's not just a matter of it being simple for them to turn the layers on and off but also if I just have one curve layer that has the contrast and the color and everything happening all at once then it will be a little bit difficult for them to see what each aspect is doing so if I mean they might come to me and say well something's wrong but I'm not sure what then if they just have one curve layer to pop on and off then they might not know what it is so if I do it in separate layers than they know exactly what the problem is because they can peel back that specific issue that they're having and then make sure that you can re edit in a clean way so that's what I was talking about with merging layers I'm not saying it's a bad thing to do I'm just saying continuously duplicate that layer so you have enough layers that you consort kill back some different changes that you've made in the process I think that it's really important to let everybody know that you know what you're doing as long as you do know what you're doing don't lie about it you'll be honest about what you know what you don't know and I like to do that through blogging and social media which I realized might be the same thing after I wrote that but I can't tell so I thought it was a bit ambiguous yeah slightly so anyways blogging in social media allow you to write in your own voice to put a voice to your images and to let people know your stance on different topics so because I have this is a great example actually because they have videos on youtube I had a client contact me that was a publisher because they saw my youtube videos and they said we saw how you edit your photos it would be great if you could do a book cover for us and that's just the kind of thing where because I'm putting that out there in the world hey I do this and I'm passionate about this then a client knows that I can do it and that I am passionate about it so I mean there's not much to say about that topic it's pretty straightforward but the fact is that if you're letting people know what you think about different topics than that means that potential clients will also understand what you think about different topics and then I try to sit share a little bit about what sets me apart or what sets my compositing apart or what sets my story apart for people and I don't do that in a way where I'm saying I'm different because baba block or my photos are great because of this because that's not what I think so instead of just saying something really really simple like I don't know what see like I created this image because I had this story in mind or the way that I shot this was this and it was really hard or it was really fun or you know something it's so subtle but it's still a way of letting people know my point of view and how I do something so I try to put that into social media I tried to put how I work different thematic elements in my work so maybe a concept maybe a different a theme that I really like working with whether it's life and death or decay or I don't know things like that that I tend to put in my work I want people to know that I want to tag my work with those things I want to put those keywords in my block post because when I'm being contacted let's say by a publishing company I don't want them to contact me and say can you take a head shot of somebody standing against a brick wall I mean I would never want that to happen because I don't shoot like that so I'm going to put those keywords and my images I want them to email me and say I want you to do a fairytale inspired photo shoot because that's what I do so I'm trying to do that whenever I write about my work and then also a visual style make sure that you really promote that although I hate that word when it comes to stuff like this but make sure you talk about what it is that your visual style is so you know use those keywords used I would use words like rich color red fabric forrest you know just stuff like that different things that indicate a visual element to my work all right so what is it about your compositing that sets you apart one might be how you work so how were you putting those images together is that unique to what you do doesn't have a specific um I don't know detail about it that somebody else might find fascinating and just like I mentioned before with renee doing and caustic that's a really good example of that of how that would be a fascinating thing to hear about you know to hear about the process that she goes through to make each print unique and to make each one a separate entity that you know nobody else will have this kind of image so if you're doing something like that let people know because it just makes them feel a little bit more special when you are selling your images so an answer to this for me is that I work quickly and I take up very little time for my client those air two elements that for me I don't know if it sets me apart from everybody but certainly it's unique to my process certainly that's something that a client would one you know and so I talk about that I talk about how a shoot's going the last ten to fifteen minutes I talk about how I don't take very many pictures so that my client knows that when they're hiring me I'm not going to be on set with them for two days I'm going to be on set with them for thirty minutes and we're going to be done and that's it so that's something that I think is important and then a thematic elements now I focus on dark work fairy tale inspired imagery things like that that's something that I want my clients to know that they can't necessarily expect something very happy for me and that's been working in my favor because generally I get clients who want something a little bit darker and that's specifically why they're approaching me to do this kind of work well visual styles hidden there but that's okay because my visual style is dark it's fairy tale inspired it's very textured very painterly all of these things that you know people might want to know because that might be relevant to their product or their project or whatever they're working on pitch package preparing a pitch package does not have to be very labor intensive but I can't tell you how helpful it is to have a pdf that you khun send somebody that gives them all the info they might need to know about something so instead of dealing with every email where it's like okay I'm going to get together these pictures when they have confidence in what I'm doing instead just prepare this package that you khun just send out and just say hey um you know thank you so much for emailing me and I would love to work on your project here's a little example of how I work and then you could just send them a pdf for document how everyone including some of these things for an after image is in my case or really great thing to send because as you can see here with this before and after image that that image is showing what my process is like so you can see that I'm not doing it all at once I am doing a fair amount of photo shop to the image and so that allows the client to see that it's not going to look like that when we finish the shoot there's no way that that it's going to happen so it lets them know exactly what the process will be like and then a short summary of how you work so that's when I would go back to that other slide and say things like I tend to work really quickly taking very few images and then do a lot of the work in post processing I liketo work very heavily with my client for coming up with concepts and making sure that the image is unique teo your project so in saying those things very very quickly short summary they know pretty much everything they need to know that it's going to be quick I'm going to do a lot of the work and photoshopped they're not going to see what they need to see right away but that I'm going to work with them to come up with a concept and a theme so that's just sort of instilling some confidence in them and then behind the scenes images I think are really great because what behind the scenes images allowed toe happen is they see that they're not going to be comfortable doing this shoot I don't let my clients know that we're going to be in a studio and you're gonna have a heater for your feet and somebody's going to be found in your hair heck no so we're going to be in the mud we're going to be in the dirt you were going to get messy you we're going to have an experience it's not going to be a regular photo shoot so they all know that and I just got the sweetest email from a client just saying that the most special part to her of our photo shoot was just doing it was the experience of going out into the swamp and you know having a good time like that so I thought that was a really lovely thing to say so this reveals your workflow if I am sharing behind the scenes images then they can see that we're on the beach we are working with rope things are happening right there on set on location that's something really great so they know exactly what it looks like to be there for the shoot not just what the image look like but what is the entire scene that we're creating so this is just unedited video that I coincidentally shot at my last creative life class and when I was editing this I was thinking well obviously just wanted to share it because I shot it on creative lives so I wanted to share that process a little bit but another big part of this was doing everything that I just said about the pitch package in one video so you could see what it was like you could see where the location was you could see that somebody was in there helping tio create the image but then you also get to see what it was like to edit so how much I'm willing to do to a picture what that editing process looks like and then they just get a really really good sense of exactly what that process is so if this were a client let's say that somebody hired me to shoot a commissioned portrait for them then my client can expect to sit in a room full of flour and have pieces of paper thrown off their face simeon typical right so that's what they can expect and then they can also see the detail that's going into the shot so when I am editing an image I'm always zooming in zooming out taking a look at what's happening and you can see that in this video where I'm very clearly moving in on the subject's face taking a look at the eyes changing really small details like when the eyes turned blue and because I'm doing that then they might think oh well maybe she can do that for me you know maybe she can enhance my eyes maybe she could put makeup on my face maybe she could do all these different things in photo shop and in doing that I'm still I'm going to toll the client exactly what can be don't know what can't be done I'm not going to be dishonest about that by any means but at the same time I just want to make really really sure that they see that process in some form thank you video

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Logic Checklist
Must Have Shots
Favorite Photoshop Tools
Lighting Effects
Practice Files - Cutting out Hair from Background
Practice Files - Building a Dress
Practice Files - Swapping Hand
Practice Files - Levitation
Adorama Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Logan Fox

I'm so thrilled to have come across this course and to have been introduced to Brooke Shaden. As a bit of background I do photography as a hobby, and always had an appetite to composite my work. It's only after watching this course that I can finally put a name to a craft that I love, that being 'fine art photography'. Through my own personal journey I've read various books, followed online tutorials both paid and free. When I came across this course I did hesitate. I wondered 'is it going to teach me anything new'... 'would the standard of the course be up to scratch'. Well, I can honestly say with hand on heart that this is by far is one of the best courses I've come across to date. As a solo photographer myself I've found it difficult at times to be both photographer and subject at the same time. From the outset what became clear was that Brooke is just like me in this respect which made the course so 'relevant' to what I do. Brooke shows throughout the course what can be achieved with a little planning and some creative approaches to situations that can be difficult to pull off when on your own. She is such a joy to watch and listen to, I loved her sense of humor and great how the audience were involved in some of the shoots. All I can say is, if you're in to photography and interested in compositing your work, you should give this a go, you wont regret it!


I'd like to show my gratitude and gratefulness to Ms Shaden and other wonderful people at CreativeLIVE for sharing your vast knowledge without making a fuss. Not everybody has a super computer and a top-notch camera, not everyone has a studio to work in and not everyone needs to know everything as perfectly as some instructors and professionals do. I, for one, have gained so much insight and have been intrigued by Ms Shaden's present and past lessons, she makes the most difficult and surreal subjects unfold so easily and effortlessly. Ms Shaden has made me believe no matter where I be and no matter what i have, as long as i have a good story to tell, and the right vision, I should be able to handle it with a working camera and any version of Photoshop. Unlike many other instructors who kill us every 5 minutes to buy their flashes or gear and support this or that company and agency, Ms Shaden has spent the whole time teaching and teaching and teaching and I am sorry I cannot be there to thank you in person, but you, Ms Shaden, are awesome and nobody can unawesome you :)


Brooke has a wonderful way of not only making it all look so easy, but actually be easy. In a plain and down to earth manner, she can make both beginner and advanced pro comfortable with the material covered in this class. From a simple starting point to a polished post-production finished work of art, she takes us on a relaxed and joyous journey. I am a former professional commercial photographer returning to the art after a 30 year absence. When I left, there was no such thing as digital photography. Now, to be able to embrace such concepts and techniques as taught by Brooke, without any difficulty to me, says that this course provides great value and time well spent. Well done Brooke! Well done Creative Live!

Student Work