If you’ve ever lost someone. If you’ve ever found someone. If you’ve ever reached out hoping to find a hand to guide you. If you’ve wanted to save someone. If you’ve been saved by someone. If what you chase eludes you. If you’ve captured what you seek. If you’ve felt close to someone and so far all at once. If your footprints guide those behind you.

This is for you, and for me. I have chased and I have looked behind to see if anyone was following. I have wanted to lead and I have failed. I have guided and I have been guided. This is a portrait of myself and my sister. There is so much not said in the inches between our fingers. We are both reaching, we are both faltering, we are both trying. We are both connected. We are tied like a promise knot on our pinky fingers.

There are things that only she and I truly understand about each other. There are the inside jokes we’ve had since we were little – like how we always call or text each other at 10:07, or why I call her Sessy, or the importance of stuffing a whole blanket down your pants when pretending to be a squirrel – just to name a few. We have history, perhaps more with her than any other person in my life. We have hardships. We have love. And we understand each other better than we admit.

Last week was my mom’s birthday. Today is father’s day. She and I wanted to create a portrait of both of us to give to them during this time – a very important time, that perhaps one day I’ll share – and I wanted to share that connection that she and I have with you.

A picture is never just a picture. It is what cannot be said. It is what we feel. It is our essence. I am grateful to be a photographer and to know how to capture that spirit. I thank goodness that she and I could create this together.

  • June 19, 2016 - 7:10 am

    Margherita Introna - What a beautiful tribute and gift <3ReplyCancel

  • June 19, 2016 - 7:47 am

    Paulo Carvalho - Lovely! Like Margherita said, a beautiful tribute. I love, love this picture. Have a great week. <3ReplyCancel

  • June 19, 2016 - 8:56 am

    Fit BMX - Beautiful! What a wonderful gift.
    I really love that B&W photo, even though you guys aren’t any where near the focus point it works so well here! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • June 19, 2016 - 11:17 am

    Howard Frisk - Your photographs are magical! You have a gift, Brooke Shaden, to capture the essence of a moment in ways that few people can. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • June 20, 2016 - 1:11 am

    Teija - That is so beautiful and amazing gift to your parents <3ReplyCancel

When time stands still. When all eyes are on you but calmness sweeps through the air. When a smile can turn your whole day around. Those were the feelings I had when I jumped in the Melbourne bay at the Docklands as part of the Photography Symposium hosted by Anie and Yervant. I had a two hour time slot to talk about my greatest passions. I chose to speak on vulnerability, taking risks, and following your truest path. It only made sense that at the end I would put my words into action by facing a fear and diving head first (or in my case, feet first) into my passion.

I love speaking to a group who is so willing to share their voice with the world. The group that I spoke to in Australia was open, vulnerable, and left their pride at the door as we all shared and hugged and told of our yet unfulfilled dreams. It was magical for me. So many hugs, so many tears, so much love. And the best part? So many pieces of inspiration to draw upon for the future.

All 140 of us gathered at the dock where I said I’d jump in. As I walked over it occurred to me that I had no idea what was in that water, how deep it was, or how I would get out. But none of that mattered the moment I pressed the shutter on my camera and I jumped. I was at peace. Peace was something I was hard pressed for that day. My grandfather passed away the day before. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t want anyone to pity me that day. I just wanted to share my true self without anything clouding that. I was worried for my parents, I was sad for my sister who was with me on the trip, and my heart was heavy with a dozen other pieces of sadness that had washed upon my shore earlier in the month. But in that moment – supported by all those smiling faces – I jumped. And it felt so damn good.

Photo by Sue Davis.

Photo by Sue Davis.

Photo by Sue Davis.

Photo by Anie Zanazanian.

Photo by Anie Zanazanian.

Photo by Sue Davis.

Photo by Anie Zanazanian.

Here is a behind the scenes video for the photo shoot, captured by Amie Lambert!

  • May 28, 2016 - 10:31 am

    Julie Ray - How fun to see BTS video and pics! Always love seeing you in action. Thanks Brooke for all your inspiration. <3ReplyCancel

    • May 28, 2016 - 12:36 pm

      brookeshaden - Thank you for watching Julie!! <3ReplyCancel

  • May 28, 2016 - 12:34 pm

    Caz - Wonderful BTS images especially knowing the inner grief that you kept to yourself. I think your Grandfather must have looked on and kept you safe <3ReplyCancel

    • May 28, 2016 - 12:36 pm

      brookeshaden - That is incredibly nice of you to say <3 All my love.ReplyCancel

  • May 29, 2016 - 8:37 am

    Fit BMX - I am very sorry for your loss. It must have been very hard for you and your sister having something like this happen, while you were on the other side of the world. You and your family have my sincere condolences. (Hug)

    You looked like quite the tourist attraction standing out there! LOL
    Looks like it was a great time. Glad you didn’t freeze, or drown . And I love the finished photo. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • June 4, 2016 - 3:13 am

    Michelle Porter - Brooke you are the ultimate professionnal. I have no idea how you inspired us all under such sad circumstances. Peace is hard to come by sometimes – I’m glad you found it that day. Love to you and your sister. xxxReplyCancel

  • June 8, 2016 - 5:25 am

    Ruth - Brave heart floating. <3
    Love, RuthReplyCancel

  • June 8, 2016 - 9:36 pm

    Marta - Wow, that left me speechless. You seem to be otherwordly – so much kindness and strenght.ReplyCancel

We are almost into June! That means that the first half of the year is almost over. In some ways I don’t like counting down or up throughout the year, always trying to get to the next big event. But in other ways it serves as a great way of checking in with ourselves to ask the simple but profound question:

Am I doing what I love?

I made a vow this year that I would not create unless I felt compelled in some way to do so. That means no more creating because I think I should be, or taking pictures because I need to keep up with social media, or to keep myself relevant. If it doesn’t serve me, I don’t spend my energy on it. I’ve learned, slowly, to value my energy – physically and mentally – so that it truly serves my greatest purpose rather than serving someone else. When we let ourselves be fulfilled, we can better serve others.

Looking at the images I’ve created so far this year (plus three that I can’t share yet!) I feel energized. I don’t think I’ve achieved all of what I wanted to do yet (for instance, creating a more vibrant color palette, and incorporating locations I’ve never seen before). I do see progression though, specifically in “Percussion” and the two images following, since they utilize techniques and visuals I have never tried before. There are some “old hat” images, like three underwater pictures, but that isn’t necessarily bad. Sometimes we as artists feel like if we aren’t changing (often confused with challenging) then we aren’t truly creating art – but to me, sometimes the things that make you happy stick with you, and there is no shame in manifesting that through your work.

How do you feel your portfolio is shaping up this year?
Do you see a clear progression or style emerging for your 2016 portfolio?
Are you creating as much or as little as you want?
Does what you create reflect who you are or does it reflect someone else – a client, peers, etc.?

If I had to describe my work so far this year in keywords I would say: interaction/motion, isolated colors, searching, self-portraiture, ambiance, whimsy, feminine. 

If I had to describe what I want my work to look like in keywords: dark, other-worldly, conceptual…so those are things to work on!

"Withdrawal", self-portrait, May 2016

“Withdrawal”, self-portrait, May 2016

"Vibrations", self-portrait, May 2016

“Vibrations”, self-portrait, May 2016

"Underground Discoveries", model Stephanie Perez, January 2016

“Underground Discoveries”, model Stephanie Perez, March 2016

"The Silence", self-portrait, March 2016

“The Silence”, self-portrait, March 2016

"Revolve", self-portrait, April 2016

“Revolve”, self-portrait, April 2016

"Pierced", self-portrait, March 2016

“Pierced”, self-portrait, March 2016

"Percussion", self-portrait, January 2016

“Percussion”, self-portrait, February 2016

"Mirage", self-portrait, April 2016

“Mirage”, self-portrait, April 2016

"Heavy Hands", model Jen Brook, May 2016

“Heavy Hands”, model Jen Brook, May 2016

"Fleeing, pt. 3", model Sara Silkin, April 2016

“Fleeing, pt. 3”, model Sara Silkin, April 2016

"Fleeing, pt. 2", model Sara Silkin, April 2016

“Fleeing, pt. 2”, model Sara Silkin, April 2016

"Fleeing, pt. 1", model Sara Silkin, April 2016

“Fleeing, pt. 1”, model Sara Silkin, April 2016

"Brittle", self-portrait, April 2016

“Brittle”, self-portrait, April 2016

"Breath", self-portrait, February 2016

“Breath”, self-portrait, February 2016

"Finding Your Place Among the Stars", self-portrait, May 2016

“Finding Your Place Among the Stars”, self-portrait, May 2016

 

All of my 2016 images are available as fine art prints and are represented by the galleries listed on my website. 

2016 Sizes/Editions:

10×10″, Edition of 4
20×20“, Edition of 3
40×40″, Edition of 2
50×50″, Edition of 1
  • May 23, 2016 - 6:02 am

    Fit BMX - This is a very impressive set, considering this is only 2016 work!
    I think I am creating just as much as I like, so far the year has been going great. I have been going nuts creating ever since the 30 Days Challenge. Thanks! 🙂

    An as soon as my fortune comes, I am ordering every one of those prints! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • May 23, 2016 - 9:31 am

    Carrie Lopez - Your words ring so true in my thirsty soul. I’ve been doing a ton of images to build a suitable portfolio. Most of the time, I’m fine with the time and energy I put in because I love what I do and am energized with the motivation to get somewhere. I desperately want to share my images with as many people as possible. I’m actually on 6 different sharing platforms (Viewbug, Pixoto, ImageBrief, Flickr, YouPic and Facebook). While it can be overwhelming and time consuming, I keep thinking of my goals. Everyday, I review them, as well as my concept/inspiration journal. I’ve never wanted anything more than to be a true artist and while my formal training is so little and that affects my confidence, I know that with hard work, it could happen. I want it that bad! You are such a wonderful person and I can see myself in you (the compassion being the biggest similarity) and I have utilized it for the past 20 years in nursing but I want a change, I want to pursue something I’ve always loved but was too afraid to fail at. Keep up the fantastic journey- I will be watching and rooting you on every step of the way! I’m a great listener so if you ever need to talk, I’m here! ReplyCancel

  • May 23, 2016 - 9:34 am

    Carrie Lopez - Oh, AND… I also just dabbled with vibrant colors too! Just yesterday, I created a sunset/slight silhouette image! I actually kind of liked it!ReplyCancel

  • May 23, 2016 - 9:50 am

    Kristy - Always so inspiring!
    I have not produced anything this year. Not one thing. But I plan to change that here very soon.ReplyCancel

  • May 24, 2016 - 12:02 am

    Mari Nino - Hi, Brooke! ‘Percussion’ is my favorite out of yours 2016 pictures.

    This year I took approach to post more regularly. Previously I posted a picture along with the text and that all usually took much of time to release. So I tried to release some pictures with no text at all or with a small text (for instance, https://marininoart.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/1663/). But to be honest, I feel that I need to write more. It helps me to structuralize my thoughts, understand the world and myself better. I released 14 pictures so far. And here is my favorite from my 2016 images: https://marininoart.wordpress.com/2016/03/19/theatrical-drama/

    I think it is good idea to look back and find out whether you go along with your plans or not. I am not fully go long with them. Need to work on that this week.

    Have a nice day!ReplyCancel

  • May 25, 2016 - 11:24 am

    Dawn - It’s been a challenging year time wise. It’s flying by too quickly and trying to find time to create art and work on starting a photo business has been difficult. But the more I dive into it, the more I want to do it. So I guess it’s time to find time. I love your artwork, it is so inspiring and amazing from someone so young. You must have an old soul. 🙂ReplyCancel

Have you ever accomplished something and then immediately felt guilty for your achievement? Or been praised for your accomplishment and then felt like you had tricked the world into giving you praise, when there is no way that YOU, of all people, could deserve it?

That is the work of impostor syndrome, something that I, along with many creative people, suffer from. It is our way of letting self-doubt pierce our confidence. It is the excuse for not accepting our greatness. My video below says it all, or at least all of my thoughts on the matter. The bottom line is simple:

What is causing the thought that we don’t deserve to be successful, and how can we stop it?

What do you love about yourself?
How can you be that person even more?

Share with me your experience with impostor syndrome below!

  • May 18, 2016 - 2:14 pm

    Paulo Carvalho - Hello Brooke!
    Another great post that left me speechless! And I understand perfectly well what you say. To tell the truth I not like to talk about me very much. Perhaps because of this syndrome, that I’ve never heard! I confess! I think what I like best about me, it’s this simple way of living every moment I live. This simplicity that makes me believe in people and allows me to create bonds of friendship easily. I’m not a person who closes the door to people who I just met. And although sometimes of having people who disappoint me, I prefer to continue to believe. As for the “Why not?” It was exactly this question I asked myself when I started my current project. 🙂 XOXOReplyCancel

  • May 18, 2016 - 2:59 pm

    Nikki Mulkern - Hi Brooke,
    This post again came at such an amazing time. I have made so many changes, but this week I made two huge ones!! One was that I would create art and fine art portraits full time, I have still been photographing family sessions still and once my last one is done in Oct, than I will no longer be offering those style of sessions, which was a huge moment for me because I literally felt like an impostor doing something that I no longer wanted to do, because I am a people pleaser.
    It’s hard for me to answer what do I love about myself? I think I give back a lot, but it feels weird to say that. How can you be that person even more? This was the other decision I had made this week. For the past 5 years I have a certain amount of mini session fundraisers that I do and I donate all the proceeds to The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada in my Mom’s name ( She passed away June 5th 2011 of a brain tumour ) I have decided this will be my last year of doing them, and it was such a hard decision to make, but I wanted more time to do something more for others. When my Mom passed away one of the first things I created, even before the fundraising mini sessions, was the R.M.K Session ( that was what I used to call it ) which is something so very near and dear to my heart, but because of my workload, I was unable to keep up with it. I wanted to bring it back, and I decided to do just that, it’s called the Renate Kebbert Memorial Session. When my Mom was sick, I only took a few photographs and they were of her and my boys, none of me and her and none at the hospital where I was savoring every moment I had with her, and that is one of my Biggest Regrets, that I didn’t just photograph her, the details of her face, her hands, my family members with her, the good the bad and the ugly of it all!! It might sound strange, but I would give anything to have all those moments and memories that I could look at whenever I wanted to! So that made me realize that I need to offer this again to those that are going through the same things that my Mom went through, and that I went through. It’s a free session for others that are themselves or have a family member that is critical/terminally ill. I feel like this can help others through a very difficult time and maybe help them heal, or at least that is my hope. Ok, sorry this is so long winded but your post really got to me today!!
    You are as amazing as always!! xoxoReplyCancel

    • May 20, 2016 - 6:37 am

      Fit BMX - You sound like a beautiful person. (Hug)
      To me you should always do what makes YOU happy, that is what makes a life great. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • May 18, 2016 - 7:57 pm

    Cristina L Baker - I feel this way a lot. Especially being a jack of all trades. I just posted a blog today with a similar message of “why not?!” Always a great reminder. Thanks Brooke! Excited for the convention in September.ReplyCancel

  • May 19, 2016 - 6:03 pm

    Scott Ungerecht - Hi, Brooke!

    I loved watching your video and listening to you talk about impostor syndrome. What I love most about myself are my natural skills as a photographer and a photo artist. I love how I can transform or create my digital photo paintings by using my pictures or by using royalty-free stock photos I find on the Internet.

    I also love how kind, warm, generous, understanding and gifted I am in a wide variety of things, from creative writing and photography to creating original music in my mind and playing it successfully on my electronic keyboard at home.

    I’m also an amateur filmmaker, too. In fact, I just mailed a letter this morning to the Department of the Army’s Office of the Chief of Public Affairs, Western Region (OCPA-West), which is the entertainment industry’s direct liaison to the United States Army. Its primary purpose is to assist film, television, video and video game professionals in all matters relating to the United States Army.

    In my letter, I wrote about my interest in creating a real-life documentary film about the hardships injured Army recruits must face and overcome while recuperating from an accidental physical injury sustained during basic combat training.

    I want to show the public specifically how injured recruits demonstrate the Seven Army Values to help them overcome mental and physical challenges so they can return to basic combat training and eventually graduate as a soldier.

    As far as I know, there are no civilian filmmakers who have created a real-life documentary on this subject, and I want to be the first to do it. My motivation in creating this documentary is not about earning profit but to tell a compelling factual story about injured Army recruits overcoming their injuries, and what it takes for them to do so in a basic combat training environment.

    I also believe I am the best qualified civilian to interview Army personnel and recruits and to create and direct my documentary film. I have 12 years of experience as a photographer in the private sector, and I have prior first-hand knowledge and expertise in the Army as a formerly injured recruit serving at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri from March 10 -September 20, 2005. I’m also an honorably discharged veteran.

    So, I’m challenging myself to be more of the person I am today by taking a bold risk to see if the Army will allow an amateur filmmaker like me to create a real-life documentary about a subject that has never been filmed before in a basic combat training environment. I’ll keep you posted and let you know what happens.ReplyCancel

  • May 19, 2016 - 10:08 pm

    Sergio Anguiano - I like being able to trust myself recently and I want to continue learning to trust myself by going on adventures of whatever magnitude and shake off the fear of getting out of my comfort zone.ReplyCancel

  • May 20, 2016 - 6:48 am

    Fit BMX - I never realized that I do this until you posted this Brook’s.
    I really haven’t had to much of this problem with my photography, because I really don’t show it to many people, but I do this with my woodcarvings all the time. I will spend a month carving a figuring, and then when someone says how great it looks, I instantly think it isn’t good enough, that I could do better. I have finished a carving and then have my family tell me it looks great, and I think it is so poorly done, that I have thrown the carving into the woodburner went back to the bench and started over.
    Also when I help others just to be kind, and if someone says how good it is of me to have done that, then I suddenly feel like I am only helping so people will compliment me.
    When I get this out into the open it seems really dumb! LOL
    Thank you for making me confront this! (Hug) 🙂ReplyCancel

  • May 28, 2016 - 10:37 pm

    Brad - Thank you, Brooke. Powerful message that I really needed to hear right now.

    I just finished up a book for Amherst Media – I struggled the entire time with the voices in my head telling me that I was fooling myself thinking anyone cared what I had to say – that there are better experts out there.

    I fought through it, but it has drained me.ReplyCancel

  • June 20, 2016 - 2:39 pm

    Jean-Marie Sánchez - Thank you so much. I’ve been feeling like this basically all my life. Struggling with with trying to be ok with compliments and praise while feeling like I don’t deserve them and feeling like a freak thinking that I’m the only one feeling like this. It’s exhausting but hearing about it from you has made me open my eyes. Thank youReplyCancel

“Finding Your Place Among the Stars”, self-portrait, May 2016

A lot (and I mean an alarming lot) of people I know feel like they have no significance in this world. I’m not saying they are depressed necessarily, but that they simply don’t know what they are meant to do. They try out hobbies here and there but never commit to a passion. They complain about not knowing what they are good at without really trying. And the biggest thing connecting them all? They are unique individuals, but none of them see themselves that way.

I think there are two problems at play: laziness and lies. The biggest lie is that we are told we are meant to do something special. How is this a lie? Because it indicates that we are meant to do one singular thing with our time; we are meant to find our greatest passion and the thing we are best at and transform that into a life-changing event. It puts pressure on us to narrow down our being into a singularity, when in fact no one is so one dimensional. We should be encouraged to find anything that makes our hearts sing and to pursue all of those things no matter if they ever change the world or not. Success takes momentum, and we get there by acting on even the smallest things that give us joy and letting it build.

How are we lazy? Simple. We rarely really and truly try to find what makes us special. We are spoiled into thinking our talents and passions come to us rather than us having to chase after them. We have hobbies that are fun but we don’t ask ourselves how we can take that further. We have things that we love doing but we assume we can’t make a living at it. We are chronic low-ballers. We choose a life free of risk in the hope that safety will provide us with what we want. We expect everything on a timetable, and that isn’t all our fault. We are taught what we are supposed to do by certain age brackets and if we don’t make it, we think we failed.

There is no time limit to finding your worth. Take as much time as you need.

The biggest life-changers are those who are multi-faceted. They channel their interests into serving a greater good.

Take Oprah for example. Would anyone believe that her greatest passion is hosting a talk show? Of course not! Her passion seems to be bettering others through honesty, healing and health. She has a greater mission, one that all of her endeavors aim to satisfy.

I won’t put myself in Oprah’s category, but my interests are photography, writing and filmmaking (so far!). Are those my great life calling? Definitely not. I want to inspire others to create the lives of their dreams through imagination and fearless art. My interests serve my greatest passion.

If you are someone who feels insignificant, you might be questioning right now how anyone gets over that hump and feels that they have something to offer. I promise you I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, being told that I was going to change the world (still working on that, though). For me, the proof is in the action. I can talk about doing, or think about changing, or want to be different, but until I do it the rest is just folly. The moment I started creating the art I wanted to create, with the message I wanted to send, people started responding. When we find our authentic voice it is not easy for others to ignore it.

My biggest fear in life is not living up to my potential. I would rather fail countless times than get to the end of my life never truly having tried. People lead by action. You doing something that takes risk or moves you closer to your passion is a mirror for everyone around you. It makes them want to take action and achieve their passions. The best gift you can give to someone is to simply do. It is the most powerful word in the English language to me. DO. It is an action, a command, a calling. It is what happens when we stop making excuses or believing the lies we’re fed. It is our journey. Chase it.

 

 

Image: “Finding Your Place Among the Stars”, self-portrait, May 2016.
Available as limited edition prints on fine art paper, 20×20 inches & 40×40 inches.
Contact for more details about print purchases or image licensing.

 

  • May 12, 2016 - 7:58 am

    robin spalding - brooke seriously you are so incredible everything you say is so wise and hits me to heart everytime! i also know a few people that this post would mean soo much to i have to go share with them! thank you so much for sharing all your wisdom!ReplyCancel

  • May 12, 2016 - 9:25 am

    Mary-Claire - We often believe what we perceive to be true based on things that have happened in our past. Why we think that we’re not smart or talented enough is something that often needs to be delved into by examining our thoughts and from where they came.

    That examination often is painful, so we choose to continue to believe that we are not special, that we are not worthy. I believe we need to always dig deep to find the source of our negative thoughts, process them and learn to push past the barriers that keep us down.

    It is, indeed, our journey!
    p.s. I love the photo!ReplyCancel

  • May 12, 2016 - 9:46 am

    Kim Forman - You are so right!

    Why do we have this belief that we need to find that ONE THING? I let that lie drag me down for far too long. I finally figured out that my passion is in following my heart to whatever it is directing me to at the moment.

    Now, rather than being ashamed of my “lack of focus”, I celebrate my diversification.

    Thank you for this beautiful post! <3ReplyCancel

  • May 12, 2016 - 5:20 pm

    Tara Spicer - Ah, so wise master yoda… I think I need a little Brooke Shaden whispering in my ear about now… thank god I am booked into your master class next week!ReplyCancel

  • May 13, 2016 - 12:59 am

    Erik Vrolix - This is the message that says it all… I am speechless, and so convinced. Will share it with as many people as possible. Thanks so much for it, for the reminder really, because I am sure that we all know, deep inside, that this is true and the way we should live.ReplyCancel

  • May 13, 2016 - 5:11 pm

    Fit BMX - Wonderful post, thank you! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • May 14, 2016 - 10:03 pm

    johna rohn - Thank you…I sure needed this reminder.ReplyCancel

  • June 8, 2016 - 4:46 am

    Ceri - Amen. You’re amazing!ReplyCancel