What are you waiting for?
What if you really answered that question? What would you discover about yourself? Or do you already know?

Opportunity?

Success?

The right moment?

It is so easy to wait. I fall into this trap regularly. I think to myself, “This isn’t a good time, surely things will get better.” Or I say, “I’ll wait to do this until I have more _________,” insert whatever word fits for you: money, time, energy, hope, help, tools, gear, etc.

There are many things I’ve put off in my life. Making a documentary. Creating a fine art book. Publishing my novel. Just to name a few.

But at the same time, there are many things I have done. I am not someone who sits and counts the seconds on the clock. I ignore the clock entirely, most days. I do what feels right despite the risk. I am, at heart, a perpetual risk-taker.

But even those of us whose brains seemed to be blocked from whatever tells us something is dangerous, it still creeps in.

That is how I know it must for other people, too. I make excuses, though I like to think of myself as someone who doesn’t. We all do.

But what if we didn’t? What if we didn’t need the life raft that excuses let us hold on to and instead we swam, for dear life, to the place where our dreams dwell?

Where would you end up?

That is the question we should answer today:

 

Where would you end up if you
let go of your life raft and swam?

  • November 8, 2018 - 7:33 am

    Sara - Hi Brooke,
    You inpsired me to create my first photographic series last year. My husband had a stroke and I created a series of composited self portraits called “Stroke of Emotions”. I never intended to show anyone my work, but participating in your month long online course last October gave me the courage to “put it out there”. The results have been amazing! Five of the images were accepted for a month long exhibit at a photography gallery (my first “paid” exhibit). I conducted a one hour presentation to over 40 people at our local library (I am terrified of public speaking!) which was well received. I created a self published book based on my talk. The series was featured by an online Canadian photography magazine, and six images from the series have recently been published in a book called “Seeing in Sixes 2018”. My series was one of fifty projects selected from over 1000 entries. It is truly amazing what you can achieve if you have the courage to try. Thanks for all that you do to encourage others!ReplyCancel

    • November 8, 2018 - 7:44 am

      brookeshaden - Wow Sara!! That is an incredible way of turning hardship into something more beautiful…and then owning your creativity and confidence and putting yourself out there! I am so happy for the success you’ve had. Keep going Sara!!ReplyCancel

    • November 8, 2018 - 9:35 am

      Gallagher Green - Holly monkey Sara, that is amazing! And so inspiring! ❤
      Congratulations, and not only on these successes but on throwing out your excuses and making this happen! ReplyCancel

  • November 8, 2018 - 7:36 am

    Anna Bruce - Oh Brooke. This. First, let me tell you that I have a personal obsession with the theme “Time”. I did a whole piece on it in school. Right now I just feel overwhelmed. So overwhelmed. Everyday I do something in the way of what I’ve set out for myself but some days it feels like it’s just not enough. I woke up in a funk today so this post is appropriately timed. I need help with figuring out how to run my business but have no idea where to turn. Everyday I make it a point to not let myself defeat myself. I try to peptalk myself out of being impatient and kindly remind myself that it’s a journey, not a race and my journey has truly just begun.ReplyCancel

    • November 8, 2018 - 7:43 am

      brookeshaden - I hear you and I feel the same so regularly. Self-employment is such a struggle between all of those emotions! I’m here for you if I can be, just an email away if you want to throw some questions my way.ReplyCancel

  • November 8, 2018 - 7:52 am

    Kristy - Sometimes I find it hard to believe that you can knock these images out like this, I just watched you shoot this live yesterday. Ha ha ha
    I guess that comes with patience and practice though. Beautiful piece!ReplyCancel

  • November 8, 2018 - 9:42 am

    Jacob - Hey brooke! I have been admiring your work for at least the past 6 months now. And it led me to do a research project on you for one of my classes and then a photo assignment for my other class. I major in photography in college right now and your work has inspired me to bring a story to my work besides just having a nice picture. I am starting a project because of your work where I bring mental illnesses a visual using my photography and my photoshop abilities. I am doing this work because of the people around me who are all impacted by it and with your photos it gave me a sense of direction in how I wanted to achieve this work! I really want to say thank you and keep up what you do because your work in finominal. It’s also cool to see that you shoot with a sony camera as well! 🙂 Can’t wait to see where this journey takes me but thank you so much for the inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • November 8, 2018 - 9:46 am

    Gallagher Green - I started trying to stop making excuses a year or so ago after reading one of your blog post about making excuses. LOL I still find myself making them, but I now recognize when I do stop myself and say “Is that just an excuse or fact?” sometimes it is fact. But 90% of the time it is an excuse, and since I have started confronting these excuses a lot has changed!
    Excuse: “I am too broke to go to PPC.”
    Fact: “I worked and make it to PPC.”
    Excuse: “I can’t do conceptual work without a model.”
    Fact: “Yes I can, I just had to drag myself in front of the bloody camera.”
    Excuse: “You can’t move to France without money.”
    Fact: “Yes you can, it will just be a little harder, and more fun!”
    Excuse: “Writing a book is unobtainable.”
    Fact: “No it isn’t, you just have to do it.”

    These are just the tip of the iceberg, but they are all true and incredible!

    P.S.
    Love the photo! ReplyCancel

  • November 8, 2018 - 2:31 pm

    Bob Barford - Letting go of a life raft can certainly be scary, particularly if it is a job (even a frustrating one). Like a life raft in the water, a great deal of anxiety, concern about bills, and even slipping under the surface so as not to make it to shore is a real possibility. Sometimes, I wonder though if moving toward something just a little bit better, no far how far from the raft, might be worth the risk.ReplyCancel

  • November 8, 2018 - 7:56 pm

    Angela Willis - If I let go of my life raft, I would drown, since I can’t swim.

    As always I love this piece and your lovely words to support it, Brooke. Also would love to see the live that you did (if you recorded it), I spaced out and forgot about it…

    Super excited about your “Death” series, can’t wait to see it.
    Happy Thanksliving!ReplyCancel

  • November 8, 2018 - 8:22 pm

    Rocio Villanueva - For the last year and a half I have been swimming without my life draft. I have been creating art, specially fine art photography, and the waters haven’t always been easy to manage. Some times it’s very disappointing and frustrating, not making enough money from this. But I really don’t care because not all in this life is about money.
    I love to show through my art my life, my soul, my mysterious secrets, and passion. To live my life in the fullest way, I make art for my self, to be happy,to be a complete person.ReplyCancel

  • November 9, 2018 - 9:13 am

    Usha - Dear Brooke. I think this is true artistry. To feel the vision, to execute it and have the skills to make beautiful images out of literally nothing. This is what draws me to you time and time again. After attending PPC this year, I made a decision to bear down and keep practicing and putting work out there and ask how to improve and learn from the comments. I really, really, really want to get to a stage where I can sit with myself and feel like I could express my emotions via images I make. I am determined to get there. I used to be a huge extrovert. As I am growing older, I am tending to retreat and want more and more alone time….to the point of getting panicky when social situation arise. This type of art making really is appealing as I can be OK being with myself. Its been a tough journey to find my authentic self and not immediately and easily “turn on the me” the people expect. I do that well. Being truly me is the hard part for me. Anyway, thanks for the White Wall Wednesday inspirations. Somehow, I have a lot of sadness in me. I don’t know why. Being around you and your art and your community really is bringing that up in me. I need to explore and feel it and find peace with it. I will use this to FIND my true self. Thanks you for your inspiration and kindness. (Also, will you be posting the post processing work flow somewhere for this?). Have an amazing day Brooke.ReplyCancel

  • November 13, 2018 - 4:47 am

    Piet Cosaert - If I let go my life raft, this means I should give up my life as I know and start a life full of art and filled with joy and happyness. But this should also mean a poor lonely life, because I lived too long in an exact science world. A world of engineering and managing projects etc. Nobody is accepting me as an artist, not even my own friends and family. They think this is not the person we know, so he must become insane or something.
    So what am I waiting for?ReplyCancel

  • November 13, 2018 - 10:16 am

    Usha - Hi Brooke. Don’t know what happened. Sent a long comment…but it doesn’t show up. Hope you got it.ReplyCancel

  • November 13, 2018 - 7:29 pm

    Julie Powell - Hi Brooke, I saw this post and it actually spurned me just doing a project I was working on….an online photography class. And you are right I was wasting time and making excuses thinking it was the wrong time of year, or what if no-one wants to join in, the what ifs are endless. But instead I just did it, put up the teaser and already have 12 people signed up in less than 12 hours! Laid the groundwork and put the finishing touches on the first few lessons and I’m off, it starts on Sunday. Scary, but thrilling and exciting at the same time. Thank you XOReplyCancel

Hands up if you’ve tried alternative process before!

I always thought I had no talent for things like working with my hands. I think a lot of us grow into that perception of ourselves; that we can’t draw and we can’t paint if we didn’t grow up with natural talent. I was nervous about trying something physical. Lately I’ve felt so silly for all the things I’ve been nervous for. Part of what has helped me start trying was becoming okay with being bad or untalented.

When I started creating sculptures I had to embrace the bador the idea that I wasn’t going to be good at it. Even something as easy to throw away as Alt Pro, I always felt I had to succeed. I’ve had a few friends who were really into alternative process, and I think that watching someone you love excel at something can automatically put the idea in your head that you won’t be as good.

Whatever the reason, I stayed away from alternative processes…until this week. I should note I do NOT know any official processes, so you won’t learn anything official, but then again…who makes up those rules, anyway?

I had such a blast. I spent a grand total of about 1.5 hrs working on this, from start to the end of editing it in Photoshop. This exercise doesn’t have to take a long time and it can still be really satisfying.

One unexpected takeaway was a new technique! I learned that if you coat an image in agave syrup, it transforms it to look like an oil painting – score! That’s a great tip for me to know since I create painterly images.

And I re-learned a lesson I’ve learned a hundred times: NOTHING MATTERS. I can make whatever I want and it doesn’t matter! I can throw it away, never show anyone, let it sit in my closet…and it doesn’t matter. At work, it’s an experiment. At best, I define a new piece of myself. I felt that trying Alt Pro did that for me; I was able to identify a new technique that is very much in alignment with what I want to do, and I did so while having a ton of fun.

Try some alternative processes this week! Print an image (it doesn’t have to be printed well!) and see what you can do with it! Use scissors, glue, wax, chemicals..whatever you want. Look up traditional methods or do what I did and wing it. Experiment. Play. PLAY.

And share what you make with the hashtag #WhiteWallWednesday.

 

  • October 24, 2018 - 5:37 am

    Paulo Carvalho - Different from usual! Yet, I loved it! Beautiful!
    By chance, I was with Sara Lando last week in Porto. She have a great work too!
    I also always had this idea that I could not work with my hands … Until I really did and realized I could. lol. Stay well!ReplyCancel

    • October 24, 2018 - 5:42 am

      brookeshaden - I don’t think I could adore Sara any more than I do without being a crazy stalker. She’s amazing and definitely inspired me to get my hands dirty this week!ReplyCancel

  • October 24, 2018 - 5:51 am

    Paulo Carvalho - 🙂 Yes! She is amazing! Very inspiring too. I enjoyed meeting her!ReplyCancel

  • October 24, 2018 - 6:52 am

    Gallagher Green - If I see a print of this in person someday (and I really want to) I will want to touch it so bad, because when I look at this my brain is telling me that there is texture there that I can feel, when there isn’t. That is one of the things I love most about this. It turned out so great, better than I expected! I love that shiny paint look it gives.
    I was going to make a photo with yarn but two things happened, #1 a major home repair that ate up all my creative time. 🙁 #2 my sister stopped by and took the yarn….. I know, what timing. LOL
    I have a White Wall in the works I need to finish, I will get it finished in the next day or so.
    Defiantly going to try some Alt stuff though, I love it!
    P.S.
    Given your history with syrup, you showed a surprising amount of restraint here. LOL 😉ReplyCancel

  • October 24, 2018 - 11:45 am

    Anna - I think this alternative process adds so much more to the image. Who would have thought Agave would be so nice but I have some ideas too. Now I want to get to work. I wonder what else I have in my pantry/home that will be good to spread on a print? Haha. Thank you for sharing this. I am so sad that I missed Sara’s class. I’ve been seeing all of the creations that people have made and they look awesome!ReplyCancel

  • October 27, 2018 - 11:22 pm

    Bee Jackson - I love how this has turned out with the texture and depth added by the syrup. I need to start getting things printed to play with them.ReplyCancel

I’ve been pretty quiet on the video front even though it’s my favorite way of connecting. Travel, working through my art, you know, the usual! But I’m back and creating with you and I can’t wait for you to see this one!

The spirit of White Wall Wednesday is being creative in the space that you have. There are three main ways of doing this:

1. Move your subject to a new background by learning compositing.
2. Transform your wall into a different space rather than cutting your subject. Maybe use set design or composite elements in to make it more interesting.
3. Use an interesting prop or costume so that the blank white wall feels appropriately minimalist.

I went with approach #3 today, and I hope you like the result. But it’s not finished! This is part one of a two part WWW series. I’ve gone ahead and printed this image, and next week I’ll share some experimenting (really, really experimenting because I’ve never done anything like this before!) of how we could further transform the image without any digital techniques. We’re diving into alternative processes!

This week, I hope you’ll join the challenge. Create something using an intentionally blank space, but fill that space with something interesting enough to carry the story. Take it one step further – I challenge you to use yarn in your art piece!

Share links with me here, or tag them on social media with #WhiteWallWednesday.

For a while there (and I mean the past year and a half), I found it really difficult to create. My ideas seem half-formed, and every time I thought I should be shooting, I just didn’t want to. It was a tough period of time. Last week, after I got home from Promoting Passion, something changed. I took a few days for myself, but then my desire and drive came back. I did an impromptu photo shoot for my new series and I loved it. I shot this yarn image and loved it. I ran outside chasing the fog and had such an amazing time. I edited a couple of photos I had left sitting.

Suddenly I had the energy and excitement for the things I’ve always loved but had put aside. And I realized that my problem was not actually energy or excitement, it was fear.

Isn’t it always?

I’m hesitant to use the word fear because of how flamboyantly it gets tossed around. I didn’t have a direct fear of failure or fear of wasting my time. It was more of a subtle, very-difficult-to-notice fear; a culmination of shoots gone wrong, money wasted, time not spent wisely, laziness with my techniques…and that all built up into an anxiety over creating.

I mentioned in my PPC post that something in me broke. And it was a really, really good kind of breaking. A necessary snap to put me back where I was, but better and more self-aware.

Shooting feels fun again. I want to create. I want to fail. I want to wake up before the sun and run barefoot in a field. I want to shoot on my white wall and take back the power that comes from that.

The power that comes from a white wall. That’s why I do these videos. There is a certain power that comes from shooting with what you have and making it work. Even more power from making it amazing. And even more power from doing it no matter how it turns out. White Wall Wednesday is a taking back of creativity and telling roadblocks to move out of the way, politely, because we’re here to create.

So friends, I hope you embrace your white wall this week. Get some yarn and create whatever it is you want to create. There are no expectations here, except to make something. The very act of creating is where inspiration comes from. The finished product is such a small percentage of the process that we can’t put so much stock in it. What if we only aimed to have a great experience making something? Think of how your art would change.

Happy White Wall Wednesday.

  • October 17, 2018 - 7:11 am

    Kristey Fritz-Martin - Absolutely MAGICAL!!! So very inspiring, as always!! Off to the craft store ❤️❤️ Thank you once again for being so incredibly and awesomely you my friend!ReplyCancel

  • October 17, 2018 - 8:14 am

    Maureen Denny - Simplicity is beautiful as is this image. I’m glad you are back and energized. It gives me a lot of hope. I am working through your Creative Live course and loving it. I sketched out a few projects and started working on one. I’m new to photography and compositing so my skills are pretty rough. The image wasn’t looking anywhere near what it looks like in my head and I really wanted to give up. I have decided to push through it and see what happens. You are such an inspiration for art, for facing fear, for so much. So much love to you and your gifts. ❤️ReplyCancel

  • October 17, 2018 - 11:02 am

    Desiree - What a beautiful post! I accept the challenge and I’ll be working on my yarn pic. Let’s see what happens! Thank you for helping keep inspiration alive.

    Xo.

    dReplyCancel

  • October 17, 2018 - 11:47 am

    Gallagher Green - I don’t think I have any yarn, I used to but it was such a mess I tossed it. Oops! LOL
    But I will give it a shot, I may have some yarn hiding somewhere.

    It makes me so happy to hear that PPC opened somethings up for you creatively, that is wonderful.
    The other morning we got an inch of snow overnight, and I ran outside with my camera and tripod first thing in the morning. within 5 minutes of being awake, I was laying in the snow taking photos, and it was wonderful! <3 PPC seems to bring this out in people. 🙂

    P.S.
    Adding yarn to a finished photo, this sounds like it was inspired by Sara a little. 🙂ReplyCancel

“In the dark wilderness we found each other.”
(Illustration by Gillian Gamble.)
(All images by the incomparable Kim Winey.)

I have a lump in my throat when my attendees start arriving to Promoting Passion. My empathy and anxiety intermingle and I’m sick at the thought of hosting a convention and the possibility that someone, even in the smallest way, won’t be happy. Or moved. Or changed. I expect so much of myself that I project my insecurities on to everyone participating. I think I’m going to vomit from the nerves.

The first bus of arrivals gets stuck in the sand after a late departure, traffic delays, a broken A/C, and more. I’m afraid they’re going to miss dinner. I chase the bus half a mile down the road until we’re both sunk in sand. I knock on the bus door and the driver lets me in, and when I pop my head up and yell at everyone the biggest and warmest welcome I can, I feel that I am home.

The energy engulfs me. The hugs start rolling in. I pat each person I see on the shoulder to acknowledge them. And it doesn’t stop until 2am. I hug 160 people. I try to make each person feel seen. We begin icebreaker games and I force everyone to talk to strangers, to share intimate information, to break down the walls. The desert is not a place for walls and barriers but for openness and connection. We end the night in a huge circle under the night sky. I make a statement and whoever agrees takes a step into the circle. We see right in front of us the ways in which we are alike. We share openly. There are tears. (And so many more to come.)

Day one of Promoting Passion officially begins. I only slept 3 hours the night before but I shoot out of bed early and run for the main hall, anxious to check on every person at breakfast and to make sure everyone feels taken care of. I’m so early that I don’t see anyone around, so I take that moment to breathe and settle into my role as leader.

At orientation I set the tone. I ask everyone, for just 3 days, to make every decision out of bravery. We feel the importance of our gathering, but not everyone gets it yet. The veterans of PPC know. They nod their heads with a sly smile on their faces. They know what’s coming. Workshops begins, we rush around and make sure all the speakers are in place. There is no time for food. I try to brainstorm ways of making each person feel recognized. The workshops are flawless. I’ve never worked with such a professional and kind group of assistants and speakers.

I get bad personal news and I do my best to make everything okay but I need time to myself, so I sink down in my car and I breathe as deeply as I can and I remember that despite anything happening to me, I can’t give that energy to my friends. I move past it quickly.

We listen to Joel McKerrow give a speech. Not for the first time he moves us to tears. I host a roundtable discussion about grant writing – but, nothing is ever about something so topical. We cry together as we acknowledge our insecurities. We are bound to each other by honesty.

Our first panel discussion rolls around and I make up silly questions about the earth exploding and aliens invading and what would you do and create and everyone laughs and I feel again like I am home. And just like that day one ends and my friends head off to bed and I lay there late at night worried about everyone’s well being and make myself sick over it, but how do you stop caring when you know that you have the power to make a difference for someone?

Day 2 and I have my own workshop to teach. Forty of us go to yoga outside in the morning sun and we laugh and stretch and feel as though we’re moving like one entity. My workshop is a beautiful gathering of honest expression and while we shoot and edit, everyone knows its not about that. It’s never about that.

Three past attendees (Jen, Michlynn, and Ted) share their personal stories and journeys, a way of telling everyone we are all on a level playing field and acknowledging that there are some incredible stories in our group. No one is better than anyone else. We are so moved by their stories and many hugs are shared after by people who related so much to what they said.

Sara Lando shares a personal project with us in her lecture about the art she created before her mother’s death, and after. She tells us that her mother gave permission for Sara to share those images with people because expression and story is so important in healing. She created after her mother’s death too, but she doesn’t share that. The dead can’t give consent. Yet again we understand that the images themselves are not important – the spirit of the creation process is what heals us and connects us. We are all moved by her words to tears.

We create again. I cover my sister-in-law in clay and flour and paint. We make a massive mess, but we don’t care. We let ourselves get caked in flour; we laugh hysterically.

And then another panel discussion. More aliens and exploding planets, and we learn so much about the speakers and their journeys and suddenly the long, long path we think we’re on gets shorter and we understand that success is not born of talent but of perseverance, and we are settled into ourselves.

That night I’m late locking up in the main hall because I’m entranced with my friend Devin playing the piano. It is a gorgeous night and the music is soft and I’m starting to become less anxious, less worried about everyone. We’re settling in. One of the attendees, Bryan, comes to play the piano and he shares with us his singing and songwriting talent after we beg to hear it. He has stage fright, he says. I suggest we make a music video. Devin is into it. Sara is into it. Oscar is into it. And suddenly we’re frantically collaborating and we’re in our creative flow and this is happening. We’re choreographing and blocking and singing and everything is perfect.

We meet at 6am the next day to film at sunrise. We make a music video in an hour.

I start my day and everything continues without flaw. My assistants make this possible, especially my best friend KD and my sister Jessy. They show an unprecedented level of care and commitment to my baby. They constantly make sure I am fed and that I have space to breathe and help everyone with their every need. They are organized beyond measure. They make this conference run.

That day I give a lecture. I feel the power of it. I see people crying as my throat tightens around certain subjects. I can’t speak them easily but it comes out of me and I am impassioned in a way I’ve never been before. Because this year, I’ve found my truth and I am living it in the messiest and most authentic way possible. I feel supported by 160 pairs of hands and it makes me feel alive in a way I cannot express.

I need to give this back to them.

I host a confidence collaboration. I tell about 80 people in a room to face the wall and talk to the wall and block out everyone else. I ask them to tell the wall what they don’t like about themselves. Then what they do like. Then to pick a word that can empower them. I hear tears and I hear sighs and I hear giggles at how silly this seems. But everyone does it. And we settle into that moment. We come back together as a group and the hugs are endless and the tears are so necessary and we breathe together a deep breath. Later I’m told that it was an extremely poignant and important moment at PPC this year.

That night we have our closing ceremony. As I picked up the mic to start, someone came and got me to tell me to look outside. I see something in the night sky. We realize what it is. I rush inside and scream as loud as I can for everyone to grab a camera and get outside. 160 of us do this. We stand in the pitch dark desert looking up at the stars – and, by complete coincidence, at the Tesla SpaceX rocket launching nearby. It creates a rainbow ball in the sky. Trails of ethereal light blaze behind it. It is a spectacle I could never imagine. We are in awe. Many of us hold hands and lock arms and give hugs. It feels like a sign of brilliance.

Finally, after it exits our atmosphere, we go back inside. We begin a create-off, where four of us have 8 minutes to create something based on the same theme. I go first and I run around like a chicken and somehow I manage to create an image that I don’t hate around the theme Monkeys in Space. It’s a long story.

Joel the poet goes. Gillian the illustrator goes. Bella the photographer goes. And then we are judged, and Joel wins. I have never heard such loud laughter from a room. Our escapades were ridiculous, and the perfect release of intense emotion from the week.

And then we get serious again. I ask everyone to think of that word that they are going to use as a mantra to empower themselves. Then I ask them to scream that word as loud as they possible can. I feel the vibrations of it in my feet through the ground. It is frightening and beautiful and I think I won’t be able to hold my tears back for a single moment more as I realize how many people have just accepted their power.

I decide, in honor of the Sony Alpha Female grant, that I am going to give away my own, much smaller, PPC grants. All week I’ve been asking attendees and assistants who has touched them and made a difference in their lives. I consider this myself all week. And then I choose three people to receive the grants. It is a massive surprise and I watch three women come to the stage, crying at being acknowledged for their brilliance.

Benny reads his story to the group. Not a single person has a dry eye. Benny is an artist who majorly effected many people’s lives by allowing art to save his own. It is so powerful.

Joel reads a poem called Welcome Home. We cry again. Do you know what it feels like to be accepted into a new family, one that frees you and lifts you up? It is a homecoming. It is powerful beyond measure. We all know it and we won’t let go.

It’s time to end. I tell everyone to give thanks to the assistants and models and sponsors. We can’t do it without them. We CANNOT do it without them.

And then KD comes to the stage, just as I’m finishing the convention. She takes the microphone. She tells everyone that I created this conference alone. That I had no help this year. That all the decisions were mine and that my energy and my spirit brought everyone together and that is the magic glue at Promoting Passion. And I wonder if this sounds idiotic to everyone, because I know in my heart that I did nothing alone – I had the power of 160 individuals who needed this conference spurring me on. I had friends to lean on.

And then they stand. All 160 of my family. They stand and they cheer and they send me so much energy that I am moved beyond tears. I cover my face and cry and lend my soul to them to carry while I cannot carry it myself. Sometimes it is so heavy.

I spent the past year planning Promoting Passion. I worked myself so hard. I cried so many times. I hated so many minutes of it. I doubted I could impact people in the way that they needed. But in that moment, I knew none of that was important. I had impacted people. And those people impacted other people. And the gravity of that moment was a weight that lifted off of me. It worked. We were changed. We were changed.


Thank you to the sponsors of Promoting Passion. These are the people who believe in a vision outside of photography, who invest in creativity, innovation, and community:

 

And for the amazing donations (over $8,000!) to give away to people at Promoting Passion: Microsoft, Sony, WHCC, X-Rite, Think Tank, 3 Legged Thing.

 

  • October 16, 2018 - 8:32 am

    Arthur Hsieh - Just a simple bravo to you Brooke. You work so hard, your heart is so big, and your journey as an artist and human continues in plain view.ReplyCancel

    • October 16, 2018 - 8:35 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you my friend. I appreciate you very much.ReplyCancel

  • October 16, 2018 - 8:42 am

    jennifer sulak - sooooooooooooooooooo lovely…to see this in words….i don’t even have words yet….i love you!!!!ReplyCancel

  • October 16, 2018 - 8:57 am

    Wendy Baker - Thank you Brooke. For everything. You’ve captured the magic perfectly. Kim’s photos are gorgeous and so full of emotion. Yes, as always when encountering this beautiful community you’ve created, I am changed.ReplyCancel

  • October 16, 2018 - 9:52 am

    Kristey Fritz-Martin - Big big tears!!! So much power, energy and passion!!! You are a true shining light my friend!! I know deep in my soul I will not miss PPC every again after following alone, not only the conference itself, but seeing how much work and thebpieces of yourself you put into making it all come together. Absolutely beautiful!!! Amazing job ❤️❤️ And yet again, you are my hero!ReplyCancel

  • October 16, 2018 - 10:07 am

    Anna - Oh Brooke, I hope that you know how loved you are (first and foremost). Second, it makes me so happy to see your baby grow. This PPC was beyond magical for me. I got to bring Adam and he was able to see why I came home SO changed last year. As you may know, he is a Systems Engineer and Mentor for a large IT Company. He is used to very left brained conferences (not a bad thing!) and this was a breath of fresh air for him. He felt so inspired by everyone that he telling me after day 1 that we were definitely going to the next one! He’s already planning three-day weekends at your road shows lol. My point is, you have changed me. PPC has changed me. I have found a community of people who get me – friends who get me. I am part of a lot of photography communities but I feel so disconnected because we are so different. This is home and I know that you want this to be perfect but it was perfect. I know there will be people who are not happy – that is natural! It means that you have reached outside of your community into other communities. You will attract new people to this amazing event and for some people this may not be there thing. However, some of the issues that may come up can be mended. I am here to offer any help that you need. Just let me know 😉 You have my e-mail and cell. I am just a buzz away – Forrealz, I mean it: I don’t share offerings of help lightly haha. Thank you for sharing this blog and this magical experience. You are one of the most amazing people I know and I love you.ReplyCancel

  • October 16, 2018 - 11:03 am

    Ronne Pierce - Love you so much Brooke and I enjoyed seeing you shed the extra layers that were no longer serving you. I felt it in you the entire weekend and I know that vibe really gave us all the courage to be honest with ourselves and walk more in the direction of who we truly are. You are a gift, PPC is a gift and I can’t speak for everyone but I will be there whenever you decide you will be offering us the gift again.
    Cant’ wait to see more of you being exactly who you are <3 Much love #ourtribeReplyCancel

  • October 16, 2018 - 12:13 pm

    Susan Bertram - Ahhh Brooke! Love this! You captured the energy and spirit of the event so well. And I’m so sorry that you got bad news while you were there working so hard to serve all of us. You did an amazing job. You’re a precious light spreading goodness in the world. I can’t wait for the next PPC. Big hugs to you!! xoxoReplyCancel

  • October 16, 2018 - 1:36 pm

    Chrystal kelly - Wow! I really wish I could’ve made it out there! It’s been so long since I have been west, too long! I was at the promoting passion in N.C. that’s where I live. The experience and all the people I met were just genuinely awesome. I look forward to attending again. Brooke you do an amazing job and the people you draw to you are really beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • October 16, 2018 - 2:48 pm

    Margaret Bond - As a first timer, I really did not know what to expect. However, from the moment I committed to attend this conference, I just knew, I knew in my soul that this would be an experience like no other. Boy, did I underestimate the power of being with so many creatives in the desert and in the care of Brooke’s guidance. Yes, I have been changed as an artist and, more importantly, as a person. I will be forever grateful for Joel, Sara, Bella, Pratik, Gillian and of course, Brooke. This experience stirred up something inside of me that will not be denied. Thank you very much.ReplyCancel

  • October 17, 2018 - 6:39 am

    White Wall Wednesday: Yarn Challenge » Promoting Passion - […] mentioned in my PPC post that something in me broke. And it was a really, really good kind of breaking. A necessary snap to […]ReplyCancel

  • October 21, 2018 - 11:22 am

    Cristina Baker - Congratulations on another incredible convention. I missed my PPC family again this year. Hoping I get to create with you all next year. Brooke thank you for being you and for doing what you do. You have been a huge inspiration to me and I am so grateful you put yourself out there. It gives me the courage to share my story too. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • October 23, 2018 - 12:13 am

    Mrs. Death Makes Her Grand Entrance - Photo Thrive - […] left Skully at home but something tugged at me to bring her, so I did. Adam and I headed off to the Promoting Passion Convention in Joshua Tree, CA where we would spend three amazing days learning, creating and connecting. The […]ReplyCancel

  • November 1, 2018 - 7:09 am

    Benny - Brooke, I know this is late. But I have been avoiding processing the trip and this magical event. Maybe because of how I crashed so badly emotionally last year. Or maybe I am just scared that when I do finally process it, I forget.
    I know this is not ration. How can I forget the love and support that brings me to tears just at the thought of it? How can I forget feeling like I belong somewhere for the first time in my life and that people actually want and enjoy having me around? How can I forget that energy that flys around lighting my soul and heart up like a Christmas tree for 4 days? Brooke,how could I forget you? I am sitting here in tears because my anxieties are coming up. “Come on, Benny! How many times are you going to thank her.” But I can’t believe the ways my life has changed since I found you, Brooke. And as for the rest of you, I will hold our laughs,tears and conversations in my heart forever. Until we meet again.
    BennyReplyCancel

Happy Wednesday,
but not so happy White Wall Wednesday.

I don’t have a new video for you, BUT – we are a month in to White Wall Wednesday which means you have a bunch of videos to look back on. And if you haven’t joined in yet, use the hashtag #WhiteWallWednesday so that I can find your creations!

That brings me to why I’m not releasing a video today, and I’m glad for the opportunity to talk about it. We have a chronic problem of idolizing people who seem successful and swiping bad emotions under the rug. Let’s stop that nonsense.

A few things piled up this past week, physically and emotionally.

“The best way out is always through.”
Robert Frost

I threw my back out over the weekend and I’m trying to stay horizontal as much as possible to recover. I’m doing much better (thank you for the love!) and getting out each day, but want to take it easy. That means I couldn’t swing doing a photo shoot and a video by myself.

I am also prepping for my annual convention, Promoting Passion. It’s in ONE WEEK! I’ve put this event together almost entirely alone, from finding speakers, sponsors, assistants and models to booking a venue, figuring out A/V, transportation, budgets, hotel accommodations for 165 people, and more. It has been a WHIRLWIND. One day, I’d really like to share my experience doing this. First, because it is a learning experience like none other. And second, because I’m really proud of pulling it together and would love for you to have those same skills, if you don’t already.

Third, I had some pretty life-changing emotional stuff to deal with this week. I can’t/won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say I’m a little emotionally drained right now and didn’t feel like I had enough to give you in a video. (Plus, I have to save it up for Promoting Passion!)

My life for the past month has been like a television show…I’m just not sure if it’s a drama or a comedy. My dining room table, which was covered in a full body cast of my own body, is now strewn with paperwork and goodie bags and all sorts of convention items. My computer is a mass of spreadsheets, my emails are never-ending. But you know what I’m most proud of right now in my life?

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile,
but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

The joy.

The joy that I’m finding in the in-between moments, even when I feel overwhelmed or when I have anxiety attacks, even when I don’t think I can handle one more responsibility. The joy is always there. The silver lining. That is my greatest super power.

Please don’t mistake my listing of tasks as unhappiness. I am wildly happy – in myself, in my life – but sometimes we get reminders to slow down. This week has been a reminder in the biggest way possible. Life gave me a massive shift in perspective, and I’m listening.

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns,
or rejoice because thorns have roses.”
Alphonse Karr

I’m currently on my sofa reading a great book, letting my emails pile up (just a little bit), contemplating some avocado toast. I don’t get my kicks from working myself to death; I revel in the moments of quiet that I afford. This White Wall Wednesday is a day of rest and inspiration for me.

After all, I have a convention to run next week. And I’ll be darned if I’m going to let an injured back and a touch of anxiety get in the way of me running the most passionate event on the planet.

Let’s do this, world.

With inspiration,
Brooke


P.S. Can I just give thanks for a few things:

…a soft bed and a comfy sofa, Netflix, good books, ripe avocados, cats, a husband who literally will not let me move myself, and the best community of individuals I could ever hope for to cheer me on through difficult times.

I’ll see many of you at Promoting Passion next week. And those I won’t, I’m keeping you in a warm embrace until we meet!

  • September 26, 2018 - 8:01 am

    Marilyn DeMario - You are a wonder and an inspiration, Brooke. Feel better!ReplyCancel

    • September 26, 2018 - 8:03 am

      brookeshaden - Aww thank you Marilyn, you are so kind!!ReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 8:03 am

    Jen Dean - Oh girl. So much love and respect. I have been there (in the place where all is falling apart and your body tells you to stop! and you can still see the joy sinec there is so much good) and I am so glad you are taking it easy. I can’t wait to see you next week. Take care till then. The emails will be there when you are ready. Enjoy your book.
    Much love
    JenReplyCancel

    • September 26, 2018 - 8:04 am

      brookeshaden - Jen, I am so excited to give you a giant hug. Your compassion is so inspiring. XOXO!ReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 8:04 am

    Maureen - WOW! That’s a lot of stuff to deal with. I always look forward to #WhiteWallWednesday but completely understand. You are amazing and a true inspiration for finding beauty and joy wherever you look. And it is everywhere!

    Take care and good luck with your event. It will be fantastic!ReplyCancel

    • September 26, 2018 - 8:10 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you Maureen! I feel so loved to read your words today.ReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 8:08 am

    Ankur Banerjee - You have always inspired us by sharing your life experiences and learnings, you deserve the ‘me’ time and the rest. In a creative journey, to give time for yourself becomes very important. I hope you do really well with the promoting passion event, and one day I hope to attend it too (P.S. from India) lots of love!ReplyCancel

    • September 26, 2018 - 8:10 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you Ankur!ReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 8:12 am

    Carol Walsh - Thank you for your deeply honest White Wall Wednesday! It is amazing how our bodies symbolically speak to us. (Carrying too big of a load on your back?) I do it all of the time. You are such an inspiration for me and my fellow art photographers. I use you as an example all of the time. May you feel better quickly and have a fabulous conference. CarolReplyCancel

    • September 26, 2018 - 8:13 am

      brookeshaden - Carol, that means everything to me. Thank you, it is so healing to read your words.ReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 8:13 am

    Chrystal Kelly - Hey Brooke! I’m sorry your hurting, we all know and are inspired by how hard you work, that being said you should never feel bad about self care, that is also inspiring. I’m so glad you have a partner who loves you so much and is so supportive, I can relate to that and am grateful everyday for it. I really wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your dedication to sharing so much, the Sony alpha female grant, which honestly you deserve more then anyone because you exemplify all the qualities they are looking for…thank you. Sending you positive energy and thoughts. ‍♀️ take care of yourself this week!!!ReplyCancel

    • September 26, 2018 - 8:17 am

      brookeshaden - Oh Chrystal!! You are so lovely! I am really honored to be mentoring in the #SonyAlphaFemale grant, it is going to be AMAZING. I’ll keep taking care of myself so I can keep connecting with you and others. Big hug!ReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 8:15 am

    Stacy Honda - I’m so sorry you are not feeling well! Yeah probably the universe telling you to take a time out : ). Feel better soon! And I hope you have a wonderful convention. I wish I was joining you. Maybe next year! And yes you have plenty of wonderful white wall Wednesday videos to look back on, so don’t worry about that! Take care of yourself : )ReplyCancel

    • September 26, 2018 - 8:17 am

      brookeshaden - Yes! I definitely got the message – time to rest. I wish you were joining us too! Sending a hug and I hope we can see each other soon!ReplyCancel

      • September 26, 2018 - 8:25 am

        Stacy Honda - Thank you! Hugs to you too : )ReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 8:18 am

    Tanya Kryder - Thank you for always being so honest and open about your work and your life. I think we all need reminders to just take a breath and slow down sometimes. I have had my own battles with my body telling me it is time to rest and not push even though my brain is telling me to get off the couch and get it done. Sending you best wishes and healing energy for both your physical and emotional needs. Thank you for the inspiration. Love and hugs from Indiana.

    P.S.I hope one day to be able to be join you for Promoting Passion (It’s been a dream since I submitted my work to you for your year in review in 2013!)ReplyCancel

    • September 26, 2018 - 8:19 am

      brookeshaden - I am so thankful to know you Tanya!ReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 8:23 am

    Linda - Feel better soon; you always share something to prick my heart in a good way. Thank you!❤️❤️ Wish I was able to come to Promoting Passion, but maybe some day. Praying for you! ~LindaReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 8:27 am

    Anna Bruce - Aww Brooke!!! Sending you much love. You already give so much to everyone that this break is well deserved. I am sad that it took hurting your back and emotional stuff for you to get it but I am glad that you aren’t working yourself to death while not feeling well. Thank you for all that you do for us 🙂 <3 Can't wait to see you next week!ReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 8:32 am

    Gabriel Kordics - So, you are not doing WWW this week? LOL just kidding..take care of yourself. Next week will be a breeze for youReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 8:40 am

    Miguel Reznicek - Hi Brooke
    I love your work and there is one thing I’d like to know: Why are your photos always so dark? This may be your style or do you have to make them dark for a reason?
    Thanks – MigsReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 8:52 am

    Natalie Arriola - I love you, Brooke! You are always an inspiration in any situation. I hope you feel better soon and good luck at the convention. I so wanted to go, but couldn’t swing it this time. Hopefully I can make the next one! <3ReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 8:55 am

    Julie Oshiyama - Ditto to all of the above statements and well wishes. Brooke, you truly are an inspiration to many people around the world. Thank you for always giving of yourself to this community and more. I’m glad you are listening to your body, which in turn is a vessel for others to receive your wisdom and inspiration. I so wish I lived in CA still. Joshua Tree is one of my fave places to shoot. Hopefully, one of these years, I’ll be able to attend one of your conferences. In the meantime, I will wish you all loads of love and light.ReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 9:17 am

    Janeane - So glad you are taking care of yourself Brooke! Thank you for sharing your honesty and can’t wait to see you next week. Breathe – we all love you no matter what!!!!ReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 9:27 am

    Kristy Slicker - Such courage… rotate ice/heat and enjoy your few days of relaxation!ReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 9:29 am

    Sabrina-M - I’m so sorry your back is playing up Brooke. I absolutely know how you feel. It’s my back problems that keep me from doing fine art for a year now. If I take one photo I got to pay for it with a week of hardly moving. If it wasn’t for my back I would be there at PPC with all my great and supportive new friends like Ronne, Jen Kiaba, Gallagher Patrick, and so many others.
    I find true inspiration in you how you manage to keep going regardless your health problems, something I still need to learn. I sincerely hope you have less pain soon. But I have full confidence everyone at ppc will do it’s best to help you if you are still in pain. Give my love to each and every one of them. And to you I give you the biggest but most careful hug. Keep watching your P.O. box the next month as I will resend the mystery package;-)
    Lots of love and hugs
    Sabrina MReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 1:42 pm

    Els Aartse - Dear Brooke,
    Being able to see what life is about is what I hear in your writing.
    Life is about so many things in both positive as negatieve way’s. But when you do not shut your eyes for what is coming along your journey than it is possible to climb every mountain, also the steep. You only have to also see the beauty of it.
    You are such a strong person and it is beautiful of you to share your thoughts
    and being an inspiration to others. Thank you for that
    I hope you feel be better soon and good luck with your convention.
    Big softly hug from the Netherlands
    ElsReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 1:46 pm

    Moira - I hope you are feeling better and some days, a book, a cup of tea and lying down is just what we need. I love your words and imagery – you are an inspiration beyond words.
    Dealing with anxiety is never easy and can flip our world upside down, inside out in a matter of seconds – as I too found out/experienced this week. Fortunately I took a leaf out of your book and stepped back and looked after myself and did no work!!
    Take care and lots of love. I so wished I could attend your Promoting Passion event, but coming from New Zealand was not going to work for me – on this occasion.ReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2018 - 6:18 pm

    Turla Peterson - Thank you for giving us White Wall Wednesday, I learned a lot from watching all your videos and tutorial. I hope you feel better soon and I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Take it easy just watch Netflix and too bad there is no Games of Thrones yet, although you can watch on demand from Direct TV.ReplyCancel

  • September 27, 2018 - 2:53 am

    Ruth Gordon - I experienced the Promoting Passion in Colorado with my daughter and I must say your conferences/life-altering experiences stay with a person FOREVER. I hope your back heals quickly and your passion for art never ends. love you!!!ReplyCancel

  • September 28, 2018 - 7:35 am

    Angela Marvel - Brooke, you are inspiring as ever 🙂 please take care of yourself and I hope you are back to your full self real soon 🙂ReplyCancel

  • September 30, 2018 - 4:52 am

    Karen Burns - Brooke, please take good care of yourself! So sad to miss the convention and hope you can share some of it with those of us who cannot afford to be there. You are an inspiration. Best, Karen

    Ps—maybe east coast next year?ReplyCancel

  • October 12, 2018 - 8:11 pm

    Gallagher Green - I am just now reading this over a week late, I was so swamped getting ready for PPC (not like you were of course), but I somehow missed that there was a new blog post.
    I am sorry you have hit some snags in your life, I know that it will be all good in the end.
    I hope PPC didn’t set your back, back in healing. The event (To me) went off perfectly, you are incredible. Thank you. <3ReplyCancel

  • October 13, 2018 - 12:13 pm

    W. Lotus - I feel you on not working yourself to death. I am going through a period of needing to rest as well. A wise woman let me know my mental and emotional exhaustion was a sign I needed to slow down, not a fit of laziness I needed to push through. I’m glad you are taking care of yourself too.ReplyCancel

  • October 28, 2018 - 12:42 pm

    Abigale Eastwood - Hi, I feel you. Don’t let the stress take over you. We all you sound and sane. So take your time.
    It’s pity we didn’t meet at Promoting Passion but I hope there will be other opportunities.

    P.S. Thank God for cats – the best creatures in the world.ReplyCancel