I believe that inspiration is the heart of fulfillment.
That being inspired means living a meaningful life.
That when we are inspired, we can create art with impact.

Some people are naturally inspired. I am one of those people. I thank the stars everyday that I can find inspiration in anything. Over time I have discovered what a gift it is to be inspired, and I want to do everything I can to spread inspiration to others.

I know that it is distributed unevenly, that it is more difficult for some people to find than others.

I have learned to cultivate inspiration when I can’t find it naturally. So, I made a video about some fun ways to do that, and some practical tips, too:

This video is a little longer than usual, so here is a time code breakdown:

00:00 – Introduction
00:55 – Tip 1: Working with no budget
01:08 – Behind the scenes photo shoot
04:57 – Tip 2: Daydreaming
05:58 – Tip 3: Metaphor Dice
08:46 – Tip 4: Have a mission statement
10:05 – Tip 5: Complete a daily writing prompt
11:47 – Bonus tips
15:15 – Outro
15:50 – Extra metaphor options for this week’s challenge

If you’re interested in the poet Taylor Mali and his Metaphor Dice, click here!

Share your favorite tools for finding inspiration!

Will you try any of these that I mentioned?

Which metaphor will you create from?!

 

  • July 9, 2018 - 6:34 am

    Gallagher Green - I loved this video! I always use stuff from around my house, and as luck would have it, I have a LOT OF JUNK! LOL So there is always something to use. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I am working on the editing of a photo right now that I used a double-headed battle ax in, I made the ax when I was like 12 or 13 years or for a Halloween costume. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Can’t wait for next weeks video.ReplyCancel

  • July 9, 2018 - 7:35 am

    Stacy Honda - Thank you so much for this Brooke!!! Life stuff has been getting in the way of having any creativity for months now, or at least acting on it. I woke up this morning thinking about how I need to find inspiration and do something with it or I’m going to wither away!! And here you are with wonderful tips! I totally agree with the organization and being free of clutter. I think that’s my biggest obstacle at the moment because I moved recently and my work space is still a mess : (
    After creating the space to work, taking walks usually helps me to clear my head and daydream. I also like to look at photos and things from my past and go through old memories. Nostalgia often gets my mind flowing in a different space.ReplyCancel

  • July 9, 2018 - 2:42 pm

    Paulo Carvalho - Hi Brooke! I use your first two tips very often. For everything. And I must say I loved the third tip: Metaphor Dice. Awesome! I think I will get one. I also like to list and write, but what I really like is to walk around and observe what surrounds me in a non-obsessive way. Without waiting, inspiration reveals itself in the most insignificant and least expected things. xoxoReplyCancel

  • July 10, 2018 - 11:26 am

    Anna D Bruce - I finally watched this one! Can we just talk about how awesome those Dice are! What a great kickstarter. I love the daily writing prompts too. For me, being in a space that “feels” good is critical. I constantly change my workspace because sometimes it just gets stale and feels blah. I also stay inspired by going to new places and adventuring. Additionally, reading helps a lot too and daydreaming (as you said). Love you Brooke!ReplyCancel

Revelation: The thing that surprises me the most about my art is how little I surprise myself.

Terrible revelation, I know. I’m in the process of fixing that. In a few weeks I’ll be locking myself in a house to experimentally create the darkest art I can. And, a few days ago, I challenged myself to stop caring so much about what comes out of my photo shoots. I took my Instax Mini camera out and shot with instant film, experimenting, and trying to woo my past adventurous creative soul out to play.

It worked! I had an incredibly fun time creating with no boundaries, no expectations.

I went into the shoot with no plan, just a vague idea of what could be done with my little orange camera. After a couple of frames, I decided I might try some mixed media. Instead of something shot entirely on that little film camera, I would blend the film into my digital process.

The results? Eh, I’m not so sure about them. But that was never the point. The point was to do something out of my nature; to play without consequence or care for the final outcome. I went into Photoshop not knowing what to do, but attempting something nonetheless.

The result is an image that blends film with digital, that got me to think outside the box, and, apart from almost being eaten by fire ants, gave me an unforgettable evening in the desert.

Sometimes adventures aren’t the big kind that take you around the world. Sometimes they happen in our homes or backyards, with the simplest tools. Adventure, for me, is a mindset. It is a willingness to try new things, no matter how small they seem.

An adventurous mindset can bring about enormous change – emotionally, in your art, in your life. I take active steps to see myself as an adventurer; to let myself believe that even these small things, like an instant film shoot in the desert, constitutes adventure. Because, at the end of the day, big adventures might not be within our means. But we can take small steps to broaden our horizons.

Not long ago someone asked me if I get nervous to try new things for the sake of keeping up professional appearances. I thought about it for a while, because at one point, my answer would have been yes. But now my attitude has changed entirely.

I want to dispel any myths surrounding professionalism in art. Yes, we should master our craft and know it intimately, but not at the sacrifice of innovation. I choose to change what professional looks like; instead of always trying to producing something perfect, I’d rather produce a hundred mediocre images in the pursuit of greatness.

What types of art would you mix to create mixed media?
Have you done something experimental this week?

 

 

  • July 2, 2018 - 8:23 am

    Edward G Iglesias - So glad you didn’t use the molasses in the desert with the fire ant’s. Really beautiful work.ReplyCancel

    • July 2, 2018 - 8:31 am

      brookeshaden - Now *that* is an idea… ๐Ÿ˜€ReplyCancel

  • July 2, 2018 - 9:09 am

    Wendy Baker - I love the art you created. More inspiration of course. I’ve been experimenting with adding glitter to my fine art prints. Types of art: I want to try some art mixing my photographs with my collection of “found” jewelry pieces.

    This week: I was gifted an underwater camera for my birthday. I actually could NOT put it in the water. I’ve spent 20 years trying to keep cameras out of the elements. After my husband submerged it to convince me that it was OK– I had a blast filming friends in the swimming pool. So many ideas now…ReplyCancel

    • July 2, 2018 - 9:11 am

      brookeshaden - Oh my gosh I SO know that feeling! I have an underwater camera and it was incredibly scary the first few times! Have tons of fun, I can’t wait to see what you make!ReplyCancel

  • July 2, 2018 - 9:18 am

    Don W - Iโ€™ve never shot with the instax cameras but I use the Fuji printer quite a lot tethered to my Fuji x-100 camera. It uses the same film but Iโ€™m not bound by the limits of the cheaper camera. They make small portable printers for the wide, square and mini film. There is an app to use on the phone to print from other cameras like my Sonyโ€™s.
    Cheers.ReplyCancel

  • July 2, 2018 - 11:19 am

    Paulo Carvalho - OMG! What a great job. I am completely overwhelmed by this work. Loved it! In the past, I had actually thought about creating something by mixing other arts, but I never went for it. To tell you the truth, I have not created anything lately! Or rather, I have, content in video. Brooke, I got a wrist tattoo!ReplyCancel

  • July 2, 2018 - 1:37 pm

    Gallagher Green - For your first mixed media piece, this turned out quite nice. I once had the idea to create a painting and then incorporate it into a photo, but I haven’t tried it yet. Maybe it is time I give it a shot. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Glad to see you survived the ants, I thought there was a spider or something. It sure was entertaining watching you hope around! LOL ๐Ÿ˜‰ReplyCancel

  • July 2, 2018 - 2:19 pm

    Anna D Bruce - This was such a fun video to watch! The end result was pretty awesome. I love how well you matched your pose with the photo and I love the birds flying out of the other photo. I have used mixed media before in my work. For example in this blog: http://www.adbrucephotos.com/liz/ I drew the swirls on her neck and face. I also glued some black and white darkroom prints on plywood that was painted to look like my living room (and did a 360 prints). Just last week, I was frolicking around in the ocean with a bedsheet trying to get pictures for my most recent self-portrait. That is pretty out of the ordinary for me. Thank you for sharing another awesome blog!ReplyCancel

  • July 3, 2018 - 4:44 am

    jeanne - You created another masterpiece! You have the golden touch to whatever you set out to accomplish.

    I did go out and practice yesterday – didn’t create a masterpiece but sure gave it a good try and I will keep at it.ReplyCancel

  • July 3, 2018 - 2:15 pm

    Elizabeth M Swider - Brooke, I started following you because I love your images. Now I follow you because I love your images AND I love your approach to art and life. Very inspiring.

    This latest image is gorgeous.ReplyCancel

  • July 6, 2018 - 9:59 am

    Ellen - Hi Brooke!
    Well yes….I have been experimenting this week actually. In my visual journal with photos and paint. I am utterly curious and always try new things, I have to, otherwise I become bored really quickly. So….paint with pictures, that is what I am experimenting with. Very mixed media ๐Ÿ˜€
    Enjoy your weekend!ReplyCancel

Has anyone ever told you that you can’t do something you want to do?
Or that you shouldn’t, or that it’s best not to?

This past week I had an idea to make myself look like I was covered in tree sap while hanging upside down from the most epic tree I’ve ever seen. In order to do that, I had to cover myself in molasses…or, as it ended up turning out, corn syrup.

On a micro level, there were many reasons why this wasn’t a good idea.

The sticky mess that would take hours to clean.
Messing up my camera equipment.
Ruining clothes.

I had a thought while I was planning. “You’re 31 years old now. When will this stop?” That line of questioning no doubt comes from countless sources, from parental figures to television.

The answer came immediately: It will never stop.

I will continue to pour molasses all over myself for the sake of art, or whatever else the art requests of me.

If we stop pursuing the little wonders, the absurd, the silly, the messy, the childish…

…We will lose our sense of wonder.

In my life, if I want to do something and it won’t do any harm to anyone else, I do it.

I don’t care if it is uncomfortable or difficult. I don’t care if it is easy or not. I will do it because I must prove to myself that I am all in for this life.

If we don’t pursue those wild things that are uncomfortable or difficult, our childlike desires will start to disappear. Just like a plan that doesn’t get watered, our imagination will die if it isn’t loosed.

I have known so many people who think I’m nuts. People who think I’m too childish. People who cannot fathom doing the things that I do. But at the end of the day, when those people see the process and result of my madness, they don’t think it’s so mad anymore.

We spend so much time making excuses for why we don’t do something. We come up with difficulties in our heads that don’t really exist. We prefer things to be easy and clean and sterile. We want certainty.

I crave those things too. I fall into long, terrible lulls of ease.

But I recognize them and I want more. I want to look back at my 31st year and remember that Friday that I spent covering myself in molasses. I want people to think I’m crazy. I want to stand out from the crowd. I want to make this life worthwhile.

You may not see the connection. How does covering yourself in molasses make your life more worth living?

It’s a fair question. And it has nothing to do with molasses – not really. It’s about doing something that creates a memory, about doing something uncomfortable so that you feel more.

What is one thing you can do this week that is outside of your norm?
Share it so that I can get more ideas of crazy things to do…[insert evil laugh]

 

  • June 25, 2018 - 6:56 am

    Gallagher Green - I love this photo, and the process to get there!
    This makes me want to do a reshoot of a photo I took a year or so ago, but this time I am going to have to cover my arm in paint! But it is only one arm, so that’s not too bad.
    I have a friend that two days ago ended up covered in and sitting in mud even though it was 30F outside, but he got the photo he wanted, and that’s what counts! ๐Ÿ™‚

    The things we do for art, and fun! <3ReplyCancel

  • June 25, 2018 - 7:39 am

    Chrystal Kelly - Good morning! I was truly inspired by the redwoods too. I felt like all the fairyโ€™s were running along with me. I love this image and how u created it. I actually took some time to myself yesterday to work on an idea thatโ€™s been nawing at me for a while. Another thing Iโ€™m addressing at the same time is that I have been wanting to create a gallery series of images that I feel confident presenting as a serious body of work. So I was able to somewhat solidify my idea by asking myself a series of questions that had to do with the subject of my project. Now I have to create in a whole new way, itโ€™s going to take time, financial investment and allot of hard work. So today Iโ€™m studying and researching how to create a 8โ€™x8โ€™ room that is portable and start figuring out if I can get some of the stuff I need from the habitat for humanity restore. Iโ€™m feeling excited and apprehensive at the same time!ReplyCancel

  • June 25, 2018 - 9:05 am

    Wendy Baker - I could not agree more. Keeping the sense of wonder alive in myself is key. And still you inspire me to bring more of my childish behavior to my art.

    It’s my birthday week– I’ve asked for a waterproof camera– so I’ll come up with something crazy this weekend and share it with you. Thinking…Thinking…ReplyCancel

    • June 26, 2018 - 4:03 pm

      Gallagher Green - Happy Birthday!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • June 25, 2018 - 9:29 am

    Julie Oshiyama - L.O.V.E. love, love!!! You are so my hero, Brooke. I have always been accused of being a cartoon, yet over the past few years, I’ve reduced my cartooniness. This blog of yours reminded me that staying true to one’s self is the proper way to live; thank you for this blog. Ok, so I have an idea for you, but first this: I recently finished reading your book and completed your CreativeLive courses, one of the lessons I took away from both is to first find your story. One of the ways I find my story is through music, lyrics to be more specific. So, with that, my idea for you, since you seem to like gauze, is to have you wrapped in gauze while tumbling down (a hole, hill, tree, etc.) with the gauze trailing behind to fit with the song Come Undone from Duran Duran. Perhaps one day I will give this a try. But for now, that’s my crazy idea for you.ReplyCancel

  • June 25, 2018 - 1:59 pm

    Deborah Gichan - Wow Brooke, this was hands down my favorite video of yours. I love following you, but to watch you in action as you created this image was so honest, real and actually cute. But I am a mom and an older female photographer, so I get to that you looked cute…
    So the project I am working on is based on a theme where the world around us is looking strange because Mother Nature is not feeling well because we have hurt the environment. I touch on this in my website. This week I want to complete an image I began to composite of a house that is partially demolished. I put it in a scene with a stormy sky and a hill with a large hole. I want to dress up in a long dress with my silver wig, shoot multiple images of myself looking like a Grecian vase of dancers who are holding hands. I want the dancers to look like ghosts in front of the house as they dance around the hole in the ground with an image of a muddy female reaching out. Ok…wish me luck.ReplyCancel

  • June 26, 2018 - 7:58 am

    Anna - Love this so much Brooke! I frolicked in the ocean wearing bedsheets lol. It was a lot harder than I expected as the ocean kept bashing me around and stealing my sheet!!!! I will be working with flour in my hair next week. I love that you do weird, crazy things. Never stop!ReplyCancel

I often feel that art is most interesting when it is most inconvenient; when you have no money, no location, nothing to spruce it up. It really comes from inside then instead of relying on the objects around to fill the frame. When you create from nothing, you create from within. As so many of us do, my journey into photography began when I had little resources other than a camera. I had no money, no locations, no props except for what I brought home from dumpsters (seriously though). And looking back, it was like going through a golden age of creativity. My imagination was working overtime to find ideas that could come to life without any resources.

This is how I started a career, with white walls and dumpster props, and how I still try to operate today. There are times when I indulge in bigger budgets or interesting locations, but for the most part, at least 90% of the time, it’s just me and a $5 allowance. Oh, and bed sheets. Because they make the best costumes.

Have you ever created like this? I’m betting yes, either out of necessity or interest. If you have, you know how confronting it is. If you haven’t, you might find it to be an exercise in style.

Creating from nothing allows us to explore who we are, at our very core, without any outside influence. It is how I found my style so fast in my career, and how I learned the camera without pressure.

This video is from 2015, but it’s a good one. Here, I create an image inside a cardboard box, since I didn’t have access to a room suitable to my needs.

Create something with an everyday object in a way that isn’t expected!

  • June 19, 2018 - 8:09 am

    Gallagher Green - My budget is always nonexistent for photos, and I think it makes them even better in a lot of cases! ๐Ÿ˜€ReplyCancel

  • June 19, 2018 - 11:57 am

    Chrystal kelly - https://youtu.be/x1OVX5u1W-A
    My first stop motion video. Far from perfect but so much fun to make. Used stuff from around my house to create a little magic with help from a friend.ReplyCancel

    • June 21, 2018 - 5:56 pm

      Gallagher Green - I loved it, great work! ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

I think that we have an innate desire to put our stamp on things, whether that is as a person, as an artist, or something else. In my years of teaching photography, I’ve never once conducted a workshop in which no one asked how to build a recognizable style. I’ve asked myself that question plenty of times.

It is a beautiful thing to look at someone’s work and know, without looking at the name, who made it. Those are my favorite artists. Their essence is in their art. It feels like a natural shine.

As an artist, I have thought about this topic for years. What makes someone stand out as being original? What makes someone’s work recognizable? What makes mine?

Here’s the truest answer. More true than any technique in Photoshop or lens choice.

It is the way my mind works. The way my brain functions. The way I see the world. The way I create in this world.

If you don’t like that answer, you’re not going to find what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a certain technique to set you apart, stop.

Yes, they help tremendously. Yes, they can make you stand out. Yes, they are the medium that us visual artists exist in.

BUT, and I believe this firmly, there isn’t a successful artist out there who doesn’t have their art in their bones.

If you gave your favorite artist a guitar instead of a camera, it’s very likely that their original music would match their original images.

What we want our art to look like is in us from the beginning. From Day 0.

My art is not just what it looks like or feels like. It is the culmination of who I am – visually, emotionally, experiences and reactions and decisions combined. It is my expression of myself.

That is not to say that finding a style is instant. Why? Because we hardly know ourselves. The more we understand who we are, the more fluidly our style can evolve.

At least that’s what I believe. And I really, really believe it.

There are certain visual ways that my style has evolved. I used to create very monochromatic images, almost always indoors. I shifted from that to incorporating more color in my wardrobe and visiting new locations outdoors. I then started to get into more complicated composites, more detailed sets, more props. I evolved. And I am evolving.

If I had to choose 3 visual cues to my signature style, I would say:

Square Format
Yellow highlights/blue shadows
Painterly

There are more:

Feminine
Dark
Cinematic

It’s hard to define a style with just a few words, and not entirely productive, either. We shouldn’t feel trapped by a style, but able and willing to move in and out of it.

I used to fear my style. I felt stuck in it. But now I recognize that my style is mine because that is what naturally comes out of me. No matter what I pursue, it will be mine.

I hope you enjoy this video detailing how I found my style and a few different tricks in the editing room to achieve a polish to my work.

How do you describe your style?
How do you hope to evolve?

  • June 11, 2018 - 7:00 am

    ganesh - This is great!ReplyCancel

  • June 11, 2018 - 7:24 am

    Cheryl Clegg - Thank you for sharing and inspiring.
    My style? A very hard question to answer. The best I can say is it is eclectic, but I always try to evoke emotion. The days of film I spent many hours in the darkroom, trying to make things painterly. Then came digital and the learning curve continues and is endless and new everyday as well as exciting.
    Your work is beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • June 11, 2018 - 8:37 am

    Angela Seidemann - Thank you for sharing and inspiring me!ReplyCancel

  • June 11, 2018 - 9:36 am

    Gallagher Green - Great video, and probably the best explanation you can get for explaining signature style. Like you said, it’s not easy to explain.
    I just create what I like, and hope that a signature evolves out of it, since I know I can’t force it.
    “How do you describe your style?”
    I don’t know if this is my style, but I would like to think it is:
    Surreal.
    Inspiring.
    Dark.

    How do you hope to evolve?
    Thought provoking.
    More engaging.
    Maybe a little happier. Right now everything really leans to the darker side for some reason.

    This is a great subject I will have to bring this up in the next PPC Skype chat.ReplyCancel

  • June 11, 2018 - 11:14 am

    Cheryl Clegg - Thank you for sharing and for the constant inspiration!
    My style is eclectic, but always my main goal is to evoke emotion.
    In business for decades (I’m now one of those old timers, I guess), I have gone from trying to create painterly prints in the darkroom to moving my darkroom onto the monitor and learning everyday. Not all of my work is artsy, sometimes I am in a more documentary mood. What do I want people to when looking at my work? I want people to stop and look at the photo, not just scroll through, and feel the emotion.
    Your work is beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • June 11, 2018 - 11:15 am

    adbrucephotos - This was awesome, as always! Monday have become my favorites again ๐Ÿ™‚
    How do you describe your style?
    I am not sure if people look at my work and think “Anna Bruce” but in all of my work I like to incorporate these feelings: Moody, dramatic, warm tones, edgy, dreamlike. I have certainly tried to experiment with cool tones and blues and it always makes me freak out. I like warm tones – perhaps because I like warm weather? Because people don’t look dead or frozen? I don’t know. Ironically, in other artists’ work, I am drawn to blue tones (as you know from the piece I purchased). Very interesting.
    How do you hope to evolve?
    I will let time decide for me. As I learn new things, grow or change in life my style will evolve. I know that moody, dark and dramatic will be words that will remain with me for a lifetime – I have been pretty consistent in creating works that evoke those three. Thank you Brooke! <3ReplyCancel

  • June 11, 2018 - 1:44 pm

    Suellen - You have articulated style perfectly, it’s definitely what’s inside you and that is so hard to explain to anyone. When people ask you what I do I get stuck trying to explain as it is bound up with my style rather thane technique (as you explained it)…finding the words makes me stumble.๏ปฟ
    My style is quirky, whimsical, mysterious, inviting. How I hope to evolve? I want to make images that have something more to say…I’m not sure what I have to say, want to say…I like making images that make make-believe, believable, but I want to include more message somehow, at the moment I am exploring being alone but not lonely.ReplyCancel

  • June 11, 2018 - 2:52 pm

    Michael Harbour - Thank you for your beautiful work!
    Can you tell me about your monitor/workstation?
    It is huge. It is touch screen! Iโ€™m curious!!ReplyCancel

  • June 13, 2018 - 7:40 am

    Cindee - Wonderful video of a difficult to describe subject.
    I found my style when I found my business name “Kymerical imagery” which is defined
    Kymerical: existing only as the product of an unchecked imagination.
    imagery: the art of making images.
    I recently wrote a paper for my business class where I described my style as
    Phantasmagorical with an etherial quality. Yes, I was using the thesaurus. I enjoy making images that would suit a children’s book, princess party, my granddaughters imagination come to life. She is the fairy in my images. I get lost in space and time while creating these images, it’s the same way I feel when creating a new dress for Emma. That’s how I know I have found my style, I love creating it.
    There is still a lot of distilling (evolving) that needs to take place but I am on the right track. I hope to reach the point where I know the colors as Brooke does and am able to consistently produce work that says that was done by Kymerical imagery.
    Oh and I don’t put my name on my real name on my work because I spent 25 years as a prison guard and don’t want to make it easy for any of them to find me. Just in case.

    phantasmagorical: having a fantastic or deceptive appearance, as something in a dream or created by the imagination.
    having the appearance of an optical illusion, especially one produced by a magic lantern.
    changing or shifting, as a scene made up of many elements.ReplyCancel