Clay Cook's Fashion and Editorial Portrait Photography

After beginning his career by building elaborate photography sets and lighting setups in his living room, Clay Cook now shoots fashion and editorial spreads all around the world. Contrary to most photographers, Clay learned to shoot his first images using only artificial light and only later incorporated natural light into his work. This has given him a broad understanding of how to shape the lighting from any scene into a beautiful image. 

Fstoppers.com has teamed up with Clay Cook to produce Fashion and Editorial Portrait Photography, an 11.5 hour long video tutorial on how to photograph high-end fashion and editorial pictures. In this video tutorial Clay explains everything about the workflow and techniques he uses to create his brilliant images. The tutorial is broken down into a progression of simple to complex lighting and shooting lessons. Whether you're just getting into editorial photography or are already a professional in this field, the scope of Clay's lessons provide plenty to learn from. 

In addition to covering his shooting techniques, every lesson comes with image files which let you follow along with Clay and his high-end retoucher, Jordan Hartley, as they retouch every final image from each lesson. Not only does he cover his shooting and retouching techniques, Clay also covers the gear he uses, set creation, collaborating with teams, and the business side of booking editorial and commercial jobs.

What's Covered in This Tutorial

Clay's Favorite Photography Gear

Before stepping out on location, Clay walks through each piece of gear he owns and explains why it is a vital part of his work. He also explains his tethering setup and workflow station that he uses both on location and in the studio. Each item is also listed on Clay's gear page

On Location Shooting 

The shooting lessons are designed to start simple and build in complexity. First, Clay begins by shooting in one of the harshest possible light conditions, hard sunlight. Although most photographers shy away from this difficult to use lighting, Clay demonstrates how you can use mid-day lighting to your advantage. Next, Clay teaches how you can use back-lighting, dappled light, and shade to further control the light illuminating your model. After covering natural light, Clay proceeds to incorporate various lighting modifiers into his setup including large scrims and small reflectors. In the final "mastering the basics" lessons, Clay begins combining both natural light and artificial light by incorporating a simple speedlite on and off his camera. 

Once the basics of natural light have been covered out on location, Clay invites you into his personal studio where he steps up the complexity. It is here where you will learn how to build unique sets and backgrounds using easily accessible materials found anywhere. The first studio lesson incorporates both studio strobes and natural light. As each photoshoot progresses, Clay shows you how to effectively use simple one light setups as well as how to build more complicated lighting schemes with a wide variety of light modifiers. Clay even throws in a lesson on how to create one of his signature color images using gels. By the end of these lessons, you will understand how Clay approaches his studio lighting as well as how he solves many of the common problems he is faced with on a daily basis. 

Working with a creative team is a huge part of Clay's process. Throughout the studio sessions, Clay brainstorms with his stylist, Project Runway's own Gunnar Deatherage,  and makeup artist Bethany Hood to create the most interesting images possible. This process offers invaluable insight into maximizing the talents of those you work with as well as seeing how Clay uses the strength of his own team to elevate the overall production. 

The on location shooting lessons conclude with Clay applying everything he has taught prior and applying it into two separate editorial shoots.  The first editorial session revolves around a single fashion image that involves three models.  

The second "mock editorial spread" takes you to Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby and one of Louisville's most iconic landmarks, where Clay photographs a local singer/songwriter couple for assignment. 

Post Processing with Jordan Hartley

At the end of the shooting portion of each lesson, Clay hands his images over to his high-end retoucher, Jordan Hartley, where each image is meticulously edited. Similar to the shooting techniques, Jordan works progressively through each raw file and explains various post production techniques he uses for his own photography clients. Both raw and jpeg image files are provided which allows you to follow along with Jordan as he demonstrates each step he takes to tweak color, exposure, texture, and skin issues.

Once Jordan finishes his retouch, he then sends each image back to Clay for a final color grade. It is in this final step where Clay explains the importance of giving your photography a specific "look" and walks you through the steps he takes to create his signature look. 

Business and Marketing

Perhaps some of the most valuable information in this entire tutorial is shared within the business lessons. Clay not only shares how he got started and became successful in the industry, he also offers business advice on pricing and marketing. He distinguishes between editorial and commercial work and gives examples of how he might price and invoice specific jobs based on their unique markets. Additionally, Clay covers a variety of ways to market yourself effectively as well as his tips on how to optimize your social media presence. In the final lesson, Clay sits down with Lee Morris from Fstoppers and talks about success and what it takes to get to the top in your own local market. 

This Download Includes

  • 11.5 Hours of Total Video Content (17.3 GB, 1080p 23.98fps h.264 mp4 files)
  • Clay's Entire Studio Gear Guide
  • 18 On-Location Lessons with Studio Post-Processing 
  • Tethering and Building a Portable Workstation
  • 6 Chapters on Business and Marketing
  • 5 Sample Estimates and Invoices
  • 19 RAW and JPEG Files from Each Shooting Lessons

  • Access to Clay's Private Facebook Group for Additional Private Mentoring

Download this 11.5 Hour Tutorial
$299.99
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52 Comments

Chris Adval's picture

Damn.... Lee, Patrick and Clay knows I would buy this instantly!!!! Damn damn! I gotta hold it off for at least a month or two... tear... Will share it once it goes public for sure guys!

Subtitulos en español?

Patrick Hall's picture

Unfortunately no. We spent a lot of resources translating Peter Hurley's first tutorial into Spanish and never made back the cost we paid the translator. Unfortunately very few of our readers do not speak English as at least a second language which makes it cost prohibited for us to translate these tutorials.

Jeff McCollough's picture

I'm one hundred percent fluent in Spanish. I am originally from California but now living in South America. If you guys are ever interested, I am willing to help out with any translation work for way cheaper than the translator you used before.

Patrick Hall's picture

The problem is 1) we did not sell a single copy of the translated tutorial and 2) I felt like the amount of work the prior translator did for the pay he agreed to was unfair in the end. So if we underpaid and never sold a copy then I don't think it's worth going down that road again. Now if someone wanted to translate it for free and they believed they could market it and sell a bunch of copies, I would be willing to work out a large profit share for them. But again, it makes no sense for us to pay anything for a translation when we haven't made a dime on the last one we did.

Tom Lew's picture

Yeah wow LOL #oops lesson learned.

Jeff McCollough's picture

That sounds interesting though. I wonder how long it would take me to translate it. Living in South America I know I could get a large amount of people interested.

Did you guys ever make English subs for any of the tuts?

Juil Yoon's picture

This looks amazing. Exactly what I've been looking for.
But unfortunately don't have the time/resources to commit to this right now, so I'll have to hold off for a bit.
Exciting stuff!

Clay I Gotta Say You Really have reshaped my way of thinking Photography When it comes to lighting and affects. @ClvvssyPhotography by:MyronEdwards

Dave Burbank's picture

I'm close to purchasing this as my first fstoppers tutorial. My only hesitation is I can't find any third-party reviews of this course. Probably because it's so new. Does anyone who's actually bought this course have any comments they wish to share?

Karl Whittaker's picture

Its great, I expected it to be good but its even better than expected and Ive only watched the first 12 videos

Ken Schmidt's picture

I purchased this today and have made it a little less than 1/3rd of the way through between trying to catch tourney games and scores. I would normally stay glued to the television watching tourney basketball but this had enough pull to keep me watching the tutorials. I can say, from my vantage, in just the 7 videos I have viewed, that I have learned enough to dramatically change my editing styles. I have traveled and taken shooting and editing classes (read small workshops) from some of the top togs in various genres and can compare this favorably. I have purchased 4 video series from FStoppers now, and without fail, they are in-depth and well done. They make following and re-creating the work you view and learn easy and intuitive. I cannot speak to the full gamut of teaching I will receive from this specific tutorial but I have seen enough to feel the purchase has already been worth it. To this point, there seems to be a good balance between shooting and post work to see what is put into the images which are presented as final. I hope this helps. The best part is the working files are available as part of the package and you can work along as they retouch or go back after it is all over and test your knowledge. FYI. I have no affiliation with FStoppers and not a fanboy. I have merely been pleased with each tutorial I have purchased.

Jeff McCollough's picture

Knowing Fstoppers and the quality of their videos this course will be great.

Michael Moon's picture

I've been following Clay on Instagram for at least the past couple of years or so. When I saw the email from FStoppers that this tutorial was out and available to purchase, I was pretty excited...unfortunately I wasn't home or anywhere I could check out the trailer until that night. After I made it home, I don't think I made it through the entire trailer before I pulled the trigger and bought it. I shoot mostly outdoors and wouldn't consider myself an amateur by any means but I still picked up a some tricks. What excited me most about this tutorial though is the studio/sets section and the business section. It's pretty incredible what he can do with such little space.

Ian Johnstone's picture

hi guys do you have any intention of offering a monthly/yearly subscription plan, i love what you are doing but want access to it all!