I declared 2018 my year of NO travel, and that will be true…after June. So far I’ve spent a month away in India, Sri Lanka, and Florida (that sounds a lot less exciting after the other two). Soon I’ll be heading to Tennessee and Wisconsin before going to Greece and Maine. That’s all by the third week of March.

With that pace it is extremely difficult to keep up routines. I find myself in airports, hotels, Airbnbs, grandma’s houses. I move so quickly from one place to the next that they barely have time to stick in my memories. When your circumstances change, how can you keep a routine? I do my best. Yoga everyday, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. Lots of water. Emails every morning. Reading everyday. Outside of that, nothing is the same.

I’m home for a few days in between trips, exhausted from traveling, body aching, but all I wanted was to create – freely, without interruption. Instead of pushing myself beyond what is wise into the cold for a photo shoot, I searched my computer for long-forgotten images. There I found the spark of something interesting. I didn’t know what it was, just that it could be.

I found an underwater image that struck me as graceful and full of emotion. I had already edited those up for the most part, wasn’t interested in redoing them. I wanted something new. I started to look at the image differently, thinking that the bubbles looked like stars. And so I began creating what I knew could be something interesting. Watch the editing process here:

It is wildly important to act on our creative urges, in whatever way is available to us, in whatever way feels right. I find it necessary to keep motivated. So often we talk about what is recommend to stay healthy: good food, exercise, fresh air, etc. But something I vehemently believe we need to add to that list is creativity. An outlet for our imagination. And I would put that before most else.

How often do you exercise your imagination, release your creativity and make something for yourself? 

I’ve spent a long time letting go of the word “good” in this context. I bet everyone here has had the experience of not creating because what you were making didn’t seem good enough. Now that I’ve had some distance from my process of creating, from my body of work, I can see much more clearly. There are works I create that are good and bad. Some that will remain, others that will be forgotten. In the moment they all feel so important, and they are. But what is important is not how they are judged, but how they made you feel while creating them.

When was the last time you did
something completely for yourself?

Do you notice a change in your health
when you set your imagination free?

“Moonrise”, February 2018

Model: Sara Silkin
Dress: Michelle Hebert

  • February 18, 2018 - 9:08 am

    Paulo Carvalho - You know that my imagination is always exercised and creativity is ready to jump from the mind, but I confess that lately I have not given life to my imagination and creativity. Unfortunately I cannot remember the last time I did something entirely just for myself! OMG! I have not even run, which is something I love doing! However, I’m still recovering from one week with influenza (H1N1) and if you do not mind, I’ll go now set free my imagination to see if I feel better. 😉 I hope your friend spent a pleasant time at ibis. Stay well! xxReplyCancel

    • February 18, 2018 - 12:24 pm

      Gallagher (Fit BMX) - Hope getting creative makes you feel better! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • February 18, 2018 - 9:29 am

    Su Hall - Hi, Brooke,

    Just read this in newsletter, so, thought I would comment. I do so in hopes someone else will understand. I know you do.

    If you don’t take care of YOU, first, you will eventually not have any ‘you’ left for you. LOL

    I spent a lifetime taking care of others – three children, 2 husbands, various assorted friends, family and pets. I’m older, now. I’m 63. It has come to me, finally, that I need to take some time for ME!

    And, you know what? I AM!

    I carved out MY time for getting on Photoshop and having a good play first thing (almost) in the morning! It works for me, as I have no one to be responsible for, now, but myself. I have made my art my priority. Even then, obligations to friends and challenges I participate in, I have to make time for just being ME!

    If you don’t find this self-preserving realization soon enough, one day, you’ll wake up and realise, you’re 63, as I am, and have yet to realize MANY of MY dreams! It’s NEVER too late, but, thank the goddesses I even came to this awareness!

    Your words, and the words of like-minded gurus like you, helped me to do it, finally, Brooke!

    For that, I am grateful.


    • February 18, 2018 - 9:32 am

      Su Hall - My apologies! Your artwork is beautiful, Brooke! I love your idea!ReplyCancel

      • February 18, 2018 - 12:47 pm

        Gallagher (Fit BMX) - I am 30 and have made others my priority all of my life, and I am now changing that for the same reason you said. So thank you for the well said inspiring words! <3ReplyCancel

  • February 18, 2018 - 1:13 pm

    Gallagher (Fit BMX) - I love this photo, I would never have thought to use the bubbles as stars, and they look great!
    I try to make sure I always create for myself, but as my career advances, it could get hard to stay with that.

    Florida sounds really boring after everywhere else! LOLReplyCancel

  • February 18, 2018 - 4:03 pm
  • February 18, 2018 - 4:23 pm

    Justine Hammond - Good day,
    My name is Justine Hammond and I admire your work and would be interested into collaborating. Please inform me on your thoughts and I look forward to it.
    Thank you,
    – Kamoni Collection
    Instagram: KamoniCollectionReplyCancel

  • February 18, 2018 - 8:38 pm

    Vicki Kurasz - Beautiful. Would love to know how you shot the underwater scene.

    What will you be in Wisconsin for? Seminar?ReplyCancel

  • February 19, 2018 - 9:14 am

    Jennifer Arnold - Brooke, your work inspires me and so many others! I see you’ll be in Tennessee. Is it for a workshop? I live in coastal north Carolina and would definitely make the trip for a workshop or just a chance to hang out and learn or assist!ReplyCancel

I am a selfish artist. I have no problem admitting that, as well as the ways in which I am selfish.

  1. I create for myself. I am interested in satisfying my curiosity.
  2. I create by myself. I like to work alone.
  3. I create because I love to test my potential.
  4. I create I hope people will like what I contribute to the world.

Up until a certain point, those were my reasons for creating. I started noticing a pattern in how I was working. I was rushing to get an image finished, excited to see the finished product, ignoring the idiosyncratic pieces of the process. I was addicted to sharing.

When that realization hit me, I had to take a step back from what I was doing. I realized just how un-lasting that finished product truly is. It may stand the test of time, or it may be gone with a hard drive crash. It may be remembered in museums or forgotten in a matter of days. Once you finish your art, it is released. It is not yours to control, it is for the public (if, of course, you are sharing your art at all). What remains, despite anything, is the process.

That was when I began thinking about CREATION in a different way from CREATING.
One puts emphasis on the product, the other on the action. 

In no way do I think it is bad to enjoy the product of your efforts. You should.


But, what about cherishing the in-between? What about the moments, minutes, hours, days, months, years it takes to create your art? As time moves on, even the mundane experiences build up to influence what you create and how you create it.

How often do you find yourself rushing through the creating process to get to the creation? I’ve done it hundreds of times. Hundreds. I’ve rushed through thinking deeply, rushed through creating with care, overlooked editing mistakes, and all so I could congratulate myself for making something. Tangible. Physical. Finished.

What an error in my judgment these years past. What an error in my life.

Over the past nine months I’ve been planning a new photo series. For most of that time I didn’t have a single vision that stuck, not a single sketch made that would lead to something finished. It scared me. I felt like a fraud. I felt like a lair of an artist. I felt like an imposter.

I mean, look at the facts. I am an artist who has created quickly, churning out a lot of work in short periods of time. I became addicted to the pace, to the praise, to the CREATION. It was time to learn how to love CREATING.

So I had a talk with myself. It went something like this:

Brooke (Subconscious): Slow down. Let’s take a while to think through what you need to say as an artist.
Brooke (Conscious): Nope. Let’s make something every single day to prove my worth as an artist.
Brooke (Subconscious): Wouldn’t you rather find your worth by creating meaningful art?
Brooke (Conscious): Nope.

It was somewhere around month 5 of thinking about my new series and coming up empty that I had a breakdown. I felt like such a failure as an artist. I felt I had let myself down.

What I had really done was let myself go.

I let go of the artist I was.
I let go of the expectation I put on myself.
I let go of the expectation I felt from others.

And I opened my mind to the idea that thinking is an art form in itself. That being with my thoughts and letting them play their course is just as valuable, and often more so, than churning out work.

That was when my mindset changed. I no longer wanted a CREATION, I wanted to CREATE. I have never felt more clear in my intent, more centered in my message, more secure in myself as an artist.

Do you create for the product or for the experience?
(This is a really difficult one to admit.)

How do you see yourself as an artist?

  • February 3, 2018 - 8:26 am

    Stacy Honda - Hi Brooke! This is interesting to think about. I definitely love to see a vision that was in my head on the screen in front of me (though I keep trying to learn, so I always want to go back and change something). And I start to worry when I haven’t made a finished product in a while. I’m not sure why. I guess I feel like time is passing me by and I haven’t done so many things that I want to do. Or something like that : ). If I’m working on something that is meaningful to me, I find the shooting process can be very therapeutic.Trying to capture certain feelings. And I have discovered recently that one thing I really love about the process is the problem solving. Not knowing how the heck I’m going to put something together, and then making it happen. I get a big thrill from that : ) Sometimes it doesn’t happen, but that’s ok!ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2018 - 8:30 am

    Bill - I love your work. However, I feel you over think what you are doing. When I pick up my camera and go out to take pictures I don’t think of myself as a photographer or artist. I think what looks good today. Are the roses in bloom or is the sun back lighting a fern. I started taking photos with a Kodak 35mm camera about 60 years ago. Over the years I just took photos of what I liked. For a year I worked for a sign company and photographed their products with a 4X5 camera. That was very focused because the owner did not want to enlarge or shrink the images. When I came back from Desert Storm I went to collage and took three grad level photo seminar classes. During that time I did a series of female nude studies in B&W. What’s the bottom line? As you think about doing new a series start pulling together elements that you find interesting. Don’t try to design the final product. Let the elements you pull together determine where you are going. For example you might find a location that you fall in love with. Visit often and study it. Let’s say there’s a tree that leans through the site. Study how the light plays around the tree. Then, let’s say, you see something at a flea market. How does that fit in. It doesn’t matter what you call yourself, it is what you see that speaks to you. Don’t get hung up creating–you are creative, just let it flow. Don’t be afraid of changing what you are doing because something new pops up. Just because it doesn’t work the first time doesn’t mean you are a failure–it just means you need to keep moving forward. As I look at your work I like the bare foot outdoor organic images the most. I think that is a direction you should keep following. Keep up the good work. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2018 - 8:37 am

    Norma - This is why I hardly ever make the deadlines when I join challenges. I don’t just want to share images that arn’t really finished. It takes a long time for me to create. But.. I do understand the great feeling of sharing. I guess that’s also part of the “like addiction” social media gives us. It’s a reaction of our brain, we can’t help it. I have to stop myself often if I want to rush and share an image I made. Then I think about what’s it all about? A few likes or do I make something I want to create for myself? That helps me to slow down to my own pace. The thinking and investigating proces is very important and joyable for me. I recognize your points being a selfish artist.. It’s what I am too. Love your idea for the Greek refugees, keep up the good work. You may be a selfish artist but you are certainly not a selfish person. big hug from NormaReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2018 - 8:50 am

    Gallagher - I think I creat for the quality of the work, but it is also a little hard to know. This may be how I see it. But I can be a real perfectionist in my art, so that helps. I do consider myself an artist.
    Great post, good luck on your new series, I know it will be great!ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2018 - 9:03 am

    Cindy - Wow, that is a really tough question. I have always thought I was enjoying the act of creating, but perhaps I have been deceiving myself. I am not sure, but I do know I enjoy experimenting with lots of ideas, techniques, etc. I let my muse decide what I am going to do each day without overthinking it too much. I love the spontaneity of that. But maybe I need to be more grounded. I have pondered the way I create art a million times, but that is something I think I need to let go of as well. My spiritual teacher says we think too much, so now I take a step back and just enjoy whatever shows up in my daily activities and refrain from judging it. For me, I just keep my eye on the bigger picture and I often see my life unfolding in the direction of where I am focused. I like Dr Martin Luther King’s quote: “you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” I think that is difficult for a lot of artists because we naturally want to see that what we are doing is making a difference. It can be difficult to keep going down the path day after day, often blindly. Thank you for asking the big questions, it helps me evaluate the “why.”ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2018 - 9:07 am

    Sara - In this age of instant gratification, it’s hard to take a step back and reflect on what is truly meaningful….especially for people like you who have such a dedicated group of followers. Being true to yourself is an important “rule” for all of us to remember. I think all creative people have an ebb and flow and shouldn’t try to force things.ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2018 - 10:33 am

    Turla Peterson - Hi Brooke, interesting question you posted. Last year when I started to follow you and do composite images I had such a hard time coming up with the concept and how to do it. So I decided this year I will started taking pictures what ever comes in my mind and play with it in the computer. I would say that I create for the product as well as for the experience. I am very very happy when things all comes together like what I thought it would be. I feel very proud and accomplished.The feeling of seeing what I have imagine is second to none and no one can explain it but me. Shooting every day is starting to give a toll on me. After I shoot, I go to my computer and started working on it. Sometimes I spend all day just sitting on the computer trying to figure out how and how, and more how to make it. I decided to shoot and only work on an image twice a week to get more time to recollect and gather my thoughts. Like what you have said, I need to slow down to really take time to think the concept and the idea, not just making it and then share.ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2018 - 4:49 pm

    Anastasia - Hey Brooke, when I read your blog post just now….I just had to tell you that I felt the same about my work.
    Over the 3 years of creating, that was what I was doing. More so last year. I wanted to test shoot all the time, often 3 test shoots every week so that I can post and gain exposure or some sort of validation.
    When I went to France for a 10 day holiday, I got honest with myself and re-prioritised what I wanted to do this year and ask myself why I am creating ? Is all this stress of doing loads of tests to prove to the world that I’m good at what I do is worth it ? The fact that I hope that some of the images might make it onto a models Comp card, why is this so important ? Why am I trying to compete ? I wasn’t seeing that the model wasn’t suited to the concept, the styling was bad and realised it after post production, the lighting etc etc. I got addicted to posting quickly and not caring about the process or before that. Really creating something awesome and taking the time to bring it to fruition.
    This year I decided to take breaks off Instagram and shoot once or twice month.
    I’m a selfish artist too.

    Totally relate.

    Thank you for sharing Brooke. Thank you also for inspiring me when I first started out as a self portrait artist xReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2018 - 8:28 pm

    Deb - What a crazy life you live. Love it and love you.
    I like creating for fun. Some days I wish I had a photography business, but the pressure to live off that, stresses me out. I am loving a new creative process for me right now, making decorations for Post Prom for my senior baby boy.ReplyCancel

  • February 4, 2018 - 3:04 am

    Ruth - Hi Brooke,

    I create to prove myself that my thoughts are meaningful. Of course I love to hold the “product” in hands and show it around. Of course I love the applause. But most of all I love to see how I change through my art. It makes me stronger (no, wrong, I make myself stronger). It leads to a better versio of myself. Does that make sense? :o)

    Sweet smiles from Germany,

  • February 4, 2018 - 11:31 am

    Mumbi - Thank you for this blog post, I think that these are the hard questions that we should always be asking ourselves, how Elise shall we grow.
    create to see my creation, I have it my head and I add to it as time passes and I have these wonderful aha moments as I am driving and I want to see it. I create it in my mind and want to see it and show it. I have the experience in my heart and head, now I want to produce. I am still learning so I know that I need to be patient and allow my ability to produce to connect with my vision.ReplyCancel

  • February 4, 2018 - 1:52 pm

    Shelby Leeman - Hi Brooke! After years of lacking any creative inspiration, I’m trying to really expand my horizons. But it is still a struggle as I overthink every aspect of my work – usually focusing on what is wrong with it vs what I did right. Since I’d describe myself as unforgiving, I’d say I create for the brief sense of satisfaction (before I tear the piece apart). The fact that I am capable of pushing beyond the boundaries of these walls I’ve built…well it provides me with a great sense of pride. Currently I don’t see myself as an artist but as a student. I’m taking my expertise in photo editing and attempting to find a sense of purpose.ReplyCancel

  • February 4, 2018 - 3:47 pm

    Michael Snively - As an artist, one of our greatest challenges is to find a balance between these two aspects; creation and creating. Or as I refer to them as creativity and the artifact (with its rewards). This oscillation is part of the angst we live with all the time. Is the artifact and it’s rewards more important than our creativity? For myself the creativity is more important, yet to find some balance I have found the need for some feedback. To usually get the feedback you need to have a product, or artifact to share. Sort of a catch 22… Maybe in the long run, it is more important to live a creative life being true to our soul and spirit as artist!

    Brooke, the hardest part is finding that balance, and maybe slowing down a bit so that we truly see. Thanks for everything you do! The art, the charity, the teaching, the community awareness, and for just being you!ReplyCancel

  • February 6, 2018 - 7:39 am

    Leesa Voth - As a musician, the totality of my life experience as an artist has been the creation of intangible musical experiences, rather than physical products. I have worked hour upon hour, most times alone, for decades, practicing my craft for all the reasons you have listed in your blog post. My deep internal motivation for performing music has been for my own personal experience, even if I have served others graciously with my art. Is this selfish? Yes, in all the best ways. I love playing music, I do it for my own pleasure, and when I decide to share it with others, I create an experience for them as well. In fact, I believe our obligation as artists is to perform for our own personal experience. This will make our art truly authentic. The outcomes of that follow naturally. You will know when it is the right time to share, if even at all. Authenticity is not a race, it is a way of life, and so should your art be.ReplyCancel

  • February 8, 2018 - 4:15 pm

    Roberto Melendez - Hi Brooke, Thank you for your thoughts! As a weekend oil painter your words struck a cord. Since the 1980’s I always painted for myself, partly because I really never thought anyone would enjoy something that was so personal to me. Partly also because I’m an introvert and exposing myself , I thought , would be a horror. When I finally started showing my work, I liked the attention……and then came the failure. I found myself trying to produce what I thought people would like and did it quickly…..fail, fail, fail….did I say Fail! Stopped my art in its track! I knew it! I am an imposter! Were the words that circulated in my head. It took me a few years to get back on the saddle and not because I thought it out but because I needed to create. I didn’t know it till now, but now that you mentioned it , I am too a selfish artist, I create because I need too, for myself, at my pace and I love it. One of my cousins who is also a painter came over one day and exclaimed, “you have been working on that small piece for a month!” My reply was “Yes, going as planned!” He just shook his head, Lol. I still show my art, but don’t care who likes it! I think when your art is honest and true to you, there will always be someone who identifies with it. I will tell you that I’m very excited that I discovered you on CL. Love your work and your teaching! Having so much fun combining my painterly skills with my photography and I’m being selfish about it!

  • February 10, 2018 - 12:13 pm

    Freedom - So glad I found you <3ReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2018 - 9:34 pm

    Stephan Pawloski - As I re-read this, I wondered, is this getting stuck, failing, battling the fraud police in our heads, is all of this maybe part of what becomes our foundational life experience so that we may in fact create art?ReplyCancel

  • February 18, 2018 - 4:48 pm

    Maude - Thank you for this post. I think I started to make art because I liked creating. I think we all start like this. Then, somewhere along the way with the praises of other I think I started to make creations instead of creating. It is a long road to learn to create and love again. Right now I experiment with working slower and not showing what I do right away. Keep speaking, keep creating. MaudeReplyCancel

I’m in a small room in India – West Bengal. Outside the horns are blowing like crows, attacking. People are yelling down the street, their voices drowning together, indecipherable. This is a place that envelopes me the moment I step foot outside the airport, but it challenges me, too. The sounds, the people, the food, the smells, the stories. The stories.

When I listen closely through the mountainous shouts I hear cross-sections of lives; one man tells another to be careful crossing the street, not through his words, but through his body language. A woman kisses her child while a hundred people push past her, tenderness going unnoticed.

In my workshop I’m teaching self-expression through photography and movement, aided by Kolkata Sanved. The young women that sit in the room with me have pasts that I cannot imagine. I try, but it feels wrong to imagine my life with the same difficulties; disrespectful, somehow. I am ill-equipped to feel what they feel, at least precisely. My life has been vastly different and that shows in every minutiae when I travel in India. In the ways that I get irritated by people bumping into me, when I feel exhausted by the crowds, and especially when I feel trapped by the buildings and pollution. That is life here, though, and I am unaccustomed, even after five years of coming.

Today in the workshop we are learning storytelling. I explain why this is important –  because, after all, their story is theirs. It is for them to tell, not me. I never felt comfortable photographing people whose lives have been so uniquely different from mine, using my way of telling stories to tell theirs. This is for them to share. Instead, I teach storytelling. I teach how to use a camera. I teach self-portraiture. I teach them how to tell their own stories.

And so they do, effortlessly.

Because storytelling is the culture here. This is a place where stories pile on top of stories so that every object, every location, is imbued with the deepest stories.

Even more than stories, though, is the hope that permeates.

I’m in the Kolkata Sanved office and day one of my workshop is almost over. We are talking about our stories, but not in literal terms. I never, ever ask someone to share their past. Instead, we speak in symbols, in emotions. I ask them to bring me an object that represents their past. We learn symbolism in art.

They bring me water, as a symbol for constantly moving. They bring me a rock, a symbol for heaviness. They bring me a dead tree, a symbol unto itself. A box, to show entrapment. A match, to show danger.

We photograph those objects, and they learn the camera.

I ask them to choose an emotion that represents how they feel now that they have had education, now that they have found safety. Shanti, they say: peace. Aasha: hope. Curiosity. Learning. Happy.

As I listen to them sharing a symbol from their past, I do not have to use a lot of imagination to understand where they come from: darkness to light. The story is there, the details are not important for me to hear.

As I hear them share their emotions, representing who they are now, I see the shift from sadness to joy.

Everyone that I meet here is so open.

YES, I have had hardship. BUT, now I am free.

This is not true for so many. This is why the power of self-expression is so vital. When we give voices to those who feel they cannot speak they realize that their story matters.

It breaks me to think about how many people are living in poverty, enslavement, abuse, and more. How can we help them? I don’t know, myself. It is a problem the world may still be trying to solve a thousand years in the future. But, how can we help those who have been rescued, who have come out the other side? How can we heal them, give them strength, hope, determination? Empowerment. Education.

We give them a tool to tell their story. Because, so many – too many – have had their stories taken from them. Here, in this workshop, we try to give it back.

I have done many of these workshops over the past five years. Always, they say the same: we have come from ash and we have rebuilt ourselves. They tried to break us but we would not be broken.

There is hope. There is always hope.

This is a culture of light. Where there is darkness, light permeates.

I show them a camera. I show them a window. I show them a dark stairwell. The choice is theirs. Always, the image is the same: we reach toward the light.

They take their self-portraits. “Represent your dream for your future in a single image”, I tell them. A heavy thing to portray. They have never taken pictures before. And yet – beauty, hope, determination. The word of this workshop is: POWER.

“I am powerful!” one girl shouts as she takes her self-portrait.
“I am confident!” another girl says as she poses.
And finally, at the end, someone says: “I have learned how to tell my story. This is my story to tell.”

It is a culture of light.

And, can’t we all use that? No matter where you are right now, remember the beauty I have seen here. I need you to see it with me. I need you to feel this. The light demands it. Their stories demand it.

Will you try to reach for the light,
even when it is difficult?

  1. What do you consider to be ethical storytelling?
  2. How do you prefer to tell your own story?

I am currently in India teaching self-expression workshops to underprivileged communities. These workshops were developed by myself, Blossomy Projects, and Kolkata Sanved to blend movement with photography. I travel here to Kolkata, India once a year to help end gender-based violence and aid in the education and empowerment of those effected.

I am leaving for Sri Lanka in the morning to continue this work before returning home on February 2nd.



  • January 25, 2018 - 9:39 am

    Michael - Brooke you inspire through your actions. I think you will be remembered for your charitable works as much as you are for your art.
    God bless you.ReplyCancel

  • January 25, 2018 - 10:17 am

    Art H - Brooke, your words are LIGHT unto themselves; your actions, even more so.

    Light is hope. Light is what illuminates the darkest corners of not only our minds, but of the society in which we live and engage. Light brings clarity to a clouded situation. Light is what makes our hearts sing with joy and confidence.

    Not surprisingly, light is what a camera captures. Photographers manipulate that light into the image they see, but our passion is driven by light. This is my joy.

    Images are storytelling. I play with them, hammer them, caress and yell at them, Tell My Story. My joys. My fears. My worries. My anger. Sometimes they do; sometimes not. I am chastened by my limitations. But I continue to try, fueled by the passion to describe how the world is to me.

    Sometimes the image is conceptual. Other times its documentary. It’s what moves me at the moment. Ultimately it’s that itch that I can’t scratch until I pick up my camera and shoot. That’s when joy abounds, and I am free.ReplyCancel

  • January 25, 2018 - 10:53 am

    Gallagher - It is so empowering to just read about your work. Thank you for this empowerment, thank you for saving these people that needed help. <3

    "What do you consider to be ethical storytelling?"
    That is not easy to answer…. To me, I think it is a story being told without coercion, influence, or fear of others will think. Too often someone's story is twisted out of its truth, not by the storyteller, but by those that seek to manipulate it for their own gain.

    "How do you prefer to tell your own story?"
    I any way that feels right, I recently made my first painting because I didn't feel like I would be able to tell the story right with a photo. My preference isn't what's easy, it's whatever tells the story and express the emotion best.

    Have a good flight and a great time in Sri Lanka!ReplyCancel

  • January 27, 2018 - 11:14 am

    Rachel Strickland - What is ethical storytelling?

    I have a simple test for this myself- it has to pass two tests: 1) Is it true? and 2) Is it mine to tell? Those are my two parameters for if a story is worthy of the investment of telling it.

    How do you prefer to tell your own story?

    My most beloved mediums are circus and writing- my current challenge is to marry these worlds in my next work.

    Love what you do Brooke, and thank you for the prompt- excellent food for thought! xoReplyCancel

  • January 31, 2018 - 10:02 pm

    best resume help - As we know a picture is worth a thousand words. It tells a story or stories. Your words though gave it a deeper meaning. It encourages us to look at pictures in different perspectives. Everyone could be a photographer but not everyone can be a real photographer. People will be drawn to pictures and feel an emotion.ReplyCancel

What is the longest time you have ever spent thinking about a project?

I spent the past 10 months thinking about my new series. I created other images in that time, but this new series felt too important to bang out quickly. I knew, from the moment it felt crucial to create something relevant to my life, that it was going to be more important than anything else I had created before. In March 2017 I decided that I must create this new series. In May, I had my first breakthrough as to the specific subject matter of the series. And, for the months following, I felt that I didn’t have a single other good idea.

I had the usual panicked feelings about time (Am I wasting it? Shouldn’t I be more productive?) and about artistry (Am I a good enough artist? Does that matter?). As time pressed on, more and more people asked me where that series was that I teased. They asked what it would look like, what point I was aiming to make, where I would shoot, who would be in it, and the list goes on.

I didn’t have a single answer to a single question. 

By September I started getting worried that this series wasn’t meant to be. I started to think deeply about TIMING, and waiting for the right moment to tell the right story. Was this my time? Or was I rushing something for the sake of productivity?

By November I started to calm down. I came to terms with, perhaps, this not being the right series in this moment. I started to let go of it, just a little. I loosened my grip on the need, the anxious compulsion, to create.

And then everything changed.

It wasn’t until one week ago,
after ten months of trying to visualize and conceptualize this series,
that it finally made sense.

I went on a long hike with my Love, as we do several times a week just to brainstorm, and it felt so clear. I had been so caught up in precise details that I failed to look at the big picture. And then there it was.

Ten months ago I had an idea. I’ve had so many ideas I’ve lost count. Those ideas got turned into pictures, films, sketches, poems, short stories, books. My ideas have been done and redone and cried over and laughed at and loved. Why was this one different? Why did this one take ten months to scrap together? 

And this, my friends, is my greatest lesson in creating this series…which I have not yet even picked up my camera to shoot:

Not every idea is ripe for the
moment you want to create it. 

I feel, strongly, that my waiting to make this series was to make room for new experience, for distance, for growth.

I am a young artist in many respects, without tallied life experiences and heartache, without the type of inspiration that hurts to create from. This year I found a piece of that tortured inspiration, and it took longer than I realized it would to digest. More importantly, I realized the need for distance from our inspiration. I realized the need for deep thinking in art. And I realized how few people do that, myself included.

I grew up in this must-have-it-now culture. I grew up with internet in my house since I was 10 years old. My first screen name was based on the Pound Puppies, because I was a child, and therefore I learned that what I want now, I can have now – a lesson that buoyed me to a fast-paced career and self-centric decision. But, also, a mentality that gave me the undue urgency to create fast, to share fast, and to repeat.

Slow progress in creating art allow for concepts to emerge that might have been overlooked. It allows for more daring and evocative imagery to take shape and hold, without fear or shyness there to stop it. It allows for my own feelings to see them from a distance. And most importantly, it allowed me to grow with my ideas, not just to move ahead of them.

When I return from a two week trip to India and Sri Lanka in February, I will begin creating immediately. Locations are being booked, props being made, models contacted, and I’m ready. I feel certain I am ready.

1. What idea are you brainstorming right now?
2. What is holding you back from creating?


  • January 14, 2018 - 8:00 am

    Tom Beach - I’m brainstorming a fantasy image composite.
    There will be mountains and waterfalls and cottages and a train and dragons….
    I know what I need. I don’t have it all captured in digital imagery.ReplyCancel

    • January 14, 2018 - 8:13 am

      brookeshaden - That sounds epic! So much to put together. I hope you’ll share when it is finished.ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 8:17 am

    Jon Miller - I had an injury last year in February that ‘m still trying to heal from, it smashed my feet and I have not been able to shoot which in essence I have not been able to move forward. Yesterday they finally operated on the worst foot of the two and for the first time in 11 months I feel I can move forward. During this time I had a long hard look at what it was I wanted to do. I finally came to a decision that I want to move back into my profession as a photographer (commercial table top stuff) and also retain the ability to do art photography. So while I do not have a job at the moment yet I still get paid my full wage, I decided now is the time or it will never happen. I decided that I want to do a series of images that connect with each other, that tells a story and that is erotic and artistic. Models are not a problem, studio not a problem as my home is large enough to be a studio. The problem is coming up with a concept, one that can be read and understood. I know the style but I feel that I may lack something that seems to be holding me back. I ask myself is it fear? is that even real because I have never felt I feared anything photographically. So this year with all the good things that has happened to me I feel positive that this project can move forward. I think I’ll concentrate on shooting a single image and then another and another until the groove is on.So here is to moving forward my theme for this year and my concept. Everything is going forward, so which way is forward, left, right top or bottom as long as it isn’t moving backward is the way I’m looking at it.


    • January 14, 2018 - 8:21 am

      brookeshaden - Jon, that is very inspiring. I really commend you on your attitude when so many would give up. I look forward to seeing these new images and hopefully hearing an update on how life is progressing post surgery!ReplyCancel

    • January 14, 2018 - 11:40 am

      Gallagher - Sorry to hear about your injury, but if it gets you started in a photography career then that is kinda a good thing.
      Best of luck on your photo shoots, I bet they will be great! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 8:30 am

    Leandro Corrêa - Actually I am brainstorming some accessories I could use to create new images… This year I want to composite pictures a little bit more creepy fantasy, because I know I can tell my stories and my feelings through this kind of image… But at the same time I feel like I have to create something more produced. You are very inspiring for me and a lot of aetists, thanks Brooke. ♡ReplyCancel

    • January 14, 2018 - 8:31 am

      brookeshaden - Very exciting Leandro! I hope you will share these new images with us!ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 8:41 am

    Julie Corcoran - What a hauntingly beautiful piece Brooke!

    I love to leave ideas to ferment like a good red wine. I’ll even leave an image half processed for months, until all the right elements fall into place. I never give up on an idea or an image, it just might not be the right time for them, that’s all.

    I have a couple of ideas on the boil at the moment but one I want to develop is inspired by my daughters snake which is currently shedding its skin. I have no idea where the idea will take me but I’m already excited to seeing the finished piece!ReplyCancel

    • January 14, 2018 - 9:05 am

      Juliette - So am I!ReplyCancel

      • January 15, 2018 - 1:34 am

        Julie Corcoran - We’ll have to stay in touch and see how the images turn out! This has actually motivated me to get creating!ReplyCancel

    • January 14, 2018 - 1:59 pm

      suza white - Oh, a snake shedding its skin = an entire universe of scenes, experiences, colors, senses!

      • January 15, 2018 - 1:36 am

        Julie Corcoran - Yes there’s all that meaning related to rebirth, expanding to fill one’s environment and leaving behind constraints (I need to put this all in my ideas notebook!).ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 8:47 am

    Ebony Logins - This reminds me so much of my dad’s artistic process. He is a Wood carver who was gifted a giant red cedar burl. He spent over 20 years finishing it and I wrote a story about it here: https://redcedarphoto.com/3-steps-to-becoming-an-artist/

    It is his entire soul, his life story, and the reason my business name is Red Cedar Photography. It’s incredible how these big projects can impact or lives even more than we put our lives into them.ReplyCancel

    • January 14, 2018 - 9:10 am

      Ellie Chavez - I *have* to tell you, I just looked at your website and your photos are incredible. I’ve started becoming more serious in wedding photography and yours are straight up inspiring. I also love the “For Photographers” tab! What an awesome idea! <3ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 9:03 am

    Juliette - I am thinking about using better storytelling and using flowers for portraits. The whole styling bit is holding me back. I seem to lack ideas where to get clothing and props and fit it all together with the model so that the idea works. I have painfully had to find out that some of my ideas were not very thought out and finally the shoot did not pull together.

    If only I were surrounded by people who love to style.ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 9:07 am

    Jose C. - Hi, Brooke. Thank you for all your inspiration. I’ve had an idea in my head of creating a series called ‘The Journey’. A story of a young boy walking down a path that changes at every corner, and as he ages. From a bright and sunny path with green grass all around to a forest full of wonder and awe, to a ravaging storm, to creatures of the night coming out and seeing frightening visions, to gloomy grey clouds and a feeling of loneliness, to the beautiful sky opening up and beams of sunlight shining down and a sense of happiness and fulfillment as and old man with a cane emerges. All the while straying from the path at times, lost in confusion, acts of bravery, finding others who join him on his journey, if only for a while, and ultimately finding his way back. You could say this little boy is me, but really it could be anyone.

    I know i’m not quite ready to create this series, I feel the same way about needing more life experiences. But I think one of these days i’ll know when it’s time. Thanks again, Brooke.ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 9:07 am

    Ellie - I am in love with that dress. What an incredible photo. <3

    I'm brainstorming right now on so many things! I keep having dreams of photo ideas that are quite literally, out of this world. It's such an exciting feeling after 2017 being a creatively kind of dead year. I want to branch out of printing and start making my art 3D and touchable – but since my experience is limited to photography, I'm trying to figure out how to go about it, and that's what is holding me back.Lots of mixed media in the future!

    Safe travels! Have so much fun!ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 10:37 am

    Aubrie Wancata - For about a year now I have been planning a series of photographs that center on a part of motherhood. I’ve not shot them because it seems there is always a piece I don’t have…the right dress, the right prop, the right location. But part of it is also that they are self portraits with my son and he needs to be old enough to really follow instructions. I think we are finally there now.ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 10:38 am

    Gallagher - So excited for you, I can’t wait to see what this is going to be! 🙂
    I am thinking of doing a series (my first series ever) about the inner struggle everyone has inside them, using fantasy theme. I had the idea after I made this photo. https://flic.kr/p/Zs84gL

    I love that photo above, the dress is just wonderful! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 11:16 am

    Jean Hutter - I am not commenting on your 2 questions but I am thinking about them. I want to however tell you that this post hit me over the head like a hammer. I have been struggling with creating art lately. Not feeling inspired and pressured into “making something” so I can post it on FB or some of the groups I belong to. Just quickly wack out an image and move on to the next. As I read your post I realized what my problem is – I don’t need to create quickly or even everyday. What I need to do is sit back and think about what I WANT to create, how to best to create it and take my time and let the images reveal themselves to me. Sounds simple so why didn’t I ever think like this before? It is because of the NOW culture that we live in. I started using my iPad and apps lately and that is even a more spontaneous world. The only one pressuring me to wack out image after image is myself – how about that. It has been my thinking all along if I am not producing somehow I am wasting my time. Thank you for this post – sometimes the universe sends us just what we need and for me this was it.ReplyCancel

    • January 14, 2018 - 11:28 am

      brookeshaden - Jean, thank you for sharing your insights. It sounds simple, yes, but it is incredibly difficult – to slow down, to make peace with our creative clock. It is the test of an artist, I believe. Xo!ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 11:25 am

    Sabrina-M - This image is so beautiful Brooke, just stunning!
    I had a idea for a while now in creating a series with old black and white photos from migrants who left from our port of Antwerp on the red star line to seek fortune and new beginnings in USA and Canada.
    The thing that’s holding me back are finding those black and whites. So if any of you have ancestors who came from Europe to USA and you have images of them (full length) you may always contact me and help out.ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2018 - 8:10 am

      Gallagher - My family did way back when, but there aren’t any photos, sorry.
      I love the idea though. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 12:34 pm

    Maria - A yellow chair, a teddy bear, and broken tea cups. Last spring I sketched out a concept/series using these objects. By late summer/early fall, I finally got my first shots. And then came a new job, a totally new schedule, and then this frigid eastern PA weather (remember those?). Everything has come to a halt. But there is not a day that goes by where I’m not thinking about it, reworking it, thinking how I can shoot parts in doors, thinking if the thermometer rises above 30, I have to be ready. I already know I need to make some changes stemming from things I learned from your recent CreativeLive (I learned so much ~ Thank You!!). Lots of changes in the last 6 months have really kept all my photography at a standstill. Some days it never feels like I’ll ever find may way back. Until… I read this post. I know now that as long as the ideas are dancing around in my head, I am essentially always creating. Have a wonderful and safe trip, looking forward to creative insights from IndiaReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 1:01 pm

    Ellen - Hi Brooke, I had to smile when I read this post. I am a bit older than you, quite a bit and I did not grow up in this fast paced world, but even compared to that slower pace, I tend to have ideas ripen wayyyyyy too long. I knew I wanted to be a photographer when I was really young, yet waited for 40 years to take the plunge. In the meantime I have been working as a visual artist and the best things I created were in my head for 3 years or more. Sometimes it is because of a fear of failure, sometimes simply because the idea is there, but I don’t have a clue how to approach it. I tend to design things in my head, if it makes sense, I will make it and even if the conceptual fase takes 3 years, when I get going I have made it inside my head so many times that making it is autually a piece of cake. I must admit to not force new ideas into being. I know that the pieces will fall into place when I let go of trying to control the idea. I do hope though that my photography project idea will not take 3 years of ripening.
    Have a safe trip to India and back. Take careReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 1:50 pm

    Julie - Hi Brooke, this post is so well timed, I am finding myself in a planning stage as well and oft times feel like I am floundering. I have so many ideas in my head and journal and I am slowly starting to pull it all together. Of course, there is no time frame, it will happen when it happens, organically as all creativity should. It should be enjoyed, savoured, engaging. You have just reminded me of that thank you. I wish to finish off my Dapper Rabbit and my Tarot series, and then delve into my new endeavour. I wish you well on your travels and new endeavoursReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 2:07 pm

    Anna - I love getting your blog emails! It’s like I am reading a chapter of a book and I love it! This image is amazing and I cannot wait to see your new series (whenever the time is right to start creating). I hope that you have an incredible trip. Much love.ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 2:48 pm

    bob - Your posts continue to be inspiring. With the amount of negativity within many of the social media circles it’s refreshing to find posts such as yours. I plan on revising my website with some newer work, however my ‘other’ job is rather psychologically consuming. In the back of my mind however, one project that I have in mind is a shoot in a actual gothic castle. So many possibilities.. perhaps one day.ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 5:22 pm

    Omar - I’m currently on what I would call an artist block. I’m truly glad to know that I’m not the only one that feels the need to drag out art projects, to create a steady pace of creativity. The project I’m working on is almost done but it is missing something and I can’t figure out what. I’m trying to convey a very moody deep picture. The pictures is of a white rabbit with glowing eyes in the middle of some shrubs and branches. You’ve been caught in snowstorm on a cold winter night. The scene is foggy made in a way that makes you feel as if you stubbled upon this rabbit digging through the bushes. I originally intended to add a rabbit hole somewhere near him. But I’m struggling with the composting and blending right now. The meaning behind my picture was trying to translate how how deep the “rabbit hole goes”. Signifying my battles with depression; in the sense of how deep some of these scars run. This piece in particular means a lot to me and I need it to be perfect. I want my image to impact others as well; my goal is to create powerful images like you someday.ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 5:53 pm

    Cynthia Walker - This year I am steeping way out of my photographic box,and putting myself in front of the camera. I work as a real estate photographer so what i do doesn’t allow for a lot of creativity and I miss being creative.

    I have started to brainstorm and write down ideas about telling the dark story of my past. Some days it is so hard to reopen those wounds to tap into the emotions and feel so helpless and vulnerable again, but I feel so strongly in my heart it is time to open up and let it be. Things I have learned so far is I am very awkward in front of the camera even when it is just me.ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 8:43 pm

    Winny - For now I’m exploring in 2 sides: moody and conematic stories (short films and photo) and conceptual stories about existence (film and photo) I try to get a work full of emotion and evocative but also natural, organic, I’m still trying to talk about existence as part of my nees to express my feelings. Thank you for sharing your experiences and art!ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 9:52 pm

    Ron McDonald - Can’t wait to see your new series. Natalie Lennard (formerly Miss Aniela)has been exploring her new project series on birthing. It sounds like your new project will be exploring aspects of the end of life. Interesting how two of my favorite creatives have chosen similar yet opposite subjects for their next focus. I’m sure it’s going to be a great year and can’t wait to see your treatment of such a heavy subject! And thanks for sharing your thoughts and deep thinking that goes into your work, it’s very inspiring! Have a safe trip to India!ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 11:11 pm

    Kat - The image is stunning. So excited I get to see it. Before Creative Live I would have had no idea!! I am working on a 4 piece series about my children. It is about discovery and growth. I have one image done and on my Instagram page but the others have been a work in progress for so long, nearly 6 months. I am being held back by time. I have small children and work part time and am trying to set up a photography business. I want the images to be perfect. I want the time to work on them when I am NOT tired. I worry that will never happen. Then again I think maybe time and tired are just an excuse. I hope not.ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2018 - 1:47 am

    kathryn hopkins - I have had to put my photography business on hold due to my dad being poorly – I’m heartbroken at the thought of losing both. Brooke, you have inspired me to look deeper and given me hope that I can carve a new path creatively which provides freedom not loss. This is what I’m brainstorming right now – new paths/new ideas/a new way to live and create. Thank you Brooke.ReplyCancel

I started my career and worked completely alone for 4.5 years. It came to my attention that I was about to fall apart into a million pieces, so I hired an assistant. Things got a lot better. I felt that, while the workload was lessened a bit, the real benefit was feeling less alone. I felt like I had someone to share the failures with and the highlights, like someone really cared about my business other than me (and my Love, of course). And then, a year ago, we stopped working together and I’ve been back on my own since then.

I was nervous about how it would go, since my business has only grown over those years with a lot of different balls in the air. One big thing changed though, from the time I hired someone to the time that ended: I fully realized what having a business is all about.

I stopped seeing business as transactional
and instead saw it as community-driven.

The moment I started seeing every email as a real person with feelings, it became much easier and more motivating to keep up.

Let me just say: running a business can be lonely.

Most of the professionals I know have assistants or even teams to help out with odds and ends. I’ve always been a loner and prefer it that way. I like to know that I am the one doing the work. I also have trust issues, as I feel many people who have started a business do. I don’t trust that others will do the work as well as I can. Delusional? Probably. Maybe. Eh…

Going into this past year I was worried. I really feared that everything would fall apart. I feared I wouldn’t be able to keep up with all the emails or remember all of the things I used to forget. So, here’s my report, and my lessons learned.

My 24 hour email policy has been incredible. I’ve been able to respond to emails honestly, efficiently, and in half the time it used to take me.

I’ve never, in all my career, assistant or not,answered emails
as thoroughly, thoughtfully and quickly as this past year.

The only thing that changed was a commitment to the people behind the emails. I wanted to show them that I care and that my responses hold heart. I wanted to show them that their words are important, no matter if they are offering me a job or not, kind words or criticism, or if they’ve sent 3 emails to bypass the word limit. I see you…

Here is a great example of how my organization and emailing has helped my business. Years ago, you would be lucky if you heard back from me within a month, let alone a day. Even with an assistant, emails would get missed and never remedied. But now, since I started my new email policy, I get an email at least once a week solely to say how grateful the writer is for my quick response and professionalism. I’m not saying this to assert that my business is somehow better; but for me, I’ve grown leaps and bounds, and it is showing (and bringing in more business recommendations). That really means something.

I deal with emailing creatives a lot. I have to, to invite speakers for my Promoting Passion Convention. Only about 1 in 15 people will email me back within a 48 hour period. Maybe about half will write back within two weeks, and half will never respond. I am astounded at how difficult and alienating it is to get in touch with creative professionals, so dealing with emails in a quick and professional manner can really go a long way.

Another thing that I’ve decided to do this last year, which was easier than years past, is to say no better. I’m still absolutely awful at it. I’ve already agreed to 5 things in the first half of next year that I’m regretting. But, I did get better. I’ve turned down about 25 jobs (some big, some very small) for this new year in the past few months alone. First, it has been easier because I’m not paying an employee, so I had the extra financial wiggle-room. I know this is a luxury and I very much appreciate what a fortunate situation that is to be in. Second, I started to truly value my time more. Life is for living, let’s not forget that.

I started noticing that there is a very direct correlation between my organization and my health. When I am organized (for example, finishing taxes on a monthly basis instead of all at once, or keeping my office clean), I feel more clear-headed and ready to be inspired. When I can easily settle into a routine without worrying about all the loose-ends, I am so much happier.

My business has never been better. Period.

As a creative, that is important for health, wellness, and sanity. Most importantly, it is essential for my inspiration. To reiterate, these are the ways I managed to do it all on my own (after years of practice, mind you):

  1. Behind every email is a person. If you met in a coffee shop, chances are you’d feel a lot more kindly to that person, so imagine every email is a coffee shop encounter. A really good one. And respond as though you were standing there in person. Emails can be annoying. And not every email is worth the time. But most are, because most are really nice people with kindness in their hearts. Call me a hippie, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we are good to each other.
  2. Say no so that you carve your career into what you want it to be, not what others want it to be. That will lead to a healthier and happier life, and will earn you more expertise in what you want to do.
  3. Give priority to organization so that your creative brain isn’t distracted by clutter. 
  4. Write a comprehensive, timed to-do list at the end of every work day for the day ahead.

The past year has been transformational for me in these regards. With that daily to-do list, for example, I am hyper focused. I also feel a greater sense of accomplishment as I work my way through my day.

I’ve become really good at taking care of
myself without feeling disadvantaged.

I used to look at other professionals and whine that I don’t have help and therefore I can’t achieve what they can. Yes, that is a valid argument in some situations, but not most. I’m a one-person show and heck yes, I’m proud of that. You should be too, no matter where you’re at.

Let’s face it – most of us are not in a position to have a team of people working for us. And, something I’ve come to terms with is that right now in my career, I have no desire for that. I’m much happier when I’m working alone on the whole. I don’t aspire to hire a team. Maybe in the future I will, and I’m open to that mindset changing. But for now, I’m going to keep blasting the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack in my little office while chain-drinking tea and smiling dreamily at my imagination. Alone. Because as entrepreneurs, we can do that.

What changes have you made that
give you a healthier creative life?

Will you take any of these changes
and apply them to your business?

  • January 8, 2018 - 7:45 am

    Julie McCullough - Brooke you said everything I have wanted to say! Organization to your day is key. If you get unfocused you have a map to get you back on the right path. I have been working on my own for 15 years and have had assistants off and on. The key with or without an assistant is the organization. This year to have a healthier more creative life is to make exercise/mediation part of every day and it is in the schedule. What I am really focusing on is getting fully transition to a completely creative business again (it’s too technical right now). Thank you for sharing what you have learned and your schedule.ReplyCancel

    • January 8, 2018 - 7:50 am

      brookeshaden - I love to hear that you also focus on organization! That is awesome. It’s such a weird thing to talk about in creativity, but in the end, I can’t be as creative if I’m not organized. Hugs!!ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2018 - 8:01 am

    Sabrina-M - Hi Brooke,

    Being alone in your business is something that never botherd me so much. What I do miss is a person who has an honest opinion of what I’ve made and helps me to go a step further sometimes. So I’ve joined a few communities and that has been great but it would be nice to have a rendezvous in a tearoom once in a while with someone. Now I’m hoping i don’t come over as a sad little lady because that’s not at all the case.
    Anyways I’m trying to go one step further with my business and spending a lot of time looking for galleries and shows where I could exhibit. It would just be awesome if there was a gallery out there that would love me as a permanent artist, but then again isn’t that a dream we all have.
    The only thing I keep messing up is time management. I’m awful with sticking to a schedule although I know it would help me out a lot. But deep down I’m a “go with the flow” kinda person and health issues don’t always play in my favour.
    But I’m never going to stop what I’m doing now that I found my one true passion, it’s the thing that keeps me sane 😉
    Hugs and love,

    • January 8, 2018 - 8:15 am

      brookeshaden - If ever you need a hand, I’m here 🙂ReplyCancel

      • January 8, 2018 - 8:43 am

        Sabrina-m - Thanks Brooke, you have been a great help already with my portfolio reviews. They gave me push I needed to keep going and trying to believe in myself. <3ReplyCancel

        • January 8, 2018 - 6:51 pm

          Gallagher - I’m ready for the tearoom meeting as soon as I make it to France. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2018 - 8:13 am

    Dezarai Love - Hi!
    1) you answered my message on Instagram quickly and were kind to me :o)
    2) Same for me with organization and health
    3) This year I have a threefold organization system, my calendar, my notebook and my to do list on my phone (Wunderlist) and I find that as long as I follow my schedule everything runs super smoothly
    4) I’m learning when it doesn’t run smoothly to just keep going which is hard for me sometimes as I am a perfectionist and also sometimes a procrastinator but I’m doing much better
    5) And my schedule has greatly helped my art, I’ve created two pieces so far (still working on one) and am applying for my first gallery to see if I’m good enough to get in
    6) Love tea and Alice in wonderland ReplyCancel

    • January 8, 2018 - 8:15 am

      brookeshaden - 1) Yay!
      I think syncing your to do list and calendar, etc., is so great. I’m currently looking into apps that will help me with this!ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2018 - 8:17 am

    Norma - Hey Brooke,
    I also like to work best on my own, (doing that for about 15 years) even though I can work perfectly with others. It can be handy if someone helps me sometimes but I think you also can use your creativity to overcome the difficulties you find with making each image. I don’t think I would ever work wit a team.. it would’t feel like it’s my creation anymore I guess.

    I hear you when you talk about planning and organizing so you won’t be distracted.. I have the same. I plan a lot but most of the time things turn out differently! haha I keep on trying.

    Last december a quit a horrible parttime job (after 11 years) and feeling so free!! I want to have more time for my fine art and this was the first step. That makes me happier because I can spend more time on my creative life. I think It will make my healthier also because I have a whole weekend (I used to work on most saturdays too) in which I can spend more quality time with my boyfriend, my horses, do more traveling, make art etc. I am feeling more freely with my business also because I have more time to find photography jobs, so 2018 promises to be a good year for me! The only thing that can be a disadvantage is when people don’t pay in time because I am now completely depending on their payments completely without my parttime job but.. I am used not to have a lot of money so I don’t think it will be a big problem.

    Have a great and loving 2018!

    smok from Norma
    (smok is a kiss in Groningen, where I live : ))ReplyCancel

    • January 8, 2018 - 8:21 am

      brookeshaden - Oh I so hear you about depending on that income….such is the life of a freelancer, eh! It’s really hard to track down payments sometimes when all we want to do is create!
      Smok! < -- I love that!ReplyCancel

    • January 8, 2018 - 8:39 am

      Sabrina-m - 2018 Will be awesome for you Norma, I Just feel it in my bones <3ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2018 - 8:21 am

    Karen Olson - About mid-year 2017 I felt my brain was about to explode. Juggling a part-time job as operations director for a non-profit arts center and learning new software for my own business was far too much for my brain to handle. I reached out for help from other creatives and worked with a content creation mentor and took several productivity classes. The result was amazing! I too want to do all the things in my own business and keep learning and growing but I couldn’t do it completely alone, I needed to call in those who could cheer me on and share their expertise and processes.

    I learned skills that will take me onward in a calm manner with passion. Organization and batching processes is the key to forward creative movement.ReplyCancel

    • January 8, 2018 - 8:22 am

      brookeshaden - I LOVE that you reached out for help. I’m betting that is something that a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with. I know I used to. This past year has been my year of education, and it has been amazing. Kudos to you!!ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2018 - 9:45 am

    Nicole Small - Hi Brooke.

    The idea of being organized and staying organized has been one of the most difficult things for me to do. My goal is to work on this and in addition to that, to find balance between myself and my creative work. I have continually driven myself several times close to burn outs because I sometimes just cant stop.

    There is one decision that I made 2 years ago that I will never turn back on and that was closing off the idea of working with a team to working and creating alone. Working in solitude, I love it.

    It took a long time,( too long), for me to realize that I did not have to keep myself in a position where I had to depend on finding others to work with in order to bring my creative works to life. I became very bitter and irritated during the lengthy empty periods from not creating, but this was my own fault. I came to a point where I did not want to feel dependent on anything but myself for any creative idea or vision I had. Working alone meant I could create anytime and anywhere of my choosing. Nothing was never going to stand in my way again.

    Once my mind transformed into this new approach, I went into reviewing a lot my ideas from my sketch book from it being collaborative projects to solo projects, ( self-portraits). Although a lot of my ideas will be hard to transform into a single self portrait, it has been an amazing journey so far.

    (reading this back I realize that I may be coming off as a negative person, but this is the complete contrary. I am happy where I am and what I am slowly becoming. I guess when I talk of the past history of my journey, I still feel the sting of all the rejections I had come face to face with).

    Thank you Brooke for listening and inspiring.


    • January 8, 2018 - 11:09 am

      brookeshaden - I love that you have come to a place of acceptance and excitement with where you want to be!ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2018 - 10:07 am

    Katrin Auch - You are inspiring me to better with my organization! Just wanted to let you know that and give you a book recommendation. Enchantment and Pastwatch by Orson Scott Card. Both deal with time travel in a unique way a Dr Who fan might appreciate. Enchantment is completely different take on Sleeping Beauty (and you know I love fairy tales) and Pastwatch is about trying to save our future by changing our past. OSC is a bit of a controversial figure, and a very uneven author, but when he is on, it’s good.ReplyCancel

    • January 8, 2018 - 11:08 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you for those recommendations! I love OSC in what I’ve read, so I will definitely be looking into those suggestions. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2018 - 1:17 pm

    Steve Owens - Brooke

    Thank you so much for your inspiration! In 2016, after much soul searching and meditation, I left my full time job to return to photography (after a 20+ year absence). I have never felt as free and alive and healthy! I do at times struggle with organization as maintaining social media sites, website updates, marketing and email correspondence just don’t fuel me as creating does.

    Your course and blog postings are a blessing! I too prefer to work alone the majority of the time. Though I dislike New Years resolutions I have promised myself to get out of my creative cocoon more to connect with other creatives and the community.


    • January 8, 2018 - 1:38 pm

      brookeshaden - Hi Steve! That is very inspiring and I am so glad to hear that you are feeling better than ever! How wonderful it is to marry business with passion when done with care and integrity. Well done!!ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2018 - 2:33 pm

    Afsaneh Javanmard - Hi and thanks for all of your insparation , for 2018 I promise myself to read and write more , to be able to show and talk about my artwork . My goal is to start new business and fallow my goal. I always wait to make everything perfect and start my new business , but it my never happened to find a perfect moment ,which i decided to start now in this year. I am working on my new website because the person I trust , messed up everything on my website. right now i cant see my old website either I am hoping and working hard to upload my new web ASAP . Also my next goal is to finish and graduate this year form UNLV and have my first solo show.
    Thanks for your helpReplyCancel

    • January 8, 2018 - 2:49 pm

      brookeshaden - I hope you reach all of your goals!ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2018 - 5:07 pm

    Monica Doin - It’ wonderful how close I fell to your ideas and tips. Thanks for sharingReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2018 - 6:08 pm

    Leslie Barton - I’ve been listening to your course. Even though I’ve been a photographer for 30 years I love listening to your perspective. I too have had full time help and now just myself. I’m pretty organized but my issue is focusing on what matters most and choosing and sticking to one creative project thru to completion. I’m good with job deadlines but lack focus with my own self-imposed deadlines. What to do?…ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2018 - 8:14 pm

    Gallagher - I don’t really have a business yet, but I think I will copy this post to a word program and save it. So if I ever have a business problem I can reread it! 🙂
    You know it is funny, I have never even considered highering an assistant, even in my plans and dreams of major success there was never an assistant. I really prefer working alone. Even when I am working in my greenhouses for hours on end in extreme heat and humidity when somebody helps I find it annoying, and I not even sure why! LOL
    I love that you always answer people emails, I can’t stand it when someone never emails back!
    Thank you so much for the post, I loved it! Smok!ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2018 - 10:22 pm

    Debbie - Loved today’s message. Healthier creative change for me is allowing myself to spend holiday break learning as much as possible about editing in Photoshop. Glad I took that time to do, as photography is not my profession, but my passion. Started new healthy lifestyle journey so that when my son graduates this year, I’ll be ready for pursuing my dreams. Maybe one day this will all lead to my new business.
    Organization is not my strong skill, but have spent the last year attempting. I keep list on MS Outlook schedule, task, and OneNote, but I like the list app you shared. I’ll keep working on that.
    Lastly, my work asked that emails are returned within 24 hours and I do that for most, even if it’s to tell that person I’ll get back to them. It make me feel good and then that person feels acknowledged. I then add reminder to email so I don’t forget.
    Keep up the good work Brooke.ReplyCancel

  • January 9, 2018 - 2:10 am

    Bob - Thank you for the message. Social media has been plagued recently with much negativity, so at least to improve my creative health I deliberately am spending less time ‘browsing’ and more focused. I find riding my exercise bike help clear my head at times and focusing on improving artistic aspects of Photoshop. I plan on a revision of my website with newer images so this is at least one new years resolution. Your work is inspiring, so many of my instagram posts (robertbarford) tilt toward this side. I must admit I do my best work alone sometimes, although I must admit a seamstress or MUA would help at time. I keep up with my emails, and hate them to pile up!!ReplyCancel

  • January 9, 2018 - 6:02 am

    Anna - I work a really demanding full-time job and of course there are a million things outside of work that I want to do. In order to lead a more healthy creative life, I have to schedule the things I want to do. I wake up a few hours before work in the mornings to focus on art stuff and meditation. I go to work then come home to go to the gym and get ready for the next day. On weekends, I try to dedicate at least 2 hours to my creative endeavors. The list goes on but these are the takeaways 🙂
    I like the timed list idea, I have tried it but it doesn’t always work for me. However, I am so grateful that I am not alone in feeling that no one can run a business like me. I appreciate the “coffee shop” email idea. I really enjoyed this blog.
    Another thing that I make time for is learning: On my way to work, I listen to a podcast (Chase Jarvis LIVE or the Art of Charm), at lunch I watch your creativeLIVE course and then before bed I read a few pages from books that will help me grow. Then I read a few pages of books that I enjoy for fun 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 9, 2018 - 2:41 pm

    Claude Hurni - Hi Brooke
    Thank you for this post. I don’t have my own business, just some small random jobs alongside photography school. But in both areas I struggle with organisation. In a recent Instagram post you mentioned that you didn’t feel motivated to get up in the morning, but you did it nonetheless. I’m currently where I just would stay in bed an do nothing. All the projects, be it free, paid or for school I do in the very last moment, sometimes quality suffers under it. I just started reading Getting things done of David Allen since its method seems to work for many people.
    One thing I try to do is to get in touch with all things photography more. Blogs like yours, tutorials, actually going out and shoot.
    I can always take something out of blog posts like this although I’m not in the exact same situation. I also really like David duChemins blog posts. Chase Jarvis is sometimes a bit too “sensational” for me, although a few years ago I watched a lot of videos from him.ReplyCancel

  • January 11, 2018 - 6:33 am

    Alice Saga - i am SO the same, i just wanna be with me and do my creations in my time. the only times i wish i had someone to help is when i have too much to carry or simply put need someone to help with small things. thanks for sharing brooke. love/ aliceReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2018 - 8:35 am

    Jon Miller - 1) What changes have you made that
    give you a healthier creative life?

    answer: I decided to mentor a person to really put time into teaching and showing them how this business works. She is excited to be learning and she has been doing really well. She has good energy and that I needed to tap into to help me get a grip on the injury. So we are helping each other in reality. I called off a relationship that for the past 5 years has done nothing but constantly degraded me. We are still friends just no longer living under the same roof and that way I do not have to listen to the negativity 24/7/365 This has lifted a ton of BS off of me. I feel I was being held back because of this negative energy. It was amazing in that as soon as we separated a lot of positive activity came my way. My energy picked up a notch or two, financially this is moving in the right direction. One time for sure I smile more, laugh more, enjoy the outdoors more and started shooting more. I entered 3 images in a art show and all 3 was accepted, I even got all 3 off to the show 2 weeks earlier. I learned I need to align myself with positive people, people who want to see you succeed and have the success you desire and not try to drag you down.


  • January 14, 2018 - 1:27 pm

    Georgia Martin Baker - I just want to Thank you for all you are and do you are inspirational!, best of luck on your trip to India.ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2018 - 12:04 am

    Stephan Pawloski - Hey Brooke,
    This post really resonated with me, I found it both grounding and validating as I prefer to create and dream solo and then spend shorter more intense periods with people so I can really connect with them (I’m an INFP, go figure eh). Thank you for sharing your vulnerability, and of course, your passion. 🙂