Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter a chance to win a
PORTFOLIO REVIEW and a 45 MINUTE MENTORING SESSION!


I’m writing this from a plane traveling from Philadelphia to Phoenix. I’m on my way home after a week in Pennsylvania visiting family and shooting for my new series.

I rented a house that was built in 1723. Falling apart, filled with character, it is a photographer’s dream. Especially in America, where old (truly old) is hard to come by. I had rented this particular house for a couple of workshops years before so I knew it was golden. I called a few days before arriving, agreed on a price, and got to work.

My goal in this house was to experiment. To let myself play. To shoot without care. But, the practical side of me kept speaking up. She said, “You paid to be here. You are paying models to be here. You had better create something worthwhile.”

Then I wrestled with what worthwhile meant. How can I experiment if I expect myself to produce?

Expectation is the death of creativity.

This I know. This I have suffered before. And yet, some part of myself could not be quieted. The first day I created physical art with my hands. I prepared for the second day of shooting where I’d have models I didn’t know and limited time to get the finished products. I took test shots. I assessed the light like a good photographer would. I found the space that looked nicest.

And everything felt wrong. I left after a 12-hour day of experimenting feeling like I had taken two steps back. I wasn’t ready. I knew in my bones I wasn’t ready. It felt wrong.

I’ve felt that gut feeling before. One was when I moved to LA and the moment I did, I knew I didn’t want to make films. I felt it again when I was asked to shoot commercially. I knew I shouldn’t. And of course, there have been countless times that were smaller, more insignificant, like this past week, where I felt I was doing the wrong thing.

Everything about the shoot felt wrong – the location, the images. It wasn’t coming from my heart. It was coming from a sort of desperation to be different, to surprise myself, but for what?

And, more than that – I couldn’t! I had been trying so hard to do something different, but at the end of the day, everything I shot looked like it always does. My vision is so singular. That has allowed me a career that grew quickly and successfully, but that limits me when I try to break from it.

I’m being long-winded to make a relatively simple point, but I’m being long-winded because there are so many details that go into an artist’s decisions. Here is the heart of what I want to tell you.

We are artists. Even if you’re reading this and you don’t think so, don’t count yourself out so quickly. It doesn’t matter if you make things with a camera or your hands, music or baking, spreadsheets or daydreams. What matters is that you have the potential to create, and that is enough.

We are artists. And artists, often, are sensitive about their art. We have a hard-enough time as it is being accepted, being understood. We put pressure on ourselves to create. But, we don’t just put pressure on ourselves to create. We put pressure on ourselves to create something brilliant.

When we don’t deliver, we let ourselves down.

And, if you are of the Interneting or networking folk, you let others down.

And, suddenly, we are not just artists, but we are normal people playing as artists. We are frauds. We let ourselves fall down a hole so deep we may never recover.

I say that you are an artist because when you were a child you created without thought or self-consciousness. You created whatever you wanted without a frame of reference for what is good and what is bad. You created because your hands willed it, because your imagination begged you to do it. And then you learned what good art is and what bad art is. You learned what makes money and what doesn’t, what is practical and what is weird. You learned too much and created too little.

Forgive me if my words don’t apply to you. But chances are, they do.

Expectation is the death of creativity.

So, I return to my story about the abandoned mansion and my failed attempt to create art.

Test shooting in the mansion last weekend.

Let me correct myself – my SECOND failed attempt at creating art.

I dreamed up this series over a year ago out of necessity. I won’t talk about that necessity now. That is for another time. But I knew I had to make it. And as I started to plan, the gravity of the series become too much to bear. I started to grow heavy under it’s weight. My back bowed.

I created, and I failed.

I created again, and I failed.

I felt I should be something different. I felt I should break away from what I’ve always done.

Test shooting in the mansion last weekend.

I was guiding my art with logic, when very little art was ever created out of such a space.

I started to believe that simplicity is a tool for mediocre artists. I believed that grand locations and luscious props would elevate my work to a greater height. And once I climbed that latter and saw those locations and gathered those props, the view wasn’t any good at all.

Artists, let me speak to you directly. This is what I now know, what I have failed two times through six pictures and $3,400. Your instincts never create bad art. Your techniques may falter, your vision may not be clear, but your instinct will guide you to the most authentic art you can create. Authenticity is not the same as realism. Authenticity is not the same as groundbreaking. Let us not confuse innovation for authenticity.

Authenticity is our most basic selves, boiled down to our essence. It cannot manifest in any one visual, in any one concept. It is, simply, the heart of our creations, the feeling of our art. Trust in it. Please, trust in it.

Model: Nicolette Barreto

My journey through this series has been disheartening at times. I got on this airplane thinking about my failure, thinking about what I could have done differently. But, I know, in that most authentic place that my art comes from, that this week couldn’t have gone any other way. Some people may think I squandered my money away just to play in a mansion. This could not be farther from the truth. What really happened was an artist decided to experiment, and those experiments showed her what her heart would not say loud enough:

You must travel the long road to learn about the world. You must learn about every thorn that sticks in your foot, every wild wind that chills your bones. You must suffer for your art, because the best things are not easy.

And when you finally begin to create what feels right in your heart, you will experience the joy of that long road. Your art will shine with the depth of it.

We are all on a long road. Some are just beginning, others have been stretching on forever. Our demons come to us in many forms. For some of us it is family, for others it is health, for some it is addiction, heartbreak, jealousy, fear, loneliness, inadequacy. They fill that long road with pain, and through it, we search for our joy. Our art. What we make when no one is looking, what we created when we were children and we had no concept of good or bad. That is the manifestation of ourselves, and it is that self that will pull us from the road when we are too beaten to move ourselves.

This series I am creating is emotional for me. It is a painful one to create for many reasons – some personal, some creative – and it is because of that pain that I am gaining the most incredible insight into my joy.

Even as I write this I am unsure of my worth as an artist. I am unsure of if I will ever create anything worthy of my expectations. And, as I write this, I know that expectation is an illusion we create for ourselves because the world has taught us to do so.

When we were too young we drew a picture and someone told us it was amazing. Or, someone told us it was terrible. Or, someone ignored it and we felt the sting of rejection. And we learned, through positive or negative remarks, what was good and what was bad. And we kept those judgments in our hearts and we put those judgments on ourselves and we struggled to create even though we knew the expectation of the world was on our shoulders.

Or, we didn’t create at all. Because the judgment is too much, and we cannot bear it.

I feel the weight of expectation on me today. I feel it lessening as I write this, because we are all of the same flock. You are my people, and you understand what this is like. You are an artist, after all.

Onward, to the next iteration of my series, and onward, to the next manifestation of my artist soul. May it change forever and gain the courage to create no matter the judgment that accompanies it.

And you know what? I’m excited.

What do you think about expectation & creativity?
How do you deal with the pressure to be creative?

I will share each of these pictures in due time, with their own blog posts and care and love.


Starting August 1st, I will be offering 10 mentoring spaces per month. This includes a 1-page written portfolio review and a 45-minute mentoring session for a value of $150. I am giving away the first space for the mentoring program today!

To enter, comment below with:

1) Any creative blocks you’ve been facing lately, and…
2) How you think this mentoring session will help you.

  • July 23, 2018 - 6:22 am

    Jay Coy - Brooke,
    Thank you so much for being truly transparent. It’s so helpful to know that not everything will or should be a success. For me, creative blocks are more common than not. Great ideas don’t come to me easily, especially when I try to think of them. That is exactly why I KNOW this mentoring session will benefit me. Being able to work with you to help me open up my creativity could help me open up a new world. I need to discover that world, I just need a little guidance finding the door. 🙂 Thank you for everything, Brook!ReplyCancel

    • July 23, 2018 - 6:37 am

      brookeshaden - Indeed, nothing is ever certain – success, or failure 🙂ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 6:25 am

    Natalie Allgyer - Hi Brooke!

    It took years for me to figure out that fine art is the way that I need to go. I’ve recently dropped all other forms of (professional) photography so that I can concentrate on this passion. I love how you combine visual and literary arts. They are my favorites. Although I’m rusty on the literary part… In any case I’d love to be considered in your giveaway of your mentoring program spot! Truth be told, I’m going to try my hardest to secure a spot regardless if i get chosen or not. I’m ready to have a mentor and I want it to be you!

    Cheers,
    Natalie AllgyerReplyCancel

    • July 23, 2018 - 6:37 am

      brookeshaden - I’m so glad you figured out that art is what you want to pursue! What a big step and so exciting/scary, right?! Thank you for sharing, Natalie!ReplyCancel

      • July 23, 2018 - 8:36 am

        Natalie Allgyer - Yes! It really is. Staying positive is as tough as the creativity itself. You are so human, and I love it! This blog makes me feel better every. Single. Time.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 6:31 am

    Alan Baily - As an older person, I don’t feel pressure to create. I have come to photography later in life and I only do it for me. I have developed my technical skills and have come to see that my eye works best on the small things in nature. My skill is in discerning a composition in the chaos of the natural world. Because I have a full-time job, my major problem is finding time to be creative. I need blocks of time to find and focus on being in situations that will yield a good photo, by my definition. I am patient that those creative times will come.

    I am hoping that this mentoring session will bolster my confidence to continue on my current path or give me reason to rethink it.ReplyCancel

    • July 23, 2018 - 6:36 am

      brookeshaden - I always love your mentality Alan, thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 6:32 am

    Paride - Lately I just can’t focus on photography….. I look around and in myself for creativity but find only the void.

    I love your work and believe that your energy could get me out of this state of lethargy.

    Thanks,
    ParideReplyCancel

    • July 23, 2018 - 6:35 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you for sharing, Paride!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 6:34 am

    Jen Kiaba - Brooke, thank you for sharing this process and experience. I think so many of us create through the lens of expectation because we believe that that is the path to self-worth AND to acceptance by some “higher power” (galleries, society, etc).
    It’s also such an easy trap to fall into. For me, the worst part is that it can be an excellent productivity driver. But it leaves me feeling drained and damaged afterward, and then my creativity dries up for long periods of time.
    If only we could create from curiosity and playfulness all of the time, how much healthier the process might be!ReplyCancel

    • July 23, 2018 - 6:35 am

      brookeshaden - I so agree!! If only we could create from that innocent place. It is my new mission 🙂ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 6:43 am

    Mila Ivke - Hi Brooke!
    My biggest block is self-sabotage.
    And this is what is happening to me. I have ideas for images, picture it in my head, I write it down, think about the details, get excited, but then I am not doing anything with this ideas. Why? Because when I look back to my notes I feel silly, frustated, I think that it’s not worth it, that I will never make a living out of it because I am not good enough. I guess it is also expectation, because I want to create something beautiful enough so somebody will buy it, so I can live out of it, so I can create as a lifestyle.
    I am putting such preassure on me that I block myself, I am paralized, and this is killing me because I can’t stop thinking about new ideas but I am not allowing myself to create.

    I hope that in the mentoring session you’ll tell me how to stop doing this, I am wishing you have a special trick that will remove my block… Also if you think that what I do it’s worth it, if I should keep going, and if so in which direction you think I should go to improve to the point that I can make profit of it… I don’t want to be rich or succesful, I just want to get enough to live simply and create for the rest of my days.

    Thank you so much for your time and the love you give us every week with your monday video, your posts and everything you do.

    Love,

    MilaReplyCancel

    • July 23, 2018 - 6:46 am

      brookeshaden - I hear you Mila! I’m struggling with this too lately as I spend more and more money to “figure things out”, I feel like I’m wasting my resources and it isn’t worth it. Well said, and thank you so much for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 6:44 am

    Stephanie Young - This speaks to me RIGHT where I’m at! I’ve struggled with these same ideas. I’ve often felt I am a counterfeit and fear my own inconsistency above all else. I long to beak out of whatever holds my mind back from fully exploring itself.
    At the moment- I feel like I’m starting to come into that place. People are taking notice of me and want to help “make me successful.” That expectation…yeah, it’s suffocating for me. But money is a tool. And I’m not obligated to take it all on. Finding balance and peace…and me.
    How can this workshop help me? What a journey of expression where words seem to be falling short. I need to break thru this wall! A opportunity to create, push beyond my comfort and my own perspective.
    But then, just being bold enough to comment has been kinda huge for me! Thanks for being real, sister! It’s encouraging!ReplyCancel

    • July 23, 2018 - 6:47 am

      brookeshaden - That struggle of “making it” while staying true to your art and keeping grounded…WHEW. Thank you for sharing, Stephanie!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 6:48 am

    John Boyd - Your comments on creativity are spot on –

    My personal opinion is that when you are under pressure to produce you will produce but the product may not be your best work.

    This is very apparent of the many TV series that start off with a wealth of creative plot lines but after 2 or 3 years seem to become a series of its not our best but the deadline is looming.

    Creativity is an ethereal thing and a combination of past experiences and present state of mind. Walking past a wedding dress in a second hand store might spark a stirring of half formed thoughts into a full session of creative ideas.

    Keep up the good work and keep letting your students that creativity is not proportional to the amount of money you spend on equipment.

    JohnReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 6:53 am

    Jerry Watson - Thank you for sharing your journey!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 6:58 am

    Michaela Jung-Vogelwiesche - Brooke, thank you sooo much for sharing your struggles! I can’t tell you how much that means to me, especially right now. I am currently stuck and reviewing everything I created over the years. I always hesitated to “go out there” and show my work, since I am an introverted person, sometimes even a loner that just wants to shut the world out. Because of this I created for myself for a very long time. But about half a year ago I took heart and created a website, Instagram account etc. And that social media thing just washed over me. I felt a pressure to create, to go faster, to keep up, to meet standards, to be more original. And I kind of lost myself in this. I started to create shallow work – work that is beautiful but lacks meaning. And I want my photography to have depth. Even with my creative portraits I want to say something. Right now, I am kind of torn and I am struggling to fight my way back to my innermost self. And that means to not find inspiration in other photographer’s work – but in poetry, in music, in books, in nature – in things that evoke pictures in my mind, and don’t show them to me right away. And I want to create for myself in the first place again.

    I am pretty sure a mentoring session with you would give me a little guidance, a little hope and a little confidence to find my way again and keep going. And maybe you even have a little advice on “how to social media for introverts”. ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 6:59 am

    Gallagher Green - So, did you have “Great Stuff” hands? LOL I have gotten more of that foam on me over the years…. it is impossible to get off, and it is even worse to get out of your hair. DON’T ASK!!! LOL
    I am working on a photo right now that I had over 5 hours of editing in when I suddenly realize it was trash! The photos themselves are good, but I didn’t like my background. It has turned into a “White Wall” photo that I am now building the background in PS. It is a mess, but I like it this time.
    I have trouble with the expectation that I should create faster, that I am too slow. But I am now convincing myself that it is the way I am supposed to create.
    I don’t have enough followers, and I have never had anything in a gallery, so I don’t have those expectations on me yet. But I think they are waiting in the shadows!
    I loved this post, you really addressed some important things. And I look forward to the new series, now that you got the bugs out of the system. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 7:03 am

    Paulo Carvalho - What a great and emotial post, that tells me so much! Never give up! Yet, without creating expectation, because this is the death of creativity, no doubt. As you know, I too am in a desperate stage, not to be different, but to create whatever. I need to clear my head and for sure the inspiration will come from my heart and creativity will flow. I loved it when you said: “What matters is that you have the potential to create, and that is enough.” Beautiful! Thanks Brooke!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 7:04 am

    Melanie - Gosh, where do I even start with creative blocks? I guess the thing that is holding me back the most right now is self-doubt. I‘m still at the very beginning stages of using photography as a medium of artistic self-expression and I‘m very conscious of the many ways I need to improve my work to give it more meaning. I don‘t dare to call myself an artist, because I think my work is just not there yet and when I tell other people of my goal to be a fine art photographer I feel very silly, like this is something that I could never do. When I was a teenager, an art teacher at school told me that I was smart, but that art was maybe not my thing and I think I internalized that statement so much (& didn‘t question it at all), that even as an adult a part of me believes that I can‘t be an artist – even though I now understand that one can be a creative and imaginative person and just not be able to draw super well. But I feel like this creative block keeps me from going all in with my work and really unleaching my potential. I can feel myself holding back – it‘s like I‘m trying to drive while my foot is on the break! I even almost didn‘t enter this giveaway because I told myself: „You‘re not an artist! Someone else whose work is much deeper than yours needs this more!“ReplyCancel

    • July 23, 2018 - 9:53 am

      Melanie - Sorry, I pressed send too quickly on that comment! I think a mentoring session with you would really encourage me to keep on pursuing this path of creativity despite my fear of being ridiculed for it. I‘m not around people very often that are truly encouraging when it comes to leaving traditional paths and doing something out of the norm, but I learn best when I can talk through my problems with someone and a mentoring session with you would be invaluable for me to provide that listening ear to me. I already took your fine art photography class on Creative Live and I really connect to the way you approach art and creating, so I think working with you in some way one day would be a really good fit.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 7:09 am

    Chiara Edwards - 1. I have recently made a huge change in my life path.Instead of being an ordinary photographer taking ordinary portraits, I am now an artist who’s heart is filled with a firey passion to create fine art portraits that give back to the earth and empower humans. But following my true inner artist, comes with risks.

    I have never felt so aligned in my life journey but the fear is my creative block. I am terrified that I may not make it. Terrified that I may become the ‘starving artist’. Terified that I may not have what it takes to be the artist I want to be. Terrified that I won’t be as passionate about anything as I am about this. Terrified that I won’t be able to express the messages my soul begs to tell the world. And worst of all, terrified that I will fail at empowering those who need it most.

    2. This mentoring session would mean the world to me and couldn’t come at a better time as I face this scary but exhilarating transition. Brooke you have already changed me for the better. You not only teach me countless technical and creative skills, but also how to be an amazing human.

    I am in awe of you because of your raw authenticity. How you have taught me that we can be genuine and real and humble and honest even as business people. How societies ideas of’proffessionalism’ is extremely outdated. How we don’t have to choose between our values and business decisions. And how we CAN change the world through art.

    I am so inspired by your work with survivors of human traficking and hope to learn how to make an impact like you have in the future. Thank you for this oportunity. It’s another example of how glorious you are as a human.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 7:30 am

    Joshua Pheneger - Hi Brooke! Thank you for such a lovely post!

    I’ve been struggling with the same 3 problems for more than 5 years now – a lack of time, a lack of people to model for me, and a lack of funds to create what’s in my head.

    I have so many ideas and projects that I’d love to create, but I don’t have the time/money/people to make it happen. Every image that I do create is full of compromises. It’s truly frustrating to see how to make it happen and not quite get there.

    So far as I can tell the only way to solve this is to keep trying and make incremental improvements over time. God it’s tiring though… but i love it!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 7:39 am

    Marleen La Grange - Hi Brooke – thank you for sharing your journeys with us – it is so inspirational – I have so many ideas but cannot get my components to jell and give the arty effect. I admire your work tremendously and the story capture en each one is brilliant.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 7:43 am

    Joshua Pheneger - You must suffer for your art, because the best things are not easy.

    Your art will shine with the depth of it.

    These words really got to me, thank you.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 7:46 am

    Lucia Giri - Hi Brook,when I read you are planning mentoring classes my heart just jumped 🙂
    I do struggle in my creativity since a while now. My soul is producing so many many ideas but they are so vague, so unclear and unfinished…I want to capture those feelings I have, those states of mind, those moods that tears me from inside out and change me into the beast. I struggle to put my real self on the paper. Its been quiet a challenge with my 2 small babies and I am trying to find the way how to express my bad myself through photography so I get some relieve.
    Then the brain comes in the story and tries to come up with the best locations, dresses, ideas, props etc.. And then I loose it. All that pressure just fills me up and with the fealing of blasting I create nothing.
    I would love your mentoring as I just love you as a person and I know just 5 mins of your video makes my day better. What would 45 mins do? 😛ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:00 am

    Louise Alexander - How I feel right now feels a bit too big to put into words. I’ve had a rough day and self doubt is my biggest block. I feel like a fraud. I’m an actress who’s always had a camera in her hand. I’m self taught in photography and photoshop. I look at my work and see no through line. I feel my work is too literal – I start with these fantastical, slightly abstract ideas and I feel I need to pin down every detail rather than experimenting and (most importantly) failing! I feel like I can’t be objective about my work and see it’s positives – it looks like a big mess of stuff! Different sizes, ideas, techniques. I only really started doing this after your Green Park get together in London in 2013 (I think). Gosh – that’s a brain dump right there isn’t it!!! You’re email today has picked me right up though and made me feel less alone. Thank you Brooke x x xReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:01 am

    Sara Alderson - THANK you for this. It was difficult for me to read, which I know means I badly needed to. It makes me want to try again. I am in the middle of a several month long creative block, which came so unexpectedly, but I think I now know why. I grew up in a musical background in which (back in middle school/early high school) I would try to write music and my teachers would tell me the process should be “5% inspiration and 95% work”. This idea is still WAY too engrained in me. It cut off my musical creativity before it could even start developing, even though I felt such a strong pull towards it for so many years (and still do occasionally, my dream would be to write my own music to accompany each of my images so as to provide a completely immersive, almost cinematic experience).

    I thought that with photography I was breaking away from my old habits of trying to create merely with logic, until a few months ago, satisfied because I had just finished an image I REALLY liked, I sat in my back yard and envisioned 19 concepts in one day. I was delighted and couldn’t wait to get to work, I started ordering props and makeup materials (it was the first time I had actually spent money on those sorts of things so I was very excited). But when I started shooting I realised it was all one dimensional and I was doing it so I could prove to myself that I was a “real artist” because it made me feel like I was accomplishing something. It was so obvious to other people who saw me frantically working, but I didn’t admit it to myself until after the damage was done. I started compulsively trashing one idea and trying a next one, most of which ended up subconsciously being copied from something I had seen online earlier that day which was done by an artist I considered more “legitimate” than myself (each ending up worse than the one before) just for the sake of feeling like I had done SOMETHING and for fear of not being an artist at all, which of course made things even worse and I burned out completely. I got a few images out of the effort but they’re not what I wanted them to be. I know there’s something to learn from them, and I hope that one day I will re shoot them with better results.

    I think that in a mentoring session I would like to look at exactly those “troublemaking” images up against ones that instead I feel were successful, to get over my fear of failing and learn to bounce back from it. I miss creating “genuine” images, and I wish one day I could have your admirable positivity and ability to recover from mistakes and trying new things while riding the wave of constant stylistic evolution. Thank you, Brooke!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:01 am

    Becky Carpenter - 1. The deadline I currently have for my first solo show has been both a detriment and a push to create images. As I’ve looked back on a few of my shoots, I see where I’ve rushed or been too afraid to experiment due to the “deadline “. I also feel blocked by that little voice in the back of my head saying I need to find practical ways to make money with my art.

    2. I love your style of critique as I used a very similar style teaching art to young students. I value your opinion and feel you would be an honest resource to me growing as an artist. I would love a mentoring session as well as a portfolio review.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:02 am

    Megan Bedford - 1) Any creative blocks you’ve been facing lately?
    I just picked up my camera again to create personal work for the first time in 6 years And it’s almost like being reborn And I don’t know where I am going.

    2) How you think this mentoring session will help you.
    I think it will help guide me to finding my path I am meant to take right now with my artReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:11 am

    Kristey Fritz-Martin - Not gonna lie, this made me tear up a few times!!! Once out of a sad place of feeling that sense of “of my heavens, Brooke is once again saying the words of my soul” but also from a genuinely thankful place of knowing that I am not alone in this feeling!!! I believe it is so helpful and refreshing to know that your feelings of inadequacy and failure aren’t something that you suffer alone. . . Like those dark places are filled with love and exceptance if you just know where to look. I have been feeling this way ALOT the past month (as I tend to do frequently) where I get to that “why” place that sucks every ounce of creative motivation right out of me. WHY do I try so hard and push to create?!? I loose my footing on the base reason of WHY this brings me joy and I started in the first place. I feel like I put everything in me into my work and put it out there for the world but than I have to figure out a way to outdo what I have already done. . . I have to make something bigger and better than what I have already done because that is the expectation. But why?!? For likes?!? For accolades and approval or a pat on the back?!? Goodness knows I’m not making any money out of it and although being featured from time to time is a super humbling kudos it really doesn’t answer that question as to why I feel the need to compete with myself to do and be better and better and better like some sick game I play with myself that I have to win against myself. And it is the “whys” that suck all the creative passion out of me. . . Rather than creating with emotion and passion and the sheer joy of creating, I am trying to push to outdo myself and the emotion and passion just stop because it seems more like a job than a creative outlet and once that passion become a job that I HAVE to do, I no longer want to do it because at its root it is work. It doesn’t flow or come easy, it is a job that I start to hate doing. I don’t want to hate my passion!!!!! But here I sit. . . Looking for inspiration to hit me so I can top and up my game when I’m reality the only person I have to compete with is myself. A mentor ship would be such a rewarding aspect to kicking myself in the creative pants and realizing that the whys are not so much the rewarding thing. Maybe having someone I admire with my whole heart being able to see the images that I created with my soul and say these are where your power lies and not these other ones that you can tell you are over thinking your craft would finally get me out of my head space? Or just knowing that we all feel this way as creatibves and that we are our own worst critiques. Either way, I know my passion gets muddled in the whys and that finding my base is when the magic happens. Pushing to be better, learning and growth is such a valuable asset to improvement and pulling one’s self away from their normal comfort zone and I love that I continue to challenge myself to be better but I need to remember that it is because I love what I do and I have a need to create it to give it a voice and a life of its own and not for all the other whys and reasons out there. And. . . I ramble a lot lol. Probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when it is outside my brain so I will just end this by saying THE STRUGGLE IS REAL and that YOU inspire the heck out of me!!!!! Whomever receives the mentor ship will be one lucky duck ❤️ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:13 am

    Madolyn Locke - Brooke – Thank you, as always, for your willingness to be so real and share so much. It’s refreshing to see someone so open, and so honest about what it really is to take this journey.

    You hit home to me talking about feeling like a fraud. One of my biggest problems with pursuing my work is that I compare myself to those whose work I admire – which isn’t in itself a bad thing – but I am too susceptible to letting that comparison inspire negativity about my work instead of the inspiration to achieve as it should. I frequently struggle with the idea that I’m not good enough – and why am I even bothering when I’ll never be “THAT good”.

    I think a mentoring session would help me because of how much you get what’s it like to struggle with confidence. We have similar-ish (more like type-adjacent lol) styles, and I have found you to be an amazing teacher… I can only imagine how much more I could learn if given the opportunity to share and interact with you on a personal level.

    We all grow from connecting with each other – It’s one of the beautiful things about what we do. <3

    Thank you for giving of yourself in this way.
    You're amazing.
    Have a great week!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:14 am

    Karen Olson - After the death of my mother and the completion of a year-long project. I am left with complete silence in my creative brain. I can only think … where do I go from here? I have gotten to a place, but I know it’s not the end by any means. Even so, I have no idea where to go next. I know I must go somewhere, but where?
    I need a fresh perspective and a good old-fashioned critique on the work I have done and maybe some brass tacks advice on how to break into the art photography world.

    Thank you Brooke, you are always an inspiration.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:33 am

    Turla Peterson - Thank you for sharing the amazing story of yours. I started making composite images last October and it is solely based upon emotions I felt at the time. It goes through this years and my images are sad, dark and sometimes depressing. I took time out for about a month because I want to recharged myself to get a different perspective. I noticed that when I started to create again it still falls on the emotional aspect of what I fell and it show greatly in my images. I keep on reverting back over and over again to what I initially started. I think this is my biggest hurdle in which I believed that my creation will not be accepted because it’s through personal emotional crisis. My ways of thinking just does not want to go to happy places, it seems stuck in this emotional expression.
    I looked up to you with great admiration and respect,to be mentored by you is such a great privilege and honor.Even though I would say to choose me for the first mentoring,I would give way and would say give to someone more deserving. I am looking forward to be in your mentoring class in the near future and hopefully next year I can attend you Promoting Passion Seminar.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:35 am

    Marshall - Hey Brooke,

    First, I’d like to say that I think this is really cool of you to do!

    Creativity has always been a struggle for me. Not so much having a vision of a finished image that I would like to create, but rather figuring out the steps that need to be taken to achieve that final image. I feel that ‘creativity’ is often thought of as this fluid, ever changing and ever evolving character trait that some people have while most do not, but I think there is some structure that can be lended to a creative process to provide momentum and forward movement.

    That is where I think a mentoring session from you may help me; figuring out how to take a creative visions from an idea to a finished image.

    Whether you pick me for the open spot or not, I appreciate what you do and really enjoy your work!

    Cheers,
    MJReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:42 am

    Angie Byers - I feel so much of this *sigh*

    Feeling stuck with whether I am to stretched out as far as too many types of work, and where I am best at.

    One of the bodies of work I am attempting to submit for portfolio reviews is deeply personal for me. I struggled with what work to include, the artist statement, I fought with the bio. I just want to submit it or run from it. I don’t want to talk about it, but I know in my heart it must move forward. And I question it’s worth, my worth…so I need to hear honest feedback.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:43 am

    Anaely - Hi Brooke,

    You truly are inspiring. I used to create simple conceptual images and haven’t done one in a few years, specifically since I had my daughter. The main excuse is time, but honestly, I also fail to come up with ideas or even imagine the things that I used to put in my pictures. Maybe I don’t allow myself enough time to delve into those imaginary worlds. The truth is I loved creating those images, it gave me a way to express myself. Maybe this workshop can help me ignite that fire again and inspire me to start creating once more.

    AnaelyReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:43 am

    Deb Parks - I actually have 2 websites, the above in for my portrait business and http://www.debparks.com is more for my fineart, which I have neglected of late. I started doing portraits hoping that I could quit my day job as a nurse therefore giving me more time for my creative work. I do get creative with my portrait work. Unfortunately I am still lacking clients, but this year I vowed to get out and market my work. I think a mentoring session would, first off prove that impossible things can happen because, seriously I never win anything. Secondly, I just have always loved your work, before seeing your work. I thought I was the only person that liked dark things. You are a wonderful artist. I was thrilled to have been able to meet you at promoting passion last year unfortunately I will not be able to attend this year. Thank you for what you do.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:45 am

    Avishek Majumdar - Being a person with reading addiction, I have always tried to search for means to create something with a story. And photography has helped me a lot in this process, so naturally I’m more inclined towards Fine Art and Conceptual styles of photography. But there’s not much guidance available in these genres to help me how to execute my ideas into images and whatever is available, most of them need a charge to be paid and that’s not possible for me due to some personal problems. So photos and especially the videos of artists like you really help me to learn more. I remember watching one of your video on youtube. It was for the sony seminar and after that i kept watching whatever videos I could get on youtube after searching for Brooke Shaden. You really inspire me to be a better artist and aslo a better human being.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:50 am

    Ceri - I’m struggling to fully commit to a direction and stop bouncing around different styles which I know I need to do if I want to develop a cohesive portfolio that I need to take my work further. I think saying things out loud and having them reflected back to you can be a real catalyst. Often someone else hears what you are not hearing or at least not admitting to yourself and can really unblock your thinking!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:55 am

    Jared Fortunato - Hi Brooke:

    I’ve recently finished my MFA (May) and I think the pressure to perform at that level of creativity is a block that I’m facing. I took a studio/speed light lighting class at a local Photography organization, the Los Angeles Center for Photography, in order to break out of my usual way of working– my typical subject, equipment, my way of thinking about my art. I feel a lot of pressure to be “good” at it–Getting to that place of experimentation feels like failure.

    I’m reading “Art and Fear” by David Bayles & Ted Orland — and I highly recommend it to all of us walking the creative path, no matter what the medium. It’s helping. Reading your posts (which I do religiously) also gives me freedom. We’re in it together, all of us. I find comfort in the community you provide, and in your fearless expression.

    I think a mentoring session will help because having someone else look at my work and process can provide insights that I’m to close to see. I’m also curious to know how I can support my work’s intention: I crafted a purpose for my art: To find beauty in the every day, and bring about states of contemplation and calm in an ever-distracted world.

    Thanks for the post, for your passion and your generosity!

    With warm regards,

    JReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:55 am

    Avishek Majumdar - Being a person who is addicted to books, I’ve always tried to find ways to create stories. Though I’m still a beginner but Photography really helps me in doing so. I’m really inclined towards Fine Art and Conceptual styles but due to the lack of guidance it becomes tough to how how to execute the stories and turn them into photographs. Because most of the tutorials need an amount to be paid and that’s not possible for me as of now due to somr financial problems. So your photos and detailed videos about how to make art with simplest of things really inspire me. I remember watching your interview on youtube and after that i kept watching whatever videos I could get by searching your name on YouTube. And they really helped me be more confident.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 9:01 am

    larry james carpenter - Wow. Probably a good idea to talk about this with myself.
    I grew up constantly reminded of being worthless. Funny, my brothers didn’t get that message. Pops was a great guy, and mellowed as he aged. But he was an inventor, creative and passionate, but most of all, critical.
    I learned the secret to survival was to simply never finish, anything. Pops would comment, “Hey, watcha got goin’ here?” I’d explain and then finish with, “…It’s not done though…” Which always way-layed his critical breakdown of my many short-sighted failures.
    So, crazy to say, but, my biggest block is not lack of ideas, I have been an all-consumed shooter for forty years, I have penned volumes of detailed story notes that surround me like I am some sort of hoarder. I just never finish shit.
    I have loved and appreciated your efforts to encourage us all over the years. But, we remain polar opposites. You have mentioned putting several hours into processing an image, I often have to try and shut myself down after a hundred. There is just always something that isn’t quite right. Pops hasn’t been around for ages, to be critical, now I’M the f’n critic!
    I recently began overhauling my website. During the formatting phase I just loaded placeholder images for alignment. I was shocked to find that none of them are finished! I have a backlog of favorites to post, yet they are just languishing there awaiting completion, as I forge ahead chasing new ideas. Good grief.
    Mentoring? Perhaps a non-self-sabotaging critique would shed some light. Ha, who knows. I am writing this more in the simple hope that just getting it out there might shake something loose inside.
    Thanks for all your openness and a heart to help wiiild gal. muchlubs, thelarryReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 9:01 am

    Jacquelin Grace Corti - I’ve been following your work since I first started photography, and your passion and work flow have always been an inspiration. Some of the constant struggles I deal with artistically are often centered in project self-doubt or a fear of process not meeting my standards. Almost shutting myself down before I even have the chance to try. Your photography is part with personal narrative and emotion, and that is something I try consistently to add into my own work. I want to communicate to my audience the things I’ve gone through and felt as thoroughly as I have to create a deeper connection with them. Passion and creativity are things I never seem to run out of, but when the steam starts running low and the art blocks start, I think your lessons and critiques would help me further my future as an artist, and truly hone in on the potential I have. Thank you for your consideration.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 9:02 am

    Su Hall - Hi, Brooke! I have to admit I have been here, before. As an older person, I look back over the things that I have done, not done and what I can still do. I am constantly evaluating myself. And, what I have finally figured out is that it isn’t what I do, or did. It is/was the JOURNEY!
    I do not want to sound condescending at all, but, stop and enjoy the processes and gain knowledge from what you encounter and learn. Rather than call it “_____”, don’t assign anything a label. Therein lies the expectations. Allow your art to evolve, for that is what we do in life – evolve. There is no wrong, nor, a right way, there is simply the doing.
    As an example, I don’t show my art by posting it. If I do, I never go back and read the comments. It doesn’t matter to me what OTHERS think. I do this all for me! But, then, I am not trying to make a living from my art, either. LOL
    Keep exploring yourself, for yourself, dear lady! That is the most beneficial thing anyone can do for themselves.
    Namaste!
    SuReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 9:15 am

    Kai Frawg - I have been struggling to get away from similar themes. I seem to really enjoy water and hot air balloons. All of my ideas try and take me in that direction. And while I let the ideas run that way occasionally, I fight to find something else I like equally as well and that I’m happy with after working each image. My first and only critique was done by you, Brooke, during your creative live class. I would love to get your input and see if you think I made good use of that first bit of advice you gave to me.
    I have created over 80 images since that critique, so I know I will continue to push on, with or without the mentor space and review, it would just be really nice to have that to look forward to as well!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 9:22 am

    Ellen Borggreve - Well Brooke, what I have learned through my many years of being an artist is that trying to be different is where things go wrong for me. I have done this for years as I used to be a designer as well as an artist and the “different approach” is useful for designers. It is not so much for artists, at least not for me.
    Trying to be different, to do something different, has its roots in comparison and this often leads to forced creating. Even if you compare to yourself, to older work, to “your usual”. It will still lead to work in a forced way (again, this is how this worked for me). Gosh, the things I have done in order for me to be different. I even photographed gutters, because I thought this was tremendously different, but the thing is….I am already different and so are you and sometimes evolving can be with big leaps and sometimes it goes slowly. I have learned to create from within, without the logical mind saying I need to do something different. It took me many, many years to get this, but now I just trust that curiosity and intuition will lead the way. Your vision is already unique and will evolve and will become different, but often you can’t will your way into it.
    As I have been a designer for such a long time, I still have expectations when I go out for a shoot, but the expectations are dropped the moment I arrive at location and I just work from somewhere within…I let it lead me and this is the best way for me to create. Without the expectations I would not be too excited to get out of bed in time, but with the expectations on location, my work becomes forced. Does this make any sense dearest Brooke? I so felt for you just reading this post, because I have been there on numerous occasions. I know how disheartening this can be, I know there is almost nothing anyone can say to make the doubts in your own creative abilities go away, but they will subside again when you keep creating from joy
    Have a wonderful week and big hugs to you
    EllenReplyCancel

    • July 23, 2018 - 11:41 am

      Sarah T - Thank you for this Ellen… Much wisdom here..ReplyCancel

      • July 24, 2018 - 7:45 am

        Ellen Borggreve - You’re very welcome Sarah!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 9:38 am

    Sandy Taylor - Your words resonate with me. What every artist had ever felt or experienced can be found in your blog above. It’s nice to know that we are not alone in our lonely feeling journey. I see you. I hear you. Thank you for seeing and hearing us too.
    Creativity being blocked is tough. Finding that comfort zone and then settling in is what do many of us do. I know when I push those boundaries is when I feel the growth, but getting past them is the hard part. Recently I created a piece based on the prompt word “moon”. I kept going back to sight variations of ones I’ve created before and was frustrated. I decided to let go and reattack my mind map in the morning. With a fresh brain I was able to create an original picture that I personally love, not just another variation of one i already produced. Hopefully this journey never stagnates, never stalls. Growth is the only option and I look for all opportunities for growth. (Which is where the mentoring sessions come in!) ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 9:54 am

    Roxanne Bull - Hi:

    I want to create a series on my vulnerability. The problem I’m stuck as how to proceed. I have blended myself with nature which started out well and then…..

    I’m really hoping you can help.

    Thanks,

    RockyReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 10:09 am

    Ayanirys Roman - I love your work and creativity. Thank you for inspiring me.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 10:16 am

    Amy - Brooke, I am so proud of you! The beauty of your “failures” is that you are reaching! If everything comes easy and fast, it means we are not growing. I love to try something new as often as possible when I create, so that I am growing as much as possible with each creation. Granted, I have almost 1,000 unfinished images on my computer that haven’t worked out, but that will make the 1 that does so much more special. ♥ I look forward to witnessing your growth and I can’t wait to see this new series, however long it takes you I KNOW you will rock it in the end. Have fun, don’t put so much pressure on yourself, and just know how grateful I (and I’m sure many others) am for you opening your heart to us and sharing your struggles so that we may feel less alone in our own. ♥ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 10:40 am

    Cheryl Eng - I always look forward to your videos, they inspire and make me think. I have been struggling for more than a year now with finding a project idea that touches my heart enough to actually follow through and start to work on it. I create on a regular basis, usually it’s something that randomly popped into my head and wouldn’t leave until I did something about it. But I haven’t been able to come up with anything that ties things together. I hop from thing to thing, idea to idea not really going very deep. I try new techniques, I draw or write, read, listen to music but nothing seems to tug enough to inspire something larger. So I feel stuck. I enjoy the process of photographing an idea and pulling it into photoshop but when I finish with it, it’s done there is no more pulling me on. I just move to the next thing. I want there to be more, I feel like I can’t find that key to open things up. I am hoping that mentoring might help me figure out where to start looking. I guess I need to figure out what I am so afraid of.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 10:43 am

    Júlia Ferreira - Hey Brooke! I’ve been in art school for about three months and doing so many different projects there has been making my productivity at home very low. I already had issues practicing constantly for a possible art career, but now the idea became even less appealing. I think the tutoring would help A LOT because it would give me a starting point. Just like my college teachers give us new information and a little nudge before we start creating, I think this tutoring would do the same to me at home, also getting me used to a working at home routine and giving tips on how to give myself that little spark. I ADORE your content and will be absolutely honored to be part of this amazing new project! Wish you the best of luck!!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 10:43 am

    Susan Bertram - Ahhhhh Brooke! I don’t believe in coincidence. After my divorce a few years ago, after the heartbreak, betrayal, despair, I rediscovered my passion – photography! It’s been so healing. But, it’s also been frustrating. I’m trying to make a living after being dependent on my husband for 24 years (I worked part-time, non-career jobs to help with the family expenses – we have three beautiful young adults!). My passion has been working on the ART in my photography. YOU, my dear young woman, have given me skills I thought I would never be able to master. I haven’t come close to mastering them yet – but THANK YOU – from the bottom of my heart for your amazing teaching capabilities. I have learned so much from you. I cried when I read your post, because I think you’re so hard on yourself sometimes. But, I understand it too. Your work speaks to all those places inside me that have been down and out and sad and depressed. But, your work also gives me extraordinary hope! I still have so much going on in my life to deal with, and while sometimes that’s an inspiration, it’s also, I’ve found, a creative block. I have dreams and fantasies and things I want to create, and then they flee my mind if I don’t instantly write them down. I’m working hard to keep the creativity going amidst the everyday struggles of how to get the bills paid. I’m sure a lot of my block comes from that – the stress of getting the necessary shit done. I write content articles and do corporate photos shoots to help pay the bills. But my heart, oh how my heart longs to create the things in my head. I have an idea for a series right now, but I feel totally blocked in how to bring it to fruition. The pressure to be creative comes from within. But I find that if I even talk about my “art” photos, people want to see what I’m talking about. I’ve been afraid to put my “true” art photos on my website because I don’t want to create an expectation!! Oyyy vaayy! I did a powerful weekend at a Tony Robbins seminar last weekend, and he talked about finding a mentor who does what you want to do. The first thing I thought was, “Brooke Shaden would never want to mentor me!” OMG! Getting even one mentoring session from you would be amazing. I recently got the nerve up – because of you – to submit five of my images to an art photo contest. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you do, all you share, and your willingness to be vulnerable to us. I struggle with that vulnerability, which I think is part of what’s creating my block. I don’t know!! Anyway – you’re the best. Love what you do! And if I don’t win the free mentoring space, how can I sign up to get mentored by you???ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 10:44 am

    Alyssa - Brooke as I read this I burst into tears. It’s as if you’re speaking directly to my heart, and reading my mind. I have creatively been in a rut since the summer of 2015. At that time I had just graduated art school, and I was burnt out. The final months of art school I had to create and work at such a high speed, with high stakes I barely had time to breath. I just kept pushing through thinking “ you’re almost there. I’m almost through the storm to the calm waters”. Expect when I finally made it through I found I couldn’t swim anymore. I could barely even float.

    I had nothing left in me . I was beyond drowning. I was numb. Alone sitting in the desert. With no sea in site. For years following graduation I’ve just not be able to create at the level I was in art school. And anything I have greater I judge against what I’ve done before that received praise. And Can’t seem to create anything without worrying how to stacks with my previous work. I feel as if nothing I create now can touch what I created then. And it’s become harder and harder to even get my ideas off the paper. Or to even shoot.

    As this went on I fell deeper and deeper into depression and struggling with “ am I even an artist ?”. I stopped shooting because it became too painful. And while I still came up with ideas, I second guess everything , and don’t even make it off the couch.

    I’ve spent the last few years working various jobs: reception, bartending , boutiques. Nothing real, because I still just want to create, but feel tied down my my own doubt and my own expectations.

    It’s not just myself I feel I’m letting down. I feel the expectations of my family and my (wonderful) husband. My husband and I met in art school, and were partners all the way though. He’s talented in his own right. And while we are so happy together, I see how my darkness, my inability to create, hurts him. He try’s to push me to go out and shoot like I once did. But it’s become such an task to go out an create , I do nothing.

    The longer that I’ve sat in this desert, the more the walls have closed in around me. To where I’m become trapped in a deep dark box. Then this morning a crack of light came through. I read your blog post and waves of emotions hit me.

    You put into words, everything I’ve been feeling since graduation. I felt understanding , hope and over all calmness. If you, someone I admire so much can feel this way too, I’m not a lost cause. It’s not hopeless. Now in my box there’s a rope later, and I hope I can pull myself out, because I want to. Thank you Brooke.

    I think this is a wonderful thing you’re doing. I’d love to have a chance at doing portfolio review by you and get your take on my work. Will there be a sign up sheet for those that want to do it, after the giveaway winner is chosen?ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 10:46 am

    Dale Looft - Brooke you are an inspiration that helps me to keep trying to find my creative self. The clarity in your speech and writing make it so easy to follow and feel engaged in your message. In your blog above you have the quote of “I was guiding my art with logic, when very little art was ever created out of such a space.” Well that is me in a nut shell. Not just in my art but in my profession as well. I used to be able to come up with some amazing ideas on how to solve problems and pursue and complete them with a passion. Now it seems that I can’t start anything without knowing all the details of the path to get there. I am hoping that some time with you and your encouragement can get me back on track to just letting my mind go free and embrace whatever comes out.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 11:07 am

    Angel Kruzel - This post made me cry. Especially the line “Or, we didn’t create at all. Because the judgment is too much, and we cannot bear it”. When I was a child I wanted desperately to be an artist, and I created for the joy of creating until that joy was taken out of me. Then I became an adult and buried that desire down as being unachievable, impractical…that I was never good enough or talented enough anyway. I wish I would have been in a place physically and emotionally then to keep creating just for the joy of it but I wasn’t. I have children now, and a wonderful partner that supports me, challenges me and helps me to do whatever I want to do, and my children have reawakened me to seeing the world like a child can, how beautiful and magical it can be. So I have been trying to make up for lost time, I feel like I have wasted so many years not creating because I was to afraid to, of being judged or of being a fraud. But I keep trying to move forward and create for the joy of it, but a lot of time the voices of self doubt creep in and try to sabotage what I am doing but I am learning to ignore that voice and tell it to be quiet. I also have an illness that can cause some pain issues when it is flaring up that I have to work through which can be a huge creative block because its hard to drag yourself up out of bed and take care of children and then have energy to do anything else when you are in chronic pain and tired but I am trying to work through that and not let it stop me. A mentoring session would help me tremendously I think. I have been playing around with photography as much as I can the past two years, really seriously this year trying to learn as much as I can about it and what it is I like to shoot and create, what my style is, and I decided that I would like to try and focus on creating fine art/composites and fleshing out my portfolio and would love feedback on how to get better from an artist I respect and admire.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 11:09 am

    Robert Dodge - I see some folks here have written text books; ! will try to be brief.

    I’m starting a big project about the spiritual path of gay men. I’ve shot a lot of models and background materials. But I’ve hit a wall of sorts in getting myself to actually start creating pieces in Photoshop.

    I need a creative kick in the ass!

    I could also benefit from a mentorship as I tackle my first pieces and struggle with new challenges, such as blending and making th images look believable. Your help would be so valuable and appreciated.

    In addition to my website, I have my latest work on Instagram where I am DCPhotoguy.

    Thanks,
    RobertReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 11:12 am

    Kim - Just wanted to say thank you for writing this, it must not be easy to share that part of yourself. It really hit home with me though. I’ve loved making art since I could hold a crayon, it wasn’t until high school that I realized it could be a potential career. I majored in graphic design in college, hated it, and switched to illustration. But after graduation it is these exact expectations you describe that led me away from art completely. I’ve spent the last decade meandering through dead end jobs that made me physically ill from the inside out. It took me this long to realize expectations were my biggest hurdle, and that no matter where I tried to run to, my creativity was patiently waiting for me to return to it and embrace it. I’ve once again returned to my artwork as my chosen path, and you have been a major influence in that decision! I so appreciate your vulnerability and honesty and I lean on your words of encouragement every time I have a doubtful moment. Thank you Brooke!!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 11:24 am

    Sarah T - Brook, this new blog post came right on time for me. Thank you so much. Hearing how other artists struggle in the creative process is so vital. It’s this struggle, I think, that adds to “imposter syndrome.” But if we can see that even artists who we admire greatly struggle and doubt themselves, we can begin to believe that this is just a part of the process.. That’s what I’m taking from your post today. And it is THE most important thing for me right now, because without this knowledge, I might just stop altogether. And that would be a small tragedy, because this is, I believe, what I came here to do. I’m crying as I write this.. I’m so grateful to have found you and your work. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being willing to be vulnerable and honest about your struggles.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 11:26 am

    Victoria Martin - How do you always give me so much to think about? Wow. So creative blocks for me are around how to tell my own story in my art. That concept of expectation soooo hit home. I can’t figure out HOW to translate my feelings and stories into images, and I am putting so much pressure and expectation on this that I can’t get it off the ground. I am amazed at your generosity in offering mentoring sessions, and if your blog and Instagram posts have caused this much reflection, I am absolutely sure mentoring would explode that. Your words and images so often reach the deeper parts of myself I am trying to get at, and I think mentoring could help provide some perspective and give me more tools to go beyond making an image Andrew help me make art.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 11:35 am

    Yanninia - Starting over seems to be my biggest challenge thus far. I had to take almost two years off due to what I know know to be non epileptic seizers and during that time I was finding myself really drawn to create more meaningful and personal works. Which making the announcement to dissolve my brand and start over. I literally don’t know where to go from here I have this amazing idea for what I want to become but no clue on how to get there. I think mentoring with you would be ideal because you understand that self care and valuing your health has to be a priority. You also have a kind heart and use your art to help people and I admire that and hope I can do the same. I only ever learned form fast paced business owners who value numbers and booking so I love learn how to run a BYU’s from someone who is in this for love and passion. That what I am looking for how to create a substantiable business which out sell your souls and energy to get it. I think you could show me that.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 11:39 am

    Lauren - Hi Brooke, thank you for your honesty. You are such a light! I am quite terrified of failure (do to high expectations and perfectionism) and have gone to great lengths to avoid it. Fear is paralyzing. I know the feeling of wanting to create something extraordinary and life changing, but allowing the fear of falling short to hinder your creativity, and perhaps even preventing you from starting in the first place.
    I moved to Los Angeles a few years ago to pursue fashion photography as a career. Although I am on my way to achieving that goal, the concept of success has influenced my work to a point where my truth no longer lives in it. I would love to hear your thoughts on my work from a fine arts perspective and how I can bring more meaning into my work. Thanks for always bringing positivity and I really hope to have the chance to talk with you someday xxReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 11:50 am

    Isabel Freiberger - I have definitely been in a creative block for longer than I would like to admit. I have practically stopped creating because of exactly what you speak about in your video and blog, expectation. I feel like I will never be good enough, that my work will never reach the level I want it too. I am waiting for external validation, when the reality is that I create for my soul. I have been going through a lot with my job (dance – another creative endeavor) and it has drained me completely of energy and self worth. I am clawing my way out of this hole and I am committing myself to get back to creating for me….not for money, validation, praise or exposure, but rather because I NEED to.

    I would love a mentoring session with you because you are an artist I have looked up to for years and to get any kind of one on one advice from you would really be priceless. I look up to you as person as well and I believe that so many of my values (both personal and artistic) align with yours and it would be an incredible honor to have a mentoring session with you.

    Thank you for everything that you do.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 12:01 pm

    Katherine Gaffney - Hello Brooke,
    Thank you for your wonderful insights. I don’t know how it happens, but the subjects of your posts always seem to be
    perfectly timed with stuggles I am facing in my art/photography. I too have been trapped under the weight of expectation for quite some time, but as of late, it’s really been destroying my inspiration and motivation to continue pursuing photography as a career. I’ve been trying to make photography my main source of income for almost a year. Like you, my fervor, my fire belongs to conceptual fine art photography, but since it’s such a seemingly difficult field to break into, I have been shooting dance recitals,student portraits, burlesque, and pretty much anything else that comes my way. Aside from helping people get technically decent images, I get very little satisfaction from these types of shoots, but there’s a little voice in my brain that tells me that I just need to power through and that getting paid to do ANY type of photography is better than wasting away at a regular job that I have ZERO passion for.
    In January, in an effort to become more commercially viable, I hired a mentor who tried to help me with the business end of things. Aside from a lot of other helpful guidance, he advised me to narrow down and define my niche. Instead of following my heart to conceptual work, I decided to focus on engagements and boudoir because I thought that’s where the money would be. So I spent hours researching and developing personalities of who my “ideal” clients would be. I wrote copy for my website (which still isn’t live), and did multiple free portfolio building shoots, but when it came down to the moment where I actually reached out to the world with the fruit of my efforts, I just couldn’t do it. All of it felt wrong and unnatural and I felt like trying to pass it off as truth was lying not only to myself, but the people who would be trusting me with their time and money.
    I’ve been in a sort of weird limbo since I came to that realization; Teetering back and forth between wanting to dive into the world of selling prints/showing art, and also wanting to anchor myself in a situation where I can be financially stable. Luckily, I’ve had a few gigs here and there, but due to a recent discovery of a potentially serious health issue, I’ve really pulled back from doing shoots altogether, at least until I have a solid diagnosis.
    Yesterday, I spent five hours driving to and around a forest that caught fire a couple years ago. In an effort to honor my body before it’s changed by an upcoming surgery, I was searching for the perfect scorched tree to cuddle up with for a nude self portrait. I had a hard time finding a place that wasn’t fully packed with people trying to take a dip in the river that runs through the area, but I eventually found a deserted timber road to pull off on. I was alone because after a morning fretting over a lack of inspiration, I just decided to get in the car and go. Once I got out of my car and started walking off the road and into what was left of the forest, my mind started racing with fear. Fear that a creature might be lurking, fear that a branch or compromised tree could fall and crush me, fear that someone might come along and see me naked, steal my gear or worse. I stood there paralyzed for a good length of time, wishing I had a friend with me to help keep watch in case anything did happen. I eventually headed back towards my car, deciding that it would be better to play it safe and come back at a later time with a trusted pal. Just as I was arriving back at my car, I spotted a beautifully blackened tree with the knarliest root structure just off the road. That would be my tree. While I stood there negotiating where I would need to set up for the perfect composition, an SUV with dark tinted windows pulled up. My fear got the best of me again and I promptly hopped in my vehicle and left. As I was driving away, I kept thinking to myself that I should have just stuck around and waited for them to leave, they were probably just stretching their legs or something. Instead, I kept driving and let my fear and my expectation of negativity kill my creativity in that moment. And there are so many moments like that that I can think of. So many times where I’ve wanted to make art but don’t because I expect that the world is going to hurt and/or judge me for baring my soul. But there are also times when I can push past and embrace the possibility of things going the opposite. And I never regret it.
    During all of this, I have tried my best to continue making art and keep sharing on instagram in case I ever get the courage to make the big leap. I figure that while I may be getting paid to do other types of work, I can at least show the world where my heart wants to go. Maybe it’s dumb luck, maybe not, but no one has ever voiced any negativity about my art to me directly. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing, but I want to believe that it’s because people aren’t as mean and scary as my brain expects them to be, even on instagram. I want to believe that my art matters and will make a difference in my life and in the world. I guess it’s time to stop expecting the worst.
    Whew…That was rather long winded. If you’re still reading, I thank you with all my heart. I appreciate all you do for us. ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 12:08 pm

    Katherine Gaffney - Hello Brooke,
    If i accidentally repeat posted this, I apologize as I didn’t see it come up in the feed after my initial post.
    Thank you for your wonderful insights. I don’t know how it happens, but the subjects of your posts always seem to be
    perfectly timed with stuggles I am facing in my art/photography. I too have been trapped under the weight of expectation for quite some time, but as of late, it’s really been destroying my inspiration and motivation to continue pursuing photography as a career. I’ve been trying to make photography my main source of income for almost a year. Like you, my fervor, my fire belongs to conceptual fine art photography, but since it’s such a seemingly difficult field to break into, I have been shooting dance recitals,student portraits, burlesque, and pretty much anything else that comes my way. Aside from helping people get technically decent images, I get very little satisfaction from these types of shoots, but there’s a little voice in my brain that tells me that I just need to power through and that getting paid to do ANY type of photography is better than wasting away at a regular job that I have ZERO passion for.
    In January, in an effort to become more commercially viable, I hired a mentor who tried to help me with the business end of things. Aside from a lot of other helpful guidance, he advised me to narrow down and define my niche. Instead of following my heart to conceptual work, I decided to focus on engagements and boudoir because I thought that’s where the money would be. So I spent hours researching and developing personalities of who my “ideal” clients would be. I wrote copy for my website (which still isn’t live), and did multiple free portfolio building shoots, but when it came down to the moment where I actually reached out to the world with the fruit of my efforts, I just couldn’t do it. All of it felt wrong and unnatural and I felt like trying to pass it off as truth was lying not only to myself, but the people who would be trusting me with their time and money.
    I’ve been in a sort of weird limbo since I came to that realization; Teetering back and forth between wanting to dive into the world of selling prints/showing art, and also wanting to anchor myself in a situation where I can be financially stable. Luckily, I’ve had a few gigs here and there, but due to a recent discovery of a potentially serious health issue, I’ve really pulled back from doing shoots altogether, at least until I have a solid diagnosis.
    Yesterday, I spent five hours driving to and around a forest that caught fire a couple years ago. In an effort to honor my body before it’s changed by an upcoming surgery, I was searching for the perfect scorched tree to cuddle up with for a nude self portrait. I had a hard time finding a place that wasn’t fully packed with people trying to take a dip in the river that runs through the area, but I eventually found a deserted timber road to pull off on. I was alone because after a morning fretting over a lack of inspiration, I just decided to get in the car and go. Once I got out of my car and started walking off the road and into what was left of the forest, my mind started racing with fear. Fear that a creature might be lurking, fear that a branch or compromised tree could fall and crush me, fear that someone might come along and see me naked, steal my gear or worse. I stood there paralyzed for a good length of time, wishing I had a friend with me to help keep watch in case anything did happen. I eventually headed back towards my car, deciding that it would be better to play it safe and come back at a later time with a trusted pal. Just as I was arriving back at my car, I spotted a beautifully blackened tree with the knarliest root structure just off the road. That would be my tree. While I stood there negotiating where I would need to set up for the perfect composition, an SUV with dark tinted windows pulled up. My fear got the best of me again and I promptly hopped in my vehicle and left. As I was driving away, I kept thinking to myself that I should have just stuck around and waited for them to leave, they were probably just stretching their legs or something. Instead, I kept driving and let my fear and my expectation of negativity kill my creativity in that moment. And there are so many moments like that that I can think of. So many times where I’ve wanted to make art but don’t because I expect that the world is going to hurt and/or judge me for baring my soul. But there are also times when I can push past and embrace the possibility of things going the opposite. And I never regret it.
    During all of this, I have tried my best to continue making art and keep sharing on instagram in case I ever get the courage to make the big leap. I figure that while I may be getting paid to do other types of work, I can at least show the world where my heart wants to go. Maybe it’s dumb luck, maybe not, but no one has ever voiced any negativity about my art to me directly. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing, but I want to believe that it’s because people aren’t as mean and scary as my brain expects them to be, even on instagram. I want to believe that my art matters and will make a difference in my life and in the world. I guess it’s time to stop expecting the worst.
    Whew…That was rather long winded. If you’re still reading, I thank you with all my heart. I appreciate all you do for us. ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 12:40 pm

    Ale Fragoso - First of all, I must say thank you for having the courage to show up every day and give us tools and inspiration to pursue our dreams.

    This is my story and the reasons why I appreciate a mentoring session with you:
    I was sick for almost all my childhood and early adult life, I used to spend my time reading, painting, dreaming, and creating alternative worlds in my mind to be able to endure the pain. I’m really grateful because that gave me the opportunity to know myself and have true beliefs. Then, when I got better, I felt the need to confront the “real world” and I ended up becoming a businesswoman; I lost myself in that journey and fell in a deep depression, but thanks to a very special person in my life, a couple of years ago I had the courage to change my life, try to find myself again and find what makes me happier.

    I finally achieved the dream to move to a different country, and for the last 2 years I’ve been trying new things and having new experiences in order to find my passion. I always knew that art and creating things is what makes me feel more alive but I didn’t know how to do it, and I was so scared of trying something related to that until I found you… I fell in love with your art, then I saw one of your tutorials and something inside me was set on fire, it was like a voice inside of me that had been trying to talk to me forever, and you made the connection between that voice and me. I will forever be thankful to you for that.

    So I’ve been studying online since then, and I think one of the things that are stopping me from creating more and getting better is the feedback from an expert (I think that’s the only negative thing about online education) So I know that if I can have that feedback now that I’m a beginner, it will make a huge difference, and to have that feedback from the one artist who gave me the inspiration and courage to pursue that passion would be a dream come true.

    Thank you 🙂ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 12:42 pm

    Heather - Creative blocks, oh where to start. Being disabled, self-taught and more limitations than most I have several creative blocks. Though being disabled I also feel that these help me create from my darkest places and with whatever I’m feeling at the time. Nothing is too weird for me but with body limitations sadly I can’t always do what I would like that is in my head. Financial, being disabled and not being able to work, limits me on things I can use backgrounds, places, props, people etc. I wish I could do more self portraits but that is a work in progress that I need to learn and experiment with. I read your entire post here and felt connected to much of what you had to say on expectations. Not to mention sadly the social bias I see out there as well. I’m finally at a place that I am okay with my art being not liked and picked apart for that is what we as humans do, unfortunately, but if something I create inspires someone even just one person that to me is the best gift my art gives back to me. Creativity is truly my oxygen without it I’d be a very lost soul.Any mentoring is also a gift to learn from someone such as yourself who has gone through her own self journey is priceless. Being self-taught I don’t have someone next to me telling me how to do this or that. I’m also self taught in editing don’t use photoshop or lightroom. There are many good editing programs out there that do many of what those two do. I’ve read just about anything I can get my hands on and being online is such a useful tool if you take the time to research. I thank you for your inspiration and courage to put yourself and your art out there for the rest of us to enjoy and learn from.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 12:49 pm

    laura Jane - Hi Brooke, thank you for sharing your story, its so refreshing to see an artist not only share their success but also their struggles. As an audience I think sometimes we forget that, we see the end result and think that looks so effortless.
    I just turned 30 and found a love of photography about a year ago, then came the love of conceptual photos and the use of photoshop. So I began to self teach myself and still feel I have a long way to go. I’ve watched your creative live classes, which truly inspire me but then when it comes to creating that idea I have in my head I feel I over think things a lot.
    1) Creative blocks? – Myself, self doubt,time( I work full time in an office job)I over think things a lot too, which in turn affects my creative process. I worry far too much about everything and everyone around me. If one person doesnt like my photo, it hurts, doesnt matter if 100 like it, which I know is really silly.
    2 ) How will this help – I feel like I could personally learn a lot from you and to be able to speak to you face to face would be amazing, I have so many questions. Theres so many similarities I see when I watch your youtube videos, I dont like lights lol, I dont have money to spend on shoots or fancy gear. I work with whats around me and my surroundings but theres just an element missing from that stage of shooting to final image and I just cant put my finger on it.
    Anyway thanks again for your inspirational post 🙂ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 1:01 pm

    Anna D Bruce - Super deep, Brooke! I remember reading Elizabeth Gilberts “Big MAgic” and she addresses in there the topic of having the expectation that your Art/Creativity should pay for your bills and how that expectation would kill your creative works. I am paraphrasing here but what I took away is that one shouldn’t put the pressure of surviving on your creative talents but that one should develop them first and allow them to grow without pressure. This is a really hard one for me because, as you know, I just quit my full-time job to peruse a career as an artist. The question now stands, “Will I ruin my art because it is now my ‘career’? I am trying to allow it to blossom on it’s own without making my art feel like it has to pay my bills (with a more of a “great if you do, great if you don’t attitude”). Thankfully we are just fine on one income stream but I have always known that I am a creative and I always daydreamed of just creating whatever I wanted. I think that having some level of expectation is important as it will help you grow and improve but I believe that, as the creator/Artist, you have to be flexible and allow the art piece itself takes it’s own shape. I have always said that my works have a life of their own. I dream up a concept and every time, it comes out not quite like I imagined but I’ve always liked the direction it went in. I try not to be as hard on shutting myself down because of an expectation that I set. It’s tough because you need some boundaries but you also have to let whatever you are creating take it’s own form to some extent (anyways, that is what I believe). I try to deal with the pressure to be creative by allowing myself some slack. Even though I claim to “work” 8:30-5pm M-F, I allow for things that make me happy in that time such as reading, walking, coffee, hiking, etc. I basically want to create different habits in this role, habits that are more forgiving since I am always “go,go,go” with no breaks. These habits, I hope, will also help keep me inspired and stress-free. I cannot create when I am stressed because I get overwhelmed and anxiety takes over.

    Lately, the creative blocks that I have been facing are similar to yours. Wanting to be different. I still surprise myself because I am still so new to digital art but I really struggle with finding a way to be different – to create something new and maybe even pave the way for others some how. I never want to feel like I “copied” someone’s style. I want to look at my work and feel like “that is so authentically me” and not “yeah, I was inspired by ‘xyz artist’s style” or “I wanted to try that so I took inspiration from this person’s work”. Sometimes, when you go about wanting to do something different, we miss the point entirely. I have noticed that whenever I follow my intuition, that is when I nail an art piece or whatever I am doing.

    I have never been mentored, so every opportunity to learn, grow and see things from a new perspective is so welcomed – especially the perspective thing. It has been so funny to see what curators select out of my work and why. I feel like perhaps my portfolio could be way more consistent. As someone who has many years of experience in the Art world, your feedback, guidance and mentoring would be GOLD. When I left school with my Art Degree, I didn’t have the slightest idea of what to do with my degree. All of the things you talked about in your boot camp were just grazed upon in school. It would have been nice to know about press packets, gallery representation, commission structures, licensing, etc.

    Anyyyyways. Thank you sao much for reading my crazy longwinded response. I am a hug fan of you. Thank you for this opportunity 🙂ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 1:03 pm

    Fátima Ruiz - Last year I had an emotional block, my world fell apart and I could not do anything … I can not create, I can not work clearly, … everything was black …

    You are a pure fuel for me, when I read you I feel more normal and understood. I dream of this talk with you, but I do not know if I deserve it. Because my English is not good and maybe other people can take better advantage of this oportunity.

    I created through my heart, and I don’t want to be like others, I want to be the best version of myself. And I think that I need your oppinion in this point of my career. Thank you so much for everything that you gift us <3 You are pure magic.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 1:05 pm

    Immy L - Wow, Brooke you are truly an inspiration to me. I remember when I started photography in school through my GCSES and my teacher introduced me to your work. That period of time was tough because I felt like my work wasn’t going anywhere and I was constantly comparing my work with other photographers and always putting myself down. When I saw your work it ignited a spark within me and set my creative juices flowing again, it made me feel like I am worthy to be creating art and even if people do not agree with me doing it as a career or do not understand my work. I still face personal issues and they can stop me creating. Often I feel like my work and photography aren’t good enough to take me anywhere but at the end of the day, Art and photography have and will always be there for me to vent out my emotions and feelings or to just express myself. I mainly create self portraits as I suffer from social anxiety and other things that make it hard to use models or do weddings. At 18 most people my age are at Uni and i’ve been told so many times that I should or need to go to university to become successful or to become happy but I am happy because I get to create freely and be myself without the pressure of exams. I feel like I would benefit from having a portfolio review and mentoring session as it would boost my confidence and also prepare and help me to progress further with my photography.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 1:11 pm

    Brelinda - What an amazing offer!

    Let’s see, I’ve been getting in my own way. Those debilitating thoughts of everything that could go wrong, that everyone will hate it and my ideas just not being good enough. I hate these feelings.
    You’re an inspiration, your videos alone have been giving me a little kick in the butt to put more thoughts to paper, but my hope is that with this sessions will push me over the edge to actually create these things and put them out there in the right way. Having you be able to point things out and give me a nice shove would be amazing!

    Thank you for the opportunity.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 1:19 pm

    Kimberly standish - I am very interested in a mentor session and review. I’m interested in applying your fine art techniques to portraits. I am also imyetested in creating personal art for myself.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 1:28 pm

    Lauren - Brook, reading your blogposts are like reading a page out of my book! I have too many creative blocks to name them all, but the one that screams the loudest is my lack of technical strength. I studied fine arts at the university level before choosing interruption in the form of building a family and nurturing growing children full time. It was just 4 years ago that I began to explore my art again through photography, of which I am self taught. My best work has a strong fine art quality, but i have been sucked into photographing mainstream genres because when it comes to marketing fine art photography in small town mid-south. I am lost. I have so many voices, both internal and external that remind me daily that I am not where I want to be whether for lack of resources or lack of time and formal training. I would love to have a mentor help me identify, develop and fine tune my art and direction into something more fruitful.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 1:38 pm

    Anca - Your posts have always always touched my heart and my mind. It’s weird but sometimes I feel that what you say makes so much sense to me that I am grateful I have start following your journey 4 years ago and that you speak or write exactly what I need to go next phase. I am putting a lot of pressure to create. My next one needs to better than the previous but this did not happen this way. Taking a break from exercising my creative muscles (limite time because of motherhood) always have a drastic effect over my confidence and even getting an idea. You have been such an inspiration for me all this time and I know that now its my time to start flying and would be absolutely over the moon to have a mentoring session with you to give me that extra support I would need at this point in my life and really take action more bravely. Many hugsReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 1:42 pm

    Francesc - I’m not photographer. I’m not writer. I’m not musician. I’m not artist…I’m not I
    Just some inner landscapesReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 1:43 pm

    Emily Kramer - 1. When I plan a shoot, and really put in a lot of time and effort to make it a series – and I stop feeling it. That’s my current block. Image 2.0 is not in cohesion with Image 1.9. The first set is awesome, and the second makes me want to throw them away. I’m embarassed to release them. Like I’m forcing it? Trying too hard? Not sure.

    2. I feel like it would help to think in a more organized fashion. Something that would allow a better mix of creative flow and still a disciplined method.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 1:47 pm

    Neviekur - I’m not photographer. I’m not writer. I’m not musician. I’m not artist…I’m not I
    Just some inner landscapesReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 1:49 pm

    Nikki - Hi brooke and thank you for this opportunity.
    I’ve been holding myself back thinking I’m not good enough to create and that my ideas are to elaborate to pull off how i would like them. But most of all, my anxiety with creating ANYTHING is holding me back. I make excuses to not shoot and excuses to put it off until another day, that today isn’t a good day, that i don’t have time, that it’s not worth even thinking about shooting anything because it won’t be good enough.
    My biggest creative block is myself.
    To win this mentorship i think will help me get past all the excuses and to push me to just go out and create and to make the tone. I need your honesty and i need to hear that I’m at least hearing in the right direction even if I’m not there yet. You’ve been one of my biggest influences with my work and a chance to hear your thoughts, constructive criticism and support will really help me break out of this slump I’m in right nowReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 1:50 pm

    Bob Barford - The expectation to create, especially on a timeline, releases stress hormones and chemicals within everyone’s body. Heart rate and blood pressure increase, headaches may develop, and thought processes are like driving down a highway with traffic jams and detours. This can even get worse when someone else expects something great from you. Then in some cases, the fear develops what will people think of me if I don’t produce something outstanding.
    I think that allowing people to share their views and feelings in a non threatening environment can actually be therapeutic.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 1:58 pm

    Amelia Merrick - Hi Brooke,
    I’ve actually felt like i’ve slightly started to emerge into a better dreative space than i have in a long time. I am nearly 40 years old and I went through all the motions of being an “artist” by going to an art centric high school, art college and then emerging from that experience with this overwhelming weight of “being an artist”, especially at moments when i did’t even know who i was or what i was supposed to “be”. My journey in self portraiture started in high school photography and again in college when i simply thought i was doing it to get assignments done and with little other resources other than myself to do it, but now, in the past 3 years i’ve fully embraced that i actually AM a self portrait artist…but the saying and doing doesn’t come without it’s own hurdles of feeling worthiness in that journey. I struggle a lot with the technical side of the art form that changed so drastically so fast in my formative creative years that it has been very difficult to feel like I am “keeping up”, like somehow not having enough money or resources or audience to create is the excuse that keeps looming to keep me down and I keep struggling to brush aside. I feel like we are all kind of in this together, trying to articulate through imagery (and most are better at words than i am), to bring a voice to this human experience in an authentic way and any mentoring in that direction would be undeniably beneficial…to whomever gets the privilege.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 2:00 pm

    Noe - Hi Brooke, I’m following you and your work for such a long time. This days has been really hard, and reading you makes me wanna try and try one time. Thank You!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 2:41 pm

    Jade - My biggest struggle lately has been with feeling too complacent in the moment. I had always been doubtful and anxious about my work but recently I’d been in a situation where I was in a gallery and sold a piece. Since then I have not made any other images. I have stuck with this image, fearful I won’t be able to create anything better. I’m so frustrated with the feeling that I have been in a constant cycle, using the same image for things because it “works” but that has stuck me and kept me from continuing to create things. I believe that this mentoring session will give me a chance to break past this rut that I’ve been in and learn to not be afraid to create again.ReplyCancel

    • July 23, 2018 - 7:33 pm

      Jade - Sorry my computer was glitching so I had to reply twice!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 3:10 pm

    Keely - Hi, Brooke!
    I am a Year 12 Media Student from Australia. For my Media assignment, I have chosen to create a series of ten photographs, each one depicting an aspect/quality relating to femininity. The final photographs are due at the end of the year, and I have completed editing five of them. However, I am facing difficulty with the completion of my other images, as my ideas are not translating into the Photoshop document. I would really love the opportunity to talk with you about my work, as I admire you greatly, so much so that your work makes up my entire research portfolio!
    I think a mentoring session will help me to expand my knowledge of Photoshop and help me to complete the final edits with confidence! I would also love your feedback on the photographs I have already completed, as my Media teacher is away and won’t be back for a few more weeks.

    Thanks so much for your time 🙂ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 3:46 pm

    linda angledal - Hi Brooke. Firstly, thank you for this opportunity and doing what you do.
    Personally, I’ve been booked to showcase my work at an exhibition in November. I’ve known about this for several months but have been a bit paralysed by the pressure I’ve put on myself to authentically express myself. So far I’ve shot two ideas, and a lot of effort went into those two pieces but I’m just not feeling that they are right. To be completely honest, one of them looks very much influenced by your works (you are a huge inspiration). I recognised that, and felt a bit deflated, as I don’t want to copy anyone, I want to be authentic and place my signature on my work.
    I have to produce ten pieces. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit insecure about whether my story is of anyone’s interest… I guess it ultimately comes back to self-worth. I want to come back to a place of expressing just for the sake of expressing, and not wondering if it will be good enough for the gallery or others.
    I think this mentoring session will help me to gain a bit of clarity about my direction & to help me find my unique voice as an artist.
    Thank you, LindaReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 5:33 pm

    David E Thomas - Recently, I did a series of 3 fine art nude photoshoots in a downtown LA studio with three different models. The post processing has been painful, frustrating, but enlightening. After it was all over I rejected all of the images in the first shoot, loved my second shoot until I realized that virtually all the images relied on including a breast, and I liked the third because I had deliberately posed the model to minimize breast visibility. (this was an epiphany for me!)

    Since then, I have been working off and on with the 10 or so images from the 3rd shoot that I like best, but just can’t let go and accept that I can’t make them any better. The more I look at them the worse they get.

    I have been in so much turmoil ….. that during my daily activities I have fleeting thoughts about giving up photography to escape the tension built into the decisions I must make. All this planning, work, expense, doubt and pain for so few results.

    Brooke, my creative blocks have been..
    1. too high expectations: I’ve seen great creative work; how can I measure up to that?
    2. fear that the women around me will disapprove of my nudes and think badly of me.
    3. fear that the “professionals” will consider my work mundane and uninteresting.

    I believe a mentoring session with you will help me clarify reasonable artistic goals and expectations and inspire me to to plan and carry out a 4th studio session which will be “the best yet”.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 6:13 pm

    Stacey a Jaynes - Well I think it would help me with writing things like this. Not shore how to Express myself in writing and letting people know what my art is all about. Thanks you everything you do I have learned alot for you already.
    Stacey A JaynesReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 7:31 pm

    Jade B - Hi Brooke,

    I think my biggest problem at the moment is the feeling of safety. I have recently just sold my very first picture and through that excitement has also grown the fear of furthering my career. I feel stuck with the idea that maybe I’ll never make something better than the image I’ve sold. So I keep repeating this cycle of entering the same picture into competitions and galleries. This has stopped me from creating new work for fear of never measuring up to my former work. I feel as if I am just on the brink of being able to change and grow as an artist, I’m just looking to figure out how. I believe that the mentorship opportunity is a chance to have a point in the right direction. I feel like every once in a while we all need something to show us a different perspective on how things should be. I feel as if I’m too stuck in my way and because of that my work is suffering. Even without the mentorship, thank you for what you do. Your successes and failures are so candid and open, they really inspire.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 7:41 pm

    Karmen - I love your work. It evokes so much feeling. I identify with it. I think my biggest challenge is shooting for composites & blending them right. I have a few I feel are successful & I cannot help but wonder if they don’t resonate with an audience. Idk. I’d like a review & some direction regarding skill. And getting in with people! I’m always such a loner. Peopling is hard.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:12 pm

    Alexandra - Hello Brooke , first of all I would like to thank you for sharing and promoting art.
    Funny story , I have so many ideas in my brain but my daily anger causes me a state of lethargy, creatively speaking. I have the concepts, the skills and a decent equipement to achieve my ideas. The thing is whenever I get upset about anything at all , all of my ideas end up being nothing but sketches. I don’t know if this will cure my state, because the only true salvation from stillness is my own determination and efforts. But it might just help me gain more confidence and I would obviously love to interact with one of my favorite photographers.

    Best regards ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:17 pm

    Vicki Kurasz - Hope you saw some beautiful sites in Wisconsin!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:41 pm

    Sue Sonnenberg - 1) Creative Blocks: I have such an intense need to fulfill a purpose of helping others. Typically I’m the person who lifts people up when they are feeling down. I’m the one who pushes people to create through pain and use the healing aspects of art as a form of therapy. I’ve hit a wall. I’ve fallen into a deep despair that I can’t climb out of of. I need a hand up to realign.

    2) How mentoring could help me? Sounds weird but I feel it would replenish my energy to have someone who “gets it” more than I can grasp. I feel like I’m endlessly spinning… a rat on a wheel and all I have to donit step off but I’m stuck In the constant and endless chase of whatever is out there for me. I’m feeling Lost. <3ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2018 - 8:57 pm

    Karin Gonzalez - My biggest struggle is technology… I could spend hrs and hrs dodging and burning in the darkroom and just freak out when I need to do it in photoshop. I think it’s just overwhelming.
    I super admire your creativity and am just blown away at the amount of layers I see on your files;) it would help me to have a conversation around that!
    Thanks for your wisdom!ReplyCancel

  • July 24, 2018 - 12:11 am

    Emily Bourne - I love this!! I heard from another artist over the weekend that he likes to view failures as one step closer to success- as you said, we just keep trying! My biggest block right now is fear of showing my work- that it’s not good enough and someone will call me out on it. I have my first little display in an art show in a few weeks and I’m starting to get panicky! I also feel like it’s still surface level stuff- and too “on the nose”.
    I know I still have soooo much to learn which is why I would love the opportunity to do this mentoring session with you! I respect your opinion and judgement as an artist and I really need some pointers and ideas of how to improve, how to dig deeper. And I know you won’t be mean to me! ReplyCancel

  • July 24, 2018 - 12:12 am

    Misty Warner - Hi! My name is Misty and I’m an introvert… I live and function in a world of my own, one that lives inside my mind. Things make sense, ideas blossom, inanimate objects have life. I’m that quiet girl in the corner that most don’t see. I watch people. I watch life. I watch emotions. And all those images are uploaded into my introverted mind and processed with color and beauty and honesty. And I love this world. It makes me happy.

    But then I try to export those ideas out into something that others can see or experience and it all just falls apart. It starts off good and positive but then my self doubt kicks in. “You have no formal training, you have sub-par technical skills, look at those people, they’re creating awesomeness why can’t you do that.” All those insecurities start to suffocate me like an avalanche and before you know it, I’m frustrated and have lost the vision of what I was even trying to convey. Thus…my block…if you can even call it that.

    When I read your blog or posts, I think, “wow, this chick is odd like me. And she’s able to create art that comes from her dark, twisted little world and it is beautiful even when she says it’s total rubbish. So, maybe, if I worked with her my not-so-dark-but-still-equally-skewed little world could come to life out here in the real world.”ReplyCancel

  • July 24, 2018 - 1:07 am

    Teresa - Hi Brooke, thank you so much for the opportunity of having a portfolio review and mentoring session, it would be amazing! I admire you so much, not only as an artist but also as a person, for being so open and inspiring. Here are my answers
    1) Creative blocks: lately I have been feeling REALLY stuck, not happy at all with the stuff I am creating. I feel like I cannot create anything valuable. I see so many awesome artists and then I see my work and feel stupid about even trying to create something. Also, my images never turn out how I was planning and I get very frustrated,since I am trying to express something and just can’t do it. I think that implies I am not meant to do this.
    2) How mentoring would help me: I think it would be very useful to identify what is exactly the part that doesn’t work in my pictures, and to learn to create with more purpose and intention. I think it would help me a lot to give myself “permission” to create with more realistic expectations and goals, which would lead to less frustration.ReplyCancel

  • July 24, 2018 - 2:11 am

    Thomas Miles - Hi Brooke! It’s so refreshing to see your journey through this series. At the moment, I feel as though I have a boundary, set up stopping me from pursuing creativity. I get the ideas and love photo ideas, but I have a fear of making the image a reality; stepping out of the door and finding the opportunity. I am very keen to start pursuing my photography as a full time career, but feel like I’m not able to go for it, not knowing how to begin. I would love help to see if my work is a good enough standard to begin selling prints and is strong enough to draw clients in. Thank you so much Brooke for always sharing your creativity and stories, as they deeply connect with me and I truly love the inspiration you share to pursue what you love to do!

    Infinite love to you and good luck choosing a winner as some of these comments are so gosh darn lovely! <3ReplyCancel

  • July 24, 2018 - 7:22 am

    Patrick - I’ve had one of the worst years of my life (had to find a new home in the middle of the night and start over, and so many other hardships). I’ve lost interest in some of the things I used to love, like photography. The ability to be inspired and motivated has been unbearably hard.

    I think a mentoring session would be amazing because you always inspire me and I love you and all your work (You are the reason I started learning Photoshop). My hope is that it would give me some direction at a time when I feel like a boat with no sails.

    Thanks <3ReplyCancel

  • July 24, 2018 - 8:52 am

    Chrystal Kelly - First off I would just like to say, I do not believe u have lost your crayon ability! So I hope you don’t feel that way. I am working on a new series, I’m still in the gathering stage and have been solidifying my intention. I’m a little nervous about the money and time I am using to create this series. I do feel that I need to create this series and I’m going to do it with my whole heart. I do not want to fail because my biggest fear is that I will be incorporating the feelings and struggles of not just myself but of others. And in representing other people’s struggles, I will create over and over until it is right. I’m trying something new. I’m building something, I’m interviewing woman of multiple cultures, across a span of ages, and in different economic situations. A mentoring sessions would really help me solidify my ideas and how to present it when the different times come. It is funny how on point your messages have been for me at times when I really need to here them. Thanks Brooke! You rock! ReplyCancel

  • July 24, 2018 - 10:09 am

    Jane - I went from management (resturant) to a career of digital art (3d) as it met my needs at the time to be supportive of my ex husbands career. Roll on 15 years later 5 redundancies, divorce (still best friends though 🙂 ) and the internal foot being put down that says ENOUGH !! Now is the time to do something I want to do. The only thing I have done that makes me feel at peace is photography and poetry. I have been following your online content and learning. Your open posts about sturggles with finding creativity and imposter syndrome was a validation that my journey so far is not unique to me. Your content so far has already helped me move forward and helped me learn and progress with my post processing skills and more. Thank you !!
    I feel my next step is to move forward with my photography. Im looking for opportunities within my community that helps give back at the same time as learning. To do is to learn right.

    My creative block I guess has been that i have been driven by others and not myself (in terms of want). So a time commitment to myself along with actively learning more about photography will lead to my creativity to flow again.
    I finally feel, Alive. Awake. Accountable.
    I think most of us will have the same answer with how a mentoring session would help. It would mean to get to talk to a professional photographer and get to get a insight into photography and the business of photography. I know we would all have a gazillion questions about the artistic and buiness side of it that I guess we would just maybe condense down to a ‘simple’ if the You from 10 years ago was sat down in front of you now, what would you explain in 45 mins ? Question.

    To get feedback is to learn. To learn is to grow. So a feedback session would help so much for me to learn and give me a new way of looking and questioning my work myself for the future.

    THANKS FOR ALL THE SHARING AND TEACHING YOU DO ! MUCH APPRECIATED!ReplyCancel

  • July 24, 2018 - 11:54 am

    Jane V - I went from management (resturant) to a career of digital art (3d) as it met my needs at the time to be supportive of my ex husbands career. Roll on 15 years later 5 redundancies, divorce (still best friends though 🙂 ) and the internal foot being put down that says ENOUGH !! Now is the time to do something I want to do. The only thing I have done that makes me feel at peace is photography and poetry. I have been following your online content and learning. Your open posts about sturggles with finding creativity and imposter syndrome was a validation that my journey so far is not unique to me. Your content so far has already helped me move forward and helped me learn and progress with my post processing skills and more. Thank you !!
    I feel my next step is to move forward with my photography. Im looking for opportunities within my community that helps give back at the same time as learning. To do is to learn right.

    My creative block I guess has been that i have been driven by others and not myself (in terms of want). So a time commitment to myself along with actively learning more about photography will lead to my creativity to flow again.
    I finally feel, Alive. Awake. Accountable.
    I think most of us will have the same answer with how a mentoring session would help. It would mean to get to talk to a professional photographer and get to get a insight into photography and the business of photography. I know we would all have a gazillion questions about the artistic and buiness side of it that I guess we would just maybe condense down to a ‘simple’ if the You from 10 years ago was sat down in front of you now, what would you explain in 45 mins ? Question.

    To get feedback is to learn. To learn is to grow. So a feedback session would help so much for me to learn and give me a new way of looking and questioning my work myself for the future.ReplyCancel

  • July 24, 2018 - 1:47 pm

    Marilyn Lamoreux - Thank you so much for talking about this Brooke. I vacillate between creating for the joy of creating and then getting caught up in my expectations about creating a “successful” business, and I keep coming back to following my joy. It’s the only way that I’ve found to express my own unique view of the world.

    I’d love a mentoring session with you despite the fact that my work is quite different from yours. I think getting a different perspective and fresh look is always helpful and I feel like I can learn a lot from your passion for your art and for teaching.ReplyCancel

  • July 24, 2018 - 3:34 pm

    Sam Harnois - Hi Brooke.

    I just wanted to start off by saying right now I am not in a good space. I’ve been having frequent anxiety attacks. The isolation from all my friends and family back on the other side of the country is really starting to kick in, and it’s really hard for me to focus on anything right now.

    “You must travel the long road to learn about the world. You must learn about every thorn that sticks in your foot, every wild wind that chills your bones. You must suffer for your art, because the best things are not easy.”

    This quote in your blog post really stuck out to me. In a weird way, I feel like I am supposed to be feeling like this. I feel like a few years ago when I started thinking about my life, and what was going to happen, I pretty much accepted that I was going to hit a bump in the road.

    To your two questions:
    1. What do you think about expectation and creativity?

    In my case, I definitely can say that expectation limits me, however at the same time it motivates me to create something that I’m proud of.

    Your other questions:
    1. Creative blocks I’ve been facing recently.

    Well, I just moved across the country. The geography here in California is much different than at home. I’m in a beach town, and I can’t really find any lakes or forests around here, which I almost shot entirely in back at Massachusetts. I’ve been spending so much time all day applying for jobs too, and I honestly get tired. I think I want to try self portraiture, although I’m honestly a little scared.

    2. How this mentoring session will help me:
    Honestly, I used to think that I was able to do things on my own. I was really shy when it came to accepting help, but I am ready to receive the help from someone else, especially someone whos work I connect with. The mentoring session . Additionally, I went to one portfolio review, which was really helpful, but I would be so grateful in receiving a one page detailed critique of my work. My style has been changing recently, and I personally think it is changing in a much better way. I think my work is becoming stronger conceptually, and I am breaking free from repeating the same image over and over again.

    I want to grow. I know I do. Despite anxiety, feeling lost in moving, I am determined to not give up and continue to grow. Because I will not let it get me. I already cut the most toxic person out of my life, and I am not going to let my anxiety take all of that away from me. I am ready.

    Love,
    SamReplyCancel

  • July 24, 2018 - 4:35 pm

    julie powell - Hi Brooke, I adore your honesty and openness and I try to be that way too. You did a portfolio review for me a while back and it helped me a lot in my art and direction, I was all over the place. I have since changed direction and I hope I have found my own voice & clarity. I have had several exhibitions, but my art does not seem to resonate with people unless I am giving them the ‘explanation’ or so it seems. You words bolstered my resolve back then and spurred me forward. I would be so grateful for another review, to see how far I have come and perhaps even jolt me onto further heights. https://juliepowelldigitalartistry.com/gallery/
    Forever in your tribe, – Julie xoReplyCancel

  • July 24, 2018 - 5:48 pm

    Tracy Whiteside - Hi Brooke and everyone! I am so inspired by your work. I have tried almost every genre of photography but yours is the style I love the most. My biggest problem is execution. I often know what I want to do but don’t know how to do it or how to do it well. I have watched/purchased every one of your videos (more than once) but I want to be original–I don’t want to copy you. When do you know you have enough in the image? Your mentoring will help me solve these issues that are specific to me.ReplyCancel

  • July 24, 2018 - 10:46 pm

    belinda - a few years ago, I emailed you with a technical question after watching you on creativeLive. you graciously replied which blew me away and inspired by what i learned watching you i created a piece which i love but was always too afraid to show you and have been waiting until i have a perfect portfolio/website/online presence… and i’m tired of waiting and having life pass me by and still not having the courage to share my work. and so i’m hoping that you could help me to get out of my own way and get on with it xReplyCancel

  • July 25, 2018 - 10:19 pm

    Bee Jackson - Hi Brooke, this post spoke to me so deeply. At the moment I feel so blocked creatively and personally. I learned all the technical photography and lighting stuff, but I look at my images and they seem dead. I think I am scared to reveal the true me in so many ways. I tried the commercial portrait photographer route and absolutely hated it, I hated the pressure, the ‘production line’ feel to it. I bought your Fine Art Photography: The Complete Guide class on Creative Live and was blown away by it. I am 54 and so want to create something honest for myself. I feel as if I have been untrue to myself for so long and need help to see the way forward. With many thanks all that you share xxReplyCancel

  • July 26, 2018 - 6:03 am

    Raffaella - I love how open you are!

    I think I struggle most with 1. Overthinking – I get so many ideas I sometimes can’t choose one and end up feeling adrift
    2. Self doubt & second guessing: there’s a lot of pressure to have a signature look and I don’t always feel I fit into that. I do have some preferred techniques but it often depends on my mood and what I’m hoping to communicate.

    Mentoring would help with overcoming (or at least heading towards overcoming) that overthinking/self doubt and reluctance to “put myself out there” because I always think I can do better/be better.ReplyCancel

  • July 26, 2018 - 7:00 am

    Michelle Shustack - Hi Brooke! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and words in this blog posts! I feel like I have been trying really hard this year with my school schedule. Because my school is closing and I am sad about it. I am sad because I couldn’t finish my degree in the time that I wanted too. Also there is so many great people that have taught me how to do things and now the place where I learned how to do things is going to be gone. I am taking 5 classes this quarter and I am going to be taking 6 the next quarter in order to get my degree. I feel like I am going to be super overwhelmed next quarter that I will have a hard coming up with ideas for portfolio 3. I am just going to be doing a lot of image studying and listening to new music because that’s what helps get my ideas flowing. I also lose my job in September because I work for the school. Everything is happening so fast I can hardly think. But these blog posts and videos really help me understand of what it is to be an artist. So thanks to you and your creativity I haven’t lost all hope of getting past road blocks. I know that I have had images that don’t work out for my photography classes and then I hide them or stop working on them. Because I knew that they didn’t work out the way I wanted them to or the way I imagined. But those images don’t stop me from creating new images. I just tell myself that if I keep going that I will keep growing. So I probably won’t have time for that mentoring program. I just wanted to let you know that your work is an inspiration to me. I mean I guess it would be beneficial to me because it would give me a chance to learn more about being an artist. Because I’m learning new things everyday. And who’s to say that I can’t learn something new from you. You might teach me something that I never even thought about. I’m always open to learning new things. Even if it means that I have no social life.lol

    Thank you for the great words of wisdom and awesome photographs that with them!

    From
    MichelleReplyCancel

  • July 27, 2018 - 9:02 am

    Natalie - This is exactly what I needed to hear. I have been forcing a lot of things in my life out of expectation and, as you said, this has only lead to disappointment.

    I have also been so hell bent on figuring out how to market myself that I have almost stopped producing new work, which makes me feel absolutely horrible.

    Right now I am trying to rework an old series and expand another one and I haven’t taken the time to just sit with that childlike wonder you talked about here and see what comes without judgement or expectation.

    Thank you so much for this, Brooke! You really are a gem. <3ReplyCancel

  • July 29, 2018 - 11:20 am

    brookeshaden - My friends, thank you from the depths of my heart for your responses. I wasn’t able to respond to everyone individually but I read them ALL and am so moved by the vulnerability, honesty, and passion that you are pouring into your words. Thank you.

    The winner of the mentoring giveaway is Ale Fragoso!

    Registration will open on August 1st!ReplyCancel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share your favorite tools for finding inspiration!

Will you try any of these that I mentioned?

Which metaphor will you create from?!

 

  • July 9, 2018 - 6:34 am

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

  • July 9, 2018 - 7:35 am

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

  • July 9, 2018 - 2:42 pm

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

  • July 9, 2018 - 2:51 pm

    Sarah T - Walking in nature. It often starts as I just gotta get out and get some exercise! And it almost always fires up inspiration and creativity.ReplyCancel

  • July 10, 2018 - 11:26 am

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

  • July 10, 2018 - 6:12 pm

    Andy G Williams - I really love your passion. Some amazing ideas for staying inspired. I absolutely love Pinterest. If I see something that inspires I add it to a page. The only issue is finding time to put ideas into action!

    Just as an aside. How many remotes have you broken?!. I love the way you just drop it every time!ReplyCancel

  • July 11, 2018 - 7:29 am

    Paul McCarthy - Great video and very timely for me as I’ve been lacking motivation in my photography recently and life in general if I’m honest. I’m going on a family vacation shortly and I’ll definitely be trying some of these ideas while I’m away from the usual daily grind. I have a similar set of dice to the Metaphor Dice with pictures to suggest ideas instead of words. The way you used the Metaphor Dice has suggested a different way of using the ones I already have which I’ll try with some writing. I’m also planning on bringing a small sketch pad with me to try drawing for the first time in my adult life. Even a few stick characters and a sentence or two every day might be enough to get me going again. Thanks for everything you do!ReplyCancel

  • July 11, 2018 - 7:37 am

    Paul McCarthy - Great video and very timely for me as I’ve been lacking motivation in my photography recently and life in general if I’m honest. I’m going on a family vacation shortly and I’ll definitely be trying some of these ideas while I’m away from the usual daily grind. I have a set of dice similar to the Metaphor Dice with pictures to suggest ideas instead of words. The way you used the Metaphor Dice has suggested a different way of using the ones I already have which I’ll try with some writing. I’m also planning on bringing a small sketch pad with me to try drawing for the first time in my adult life. Even a few stick characters and a sentence or two every day might be enough to get me going again. Thanks for everything you do!ReplyCancel

  • July 17, 2018 - 11:26 am

    Barry Styles - I’ve had this video for awhile now. It gives me a boost when I’m in a creative funk.

    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/j7cmvx4fh9lwz2s/AADXbwGFYiNRitpra2-OVtS1a?dl=0ReplyCancel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

  • July 2, 2018 - 8:23 am

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

    • July 2, 2018 - 8:31 am

      brookeshaden - Now *that* is an idea… 😀ReplyCancel

  • July 2, 2018 - 9:09 am

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

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

    • July 2, 2018 - 9:11 am

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

  • July 2, 2018 - 9:18 am

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

  • July 2, 2018 - 11:19 am

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

  • July 2, 2018 - 1:37 pm

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

  • July 2, 2018 - 2:19 pm

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

  • July 3, 2018 - 4:44 am

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

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

  • July 3, 2018 - 2:15 pm

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

    This latest image is gorgeous.ReplyCancel

  • July 6, 2018 - 9:59 am

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

  • July 12, 2018 - 8:44 am

    Steve Bunderson - I think I would shoot an infrared image and then paint it with my own version of what I thought the colors should be. I am amazed at your creativity and constant search to create new things. Truly remarkable.ReplyCancel

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

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

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

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

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

The answer came immediately: It will never stop.

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

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

…We will lose our sense of wonder.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

  • June 25, 2018 - 6:56 am

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

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

  • June 25, 2018 - 7:39 am

    Chrystal Kelly - Good morning! I was truly inspired by the redwoods too. I felt like all the fairy’s were running along with me. I love this image and how u created it. I actually took some time to myself yesterday to work on an idea that’s been nawing at me for a while. Another thing I’m addressing at the same time is that I have been wanting to create a gallery series of images that I feel confident presenting as a serious body of work. So I was able to somewhat solidify my idea by asking myself a series of questions that had to do with the subject of my project. Now I have to create in a whole new way, it’s going to take time, financial investment and allot of hard work. So today I’m studying and researching how to create a 8’x8’ room that is portable and start figuring out if I can get some of the stuff I need from the habitat for humanity restore. I’m feeling excited and apprehensive at the same time!ReplyCancel

  • June 25, 2018 - 9:05 am

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

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

    • June 26, 2018 - 4:03 pm

      Gallagher Green - Happy Birthday!!! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • June 25, 2018 - 9:29 am

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

  • June 25, 2018 - 1:59 pm

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

  • June 26, 2018 - 7:58 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • June 19, 2018 - 8:09 am

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

  • June 19, 2018 - 11:57 am

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

    • June 21, 2018 - 5:56 pm

      Gallagher Green - I loved it, great work! 🙂ReplyCancel