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

David Strauss's picture

Nothing is currently in the works for this but we will keep it open as an idea to pursue.

El tutorial, tiene subtítulos en español?

David Strauss's picture

No. Lo siento.

Oh please is there any special discount for student😢, this is rather high for me and I really want to learn

David Strauss's picture

There is no student discount currently but keep an eye out on the site. We have big sales a few times each year. If you have signed up for the site you should receive our emails which will notify you of sales.

This is very cool and all but... like... the *very first* sentence.. "I'm Clay Cook and I'm a.. editorial photographer".. a editorial?! Grammar 101? It's the first sentence.. anyone checking this stuff? :(

Konrad Sarnowski's picture

Dang, this sounds awesome, but the price... (to get the idea how it looks in Poland, just multiply it four times...) Anyway, Clay was a huge inspiration for me in terms of shooting in home studio - thanks, Clay! :)

Jason Lorette's picture

Love to have this as the preview is awesome, but $299, wish we could buy it in sections.

Angela Mazur's picture

This looks better when Mastered course with Nick Knight I did!!! I wanna join! Is this just collection of tutorials? Or will be any interactions apart of Facebook group?
Thank you
Www.angelamazur.com

David Strauss's picture

Hi Angela,
This is the only course we've produced with Clay Cook but we have a variety of other tutorials with different instructors that form a broader collection of educational material. With each tutorial, there is a private Facebook group that you can be a part of to discuss your directly with the instructor and other students.

Duke Pham's picture

Just bought it. Downloading now... Can't wait to watch.

How many hours of coverage would you say there is of just shooting setups itself? Lighting etc. (not editing, business, and the other stuff). Thanks!!

Patrick Hall's picture

That's hard to quantify. I'd say there is at least 1 hour just on using natural light, reflectors, scrims, and flash outside so I'm not sure if that qualifies as "shooting setups" but it is important information. I'd guess all in all about 3 hours is on location actually shooting with post processing making up a big part of the tutorial and business rounding out the remaining part. Hope that makes it a little more clear

Karl-Filip Karlsson's picture

Of course iam very interest in the retouch he do, but for me is focus getting client as company big and small ones. is this the course right for me then to get knowledge to get there??

Patrick Hall's picture

It should definitely help you. Clay is in a relatively small market (Louisville, KY) and he has done an amazing job getting clients from Chicago to Nashville and other cities around his home base. He talks a lot about marketing, making bids, setting up contracts, and a lot of emphasis is on his favorite social media marketing tools. At the end of the day, there isn't some silver bullet piece of knowledge that is going to make you successful and Clay is a great example of someone who gives a lot of attention to every element that eventually comes together to form a successful business.

Keep in mind, we have a 100% satisfaction guarantee so if you watch the whole thing and don't feel like it has helped you let us know.