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

Am I doing what I love?

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

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

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

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

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

"Withdrawal", self-portrait, May 2016

“Withdrawal”, self-portrait, May 2016

"Vibrations", self-portrait, May 2016

“Vibrations”, self-portrait, May 2016

"Underground Discoveries", model Stephanie Perez, January 2016

“Underground Discoveries”, model Stephanie Perez, March 2016

"The Silence", self-portrait, March 2016

“The Silence”, self-portrait, March 2016

"Revolve", self-portrait, April 2016

“Revolve”, self-portrait, April 2016

"Pierced", self-portrait, March 2016

“Pierced”, self-portrait, March 2016

"Percussion", self-portrait, January 2016

“Percussion”, self-portrait, February 2016

"Mirage", self-portrait, April 2016

“Mirage”, self-portrait, April 2016

"Heavy Hands", model Jen Brook, May 2016

“Heavy Hands”, model Jen Brook, May 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Brittle", self-portrait, April 2016

“Brittle”, self-portrait, April 2016

"Breath", self-portrait, February 2016

“Breath”, self-portrait, February 2016

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

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


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

2016 Sizes/Editions:

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

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

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

  • May 23, 2016 - 9:31 am

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

  • May 23, 2016 - 9:34 am

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

  • May 23, 2016 - 9:50 am

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

  • May 24, 2016 - 12:02 am

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

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

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

    Have a nice day!ReplyCancel

  • May 25, 2016 - 11:24 am

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

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

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

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

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

Share with me your experience with impostor syndrome below!

  • May 18, 2016 - 2:14 pm

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

  • May 18, 2016 - 2:59 pm

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

    • May 20, 2016 - 6:37 am

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

  • May 18, 2016 - 7:57 pm

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

  • May 19, 2016 - 6:03 pm

    Scott Ungerecht - Hi, Brooke!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • May 19, 2016 - 10:08 pm

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

  • May 20, 2016 - 6:48 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


  • May 12, 2016 - 7:58 am

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

  • May 12, 2016 - 9:25 am

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

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

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

  • May 12, 2016 - 9:46 am

    Kim Forman - You are so right!

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

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

    Thank you for this beautiful post! <3ReplyCancel

  • May 12, 2016 - 5:20 pm

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

  • May 13, 2016 - 12:59 am

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

  • May 13, 2016 - 5:11 pm

    Fit BMX - Wonderful post, thank you! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • May 14, 2016 - 10:03 pm

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

Can I just take a moment to say how much JOY I am getting from building sets and creating images using my hands? I am having such a good time physically building and creating and taking my time doing so. I’ve shifted how I work slightly – not in everything I create, but in this new series that I’m working on that I’ll debut in early 2017. It has been a labor of love, and when I say labor, I mean it. First I played with yarn, and after 100 hours of “yarning”, and another huge chunk of time dedicated to building the walls for the set (and 4 hours sewing into my sister-in-law’s hand) I was ready to shoot.

For the next shoot we carried 800 lbs of sand into the studio, assembled a bed, and I even found a model in my local grocery store! But more on that shoot later. For this one, I got a very, very heavy bathtub into the studio (re: “I” as “I hired two people to do it, because I was vastly unqualified to be lifting anything that heavy.”). I ordered 100 lbs of wax, though we only ended up needing about 25 lbs worth! And then I got to melting, and covering my friend who was laid in the bathtub naked. All in a day’s work, right?

I’ll be revealing the images in their entirety later as well as a big writeup of their significance to me, but for now, I hope you can enjoy this little peak of the hard work that went into my studio last month. Now that the wax is all cleaned up, I can’t wait for the next shoot!

Assistant: Kelly McGrady
Model: KD Stapleton
Music: “Moonlight” by Message to Bears

After the photo shoot ended, despite having brought about 25 trash bags, we had no real way of cleaning my dear friend who I had just spent hours covering in thick wax. It took about four hours at home – scraping, pealing, heating, bathing – and any other “ing” you can think of, to get the wax off. I think it might have broken my record for messiest photo shoot yet! And that is really saying something.

What is the messiest thing you’ve done for art?!

Please note that we looked into safety precautions before doing this photo shoot and I recommend you do the same if working with materials on skin.


  • May 9, 2016 - 8:03 am

    jen sulak - here recently…the messiest thing was my paper mache madness to make a cosplay mask…not only that but i was working in a tiny space next to my microwave…and for 2 days straight i made 2 full masks and 2 little masks. Let’s just say…i was “over” it…. 🙂 the painting after that made it a little more tolerable…but creating the sculpture part was tedious…and layer upon layer was really satisfying in a weird way. 🙂
    now, i still have to make my final product…(the image)…but i completed the prop…which makes me insanely happy and joyful.ReplyCancel

    • May 9, 2016 - 8:39 am

      brookeshaden - That is so awesome! I’m about to do a little sculpting for the first time and I’m a bit nervous! But excited 😀 I can’t wait to see what your masks look like!ReplyCancel

  • May 9, 2016 - 8:05 am

    Margherita Introna - Gosh, the details of the wax on skin is such divine! Well done to you all for the massive effort. This is going to be so much epicness 🙂 xxReplyCancel

    • May 9, 2016 - 8:38 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you my dear!! I can’t wait to see what YOU are getting up to!ReplyCancel

      • May 9, 2016 - 9:45 am

        Margherita Introna - Ooh I have a couple of things up my sleeve! Time to dedicate to working on everything is somewhat of a challenge at the moment, but little bits here and there… slowly getting there 😉 xxReplyCancel

  • May 9, 2016 - 8:37 am

    Chris - wow, that’s really dangerous for your model, when you cover nearly the whole skin with wax! The skin needs to breath, but if you cover it nearly completely, there’s a huge danger for life!ReplyCancel

    • May 9, 2016 - 8:41 am

      brookeshaden - It definitely can be dangerous (and I left a little note above saying so, just in case people start randomly covering others in wax!) – we inquired with a couple people to get the go-ahead and got the majority of it off pretty quickly. Our model did great and felt fine for it, too, but we were prepared to abort should anything feel off.ReplyCancel

    • May 19, 2016 - 4:57 am

      Rob S - Chris, That’s actually incorrect. It’s a myth that is based on James Bond: Goldfinger. (http://www.snopes.com/movies/films/goldfinger.asp).ReplyCancel

  • May 9, 2016 - 8:52 am

    Piet - We did not do a very smudge thing yet, but we’re planning to. The model should be transformed as a butterfly. Hanging out of the cocoon, covered in sticky slime. The cocoon will also be made of papier maché. I think the only danger part will be the hanging in the tree.ReplyCancel

  • May 9, 2016 - 10:11 am

    Paulo Carvalho - I was completely amazed with this behind the scenes. It is so good to see you working and always well accompanied by kelly. So awesome! I loved it! I do not remember doing so much mess in creating images, but when I did painting with oil, oh yes, it was just a mess and brushstrokes everywhere. LOL Have a great week, Brooke! xoxoReplyCancel

  • May 9, 2016 - 12:35 pm

    Patricia - Oh my gosh Brooke!!! Where do I start?? I can hardly wait to see all the photos coming out of your new studio space, I can feel the creative energy from here! I’ve recently been working on an installation piece to shoot because I want to get back to using my hands to create and incorporating it with photography. I’ve always sketched and sculpted in clay so I’ve felt the pull for awhile now.
    I’ve used clay, acrylic paint and almond milk on myself for photos and I’ve been in the snow a lot for photos but that’s not messy just really cold. 😀
    You’ve inspired me yet again to keep pushing to get my ideas out in to the world so it’s time for me to get back to my installation and try to work it out! Thank you! xoReplyCancel

  • May 9, 2016 - 1:02 pm

    Amani - This is SO cool!! I’m so inspired by this. It’s 12 AM and I feel like I need to create something now now now. But then again, I feel that way whenever I read any of your blog posts or watch your videos.
    I miss you so much!

    I don’t know if this is the messiest thing I’ve done, but I did a shoot once inspired by the white queen from tim burton’s version of alice in in wonderland and I covered the model with baby powder, face paint, flour, and white temporary hair color. Then she lay in grass that was also covered with baby powder and flour. It took her a while to be able to wash all of that off :pReplyCancel

  • May 9, 2016 - 3:32 pm

    Mary-Claire - Firstly, I love the video. It’s very well done. Kudos! And what a teaser you have at the end! Can’t wait to see the final image/s.

    The messiest photo shoot I ever did was a papier mache mask. I really did make a big fat mess in my kitchen and on myself, but it certainly didn’t compare to your wax. 😉ReplyCancel

  • May 10, 2016 - 5:45 am

    Maša - I like to get messy, and dirty. Everything what is necessary for good photo. I’d love to be your model one day. Or work with you.
    Check my website and let me know if u are interested for our next project together.
    I can travel.

    Kind Regards, Brooke 🙂


    and by the way – wax looks amazing!ReplyCancel

  • May 13, 2016 - 3:17 pm

    Fit BMX - I haven’t really done any messy stuff for a photo, I am still new to the Fine art area. 🙂
    But when I got a power carver ( http://www.foredom.net/k5240woodcarvingkit.aspx ) for Xmas a few years ago, I instantly fired it up at my carving bench (in the house) and started carving just to see how it work. Well after a half hour of carving I realized that the whole house was a thick fog of dust! Since I was wearing a ventilator mask, and dustproof goggles so I didn’t notice, after all that dust settled, the whole house had a quarter inch layer of super fine dust over everything!
    So that was kinda bad. LOL

    That looks like it will be a great photo. And what are you going to do with 75lb of wax? Have you ever made a wax cast of your hand? It is pretty cool! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • May 19, 2016 - 5:01 am

    Robert S - I was curious if you had taken any measures to keep the wax from sticking / ruining your friend’s hair. I’m working on something that’s requires wax on my model’s head, and we are looking to see if there’s any industry standard to protecting hair. The closest thing that comes to mind would be releasing agents that are used when doing a life-cast.ReplyCancel

For months, maybe even years, after I started taking pictures I longed for a day when my style would be consistent. Just when I thought I’d reached that point a gallery would tell me they are too different. And on days when I felt all over the place, someone would email me to say that all of my images look the same. It forced me to question why I so longed for images that were consistent from one to the next. The answer is one that most artists feel – a need to accurately convey their message. That ability often comes in the form of creating consistent work.

As I continued journeying through photography, my goal of creating works that were tightly related changed. I started putting more value on creativity and less on art. I put more emphasis on what it felt like to make my imagination come to life rather than thinking only of what it would look like in the end. I became obsessed with the idea that art does not have to look like any one thing. It should not be dictated by the people viewing it or buying it.

A couple years ago I looked at my portfolio and it felt stuck. It felt like someone had put up a roadblock and instead of finding a way around it, I simply built the same image over and over again. I hoped to find a way around it but instead I wasn’t able to see anything beyond it.

No longer did I just want to be creative, or express my imagination. I wanted to do so bravely. I would rather create with bravery than with fear. I wanted to create in ways that made me nervous, or that made me fear being misunderstood, or that invited criticism. This new image reminded me of that in the simplest way – visually. I have always been afraid of photographing backlight – such a simple thing, but something I was never comfortable with. And so I started last year and I continue on that little journey as a personal kick-in-the-pants.

I know that I, as an artist, get so caught up in doing things the “right” way or producing work that is consistent that I forget not to take it all so seriously. Who cares if everything we produce isn’t perfect? Or even good? Who cares if we experiment? Are we any less an artist because of it? I would say we are even more so.

Find your style – yes. Find your voice, and use it. Find the message that, beyond all other messages, is yours to tell. But never let yourself be trapped by those constraints. Let them be guides in the darkness that is the artistic path.

Surprise yourself. Let yourself down. Pick yourself up. Search. Do.

When was the last time you challenged yourself, and how?

This is what my Promoting Passion Convention is about – putting the journey before the image. Growing. Experimenting. And finding others who are on similar paths. I hope you can join us!

Promoting Passion Convention
Colorado Springs, CO
September 27-29, 2016

The early bird special ends Wednesday and the price will raise to $390!

  • May 3, 2016 - 2:34 pm

    Paulo Carvalho - OMG! Awesome! Love it! And better yet, seeing the BTS. Congrats Brooke! Well! I can say that this project in which I am involved it was a challenge for me. Indeed I surprised myself and I am loving it! I hope I can reach some economic effort to go to colorado. It would be a pleasure! xoxoReplyCancel

  • May 3, 2016 - 3:35 pm

    Nadav - I just read this post and had the feeling to replay you (I read slow and could have some mistakes in my writing, apologies about that).
    I just had to share that you really puts me up and fires up the little artist mind in me, that I haven’t photographed a photograph that I was proud of for a long while – some years even (as a picture that reflects and get my thoughts out).
    you’re just making it gracefully – putting up, just like that.
    I have to dare, to make, to be wrong, to laugh and be upset by doing things. Now I just too drowned by big pole of ideas and thoughts that wish and whisper to explode out.
    maybe when it will happen, I will dare to share it with you – the one to help it happen.

    I like to see how you put much effort on everything you make and even keeping each of your social sites updated with different writings.
    as for now – I saw this picture on your Instagram (where the description was really strong), then came from there to your FB and from there (by link) to here.

    I wish you read it, as I guess you have a huge amount of things and even comments to deal with,
    but just wanted to let you know how you effected me.

    much love and inspiration.

  • May 4, 2016 - 9:16 am

    Scott Ungerecht - WOW! What beautiful pictures and I love your art, Brooke! I also really liked what you wrote in your blog, and I can totally relate to it! As a professional photographer, I take pictures of everyday life in Baker City, Oregon. I also borrow free stock photos I find on the Internet and use them to create my photo art. I also place a huge distracting “C” in the middle of all my pictures as a watermark to help discourage image thieves. I’m unconventional, and I don’t pay attention to what other people think I should do or shouldn’t do when it comes to photography. I just follow my path and listen to my instincts, and it’s worked great for the past 12 years, which is how long I’ve been practicing photography. I rarely change my point of view, and I rarely change how I display my best images online. If I feel like challenging myself, I’ll go outside and take pictures of my feet while standing in different places in Baker City. Or, I’ll download a free stock photo from the Internet and experiment with creating a new piece of photo art. I also rarely alter my daily routine, and I don’t enjoy conforming to the norm. I’m also an Aquarius, which means I always enjoy doing things differently from everyone else, even if I don’t earn a dime from my work. To me, photography is about the exploration of happiness. It’s not about collecting a paycheck. If you see photography as something you do just to earn a paycheck, then I think your enthusiasm and creativity as an artist will go right out the window. You’ll end up focusing on creating specific art that sells instead of creating art that makes you feel happy. After all, artists are not factory workers. Artists were meant to be free so they can explore, and ponder and be happy without any constraints. Artists were born to challenge and break any preconceived boundaries placed upon us by society, and I will always support that theory.ReplyCancel

  • May 5, 2016 - 8:46 am

    Fit BMX - This set of backlit photos are wonderful, I love them in every way!
    I started really challenging myself during your “30 Days Of Creativity Challenge” and haven’t stopped thinking about new ideas ever since. It has changed me as an artist and a person. It has made me less self-conscious, of what others around me think. Because for so long that was my road block, and it was a big one! But now it is behind me, Thanks you! 🙂ReplyCancel