On My Decision to Take a Teaching Hiatus

I have always been open about my love of education. Growing up I wanted to be an English teacher. I thought my path was set from a very early age. I loved teaching, I loved helping others, it just seemed natural. But then I found creativity and that took over my life in a massive way. So, I started what any normal person would – teaching creativity!

I have been teaching for 8 years now, and I remember my first workshop like it was yesterday.

I used to shoot in this old warehouse. Half of it was still being used for some sort of materials company. I waltzed in one day and asked the owner if I could take pictures in the back of his shop. He said yes, and so a wonderful collaboration was born. I took pictures there countless times, even brought a dance crew there to photograph them…

And then, when I decided to host my first workshop (planning commenced in June 2010) I asked him if I could bring my workshop group there.

This is the first image I ever created in a workshop.

HUGE liabilities aside (it being a decrepit warehouse), he said yes, I announced my workshop, and it remains one of the neatest locations I’ve ever used.

I remember carefully planning out every single minute of the day. I remember feeling extremely confident in my curriculum. I remember freaking the heck out over my organization skills, if anyone would show up, and if they would find it valuable. I charged $200 a person and we did everything from inspiration exercises to shooting to editing.

My workshop structure has changed little since that first one. I spent hours upon hours planning it out and it worked.

I’ve been fortunate enough to teach at major conventions, go around the world with these workshops, and prattle about at Creative Live (it was an honor to teach their first fine art class).

Here is a look at just some of the images I have created during my Creative Live classes, of which I have taught over 60 hours worth.

You have trusted me, given me so much love, too many hugs to begin counting, friendships made, and experiences that have filled my 20s with so much appreciation. I’ve visited 21 countries on hundreds of trips. It has been out of this world.

Why give it up?

The answer isn’t what you may think.

On one hand, it is. I need to stop traveling so much. I need a break. I need to be home. I’m homesick even when I’m home because I know it’s just a week until my next trip.

But on the other hand, it is something very different that took a lot of growing up to realize.

When you teach your craft, you learn your craft intimately. It was the best decision I could have made to really, truly understand what I’m doing, and why. Nothing else compares, not hours of shooting or editing. It’s repeating that information in a digestible way that allowed me to understand my craft as well as I do. And how well I understand my craft, which I daresay is extremely well, is why I’m leaving teaching behind for now.

I’m in a new period of creative exploration. The baby stages. I don’t know what I’m doing yet. I explore it every single day. I’m not ready to teach it because I’m just getting to know it.

It’s like we’re getting tea for the first time, awkwardly not knowing if we should shake hands or hug, and we’re making small talk.

Some big conversations are coming on soon.

After that, I’ll be ready.

I’ll be ready to teach my new craft. I don’t know if it will be massively different or the same. I anticipate teaching writing workshops as well, something that, in more ways than you’ll understand, fulfills my childhood dreams.

But for now, I wait.

I don’t know if this break from teaching will last 2 months or 2 years. All I can say is that I am grateful beyond belief for your support thus far, for letting me guide you into the deepest realms of creativity, and for standing by me as I pursued this path.

I’ll continue on with my blog posts and videos, of course. But as for in-person education – that will have to wait until I’ve met my creativity, stared it in the face, and learned every wrinkle inside and out.

If you’ve been to a workshop, please comment below and let me know where we met!

(And maybe even your experience!)

If you’ve been to a class of mine, even if it was online, this is what I want you to know about me: I give everything. I am not someone who fears. I am someone who gives because I would rather see people uplifted and empowered rather than held back by knowledge that I could give but do not because I am afraid. I do not say that in vanity, I say it because it is a trait that I hold in high esteem and because I have built my life on that foundation. For my many, many flaws, this is where I hold my head high.

Teaching has taught me the kind of person I want to be. It is not someone who holds secrets close and guarded; it is someone who shares openly, with a heart like a sponge, who listens and aids and feels deeply. Thank you for letting me do this. It is an honor for which I cannot properly express my gratitude.

Want to take a class from me? While I am on hiatus from in-person education, I have classes on Creative Live that are extremely comprehensive and fulfilling:

  • May 11, 2018 - 8:01 am

    Sam Harnois - Brooke.

    It’s funny. I keep relating to you in more ways each time I see you. I actually wanted to be a SPANISH teacher, and similar to you, thought that’s what I was destined to be. Similar to you, I found creativity to be more important. I have been teaching for 3 years now online in an untraditional setting.

    As a teacher myself I have been fascinated by the way you teach. Sometimes I would rewatch your lessons after digesting the material just to look at it from a teachers perspective. My gosh, you are amazing.

    You did teach me to be more open about myself, and REALLY not care about people who don’t like it. I just completed my first mini series about a toxic relationship I was in, and the responses were nothing I would have ever imagined.

    As you know, I finally met you last year at Promoting Passion (even though I have known who YOU were for about 2 years). I remember sending you a message that I was really scared about not knowing anyone my age. And you calmly assured me that age was not a thing at the convention. That whole event was so surreal to me, and I became part of a loving community.

    And then I saw you in Maine, and you taught me how to use chopsticks and rewarded me with a dumpling! xD And we looked for cracks in the wall and crammed into a hotel room. I can’t wait to see you at the next Promoting Passion, and hopefully go on some sort of adventure when I’m out in California! It’s coming soon!!!

    SamReplyCancel

  • May 11, 2018 - 8:13 am

    Amy - That’s great Brooke! Have fun exploring your creativity and I am so excited to see where it takes you. I’m sure it will be somewhere amazing ♥ReplyCancel

  • May 11, 2018 - 8:31 am

    Katrin Auch - While I firmly support your need for a break and self-care, I hope this doesn’t include Promotion Passion. After I saw your first class on Creative Live I knew I wanted to take a workshop with you, and got the opportunity to be one of your Dirty Girls right at the start of the year in 2012 or 13 (I can’t remember). Your approach to teaching and your art style unlocked something deep within me and gave me a new approach and permission to explore things I never would have done before. You have changes lives, I know because you changed mine. I think that taking a break is super healthy and I am glad you are doing it, but I know you will teach again, cause it’s in your soul—and you simply glow when you are in front of a group of people. I am looking forward to your next venture. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • May 11, 2018 - 8:32 am

    Abbe - I missed you at Firefly Camp this year but did watch and purchase your Creative Live class which I watch over and over
    Looking forward to reading your posts and blogs and seeing your new work
    Thanks for your inspiration and sharing your knowledge
    Hope to meet you one day
    Abbe GinisReplyCancel

  • May 11, 2018 - 8:47 am

    Amani - I love how you’re practicing what you preach and continuously growing and looking for more.
    You already know how much you’ve impacted my life with your teaching. Your workshop was the first photography workshop I ever attended, and that day you opened up this whole new world to me that I didn’t know about. You gave me a voice when I thought I didn’t have one. You pretty much saved my life.
    I’m so grateful for you and your teaching in ways I don’t know if I’d ever be able to express.

    I love you <3ReplyCancel

    • May 11, 2018 - 9:00 am

      Paulo Carvalho - Amani, my dear! One day we will also get to know each other! Proud of you! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • May 11, 2018 - 8:56 am

    Paulo Carvalho - The most important thing is that you feel good about yourself. Do not worry about this period of time, be it 2 months or 2 years, the time is yours and we will always be here.
    So take your time, the time you need and explore your creativity without rush.
    And how do we know each other?
    It was not really a workshop, but a lecture in London. How anxious I was! It was, is and always will be a moment to remember with joy. A moment that holds in the heart forever. At this moment I look with emotion at the text you wrote me.
    Miss you! 😛 xxReplyCancel

  • May 11, 2018 - 8:56 am

    Amber Turley - Wow! Although I completely get it and applaud you for persuing your own personal growth and talent I’m selfishly bummed. I wanted so badly to go to PPC this year and just couldn’t financially swing it. I would’ve loved to have met you in person to thank you for all your inspiration and selfless hardwork you give to the world. I taken many of your classes, challenges, and read all your inspirational emails. You’ve help me find the artist I know I want to be. Ive learned so much from you. I never knew a stranger (although you don’t feel like one) could Inspire me so much. Thank you very much. I look forward to seeing you grow and will someday tell you in person thank you. Good luck on your new adventures!
    Thank You,
    AmberReplyCancel

  • May 11, 2018 - 9:17 am

    Linda Maveri - Well, you’ll still be teaching us because we also teach by example and by modeling. I’ve been a teacher all my adult life, and I understand what teaching takes out of you. It’s a gift to those around you, but often we lose something of ourselves by doing it. It can be all consuming, as good teachers tend to plan to the nth degree, they dream teaching, vacation teaching, etc. It’s not something you can explain easily.

    The brain loves novelty, and learns and remembers best from lessons that are novel. That word describes you perfectly. I’ve watched and purchased all your Creativelive courses. The first time I saw you, I believe you were teaching as a part of a group, so you didn’t teach a whole day (or multiple days). I just sat in awe. I had no idea we could make work like this. But the biggest take away from all the lessons I’ve watched, is that you are who you are. I connected with you on a different level. It went beyond the art. You didn’t dress like other presenters, you didn’t do things like other presenters, you didn’t have equipment like other presenters. You were novel. And my brain loved it.

    I think that you will still be teaching us things, just not in the traditional way. By watching you, reading what you write, etc. we will continue to learn how to be true to our own passion, and not let what we “think we should do” or “continue to do what is expected of us” rule our lives. Stepping outside what others expect of us is very difficult. You are a leader and trail blazer, so you will always be a teacher in my eyes. Thank you for always being YOU.ReplyCancel

  • May 11, 2018 - 9:41 am

    Mary-Claire - We met at After Dark in St. Louis. I was juicing and even took my blender to the hotel with me. When you saw my drink, you laughed and told me that I could make one for you. So I did, and you were worried that it would have too much ginger in it, but I hadn’t put any in. So we “cheers”-ed and had a lovely time. Thanks for all you do!ReplyCancel

  • May 11, 2018 - 10:39 am

    jeanne - I own every creative live class and watch them over and over and over = learning something more each time.
    I wish you incredible success in your new path and I’m thankfull for everything you’ve shared so far.
    Please do something with the chilled snake just as a last horray…..ReplyCancel

  • May 11, 2018 - 11:59 am

    Derick Tortorella - I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from you in both a small workshop setting, as well as through CreativeLive, and, of course, your incomparable Promoting Passion conventions. What immediately impresses about your teaching style is how you weave between technique, motivation, and artistic expression seemingly effortlessly (though, from experience, I know it’s anything but). Also, you do that you do earnestly, and without pretense, and give your students access to your creative soul, which I think many would agree would be terrifying if the roles where reversed. Whatever lies ahead, just know you’ve been a light for many creatives, who will support you wherever your journey takes you.ReplyCancel

  • May 11, 2018 - 3:09 pm

    Gallagher Green - I am truly glad to see you post this. You said 8+ months ago that you wanted to stop because you were so homesick and burned out, but you haven’t seemed to have slowed down at all, and that worries me. It’s just not healthy! So I am very happy to see you post this! 🙂
    I have two of you Creative Live classes (well worth the money) and have taken all three of your Facebook classes, of which I not only learned a ton, but I met all of my dearests (and to be honest, only) friends in the world. Those FB classes changed my life in the most incredibly wonderful way! So, big thanks for that! 🙂

    P.S.
    Will this be the last PPC? I have a friend on the fence, and this would be a game changer.ReplyCancel

  • May 11, 2018 - 3:49 pm

    Arleen - Good on you Brooke. You’re an inspiration to so many. Can’t wait to see what’s up-your-sleeve next! Best wishes all the way from Australia. xReplyCancel

  • May 11, 2018 - 3:50 pm

    Maria - Your classes have left a lasting impression; one that I’ll never be without. Your courses have taught me that it’s okay to make mistakes, that it’s okay to not know everything, and most importantly to do what works for me. You have inspired me on so many levels.

    I’ve taken a few other courses over the years, most never quite hit the mark. Oh sure, I come away with a short cut or new way to do this or that in Photoshop; or learn a new technique to use with my camera. But your Creative Live courses (all but the portrait) have given me an assurance in myself and my art, and the art I have yet to create. Thanks Brooke!!!

    p.s. I love that you do what you know in your heart is right for you… If only I had that some 25 years younger 🙂ReplyCancel

  • May 11, 2018 - 6:17 pm

    Tracy Whiteside - This makes me so sad. I have spent the last few days watching your Creative Live classes and just falling in love with surrealism, and your intelligence, talent, and down to earth teaching style. I especially appreciate how you are not pretentious.

    My very favorite moment was when you explained how you can up with your ideas. It seems so simple yet I have never heard it before. So I have one more series to complete and then I’ll be a bit lost. I guess I will have to get out and actually try it.

    I totally understand why as I am going through something similar myself. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it 😉 Best wishes and hope to see you on the airwaves very soon.ReplyCancel

  • May 11, 2018 - 7:07 pm

    Jon Miller - Hi Brooke,

    While I have to admit this is not good news from a selfish pov, it is good news from another pov. I have all your CL videos and I mean all of them so I can keep watching them until you return. I can relate to where you’re at. I think I took a more drastic approach and moved out of the country to get the break I needed.
    I’ll look forward to your return, in the meantime enjoy your life and your new journey. It’s good that you had this time and gathered a lot of followers who will be there should you need us.
    Ciao Bella for now.ReplyCancel

  • May 12, 2018 - 1:29 pm

    Zylpha - We have never met but I have taken both of your Creative Live classes, which I absolutely love! You’ve helped me to take those initial steps into fine art photography and I can’t thank you enough!!! I look forward to witnessing the next chapter of your creative life and wish you huge success. Sending you positive vibes and happiness 🙂ReplyCancel

  • May 13, 2018 - 8:31 am

    Anca - Dear Brooke, firstly I want to thank you for everything you have been giving and sharing until now. I really admire all your work and how you manage to balance your creative drive with your desire to be part of a loving community. You are a genuine heart. I followed your online classes on Creative live and I still have all your notes and suggestions in my notebooks that have been essential for my understanding of who I am as an artist. Thank you again for everything you are. I wish you the best in the new adventure you are about to enroll and I know even if you will not be coming back to teaching per se you will still be influencing a full generation of artists through your art and your lifestyle. Lots of love.ReplyCancel

  • May 14, 2018 - 6:19 am

    Ted Sandilands - I often think passionate people are like a radio that may have an on/off switch but the volume control is broken. We are on at full blast until we reach a point where we say, “Enough! Stop the racket.” What happens is we find something new to explore, and our passionate hearts jump on it with gusto.

    I’m like that myself at this time. I started to study Russian, part out of a need to exercise my brain in a completely different way – and just say a lot of parts of a lot of other parts felt better studying a language. I truly feel my head heat up when I study. I reconciled my artistic side with my passionate side by defining the study of a new alphabet, new sounds, new structures and new ways of thinking as an art. It is!

    Well the on/off switch thing comes into play again. I find myself nearly consumed with study. I’ll spend 10 or 14 hour sessions immersed in Russian. I have 5 Russian “pen pals”, who now are more like friends than language partners.

    I know at some point, Russian at full blast will make me say, “Enough! Stop the racket!” and I’ll move on to my next obsession errrr, I mean passion.

    I want to mention the Promoting Passion conference. You do teach a great deal and the organization required must be overwhelming. But the conference has turned into something much more than a workshop – more than a teaching experience. For me it has become my self help / 12 step program for those, like me, addicted to passion. I have support from my sponsors at PPC. And I have a sneaky feeling that once the conference begins, and most of the organizational pains are over, you find your own sponsors sitting beside you in the grand circle.

    Sometimes we Passionates need to do something very alien. Share the burden. Trust others with a teeny-tiny bit of our baby. If in fact we are sponsors, we, your fellow passionates, should be prepared and capable to pick up some of the less enjoyable parts of organizing something as large, and wonderful as PPC. This year the Story Sessions segment is a start. Finding and making use of the talents from within our little (well maybe not so little) therapy group may just be the way to make that sticky old volume control work again.

    Love you Brooke. Your light illuminates a very large circle around you. There are many who find comfort in your light.ReplyCancel

  • May 16, 2018 - 11:56 am

    Leonila - How exciting for you with this new endeavor! I’m hoping someday to make one of your conferences on photography. In the meantime I love poetry and would love to see you teach someday on poetry. No matter what you teach you’re an incredible instructor! Would love to see a picture book from you with your lovely portraits.I have been in one of your communities in FB and have enjoyed the creative prompt ideas you give to encourage us in whatever artistic craft we pursue.ReplyCancel

  • May 17, 2018 - 6:15 am

    EwaMK - Hi!

    First of all, thank you for so many really good classes. Almost all I know now, I learned from you.
    Taking a break from time to time is a good habit, and I am sure, that it will be a very interesting and productive time for you.

    I like your thoughts about self-portraits. I have to say that I am thinking about this subject quite often. Why to take pictures of oneself? I have many reasons why to do that. They are completly logic and I know that for now, I have not so many other options if I want to grow as a photographer. But there is always a voice in my head telling me that this is kind of selfish or maybe narcistic. I don´t know if you (or any of other photographers) ever had this kind of thoughts? What do you do with them?

    My selfportrait is called “Trepador azul” it is a spanish name for a Eurasian nuthatch. It is quite tricky title, since my last name can by translated as a name of this bird. In spanish- “The blue climber”. Fallen for now.

    https://www.facebook.com/HerBirdtragedy/photos/a.130620774413332.1073741828.116450615830348/206040323538043/?type=3&theater

    Wish you all the best, sending love & hugs from Spain:)ReplyCancel

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