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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55 Comments

Patrick Hall's picture

Hey Fritz, these "group buys" are not permitted by our terms of service and each tutorial purchase is meant for only one person. It seems harmless with one or two people but then it quickly escalates to 10 people and then eventually people just want it for free which is just not fair to the instructors and everyone who has poured a ton of time and resources into creating these tutorials.

Fritz John Asuro's picture

I understand. It's good to know.
Thanks for the reply.

Christopher Morato's picture

Does this tutorial include a section on Posing?

David Strauss's picture

We didn't dedicate a specific section to posing but in the majority of the shoots throughout the tutorial Clay positions his model very intentionally and works with the model's pose.

Only thing I'm limited to is wallet and sanity. I can't justify paying $300 for a single course. If you had a subscription model like 90% of other learning sites have, then you probably have a lot more "sales" or income than you currently have because more users could afford it. In this economy people can't slam $300 on table for a course. You can say it's all worth it and stuff, but people simply can't afford it.. I'm not afraid of saying that I can't afford it.. Thats just reality.. Even if I save up $300 then I can't justify putting $300 on table for one single course as a one-time investment. Repeating myself but, I want to watch but I can't see myself spending $300 on a single course - ever. I could maybe pay like $100 pr year or so, wouldn't that be more logical? In 3 year I would pay more than I currently have paid (zero) and you reach A LOT more people that suddenly can afford to watch your courses. Until then, good luck selling it. I hope you go subscription before you go broke.

Patrick Hall's picture

Hey Alex, I totally understand that. The reason we don't have a subscription service is, well, we don't have THAT many tutorial products to offer that would feel fair for a subscription. Maybe in the future we will have something like that though. The way I justify spending money on education is to compare it with live workshops. Most of the workshops from a well respected photographer is going to be $1000-$2000 for a 2-3 days class pre travel and accommodations. I have no doubt that you can learn a ton of info from these in person workshops (we used to run one in the Bahamas) but the value you get with a digital download that you can rewatch over and over at your own pace is, IMO, a bigger bang for the buck. The reality is if we charged $100 a tutorial, we probably wouldn't have the return on investment to make most of these tutorials even possible. As our tutorial series increases though we will try to figure out how a subscription model could work and how to divide that income stream to each of the instructors who we have worked with (another can of worms).

avinash jai singh's picture

Just chose this tutorial over a live workshop, I hope this is worth it. cheers!

Patrick Hall's picture

Awesome! I think you will find a ton of value in the tutorial since you can watch it over and over and really soak up everything Clay explains. That being said, once you master everything in the tutorial, chances are you will wind up wanting to take a live class down the road too. They both have their advantages but the live workshops are def much more expensive.

It is obvious from these comments that Fstoppers would sell lot more of this tutorial if they would dropped the price. It reminds me the time where film studios began to sell their movies on VHS tapes for $89.99. They sold few, but, not as many as they would want. Profits just weren't rolling in. They did market research and found out that the high price of the tapes was the main reason of poor sales. They dropped the price to $19.99 - and made killing. They never looked back. It is simple marketing: lower price, reach wider demographic, sell more.

Robin Sommers's picture

I am exited about this as a self-taught photographer I sometimes by tutorials for better skills. Following this for a few months, hope you will have some end-of-year discount;-)