Dear Reader,

Maybe you’re no good at your craft. Maybe you aren’t as creative as you think you are. Maybe you have no talent. Maybe you’re doing all this work for nothing. Maybe your business will never grow. Maybe your future will be filled with failures.

Or maybe you are good at your craft. Maybe you are creative. Maybe you do have talent. Maybe all your work will pay off. Maybe your business will grow exponentially. Maybe you will find many successes. Maybe you will see failures as opportunities.

Never spend time worrying about what might happen when you can control the decisions you make. Never spend time thinking about negatives as though they are facts. Every experience is waiting for you to choose a side: good or bad. Will you turn your experiences into something inspirational, or not?

You are as powerful as you believe yourself to be, for all of your collective memories, experiences, and dreams are in your hands and yours alone. Do with them what you will, but remember how precious they are. They belong to you only, so treat them with respect and reverence.

Create and dream and live with power. Do so with passion and love. Treat yourself with respect and all of your experiences will be more meaningful. Life is a rich series of events. Do not follow them along or chase them in circles, but build them with your own two hands and believe you can make a life worth living for yourself.

Too often we live our lives in fear of the future because of the maybe that everything will fall apart. But, just maybe you will live the life of your dreams. And if we do away with the maybe entirely and recite an I will,Β  that is far more likely to happen.

I will live my dreams.



  • April 13, 2014 - 8:25 am

    Kristin V. - I really needed this. I recognize that this is my biggest challenge and that I am my biggest obstacle. Thank you for the reminder. <3 u.ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 8:28 am

      brookeshaden - I remember sitting with you, chatting, and thinking about how if you could just see the talent you have, you will soar. Yours is a rare and beautiful magic that, as you know, I would plaster all over my walls and stare at forever.ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 8:37 am

    robin spalding - i am going to print this and read it everyday. this is what stops me and it is silly. if i don’t get out there and try then i already failed myself. i do fear everything falling apart but it won’t kill me right? it is scary to think i might fail at my dream but if i don’t doanything then my dream remains an untouchable dream. ok thank you brooke for this, i have been “procrastinating” doing things and this reminded me why i was And that its silly to think those bad thoughts.ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 8:40 am

      brookeshaden - What I love about you is how fearless you are. You are creating works that are dark and strange and beautiful in both those ways, but that others might not understand. Yet you keep with it and carry on because it is YOUR art. Always believe your dreams are worth it. I think they are!ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 9:00 am

    Abbigail - Thanks, Brooke! With my business about to get a whole new look to it, I really needed these words. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 9:11 am

      brookeshaden - I wish you so many positive experiences with your business!ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 9:12 am

    Julie - How did you know I need to read this? How did you know that these words would change the outlook of my entire day? I love you my dear friend.ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 9:54 am

      brookeshaden - I love YOU my friend <3ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 9:17 am

    Andrea - This is exactly what every artist needs to read everyday. Letting go of all those maybes can be hard but so so worth it. I am getting to the point of hopefully being able to slow down possibly quit my “job” and pursue my art full time. It is terrifying but I giggle and smile while I think about it because I know even if I fail I will win because dream chasing is really all that mattes in the heart. I try not to let those what if and maybes creep in at all. Reading your blog every week helps me shew those thoughts away. I honestly just phft the notion out loud when in conversation and people bring up “what if you quit and no one buys anything?” You breathe light into the focus of passion and the hopefulness of a bright future full of art. Thanks Brooke <3ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 9:54 am

      brookeshaden - Andrea, I am so happy for you. And that is exactly the right mindset – you are winning already if you are doing what you love. The rest is cake πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 9:17 am

    Nicole - Brooke,

    Your words are as beautiful and soul touching as your photos. I think you’re an amazing person and I just want to thank you for being such a great inspiration to me and so many others.ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 9:55 am

      brookeshaden - Aww Nicole thank you, I can’t begin to describe how much this brightens my world!ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 9:23 am

    Emma - I ventured out for my first shoot in the forest today. 2 hours later I was cold, muddy and had sap all over my feet but it was fun and I came back exhausted but smiling. I know that the image I was trying to create might not come out this time but I learnt so much from the hundreds of failed takes! Thank you Brooke for inspiring me to do something different.ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 9:56 am

      brookeshaden - You are amazing Emma!! I am so glad that you went out and well, went all out!! How wonderful πŸ™‚ Do share the image if it works out!ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 9:48 am

    Carin - Wise words as always from a soul I believe has lived a thousand lifetimes……….I may be losing my main job this week so everything you say has a strong message for me. I want my photography to be my main focus and God willing it will be πŸ™‚ Onwards and Upwards!ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 9:57 am

      brookeshaden - Oh Carin I am wishing you so much love and light on your journey! It will be an adventure πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 10:09 am

    natascha van niekerk - As always, wonderfully written! Thank you for continually encouraging us and helping us to believe in ourselves, our art and our dreams, you are a constant voice of inspiration in a world full of possible disappointments…ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 10:11 am

      brookeshaden - Aww thank you so much Natascha, that really means so much to me!ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 10:16 am

    moodphototeija - You will live your dreams, and you give us others the hope that we are going to live our dreams too! thank you again and have a nice day <3ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 10:18 am

      brookeshaden - <3 <3 <3ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 10:40 am

    Vinitha - Just what I needed to read at this very moment πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 10:46 am

      brookeshaden - Aww I’m so glad!ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 11:30 am

    lovelyn - It’s too easy to worry and focus on what might go wrong when what we should be doing is focusing on what might go right. That’s a lesson I’ve been learning recently. As a constant worrier I’ve had to recognize that my worries and fears were keeping me from experiencing the life of my dreams. Thanks for the lovely words they re-enforce the changes I’ve been making.ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 11:32 am

      brookeshaden - I’m so glad you’ve been making changes and I wish you so much goodness in your life!ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 11:39 am

    Elle - very much needed to hear this, thank you Brooke. πŸ™‚ le sigh~ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 11:42 am

      brookeshaden - So much love to you, Elle <3ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 12:10 pm

    Mary Angelini - Thank you for this reminder Brooke, it comes at a great time! Though mine would be addressed: Dear Contrarian Me! As always it is a pleasure reading your pearls of wisdom, they help snuff that annoying little voice in my head that is always seeking to undermine me πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 12:11 pm

      brookeshaden - Ahh mine would also be addressed as such on some days!!ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 1:54 pm

    Louise - Very much needed to hear this today, your posts have an uncanny ability to pop up right when I need them. Thank you for always being not just an inspiration but a reminder, of hope, love, passion. You truly have a beautiful soul <3ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 2:05 pm

      brookeshaden - Louise, thank you so much for saying – I am very grateful for you!ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 2:39 pm

    Diana - Just what I needed to read this week. I have been up against so many obstacles lately, between health, 2 careers, and making it all work cohesively. Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 5:04 pm

      brookeshaden - I wish you lots of positive energy as you deal with those struggles and you’ll be in my thoughts!ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 6:36 pm

    Amy Hedges - I felt as though you were speaking directly to me. Lately I feel like my motives are coming from the wrong place….I NEED to get back to the core and remember why I became so passionate about photography in the first place. It wasn’t fame, recognition or money….it was love and memories and creativity. Thank you Brooke!!ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 6:46 pm

      brookeshaden - I get caught up in those same pitfalls, but the important thing is to be introspective enough to understand their downsides and to pick yourself up and move forward. You are awesome πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 7:56 pm

    Tara Eveland - This is great! The image is gorgeous! Much love to you Brooke!ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 8:11 pm

      brookeshaden - Thank you Tara! Same to you, always!ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 12:53 am

    Denise Neale Jensen - Wonderfully inspiring and with a perfect, humorous lead-in. You make me feel energized.ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 7:22 am

      brookeshaden - Aww thank you!ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 5:42 am

    Catherine Rondeau - Inspiring words, as always Blooke. Thank you for living your dream and motivating others to do pursue theirs.ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 7:23 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you Catherine πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 7:30 am

    John Barclay - Happy to have found you via a link on David duChemin’s website today. A blog that is right up my alley! Inspiring for sure. Thank you for doing what you do so well. I look forward to receiving my RSS feed notices of your new posts.ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 7:39 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you so much John! I really appreciate that. I’m glad to have you hear and look forward to discussions in the future πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 8:56 am

    Rebecca Cobb - Thank You so much for this, Brooke! I always spend time worrying about the future. About everything you said. If i really have talent, if i am just wasting my time, if I will go anywhere with my photography, or just my life i general. One thing that keeps me hopeful is my faith. Proverbs 3: 5-6. ” Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path”. I consider this my life verse because i worry constantly, and saying this verse to myself is the only thing that can make me stop for a second and ponder on God and His greatness and remembering that i can trust Him completely. I am still working on believing in my self and believing that i can do anything i set my mind too, but, i know that will come in time. Thank you for being a continuous inspiration in my life. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 12:15 pm

      brookeshaden - I can definitely relate Rebecca – I have been a big worrier my whole life and there have been many times when it brought me down. It may sound cliche, but I tell myself that I can be a worrier or a warrior and I have to fight through it and realize that my dreams are worth going after. I can’t wait to see where your journey leads you!ReplyCancel

  • April 15, 2014 - 7:07 am

    Mary-Claire - I have to tell you, I was rather taken aback at the title of your blog post–I thought, “That doesn’t sound like Brooke at all!”

    We can take our gifts and work with them, we can take our non-gifts and learn from them. I used to be upset if people didn’t like my photos, now I laugh when they say they don’t understand me! Because what I create is for me, my vision, my story.

    πŸ˜€ Thanks for everything!ReplyCancel

  • April 15, 2014 - 8:10 am

    Jen Sulak - the greatness within.ReplyCancel

  • April 15, 2014 - 12:59 pm

    Lu - Never spend too much time thinking! or you’ll get confused πŸ™‚ . I am not saying here that thinking is a bad thing, I know that this is one of the best things we have as humans and great things came from it. It’s ruminating and obsessing what can lead us to unhealthy mind stated. trying my best lo live my dreams too. Gracias Brooke! Mucho Amor <3ReplyCancel

  • April 16, 2014 - 8:17 pm

    Fermin - You have been an inspiration ever since I saw your work. Artists like you gives me strength to persue my visions and goals. Keep inspiring.ReplyCancel

  • April 28, 2014 - 12:04 pm

    Pauline - Dear Brooke,

    I love your works, your videos and your words.
    I’m in an art school, I’ll be graduate in a few months. I’m so scared of my future, I want to be a photographer but I lack self confidence, even my teachers tell that.
    You’re a real inspiration, and I hope, that one day, I’ll be as good as you.


    • April 29, 2014 - 8:02 am

      brookeshaden - Pauline, you will be so much better, because you will be YOU <3ReplyCancel

  • April 29, 2014 - 12:30 pm

    Libertad Leal - This is just so so good, I love your words as much as stour photos. I am my own worst enemy and I know that. But I can change that and I will.ReplyCancel

In so many ways I am torn in two pieces. I am me, and I am her. I am happy and light and inspired and passionate. I am dark and whimsical and thoughtful of the stories in my imagination. Everyone has more than one side that we show, and I separate the two in my mind very easily. I am inspired to create photographs. I create dark works, and yet I am happy. I am obsessed with how to find beauty in darkness, yet I am consumed with finding my passion and light.

I don’t think that the things we do and the people we are have to be wholly connected. Once you give yourself permission to be any number of people while staying true to your core, you become comfortable in your many skins. We are all chameleons, shape-shifters and skin-shedders. We take on new personas as we grow into the world. As we accept ourselves, we become ourselves.

It is easy to get caught up in thinking that there is one person we are supposed to be, yet with all the possibility in the world I think it is narrow-minded to constantly try to fit into one version of yourself. We are infinite. We change into the person we want to be everyday. Each new moment is an opportunity to recognize who you want to be and to be that person.

I was thinking of all these things when I created this image. For me, it is an image of desire. It is an image of the future and the past and the present colliding. I photographed this in Dubai, in an old street with cobblestone and aged concrete. I photographed a young woman, beautiful and carefree. I photographed the ever-changing sky moving past us. And those three elements came together to represent past, present and future. One cannot easily exist without the other in a meaningful way.

We are so many people wrapped into one. The ways that we express those different personas are as varied as the personalities that inhabit our bodies. It is okay to be many in one. It is okay to accept what makes us different. I can say with confidence and pleasure that I am not the same person I used to be. Who I am now is evolving, and who I will be is exciting. We have the power to be whoever we want to be. We have the power to create the art that represents us. We have the power, always.

  • April 10, 2014 - 9:43 am

    Danny Bittencourt - Powerfull!!! I wrote you an email today! <3 Have a lovely week! xxReplyCancel

    • April 10, 2014 - 9:54 am

      brookeshaden - Thanks Danny! I’ll get back to you shortly – I’m in an airport right now en route to San Antonio and will be back this weekend πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • April 10, 2014 - 9:51 am

    Amani - Is it weird that every time you post this kinda stuff, I feel like you’re talking directly to me? So much of what you said resonates with me – it’s almost as if these are things I know to be true, but in a way was in denial about them. I think we all struggle, at some point, to accept who we are – especially when what makes us who we are are opposites.
    I’ve always felt like it has to be one or the other, it can’t be both. But this got me thinking.. why not?
    <3 thank you for being so inspiring

    It's funny (and also a little creepy) that this post is titled We Are Infinite. Remember a while back I mentioned something about how whenever you post something it feels like something supernatural is going on cause I'd have been thinking about something similar (I know it sounds ridiculous), BUT I finished working on my presentation for GPP's slidefest the other day, and by the end I put "you are.. infinite" haha yeah sorry I know that's randomReplyCancel

    • April 10, 2014 - 9:55 am

      brookeshaden - Oh I adore you so much Amani!!! I hope that I’ll be able to watch your presentation from afar! I so wish I could be there. I am incredibly proud of you.

      And you know, I think that everyone struggles with trying to be someone so specific that we forget that we can be many different things rolled into one. A single hobby or career or social status does not define us. <3ReplyCancel

  • April 10, 2014 - 10:02 am

    thomas miles - brilliant, this photo is amazing! Very inspiring words! I love that ‘infinite’ feeling too, I always let it inspire my work! πŸ˜€ I’ve also started selling my prints now and really getting into the business aspect of photography! Thank you for making me believe in myself, infinite hope…ReplyCancel

    • April 10, 2014 - 10:03 am

      brookeshaden - That is wonderful Thomas!!!ReplyCancel

  • April 10, 2014 - 10:10 am

    Paul Kepron - Oh wow!! Absolutely love this one Brooke. One of your best in my opinion! It reminds me of when I did Film Studies and the ole Bergman films where they would use a window that “Opened” to the outside world. A beautiful image! πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    • April 10, 2014 - 10:16 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you Paul! I need to watch some Bergman films. I never paid enough attention in film school. Sigh!ReplyCancel

  • April 10, 2014 - 10:15 am

    jomar padilla - If everyone in this world had the mindset to adapt and evolve, to become a shape shifter and a chameleon our world would be a much better place. There so few truths in this world that when you find you have to hold on to it with all you’ve got doing so opens many possibilities as a person to become whole and transcend all the superficial creations that puts a ball chain on your ankles preventing you from being who you should be. It is a sad truth that everyone must face. Fortune favors the bold. We need more people on this world with this mindset. I totally went off there. Cheers Brooke and happy thursday!ReplyCancel

    • April 10, 2014 - 10:17 am

      brookeshaden - I always, always love hearing your thoughts Jomar. Thank you so much for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • April 10, 2014 - 10:31 am

    Mary Angelini - Another fantastic image Brooke!! I look at it and I can practically feel the rush of slightly damp air, the kind that comes before a storm and can almost smell that scent in the air. Your images evoke these deep sensory responses, which is what I love so much about them. <3ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 2:07 pm

      brookeshaden - Mary, that is very meaningful to me. Thank you so much for saying that!ReplyCancel

  • April 10, 2014 - 11:11 am

    Andrea Gore - BROOKE I am in love with this post. For countless years I tried to define myself and lived my life confined in the walls of that description. The most freedom I have ever felt has come from accepting and loving all the random parts of myself and my life. In fact the moment I started allowing myself to grow and just be, my world opened up with amazing opportunities. Thanks for the smile while I read this. Thanks for being Brooke and spreading encouragement and self love <3ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 2:08 pm

      brookeshaden - I hear you! We so often feel like we must be one thing when in fact, we are many. And YOU, my dear, are amazing.ReplyCancel

  • April 10, 2014 - 11:15 am

    Caro Ferrari - Hello Brooke! I love your art! its so inspiring to me. I like how you see things and put them into image. I’d like to share with you a photo of a series I made… it’s called La Vie dans une gare, Life in a train station…
    It’s a metaphor of life, our relationships with other people and all the stuff we carry throw our lifes.
    Hope you can understand me, my english is awful haha.
    Thanks for sharing your passion!ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 2:08 pm

      brookeshaden - Caro, I absolutely love your series. I think it is meaningful, timeless, and poignant. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • April 10, 2014 - 11:31 am

    Diana - I don’t know that I could possibly add anything else aside from what Jomar & Amani, said earlier. I feel exactly the same as they do. I have played a tug of war with my 2 careers for so long. One overtaking the other by extremely long hours. I have been a makeup artists in the TV/Film world for a really long time. I hate to say, but for 30 years, 21 in the union. I also have been a photographer since 2001. The most wonderful day was when both my makeup and photography collided into a fine art series which no one has seen yet untill I exhibit. And that is if I can ever get that to happen. I only have 15 of my living art series completed. I so relate to your image here, because sometimes I have to be true to all the sides of me, the makeup artist, the photographer and my grounded self, yet not always having the time to do both. I feel like I am peering in at my passion, but don’t always have that time to be completely fulfilled. Thank you, as each time I see your name and your images, it relights my pilot light!ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 2:09 pm

      brookeshaden - I think it is great how much you are pushing your art and trying new things. Power to you for knowing what you want and going after it.ReplyCancel

  • April 10, 2014 - 11:42 am

    Margherita Introna - Brooke, this is one of those images that just takes my breath away… The colours, the mood, the movement, the message… all speak to me on so many levels <3 I love all the little details, the light, the combination of textures and how it all blends together so beautifully. Symbolic, powerful and beautiful <3

    It is all those different sides of ourselves that make us who we are and make us unique. And what a celebration as artists to be able to express so many of those sides through our art <3ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 2:10 pm

      brookeshaden - Aww thank you Margherita! I’m so happy to hear that you like it πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • April 10, 2014 - 12:00 pm

    lovelyn - I’m loving the color of that dress.

    We all have many sides and many tings we are capable of doing and becoming. Staying true to your core keeps all of those things aligned. I’m fascinated by what people are capable of. The problem is that most people don’t seem to realize their own power.ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 2:11 pm

      brookeshaden - Ahh the color of the dress excited me so much. It was originally red but I couldn’t help changing it up πŸ™‚

      Too true, so many don’t realize their power. Who knows, maybe no one sees the extent of it. But I do so hope that more people start trying!ReplyCancel

  • April 10, 2014 - 2:08 pm

    Tom Newforge - I live by a few mantras Brooke. One is that those who do not completely reinvent themselves every 5-10 years lead a very stagnant life. There is too much to experience and so little time not to.
    Have a great weekend:)ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 2:13 pm

      brookeshaden - Oh I so completely agree. Reinvention is the key to exploration and happiness.ReplyCancel

  • April 11, 2014 - 1:30 am

    Thea - “As we accept ourselves, we become ourselves”
    Exactly! Thank you so much for your reminders to let go and just be whatever we are or wish to be(come)…
    Love your picture as well!ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 2:13 pm

      brookeshaden - Indeed, we can be who we are..a strange thing to remind ourselves of, but so true. <3 <3 <3ReplyCancel

  • April 11, 2014 - 11:26 am

    Alex - Great sentiment Brooke! Resonates tremendously. I have spent a lifetime trying to please others, worrying about what everyone else cares about. Photography has been a journey in self reflection and understanding. You continue to provide great vision and inspiration. Love the photo!ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 2:14 pm

      brookeshaden - I love how photography can take us on a journey and that journey can change the course of our lives so much. We can photograph our dreams.ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2014 - 3:35 am

    karin - Hi Brooke!

    I found your website and blog today and have been reading the blog and watching the videos. I’m amazed by your art and your talent and how inspiring your website is. You are doing a good job promoting passion:)
    Just wanted to let you know and thank you for it!ReplyCancel

    • April 13, 2014 - 5:04 pm

      brookeshaden - Thank you so much for joining in, I’m so grateful to have you here!ReplyCancel

  • April 15, 2014 - 8:11 am

    Jen Sulak - the blue pierces my heart. IN A GREAT WAY. definitely loving the work.ReplyCancel

  • April 15, 2014 - 12:54 pm

    Lu - I adore this image. It gives me a sense of release. I also find your words so true. As the immigrant I happen to be I am literally torn between two counties, two families, two languages. But this shape shifting ability has given me a better understanding of our shared humanity. Mucho Amor! luReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2014 - 8:15 pm

    Rodrigo E. - I just discovered your web and started to see some pictures.
    When I read this post I just thought “what a beautiful words” and its representation would be awsome, then there was that photo showing exactly those beautiful words.
    You gave me a wonderful moment, I hope you do it again, nice work.ReplyCancel

  • April 24, 2014 - 2:02 pm

    Nancy - Brooke you truly are a very intelligent person. The first time I seen one of your works I was already fascinated and ended up wasting minutes gazing at the same photos countless times.
    I admire your creativity and intelligence very much. I find inspiration in your words more than my own. I wish to become a photographer/ artist like you in my career in the future. Your work has definitely given me a little boost to do unthinkable things with my artistic talent.
    Stay creative and unique now.
    keep inspiring those around you.

I remember the exact moment that I truly believed I was an artist. It wasn’t the day I picked up my camera, or the day I made myself a website, or even the day I quit my job and decided to write “Photographer” on my Facebook page in the “Occupation” section. It was sometime in between there, on a day roughly in June of 2009. Someone looked at my photos, then so new and unpolished, and said, “You could be an artist”.

And suddenly, by the time the sentence was out of her mouth, I was.

Nothing actually changed in that moment. Nothing qualified me to be an artist. But suddenly, I was, simply because I believed.

I feel like I have some elusive secret hiding inside when in fact it is the most obvious thing I can think of. There is nothing qualifying me, no piece of paper stating a fact about a college degree, and certainly no merits that somehow make what I do “art” instead of an alternative. The only truth is what I believe.

All of this seemed particularly poignant when recently I was filling out a piece of paper for a lecture I was preparing to give. On the piece of paper, it asked, “Tell us about your educational experience (to get the crowd excited):” to which I responded, “I fail all the time, and so I learn”. I feel fairly certain that was not the answer anyone was looking for, but it was the only answer I could think to give. A lot of formal training will not prepare someone half as well as the inevitable trying and failing of your art. In fact, trying and failing is what makes what we do an art.

So, what makes you qualified to be an artist? Everything and nothing, and this is the truest thing I know. You may not have formal training. You may not have prestigious awards recognizing your talent. But the moment you take time to recognize your own talent, the world will catch up. When you believe in what you do, others will follow. When you let everyone know that your art is worth creating, it becomes relevant.

There does not exist, in my experience, a power so great as the power we hold within.

Networking and socializing and an endless rambling of achievements does not so much as come close enough to tickle the power of kindness, confidence, and creation. The more we create for ourselves, the more others will appreciate what we create. Our art has no merit based on the amount of people that think it is great. Our art has merit simply when we believe it does. If others follow, our art is not built up or diminished but simply accepted personally into the hearts and minds of those who would identify with our stories.

I ask for no greater power than to share a story with a stranger. I want no greater responsibility than to spread kindness and I want no greater gift than to receive it in return.

The next time you find yourself pondering if you yourself are an artist, answer boldly and bravely that you are. Because in that moment when you whisper to the artist within, the Artist will answer out loud.


  • April 8, 2014 - 8:16 am

    Margherita Introna - Brooke, I love how you always managed to use the most perfect image to post with your blog thoughts πŸ˜‰

    I believe we are all artists and all hold that magic within ourselves… Our mediums and methods of expression are just different… and not everybody will understand your form of art. That does not make one less of an artist… but instead, fills the world with magic and wonder. It would have less meaning if all our art was the same and understood in the same way… <3

    Wonderful post Brooke <3 xxReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 8:17 am

      brookeshaden - I agree completely. Everyone is filled with magic, and I only wish everyone could see that <3ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 8:19 am

    Sacha S. - You are truly an inspiration! You have a beautiful soul and a huge heart, thank you for being you and doing what you do. Hugs to youReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 8:23 am

      brookeshaden - Oh Sacha, you are always so kind to me and I wish I could repay it!!ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 8:19 am

    Alana - So true. Wonderful post.ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 8:23 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you for being here Alana!ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 8:22 am

    Alex McCombie - Repetition doesnt make me an artist. Nor does my degree in Art.

    Success (financially or logistically) doesnt make me an artist.

    The network of people or the exposure I get doesnt do it.

    What does?

    The need to create does. The desire to express something that has never been expressed in exactly the same way … ever… does.

    If we only make one expression, one creation, one …
    we are artists.
    for a time.

    Some of us, are incredibly talented in not only creating what we see inside our minds eye, but causing others to see it as well.

    Those exceptional artists I appreciate immensely. Not because they are ‘successful’ but because they are honest in their expression, in their vulnerabilities, their failures (to them) and their dedication to their own desires to create.

    Artist is yet another label in a world defined by labels. But without them we would have a hard time communicating and understanding each other. They certainly serve a purpose… but we should all be wary of allowing that purpose to grow beyond it’s usefulness and original intention.

    Creation is self fulfilling. Or at least I think it should be πŸ™‚

    Wonderful post.
    Timely me for me today as well.


    • April 8, 2014 - 8:24 am

      brookeshaden - Honesty in expression – I couldn’t agree more. Whether you depict real life or not, there is still something to be said about creating from within.ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 8:31 am

      Alex McCombie - Exactly.

      I often envied people who can paint or sculpt because there is far less confinement in expression.

      You see it… inside.. you bring it to life – outside.

      Only the artist knows how truthful their art is and quite frankly that’s enough, in my opinion.

      But I believe, that if you look…. really look at art in any and all forms, we can feel when it is more or less truthful. Instinctively.

      And quite frankly… that’s why I keep coming back to this blog, your art. As your abilities with the tools grow, your art will only become more and more truthful, personal, expressive.

      It’s a wonderful evolution to watch any artist meander along that path.

      At least to me. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 8:23 am

    Denise Neale Jensen - Beautifully said Brooke. Love that you don’t fall in the small inadvertent pits others place along the path and explain your own course in the Fine Art World … and all with an open heart. ‘Sharing a story, spreading kindness’ such a fulfilling and giving mindset!ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 8:25 am

      brookeshaden - If there is one lesson that I’ve been learning that never changes, it is that kindness is the most fulfilling way to live, and sharing stories is the most powerful way to connect. Thank you so much for showing me such kindness!ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 8:28 am

    Heather - THIS is what I needed to read today. YES I am an artist.ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 8:28 am

      brookeshaden - YOU are AMAZING!ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 8:28 am

    RaphaelleM. - Brooke,
    Thank you for all your inspired words, it’s like an awareness in each post you share, you help me to understand and comprehend the vision of my own art and how to manage my artist life

    Being graduated doesn’t mean you are an artist, the important is how to feel and beeing in confidence with our vision
    We are all an artist, the important is to find the way to discover who we areReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 8:30 am

      brookeshaden - I so agree – our personal truths mean so much more.ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 8:30 am

    miu vermillion - Inspiring and insightful as always. Thanks for sharing this.ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 8:30 am

      brookeshaden - Aww thank you!ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 8:33 am

    Cliff - Your story sounds familiar.
    Except I’m a bit more stubborn – a friend had to beat me over the head with the words 10 or 15 times before I believed it.ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 8:34 am

      brookeshaden - Good friend πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 8:33 am

    robin spalding - wow brooke wow. everything you say is soo motivational but this post . . . had me in tears (all your fault lol) with how true it is. you are what you believe you are. good or bad. artist. teacher. . .etc and you comment about failing so you learn. . . seriously that is a mindblown moment for me reading that. i am so scared to fail at everything failing in art failing myself failing my marriage my life i am so caught up in the worry of failing i believe the worse and it ruins me. yet if i can shift my perspective to yours . . u fail then you learn and grow. . how that would change everything. failure wouldn’t be such a scary thing. i could quickly pick myself up and head in a better direction i could be free from worry and i can allow myself to do what i love to do. thank you. its always so inspirational reading your blog and sometimes like a giant AHA moment where im like omg DuH! this is exactly how i should approach things. thank you you are truly a mentor. i love your posts brooke!ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 8:35 am

      brookeshaden - Robin, you are one of my favorite people. My world is better because I know you. Never be afraid to learn and grow…and in fact, that very spirit is what I sense in you and why I think you’re so great.ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 9:22 am

    Mary Angelini - I love the dark duality to this image Brooke – it is both sad and beautiful!! I have always known I am an artist from the time I first perfectly drew that image of a rabbit from my father’s how-to art book. My problem is not in admitting I am an artist, but from being raised pragmatically to believe that although I was very talented no one could ever subsist as an artist. When presented with the proverbial fork in the road I, in true pragmatic fashion, opted for paralegal school, telling myself at the time I could always go to art school afterwards since feeding myself and putting a roof over my head was more important. Now, 25 years down the road, I have yet to go to art school and the artist within continues to burn with the same passion. My daughter, who is also an artist, was told from a very early age to follow her passion and that somehow the universe would provide, advice (and support) I wished I’d received at her age. The moral of the story: be what you are regardless of what is practical and you will ultimately find your happiness and peace, much the way you appear to be doing it Brooke πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 9:39 am

      brookeshaden - Oh Mary I love what you say – and love how you raise your daughter. It is so often true, that the more you follow your passion the more you will create opportunities for yourself.ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 9:46 am

      Mary Angelini - I may be a little late to the party, but it is totally true what they say – you do reap what you sow!!ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 9:35 am

    andrea - Great read Brooke <3ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 9:38 am

      brookeshaden - Thanks dear!ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 9:49 am

    Mike Alegado - I love reading your words Brooke, it lifts my spirits up and I can really relate to everything that you say. You give confidence to everyone you have inspired and I think it is a wonderful thing. Thank You!ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 9:50 am

      brookeshaden - Mike, thank you so much for being so kind. You’ve brightened my day!ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 10:06 am

    Lu - So well said and so inspiring. Now I need to believe πŸ™‚ . Thanks for all your words and worlds!ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 10:32 am

      brookeshaden - Yes indeed, believe it because it’s true!ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 10:20 am

    lovelyn - Fancy degrees don’t make you an artist. Taking the time to make an image in your head come to life does. I’ve only realized that recently and I’m so glad I have. Thanks for the inspirational words.ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 10:32 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you so much for reading Lovelyn!ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 11:14 pm

    Thea - Oh Brooke, I wish to join in to what everybody says:
    Thank you! Thank you so much for being so honest and pure and for allowing us to peek into your heart and soul… And thank you for creating such a beautiful space where everyone wants to do the same because we know it is appreciated… I very much enjoy following your posts as well as the comments – so thank you to everyone for sharing a piece of their heart!
    Have a wonderful day!ReplyCancel

  • April 9, 2014 - 2:19 am

    Claire - Hey Brooke, I’m a french girl, and I’m maybe not really good in English but I wanted to tell you that you inspire me. Your post is wonderfull. Really. It’s the kind of post that makes you smile and believe in the beauty of the world. I follow your work since a whyle now and every day, I’m a little more inpressed. I admire you for your courage: you do want you want, and you truly love it. Furthermore, you share all of it with strangers, it creates a bond between us, it’s fantastic :).
    So I wanted to thank you, like a lot of people before me (but I had to tell you anyway). Thank you to share your beautiful world with us; thank you for your words, they were perfect. And: Never stop doing it. You’re really good at it ;).
    To conclude; I wish you to spend a nice day ! :D.

  • April 9, 2014 - 5:46 am

    jo - Brooke, I have been following you quietly with curiosity for several months. This post touched my soul, and as others have said is very timely. Clearly you are on the right path and are convincing me that I am as well.

    passion, spirit, courage – and thank youReplyCancel

  • April 9, 2014 - 6:07 am

    Elisabeth on Earth - LOVE LOVE LOVE. I feel it most when I’m working on an image in post. This is when my whole body embraces the creative process, and I’m being drawn into the picture. Thank you so much for this post, and for this blog.ReplyCancel

  • April 9, 2014 - 7:26 am

    natascha van niekerk - Thank you Brooke! your posts always seem to align with whatever struggles I go through on a personal level and as an artist! i needed to hear this today, something i so totally believe in and encourage others to believe, and the very same thing that trips me up completely sometimes… Thank you for helping us all to believe in ourselves and our art, you are a jewel!ReplyCancel

  • April 9, 2014 - 11:51 pm

    Jomar Padilla - You know what you wrote struck a chord. I really thought I was going to go nowhere with photography I thought maybe its a halfhearted hobby. Learning from you opened the door to many things changed the way I looked at things, the way I thought of a situation. I either conform like everyone else or I can go out there and discover myself. There are so many superficial truths out there and just realizing that you are what you sought out to be and truly believing shatters every single one of those illusions. I believe I finally discovered a style so natural to me it feels amazing finishing something that feels like its been there all along. Brooke remember the tarot cards? remember your question? I believe in those cards whether it’s a placebo or divination and I personally believe that you spread inspiration every where like a bee and pollen. Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • April 10, 2014 - 12:49 am

    Nicole Snook - I have always found it hard to believe in myself, sometimes I feel like a fraud but then someone like you comes along, with your kindness and willingness to share and inspire all, and my self-doubt fades. My work is dark and sometimes that worries me then I look at your work and read your posts and I remind myself that the images I create are the stories of my life and although my life has been full of bad experiences, full of darkness, photography is my light, my voice and in a way therapy releasing me of those demons and allowing me to move on. I know I am not alone in what I have experienced and that is why it is important for me do my photography, to let it be seen, because it lets others know they are not alone and that my voice is their voice letting the truth be told.ReplyCancel

Over 3 years ago I made my first video all about underwater photography. Looking back on it I find it endearing not just because it was put together so crudely, but because I haven’t changed much since then. I love putting videos together with just myself and a camera! So in that spirit I hope you enjoy this new video with updated tips on shooting underwater!

1. Shoot with a dark background.

This tip is definitely one of those that should be considered with your personal style. For example, I was shooting with someone just last week who wanted to shoot a white dress on a white background to blow out the highlights and make her look angelic. That simply isn’t my style, but is still amazing nonetheless. In my experience, I find the image to be more striking when the subject is lit but the background is not, and one way to simulate this is to sink a black backdrop. Of course skin tones should be contrasting as much as possible in order to get that *pop*, so be aware of this when choosing a background.Β 

2. Even lighting.

When I am creating an image, I enjoy natural, even light, and so that would be my recommendation for underwater as well. But my reason for suggesting this goes further – if natural, harsh light from the sun is shining down on a subject underwater, you get reflections from the water on the skin which creates harsh highlights and shadows that can be difficult to work with. Using external lighting or photographing in indirect light can solve this potential problem.

3. Swim down!

When posing your model, give him or her a pose, have your model swim to the bottom and then have them hit the pose and start to float up. This will eliminate most confusion about what to do first because the model has a clear structure in mind: swim to the bottom, pose, naturally float up. This gives you more time to photograph the model and different options as well for angles.

4. Lens choice.

I prefer a 24 or 28mm lens when shooting underwater because of how murky the water can be. I find that anything wider distorts the subject too much, while anything tighter makes it too difficult to see underwater because of the potential murkiness.

5. Take more shots than you think you need.

The worst feeling is doing a shoot and then only later realizing that you didn’t get the perfect shot because a body part wasn’t quite looking elegant enough. So take more shots than you think you need, and you’ll be well prepared for potential compositing later.

6. Pay attention to the hands and face!

Have you ever tried modeling underwater? If so, you can probably attest to the fact that keeping your hands looking graceful and your face like you’re not underwater is extremely difficult. As a result, these are the two things you should pay attention to while shooting so that you don’t have to re-shoot. The hands will naturally want to balance the subject and so they often keep moving to keep the model in place, while the face is so busy trying not to suck water up that it often looks puffed, which is what I like to call “underwater face”.

7. The bubbles the bubbles the bubbles!

When shooting, specify if you want bubbles in the shot. This can be created from the model by blowing out or thrashing her body. You can also employ an assistant to create bubbles from under the water or above.

8. Avoid the murk!

If you are shooting in a murky, natural body of water, remember that you will have to take longer to shoot. When you are in place and your model is as well, hold your positions while taking test shots to see when the murkiness has subsided. When it does, ask your model to pose. You should be able to get about 1-5 good shots off before the dust comes back up and you have to wait again. Avoid locations like lakes and very choppy ocean water where the water is stagnant or moving too fast, as these spaces will be extremely murky.Β 

9. Wardrobe.

I often choose a contrasting color for my wardrobe underwater. Bright colors work well for me because I can always desaturate them later, yet at the same time they naturally stand out underwater where colors might get dulled down from murkiness.Β 

10. Bring a friend or assistant.

When shooting a model underwater, always have a helper standing by in case something goes wrong. Long dresses or heavy dresses become far less manageable when under the water because they can get tangled around the model’s legs or pull her down. I like to have someone standing by to jump in and help just in case this happens.Β 

11. The basic courtesies.

Underwater modeling is extremely challenging, and it is likely that your model will be tired, cold, and hungry afterwards. When getting started, let him or her know that they should clearly communicate how they are feeling or if they need a break. I try to ask after every few shots how the model is doing, and always let him or her know that when that person needs out of the water, we will get out immediately. I bring along towels and sweaters to wrap the model in when we get out, and either have a hot tea ready or drive to the local cafe to get warmed up.Β 

I hope that you find these tips to be helpful in some way! Underwater photography is something that I have long loved for the way that we can experience a whole new world in a photograph. Not all of these tips apply to everyone, so keep that in mind and as always, try something new and fun! I’m absolutely thrilled that I love my new little camera since it makes shooting anytime, anywhere easier and more fun for the ease of it.

This is not a sponsored post in any way – I simply did research online and purchased the camera which I thought would be the closest match to a DSLR….so far, so good!

The camera used in this video and for the resulting images is a Panasonic Lumix. Big thank you to the models: Kyna Lian for braving that hugely cold creek, and Marsha Denlinger for modeling not only for myself but also for my class at After Dark Education! Thank you to Rocio Mirelis for filming behind the scenes footage with my camera, and to Celine Michelle with Sweetlight for filming underwater with her GoPro!


  • April 7, 2014 - 9:19 am

    Tom Newforge - Very good post Brooke. As just one more little tidbit that I learned the hard way, if using a gopro be sure you have the dive housing. I used mine for water sports, skiing but never underwater. Had it while in Cozumel out snorkeling. Found some amazing underwater landscapes. Spent a lot of time taking pictures only to find out they were all blurry. So were the ones I took of the family I was taking pictures of. Eeek!
    Learn from Tom. Don’t make that mistake. Haha
    Have a great day:)ReplyCancel

    • April 7, 2014 - 9:20 am

      brookeshaden - Great tip Tom! I’ve never used a GoPro before but can imagine how frustrating that must be!! Super, thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • April 7, 2014 - 9:31 am

    Svenlovesflo - Brooke…lots of good information…and these point and shoots do a marvelous job…many of them have better technology than my Nikon d300…my tip is after each underwater shoot to make sureyou dry the camera completely and maybe even a bit of a clean water rinse…sand dirt chlorine can all cause some problems with the seal of the camera over time . i prefer the Olympus Tough cameras…yes it is 12 megapixels but so is the nikon d300 and that is rated as a professional camera…what the tough has is an f/2.0 lens…which lets in a lot more light…creating brighter pictures…I know much of your work is dark but you darken it down after you capture what you are working on…I think the 2.0 produces nice images…has a nicer lens…and produces less noise…artists have printed very large with 12 megapixels for a long time before what we have now…Namaste…Sven n KennReplyCancel

    • April 7, 2014 - 9:42 am

      brookeshaden - I agree Sven! The camera works just as well to me as my Nikon D80, which I was very fond of before getting a new camera. I think that the stress-free and hassle-less qualities of the smaller camera make it worth it. And I also employ a method of taking multiple pictures to expand my frame so I can be a bit closer and print larger in the end.ReplyCancel

  • April 7, 2014 - 9:52 am

    Lu - Brooke! I just bought a gopro for my husband. With this as a motivation I need yo get out and shoot! now that the days are warmer I have no excuse πŸ™‚ . I have always loved your underwater images. Mucho Amor! LuReplyCancel

    • April 7, 2014 - 10:34 am

      brookeshaden - Aww I am so happy to hear this! Have fun, experiment, and create some beautiful images. I know you will!ReplyCancel

  • April 7, 2014 - 9:55 am

    Mary Angelini - Absolutely brilliant!! I love the look of underwater – HUGE Jacques Cousteau fan as a kid – but underwater also terrifies me (also thanks to Jacques Cousteau! LOL). There is so much potential there and I love seeing what you do with it!!ReplyCancel

    • April 7, 2014 - 10:34 am

      brookeshaden - Yes so much potential! I love experimenting and so glad I’ve found an easier way to do so!ReplyCancel

  • April 7, 2014 - 10:17 am

    Mary-Claire - Thanks for all the tidbits, and big thanks to Marsha too for being such a good sport with all the photographers! A point and shoot is on my list, and I look forward to trying it out soon. πŸ˜€ReplyCancel

    • April 7, 2014 - 10:33 am

      brookeshaden - Yay! I can’t wait to see what you do with it πŸ™‚ Marsha was quite amazing…as always! And YOU are amazing. Green drinks forever <3ReplyCancel

  • April 7, 2014 - 10:26 am

    Megan - Hi Brooke! Thank you for this info! What housing did you find for the Panasonic Lumix? That’s a camera I have, and was looking into housing for it, instead of for my DSLR. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • April 7, 2014 - 10:33 am

      brookeshaden - Hi Megan! This Panasonic Lumix is an underwater camera in and of itself, so there is no housing needed. You just lock the side panel where you insert the battery and memory card, and voila! Waterproof up to 30 feet πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • April 7, 2014 - 10:50 am

    Megan - Ah! Good to know, thanks!ReplyCancel

  • April 7, 2014 - 12:05 pm

    Diana - As always, you are amazing. I always wanted to attempt something underwater, but haven’t yet. Your tips are spot on, especially with the clothing on a model, because the weight of the clothing can be dangerous. I think most of us know of a tragic wedding photo where the bride died in the ocean from the dress pulling her down. It was insanely heavy as are most wedding dresses. I really liked the black backdrop in the water. I guess in a pool would be more controlling. I hope to get to the expo in Pasadena if I can to see you there.ReplyCancel

    • April 7, 2014 - 5:54 pm

      brookeshaden - Diana I am so glad you found this to be helpful! Underwater can be so intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. I went into it thinking I *had to spend at least $2,000 or else I wasn’t doing it right, but am now content to do things the “fun” way πŸ™‚ Do so hope to see you in Pasadena!!ReplyCancel

  • April 7, 2014 - 6:01 pm

    Denise - Thank you for this wonderful information. So kind of you to once again share you hard earned experience. I was wondering if your Lumix shoots raw or just JPEG? I’ve been shooting underwater with a similar camera by Cannon but it only shoots jpeg. Do you think that is a big factor in underwater post work? I am use to my Mark II on land alway shooting Raw.

    Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 8:18 am

      brookeshaden - Hi Denise! The camera shoots .jpgs, but so far no problems! Its great because you can control exposure so much, so I find I don’t need to make too many changes there. xo!ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 4:23 pm

      Denise Neale Jensen - Thank you for getting back to me on this. Seriously don’t know how you do it, talk with each of us that is. I can image how busy you are and the energy it takes to keep afloat – and you do it with grace and charm -Egads I get tired just thinking about it πŸ™‚ Looking forward to Pasadena. All Good Things your way.ReplyCancel

  • April 7, 2014 - 11:31 pm

    Denise Neale Jensen - Just registered for your Pasadena seminar and bringing two other ‘Dark Side Photographers’ can’t wait! πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 8:18 am

      brookeshaden - Oooh wonderful thank you so much!!ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 4:47 am

    Daria Ratliff - Hi, Brooke, this Daria Ratliff, from TX. This video is brilliant! We got an inexpensive underwater camera for my kiddos to take pictures in the ocean during a vacation and lately I’ve been playing around with it. To my surprise it’s been way better than what I thought! Here’s an image I tried the other day! Brooke, thank you always for you kindness and generosity! You’re a gentle soul! You can see my image here!
    Love, love!!!ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 8:21 am

      brookeshaden - Hi Daria!! I am soooo glad that you are enjoying taking underwater pics! It really is such a unique experience and such a joy. BEAUTIFUL work!!ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 5:37 am

    natascha van niekerk - This is great Brooke! Learnt many of your tips the hard way, through trial and error! My first few underwater shoots I had to redo twice before I got it all figured out! (and absolutely still learning every time!) Thank you so much for sharing, so in love with your underwater images! Also great to hear about you using a point and shoot underwater camera, I’m currently using my Canon 5d in a dicapac bag, and it is absolutely nerve wracking every time, and also comes with its own set of challenges to actually just be able to operate the camera in the bag! Definitely looking into the panasonic lumix!ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2014 - 8:22 am

      brookeshaden - Hehe oooh yes I remember the bag quite well, and all of the nerves that go with it. I still have one actually, and would consider using it if I needed a DSLR. xo!ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 12:10 pm

    meredith lynn - love this thank you! i’m finally doing my first underwater shoot now that its warmer out. so excited for it!
    I had that same bag for my last time snorkeling and there was a tiny little hole in it.. destroyed my camera. lessons learned. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • April 15, 2014 - 8:14 am

    Jen Sulak - I so appreciate this. I need to play and explore more with this. I found very quickly just how TRICKY this was…..and I hope to create something with what we did at after dark – and i LOVE this video and how it turned out!!!!ReplyCancel

When I started my little business 4 years ago, I never in a million years thought I’d be in this position. I thought I would always be scraping by and trying to make ends meet with my art. But I had a vision, and I never quite knew where that vision would lead. I had hopes and dreams and I tried as hard as I could. And then one day I woke up and realized that I had too much work piling up. This is a good thing, I would tell myself! But at some point, the idea of success outweighed the actuality of it. I pushed myself harder and harder because I set inconsequential deadlines for myself, and soon I found myself overworked.

Long story short, I absolutely hate the gratification of busy-ness. But what I do love is pursuing my passion as forcefully as I can without over-doing it. And so that brings me to this cross-roads in my life right now. I was working myself as hard as I could while staying healthy, following my dreams and passions, yet all the while I was letting people down. I would miss emails (and not just a few), and I would mismanage my calendar, and fail to print my images on time…and so on…(yes, the list is long). The fact is, I’m not going to be good at everything. And I realized that if I slowed down enough to manage the business that I had going to perfection, I would have an extreme lack of time to do what fulfilled me.

At the start of this year I was thinking all of these things to myself. I’ve wanted an employee for a long time but could never justify it…that is, until I realized that I could either spend more time doing what I’m not fond of doing, or I could hire someone who enjoys those things and focus on what I do love. With a little help I could focus more on what I love, and turn that into an even bigger business. So at the start of this year, when one of my best friends was visiting, we had a revelation.

She wanted to move. She wanted a new job. I had just settled in a new town and needed an employee. Despite being best friends for the last 12 years, we had only lived in the same town for 2 of those years. And, crazy enough, she was visiting me in order to assist at a retreat I was hosting. The pieces were there, and we discussed the possibility of her moving out to where I live to assist me. A huge life change. Just one of many we’ve talked about over the years. And I didn’t get my hopes up, because asking my best friend and her husband to move across the country to come work for me is ridiculous.

Or is it? She thought about it seriously. He seemed interested.

And then, just a few short months later, the decision was made. She packed up her apartment and made the move. It is perfect for both of us. It allows us to both do more jobs that we love, and to spend time together, and just be happy. Because what greater gift is there in life than happiness? And we can give that to ourselves.

So after 12 years of her being forced to hear lectures from me about just doing what makes you happy regardless of how difficult it seems, we both listened and we both moved forward together. And I can finally say, after 4 years of this crazy business moving forward, I’ve made another step toward my happiness and fulfillment. Please welcome Kelly, my new assistant and life long friend, who will be helping with everything from emails to workshops and beyond. She is incredible, and I say that wholeheartedly, as she is one of the people I most admire in the world, and I hope you will as well.

What is the most important thing you’ve done for your business?

From a trip to Yosemite…

…a drive through North Carolina…

…and a day in New York City!


  • April 5, 2014 - 7:17 am

    Maria Irene Doten - So happy for you Brooke!!!!! How wonderful to get to work with your best friend!!!!! What a dream!!!!! Welcome Kelly!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxoReplyCancel

  • April 5, 2014 - 7:17 am

    Maria Irene Doten - So happy for you Brooke!!!!! How wonderful to get to work with your best friend!!!!! What a dream!!!!! Welcome Kelly!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo
    Maria Alman-Doten

    • April 5, 2014 - 7:21 am

      brookeshaden - Awww thank you so much! We are over the moon about it and I’m so excited for the first time to not have to manage everything. I think it was starting to clog my brain a bit too much. <3 <3 <3ReplyCancel

  • April 5, 2014 - 7:38 am

    Sami - Oh wonderful news Brooke! I’m really happy for you. When you believe in your dreams strongly enough, your dreams are becoming trueReplyCancel

    • April 5, 2014 - 7:41 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you so much Sami for your words of encouragement!ReplyCancel

  • April 5, 2014 - 7:39 am

    Kevin Vyse - Welcome to the Brooke Shaden Family… good job brooke you two are going to go very far.. not that you haven’t already.. but even farther.. can’t wait to see what adventures come your way next and more behind the scenes videos!ReplyCancel

    • April 5, 2014 - 7:42 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you Kevin, that means so much to me. I feel very grateful today for all of the changes happening and can’t wait to share more adventures!! Up next, a video about how to shoot underwater <3ReplyCancel

  • April 5, 2014 - 8:02 am

    Kine - Congratulations! Having imployees is such a big dream for me. It will be a clear evidence that my business is thriving! Enjoy the not doing things you don’t like part!ReplyCancel

    • April 5, 2014 - 8:05 am

      brookeshaden - Hehe yes! I think I will enjoy that very much. There will be a big learning curve I think, not just for her to figure out my strange system but also for me to actually stop doing those things! xoReplyCancel

  • April 5, 2014 - 8:13 am

    Tom Newforge - Happy for you and Kelly both. Psyched to see how the dynamic changes.ReplyCancel

    • April 6, 2014 - 8:00 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you so much Tom!ReplyCancel

  • April 5, 2014 - 8:16 am

    Melanie - How wonderful and exciting for the both of you! I love it when people get to do the things that they love!ReplyCancel

    • April 6, 2014 - 8:01 am

      brookeshaden - Aww Melanie that is so kind of you to say! We are both so grateful!ReplyCancel

  • April 5, 2014 - 8:27 am

    Amani - Ahh I’m so happy for you!! Working with friends is awesome. I’m so glad you get to do more of what you love.
    And HI KELLY!! <3ReplyCancel

    • April 6, 2014 - 8:01 am

      brookeshaden - Working with friends *is* awesome. I’ve been doing it ever since I started photography and its the only way to go πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • April 5, 2014 - 8:29 am

    Mary Angelini - The most important think I have done for my business is to believe in the value of my work product and to not sell myself short by asking for less than what I am worth. In the beginning it is hard because you walk a fine line between wanting to sell your work and get your name out there so and wanting to earn what you feel you are worth without scaring potential buyers off. You need to sit down and quantify all that you have put into not just one piece but what it has cost you along the way so you can begin to see the value in what you do. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you are worth and when people try to get you to compromise on that value believe in yourself enough to say no, to stand up and have faith in yourself that you and your art are as valuable as the amount you ask for!!!ReplyCancel

    • April 6, 2014 - 8:05 am

      brookeshaden - Mary, what an amazing thing to do – to understand your worth and tell other people with confidence. That is what so many people are missing I believe. Self confidence breeds more confidence.ReplyCancel

  • April 5, 2014 - 10:02 am

    Kristin V. - So excited for the two of you! I know you have both have wanted this to come to fruition and seeing it finally happen is wonderful. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    • April 6, 2014 - 8:05 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you Kristin! Yes, that retreat was the first time we even discussed it, so this is super exciting for us. So glad to know you!ReplyCancel

  • April 5, 2014 - 10:59 am

    Sharon Fibelkorn Chapman - BIG congrats! You guys will RULE! πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    • April 6, 2014 - 8:04 am

      brookeshaden - Awwww Sharon you are AMAZING! <3ReplyCancel

  • April 7, 2014 - 8:06 am

    Dave - Congratulations to both of you! I love it when a plan comes together!ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2014 - 8:47 am

    Beata RydΓ©n - congratulations!!! you seem like an awesome team πŸ˜€ReplyCancel