The other day I was wading waist deep in a cesspool (that is little exaggeration) and didn’t realize that I had my phone in my back pocket. I never have my phone with me so it didn’t even occur to me that it would be on me. I was doing a photo shoot and was caught up in getting the shot and in the moment and I didn’t think to check. I was just excited about life.

Only about two hours later did I find my phone in my back pocket, waterlogged and dead and never turning back on. At first I groaned.

“Ugh I need to get a new phone…”

“Ugh I’m about to get on a plane to New York City in 3 hours…”

“Ugh this is a hassle…”

And then, literally moments later, I shrugged. I didn’t care. It is a PHONE. It is not the end of the world.

I laughed about it. I had just drowned my phone in a cesspool…that is kind of funny, right? And it is SO me! Of course I did that. Why haven’t I done it sooner?

And so, aside from the worry of trying to let my husband know that I was safe and sound on my travels, I had not a care in the world. I actually felt relief. As I was sitting on the plane that night it felt so amazing to know that I didn’t have to communicate in that way. I could stand in front of the people I was with and have no distractions whatsoever. I could be completely present in the moment, not thinking about sending a text or calling anyone or looking that thing up that I’ve been debating on the internet.

I spent 24 hours in NYC with no distractions.

I spent the next week at home with no distractions.

I have always hated technology in some capacity. I am a technophobe. I love having a phone to call my family, and I recognize that I need to work when I travel since I travel so much, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it.

This experience made me decide to spent more time hiding my phone away – not answering calls and feeling frantic about the next email that will come through. You don’t have to drown your phone in a cesspool to feel free and disconnected. It is a way of life. It is a gift that you can give yourself at any time.

Look at those pictures from the cesspool shoot. I could, literally, not be a happier person. I would drown my phone again one hundred times if it meant I could relive that experience for the sheer joy that I felt doing it. I’m not afraid to say it…I love wading in filthy water to get a picture. I love the adventure of it. And that’s just me: phone in back pocket, filled with the dirtiest water you can imagine, and a smile sweeping across my face so big it could last a lifetime.

How do you feel about your phone, or being constantly connected?


  • January 17, 2014 - 8:34 am

    Sandy Gutierrez - love every word!ReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 8:35 am

      brookeshaden - You are so great Sandy xoxoReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 8:39 am

    Jeremy Gouge - I just blogged last night to a similar topic. Always enjoy reading and following your work!ReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 8:46 am

      brookeshaden - Oh wonderful! Send me a link 🙂 I love this topic.ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 8:42 am

    adriana anaya - If everybody think like you do, the world will be a better place.
    More hugs.
    Less smileys.

    • January 17, 2014 - 8:46 am

      brookeshaden - Aww you are great Adriana!! <3ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 8:42 am

    Sam Rytter - I got rid of my last cell about 7 years ago and could not be happier. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 8:45 am

      brookeshaden - I love that Sam!! I thought of doing the same thing but didn’t quite feel safe enough traveling by myself so often. Bummer!ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 8:44 am

    Mary Angelini - LOL, a few years ago I made the decision to get rid of our land line and just go with cell phones. At first I totally freaked about it, but as time went on I realized the only calls we were getting anyway were telemarketing calls. Now, the only calls I do get of any consequence are from my husband or my daughter, so it turned out well.

    Texting, that is another story! I text a lot, especially with my daughter who is away at college. So I would miss that and I get anxious when I text her or my husband and don’t get an immediate response. That instant gratification thing is rooting I’m afraid.

    However, when I am out in the field shooting I let them know that I am off the grid because it does become too much of a distraction. I feel so much freer knowing they know they need to wait a little while and I will have that peace and solitude.

    It reminds me of a time when there were no cell phones and life totally went on in ignorant bliss. Without it I find my peace and my creative zone, so as much as I love my cell phone, I do know there are times when it needs to be given a much needed rest!ReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 8:48 am

      brookeshaden - I love that story Mary – I totally agree. I couldn’t go without talking to my parents every day, nor would I want to, but I would want to limit what I see on my phone – the internet, and emails. And I love the idea of going out shooting with the announcement that you’ll not be available. Looove that!ReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 9:21 am

      Mary Angelini - Glad I could give you that idea. Seems only fair since you have given me so many 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 8:49 am

    douglas lopez - Absolutely agree with you!
    Just being without a phone we can know what it feels like not to be connected, even those who are not smart phone, calls are always traceable with earrings and things to do.
    Recently I had lunch alone and there is always someone with a smart phone doing something, I realized that it is almost an obligation to be doing something on the phone, I had to make an effort to keep my phone and eat without him.
    I accept that I am addicted to the internet more than calls, it is definitely necessary to make an effort to unwind and enjoy more of the “analog” world.

    PS: Congratulations and thanks for the course in creativeliveReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 8:51 am

      brookeshaden - Thanks for writing! I agree with you – it can be an effort not to use the phone, crazy enough as that sounds. And I too love the internet for exactly this type of connection, but do need to put it away from time to time. Thanks for watching the cL classes!ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 8:51 am

    Sonja Lovdal - I’m one of those people who can’t live without their smartphones. I really want to be that person who never brings along their phone because they can do without it. Regardless to that I constantly find myself checking my phone.

    I think it’s a very good excuse if you have no one to talk to and nothing else to fiddle with. You look down at your phone and you know that no one will interrupt you or force you to be a part of the social event going on.ReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 8:53 am

      brookeshaden - That is a fantastic point Sonja. I can relate to that. There are times when I know I’d like to be alone in my head, or just distracted, and whipping the phone out is great for that.ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 9:02 am

    Todd - I feel the same way. I really wish we could go back to the days before cell phones or feeling the need to be constantly in contact. That feeling of, “I might miss something,” if i don’t have my nose buried in my device reading the latest Facebook post etc. We have become a society of technozombies who forfeit a real conversation and living in the moment over to standing in a circle of “friends” staring at our devices totally ignoring those around us including, some times our loved ones.ReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 10:05 am

      brookeshaden - Yes Todd I can definitely feel that sometimes. I love not having a phone, and now that I do have one again (darn travel!) I find myself ignoring it. I couldn’t even tell you where it is right now and why? Because I’m writing to new friends on my blog and I’m about to have pancakes with my love 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 9:08 am

    janie - Every Wednesday we have “unplugged” night at our house, no television, iPads or cell phones … Communication, art, reading and games are the main priority. We share a house with our daughter and granddaughter and it has been a wonderful way for all of us to be a family without interruption.ReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 10:06 am

      brookeshaden - Janie, that is so totally amazing and I love you for that. I’m taking a page out of your book!ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 9:15 am

    Sharon Fibelkorn Chapman - I turn my phone off at about 5pm … and when I’m driving … and when I’m on a shoot. I respect that we all have this need to communicate upon demand all the time but I need personal space and time to think. With the phone on, I fret that I’m missing someone. With it off — I’m just away. Good for you drowning your phone while living in the love of the moment!ReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 10:06 am

      brookeshaden - Ahh Sharon that is really wonderful. Having dedicated “turn-off” times. Yes yes!ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 9:24 am

    Amani - That actually does sound like a lot of fun!

    If it were me I think I’d feel bad about ruining my phone cause of all the pictures I have on it (I almost never back up my phone :/)
    But I do wish I didn’t feel the need to check my phone or keep it with me all the time.ReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 10:08 am

      brookeshaden - Ahh yes that is the one thing that I regret – all the pictures I never backed up. Sigh! Now I know!ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 9:25 am

    Aimee Bant - Hi Brooke 🙂 I lost my phone one year like yourself, by killing it whilst wading through the sea! But it’s funny that you should post this because I have just lost another one of my phones this week! It turned off completely by itself and would not turn on again. It’s been strange not having a phone and like you say, a relief! However on the downside I have lost 6 months worth of photographs, and being a photographer too, it has almost killed me!! I wish I could be as relaxed as you about it! 😛

    Thanks for sharing a lovely post, I love your free spirit 🙂ReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 10:08 am

      brookeshaden - Gah yes the photos! I have lots of memories on that phone but I hope to be able to retrieve them. Darn that downside! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 9:30 am

    Robert Cornelius - Hahaha I love this, of course this would be how you broke a phone!

    So true that these days we are all frequently nose deep in our phones. Often missing out on the little details in life, on interactions we might be having be having with the people and the world around us. Don’t get me wrong, like you’ve said I love the instant contact I have with my loved ones, but sometimes it’s SO NICE not to have it.

    My boss/very good friend has a tiny cabin that sist literally on top of a mountain. I absolutely love going up there, because after several winding miles of dirt road, there is absolute no cell service. (Or electricity!) I can just be totally with nature and family and friends and not worry about who posted what on Facebook, the emails I should be responding to, or the missed call I need to return. It’s such a nice and fulfilling break from everyday life. I always feel so refreshed. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 10:09 am

      brookeshaden - Hahaha 🙂 I love it.
      That cabin sounds like the best thing ever. I hope to have a place like that to retreat to someday, and for now, I’ll just use self-enforced rules 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 9:50 am

    Graeme Reilly - A consequence of new technology has been that we invest in worry.

    Not just even our own worry – if we are incommunicado for a while, we worry about other people’s anxieties. Our parents and their parents never worried unnecessarily if someone never got in touch for a day or two, or was abroad for a week and never managed to get word home until their return.

    Going further back, a telegram was actually a means for worry. Letters were sporadic, and contact could be brief.

    But now if we lose contact for a relatively short time, we worry about those we are unable to communicate with, and we feel distress at what they may think of our lack of communication.

    In as such, technology is actually making us insecure, and hurts development of trust in our interpersonal relations. It has become a crutch we can lean on instead of growing – in education, relationships, and as people.ReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 10:11 am

      brookeshaden - I agree with you Graeme, so true. We evolve with our technology and once we know we can contact people immediately, it becomes “scary” to not do that.ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 9:57 am

    Annie laura - Over the summer I sat on a farm fence watching a tractor bail hay. I absorbed the zen before fleeing through the rows to photograph the men at work.

    Somewhere in those hay bails is my phone. I did go to the lengths of taking a medal detector into the field and scouting for it, but truly I’m ok with it.

    I don’t like being available for anybody at every moment. It’s been a release.ReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 10:13 am

      brookeshaden - That is a beautiful way to lose a piece of technology – enjoying the moment, appreciating it, and taking time to reflect on life.ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 10:14 am

    Joshua Pheneger - I have a 14 year old daughter who could use more time without her cell phone. Then again, I guess I would benefit from this too… as I type this on my cell phone. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 10:16 am

      brookeshaden - Ahhh I love that! <3ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 10:42 am

    aniya - so feel you on this!!! with 2 little ones it can be a life line – but when i know they are ok – its so freeing! i feel like i finally see the world – literally! my head is constantly down at the screen – sometimes i dont even remember who was talking to me, or what i was looking at.. shameful!

    we should probably all drown out phones, just to get back to life a little

  • January 17, 2014 - 10:42 am

    Charlotte Key - I envy you in the fact that you can go without your phone voluntarily Brooke and I would love to just chunk mine into the nearest landfill, but since I have a child in kindergarten I’m kinda stuck with it for safety’s sake.
    Maybe being so shackled to the darn thing is the reason for my photographers block…….I need my freedom from that evil device!!!!ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 11:06 am

    Vinod Krishnan - ya my phone also sucks…i sincerely plan to get rid of it on weekends…ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 11:17 am

    Svenlovesflo - People for years have told me they envy me because I do not carry a phone with me…it does allow one to be present…I am glad for you that you reached this realization…maybe this could be an inspiration for one of your masterpiecesReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 11:28 am

    Libertad Leal - I have a love/hate relationship with it. It’s so useful but such a distraction! I actually didn’t really think I was on it that much but then one day my 4 year old told me “no phone mama, no phone!” and I felt so bad. So that was it. I try to pretty much ignore it when I am with my kiddos. I do struggle with not taking a million photos with it because man, the everyday beauty and magical moments! I can’t help it. But sometimes I miss the moment because I was taking a photo so I try to keep that in mind. Like I said: love/hate.ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 11:40 am

    Danni Siminerio - I love this story and I love your passion! keep it up, Brooke!ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 11:42 am

    thomas miles - this is perfect timing! I just left my phone at my moms! Think I might just forget about it XD weird coincidence XDReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 11:51 am

    Paulo Carvalho - Brooke, last September I also lost my phone. I went riding MTB, and when I was coming down the mountain with a certain speed, my pocket, which had the phone, ruptured and stuck through the hole pocket. For me, the phone has no great importance, my happiness and wellbeing does not pass for having phone. I can very well live without it, but in some aspects it always helps too. The most annoying was having to spend money and buy a new one. Contacts? I always like to have the contacts in my address book paper!ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 12:15 pm

    David Cortez - I believe the one thing, if any one thing was of the utmost importance, that I am here on this earth for is to make connections with people. It’s all we have. Nothing takes the place of direct contact with another without the interruption of a meaningless phone cal or checking facebook for the latest funny cat meme. My mom refuses to ge a phone and it’s always a hassle trying to get a hold of her, and yet, she seems very happy in it and I never understood why. I love connecting with people because through others we learn and grow and change and evolve and it’s freakin’ wonderful! Through connecting with your blog this way, I learned about my mother and a little more about you and your process. I love when people are candid. thanks for your thoughts. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 12:29 pm

    Tony - I have a less drastic answer to this, I have two mobiles, one that I give the number out when needed, the other is only known to close family and friends. I don’t always carry both, this stops my private number getting out to junk callers. It probably works out cheaper than drowning it! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 12:59 pm

    Tara Eveland - Actually my husband and I decided 2 months ago to not continue our cell contracts and for many reasons.

    1. we were always on them. never in the moment. if you look around ppl even on DATES are on their phones, its just become a social norm to interact with others AND your phone at the same time, I didn’t like that.

    2. we were always attached to them. if we left the house without it, had to turn around for it. why? we had our kids with us, what did we REALLY need to know from the phone that was so important?

    so we switched to vonage; haha I know thats what the commercial says but a simple, old fashioned house phone that people have to actually CALL to talk to me on. It hardly rings, imagine that!

    Hey brooke, i want to ask you something and I didnt know where since you are so wide spread I thought you might see it here more likely. My question is this. Im reading your inspiration book, taking it in, soaking it up and loving it! I am in sort of a ‘creators block’ though. I have an idea Im inspired by, its hard to explain but basically I want to create an image that shows how old cameras and film were replaced with new technology and basically forgotten. I want to have a man in the image as well to symoblize kindda how that is in our lives as well as we grow older. will we still have people that remember us and love us, want to be around us, or will we just fade away like film kindda did? so thats the best i can describe it.
    I just DONT KNOW HOW TO execute it! Its been driving me nuts. How do you get past something like that when you have the whole idea, inspiration, ext. but no idea what to do with it?
    As always best wishes 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 8:53 pm

    Justin Osmer - I went surfing one time and I had the phone strapped to my leg so I could keep track of wave currents and record me surfing for friends to watch on G+. I caught a wave and then when it was done I reached down to grab my phone and it wasn’t there. At first I freaked! I had just got the new iPhone 5 when it first came out. I kept looking and then after about 5 minutes I realized it’s just a phone. It wasn’t keeping me alive, just keeping me in touch with the world when what I needed was to enjoy the surf and disconnect me from the world. Stuff like that has to happen to me every once in awhile for me to realize that I don’t need it as bad as I think I do at that moment. Let’s lose phones more often =]ReplyCancel

  • January 18, 2014 - 5:12 am

    Maryanne - I read an account recently of someone who would take their computer cord and mail it to themselves to give them a few days bread from electronic distractions.ReplyCancel

  • January 18, 2014 - 7:22 am

    Danny Bittencourt - eheheh I am just like you. I think I already lost about 30 celphones and when a lose a phone I just dont mind. Its like you say, It´s just a phone. Brooke I will publish a Fine Art book in Brazil and I would like to invite you to present your work because you are a refence for me and a inspration of course. I will sendo you an email with more informations and better english =)ReplyCancel

  • January 18, 2014 - 9:28 am

    Dina Hampton - I take days off from my phone, its pretty peaceful, but others dont like it . They want you to be at their fingertips these days. However it frees the mind to think and put your life in perspective again. Putting on your voicemail that I will return your call within 24 hrs is nice to
    because that also gives you freedom. Then you return them all at once and your day isnt broken up with scattered calls all day.ReplyCancel

  • February 10, 2014 - 3:14 pm

    Kimberly A Edwards - I use my phone as a phone. It has some games on it I like to play, they put me to sleep. I use my phone on occasion to check social media and email and sometimes messaging, not very often. I only have it for emergency’s sake. I very rarely get any calls. Today is the 10th of Feb. The last text message I got was Feb 3rd. The last phone call I got was Feb. 8th. I do have a Nook Tablet that read on. Sometimes, I might watch a show on Netflix on the tablet. I use my desktop for anything important online. Like replying to your post here and now. I believe most people using phones put too much focus on them. I would’ve probably done the same thing you did in the water.

    Blessings and happiness to you!ReplyCancel

Yesterday I was honored by speaking at Imaging USA for the first time. I had never been to the conference before and it was my first time exploring and getting to know the layout. I love going to conventions because I can sit in on classes and meet new people, though admittedly I always feel very out of place. The photography conventions I have been to do not cater to the fine art photographer, but I think, perhaps, that is why I enjoy them. I like being immersed in a world of photography that is not my own.

I began my lecture sitting barefoot on the edge of the stage, hugging as many people as I could and generally feeling really happy about life. I was about to talk about my passion and what could be better than sharing what you love with others? I did my talk, and then a shooting demo with someone I met on the sidewalk that morning as the model! Sticks and a lot of baby powder later, and voila! A photograph. I edited it right after for everyone to see.

Now here is where we get to the part of this story that I am having trouble pushing out of my mind, and so I wanted to write on it. After the demos I went outside to greet people and say thanks for coming (and more hugs!) and I heard a couple things repeated by many people.

One was that I am a very controversial speaker. Exactly why I could not say, nor did I expect to hear that, but the general sentiment was that I was speaking on things that do not get spoken of very often and that I do so in a very matter-of-fact way. From my point of view, I say what I think and I say it from the heart. I don’t mind if people agree or disagree and I am simply grateful that anyone thinks anything at all! Another was about how strange it is that I am not selling a product. I guess it is normal for a speaker to sell products after their lecture, but I am just terrible at things like that.

I understand why I may be different from some other speakers (though in truth I don’t know many speakers or generally what the education is like at conventions, I speak only from comments I heard after the lecture). I do not think this is good or bad, that I am better or worse. People need to sell to make money and I get that, and I simply don’t have many products to sell and I adore connecting without a product in between us. People talk technique because it is part of what fuels the creative process, and well…it’s fascinating!

I think the thing that has been stuck in my mind ever since the convention is one very simple thing: I am stuck in my head, lost in my own little world and I love it there so much that I have a hard time getting out. I go to a convention, I meet wonderful people, but I cannot do things how it is normally done for fear of losing myself. I walked around the expo yesterday in a daze, looking at all of the booths and products, not understanding what more than half of them were, all the while composing a short story in my head. Perhaps that is the problem. Or not.

Every single person has something about them that is unique. It could be as simple as understanding who you want to be and acting on it. It could be that you have a story to tell that the world needs to hear. It might be something from your past or something yet to come in your future, or something unfolding right now that sets you apart. But whatever it is, it is there, and it can be fueled and embraced.

I used to be terrified of events like Imaging. I used to fear crowds and people and conversations. And what has changed is not huge but is fundamental and so important, and that is how I embrace myself and my weirdness. I love imagination and stories and getting lost in a place filled with wonder and awe, and so often, that place is the story in my mind. And so, when I go out to conventions and things of that nature, I find it simple now to retreat inside myself and speak from a place of love and honesty. I speak from the inside out. And when I am judged negatively, it does not hurt because I am so content with the messages coming from my heart. Whether someone else is content with that message is not for me to worry about.

Are you lost in your own little world or wish you were lost there more? Are you finding your weirdness or have found it? What makes you unique?


  • January 15, 2014 - 8:51 am

    Mary Angelini - When I was in high school…when dinosaurs roamed…I would daydream all the time and doodle in my sketch pad. Whatever came to mind would come to life on my paper…usually at the expense of paying attention or doing homework.

    However, I find as I have become an adult with adult responsibilities that daydreaming and free-flow type thinking is often overpowered by my pragmatism. Of course it is good to be responsible and grown up when needed, but for me it is really hard to separate the two and allow both to coexist in a compatible way.

    I put my art and weirdness on the shelf while raising my daughter, for the most part, but now that she is away at college, I wish I felt more at ease with letting go and being able to get lost in my own world and gave less credence to the counterproductive energy of what I think I should be doing rather than what I want to be doing.

    Undoing 20 years of being a grown up is a hard and sometimes frustrating thing, but the more I practice the better I am getting at it and being dialed into like minded people such as you makes it considerably less uncomfortable, like there is a safe space for weirdos like me!!ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 8:53 am

      brookeshaden - Oh Mary, how I identify with what you said. I do have a very childlike demeanor I think, but I have a hard time mixing grown-up responsibilities with that other side of me. My husband and I discuss this all the time. I am trying to work on being a bit more responsible while never losing an inch of that other side. I know you will find all that you are looking for in your creativity and passion, and I can’t wait to see it come into full bloom. You have a safe space here always, and I really hope our paths cross soon.ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 8:58 am

      Mary Angelini - Again, I wish there was a “like” button! One of the thinks that I think is so amazing about you is your child-like innocence and sense of wonder and amazement in the way you look at things and it is totally reflected in your art. Don’t ever lose that, it is so special and precious 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 8:57 am

    Kristin V - I love that even in convention frenzy (and beyond )that you are just you. Your comfort within your own skin is why you are able to share yourself so genuinely. You inspire me to find my comfort and my voice despite the voices of others. Here is to the beautiful places within our hearts and minds.ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 8:58 am

      brookeshaden - Awwww thank you Kristin! That means so much to me. There is truly nothing more empowering than understanding who you want to be and then becoming it. I draw all inspiration from a place of self-confidence xoxoxoReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 9:01 am

    Michelle Baisa - Brooke, thank you so much for this! What is very intimidating to me in the world of photography is how critical people can be. I’ve always been so afraid to do something I “wasn’t supposed to” in my images. I have always, ALWAYS been a rule follower… always afraid to fail. So I adore the fact that you’re just you…. not a rule follower at all, but a heart follower. You do what you love, what you feel, what you think and are able to embrace that. This is so incredibly encouraging to me and is helping me to be able to embrace myself and what I have to offer, as well. You are an amazing teacher and I know many, many people were touched by what you had to say that day. I wish I had been one of them!ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 9:06 am

      brookeshaden - Oh Michelle thank you so much, your words touch me deeply. I can’t wait to see you step out and just BE – because I know you are passionate and filled with something wonderful <3 <3 <3ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 9:12 am

    Amani - Would it be weird to say I love you? haha. Seriously Brooke, you’re such an incredible person and the way you speak about the things you love is just so amazing. I think the word I’m trying to find is content. I love that you’re so content with everything, and who you are. That is so inspiring and I hope that one day I can get to that.

    And it’s strange because lately I’ve been thinking about things that make me feel like I’m a weird person. I don’t know if you or other people could relate to this, but I love music SO much. And the genres I listen to are all over the place. One second I’d be listening to Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers, the next John Mayer and Ben Harper, then Within Temptation and Epica and string quartets and orchestras. I recently realized how much I love gothic and symphonic metal and it’s weird because.. well whenever I think “gothic”, I think of my teenager self with all the eyeliner and broodiness. But now I see it in a completely different way, and I’ve been thinking that it could be something I want to bring into my photography. How, i’m not sure yet. But yeah, I have been feeling pretty weird about myself and my passions/interests. Also, I love all things vintage and floral and pretty, but I also love modern and industrial and futuristic. Lol, I’m so confused!ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 9:15 am

      brookeshaden - Amani, you’re the greatest 🙂 And you know what? It is so much better to have lots of passions and understand that your weirdness is what will set you apart from the crowd. Better to have lots of passions than none at all, and certainly better to understand why you are passionate than to be lost in the game of trying to be someone you’re not.ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 9:14 am

    Laura B - Love this photo, and post, wish I could have witnessed it’s creation!

    My opinion is that these seemingly negative comments are 1) made out if envy, 2) not necessarily negative, but a critical analysis made from someone coming from a different perspective.

    You do have a product to see sell: it’s the Brooke Shaden Experience! Art, beauty, inspiration, motivation. Very few people have the ability or luxury of creating and living the brand they’ve created. I’m not sure what’s controversial about you, but I can certainly imagine that there would be people jealous of your success!ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 9:16 am

      brookeshaden - Thanks Laura! Yeah I don’t think anyone said anything to be mean or negative (well, except that one person..haha!) but as always, so interesting to hear feedback on something that you didn’t see before, and to realize something about yourself that was previously hidden. xoxoReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 9:14 am

    Sharon Fibelkorn Chapman - I always tell people that I’m happy in my own mind … because it’s a happy place! Love your passion and your world. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 9:15 am

      brookeshaden - Ahhhh I love that Sharon! So YOU!ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 9:21 am

    Frank Jansen - I think that being controversial and not selling a product are two great compliments!

    As you tend to speak of the creative process and how to listen to yourself more than technical details, you will always be outside the mainstream of photography, which is a great place to be. Your willingness to speak about translating emotion to images and the process that helps many of us get there is a breath of fresh air in the world of photography; plus the amount of love you bring into your presentation and interaction with everyone is truly inspiring!!

    Most photographers who speak at conventions tend to talk about how to solve a particular technical challenge with the latest wonderful product from Acme Co. The fact that your presentation is truly product agnostic probably surprised a lot of listeners, as they expect to have to go over to a booth to pick up a magic fix that will allow them to bring images to life in your incomparable manner. You may want to strike a deal with some manufacturer of sugar pills, so that you can sell them after each presentation, and tell people to choose between the pill that makes them big and the one that makes them small 🙂

    Keep being you and you will see more of us doing our own unique, weird thing!!ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 9:23 am

      brookeshaden - Frank, your words mean so much to me, and I miss you as always 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 9:32 am

    Anne - So, so sad that I missed you at Imaging. After experiencing your workshop in New Jersey, I no longer think of myself as “different” but “thinking from the inside out.” The sublimity of being in your presence is to experience true awe.ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 9:33 am

      brookeshaden - Oh Anne, you are truly an amazing person and artist. I am so glad to know you.ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 10:05 am

    robin spalding - i LOVE everything about you how you present yourself, carry yourself and inspire everyone and how you just do what you do in your way. i think its amazing that you do not PUSH a product. i have been reteaching myself this digital photography stuff for past year and a half and i’m becoming frustrated with everyone who is out selling “quick fixes” or products so you can shoot like them but its a dupe you need practice, experience. Now i almost do not trust alot of people who “teach” because i feel like they are just hawking some new product for money. the experience alone from watchng you teach is amazing. how you do things with minimal gear. how you are not caught up in the perfect photo but a photo that speaks to you emotionally which because you do that your work is phenominal! i love that your weird though i dont see you as weird at all! but i found in the past few years i am an oddball and its ok cuz its fun.ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 12:10 pm

      brookeshaden - Wow thank you Robin! That is soooo kind of you. I love us oddballs…keep ’em coming! 😉ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 10:15 am

    Katrin Auch - I haven’t been to many of the “traditional” conventions, the show of my choice has always been Photoshop World. There are show instructors there that are selling things, but it’s pretty rare. There is a expo floor for vendors and product demos, but the classrooms themselves are not really “sales focused.” I was very excited when I saw you speak as Adobe’s guest at the LV show last year. I was hoping that you might be an instructor soon 🙂ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 12:11 pm

      brookeshaden - I hope to go back to PSW this year! It was super fun 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 10:34 am

    Tara Eveland - I adore that last part, where you say you speak from the heart and whether other people judge you or not isn’t for you to worry about.

    I’ve learned so much from you this past 6 months but more than just being inspired I’ve been able to get past all the negative things people say to me, or about my work and try to bring me down. Ive learned from you that I will fail and its okay because that means I’m learning something, and I shouldn’t care what others say of my failure, or if they hate me and my work even.

    I have family that loves my work, friends, and more importantly I love my new inspired works that come from my heart and my own experiences and emotions. I have found it a great healing source and outlet for my emotions of being abondoned by my mother, sexually abused as a child, and many other things. I love what I do now and looking back to just last year, I was making money, but I wasn’t HAPPY in my art and that is NOT living, thats just getting by and going through the motions of life. Now I feel empowered, motivated, and like I have a purpose to my life.ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 12:12 pm

      brookeshaden - Tara, you are such a rare person and I love you for it. Thank you for sharing yourself and your story and I am so glad to hear that you are empowered and creating and living life to the fullest!ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 12:13 pm

    Brian - Bravo. One of the reasons I’ve never gone to a photography convention is because they seem very similar to Amway conventions. All the speakers are selling something because the reality is that a photography cannot just make a living with photography anymore.

    It’s refreshing to hear you did your own thing and went against the grain. I respect that.ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 4:09 pm

      brookeshaden - Thanks Brian! I do love conventions, just never quite realized how little I fit in until now…and I embrace it 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 12:52 pm

    David Cortez - I am comforted by the fact that you seem so in touch with yourself and with us, your audience. You ask such a powerful question, “Are you lost in your own little world…” I just did a photoshoot on Sunday and was not happy with the results. it didn’t look bad, it just didn’t reflect what I was trying to do. I didn’t learn from the event, about myself or how I could have improved it. I was not in my world. I love your book. I have been reading it since your gallery and the comments above are very correct. You’re not selling a product, you’re selling the idea of creativity, your methods, your mindset. It’s like being in your world for the briefest of moments and I think that is far more educational to me that a convention would be. I went to Cinigear last year and left feeling numb, overwhelmed with products and technical information. Your approach is through a place of feeling, a place I can understand. The world expects certain things from us, you continue to inspire the idea of going against the grain. You get such good feedback fro your audience, I think you’re doing the right thing by being Brooke Shaden and not what you might have been told you were supposed to be.ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 4:10 pm

      brookeshaden - David thank you, your words mean so much to me. You are always so encouraging and I take inspiration from you – thank you.ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 12:53 pm

    Paulo Carvalho - One more excellent work. Congratulations Brooke. And you’re absolutely right when you say “I say what I think and I say it from the heart. I don’t mind if people agree or disagree and I am simply grateful that anyone thinks anything at all!” I think the same. And as always, is a pleasure to read your post and make me fell so good …ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 4:10 pm

      brookeshaden - Paulo, thank you! So great to be free from pressures!ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 12:55 pm

    Libby - When I was younger, I was incredibly weird and definitely lived in my own little universe. Going to school with a lot of materialistic kids who saw individuality as a sin against nature was tough, and over the years the creativity and uniqueness in me was overpowered by the desire to fit in. I think that being your own person is so crucial in this world, especially after having lost a large part of myself to unimportant people and circumstances. I’m still working on making a world for myself and exploring those creative parts of me that have been sitting in the shadows for so long. Your words, and really just the person that you are, is so inspirational. You’re a truly genuine person and that has become something of a rarity. I love these posts – I feel like they help me stay on track with forging my own path in this worldReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 4:11 pm

      brookeshaden - Libby, you sound like someone I want to know! I know you will make that world for yourself, and it will be glorious!ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 12:56 pm

    Hanna - I think being lost in your own world sounds so wonderful! I am often like that too but it isn’t fairy tales or stories that occupy my mind, it is scattered thoughts about life and feelings and relations and images of the surroundings I am in. Always looking for something to photograph… people sometimes asks me “what are you looking at!?” My response is always “I am just looking” which must sound a bit weird haha :).

    However I am very much ruled by my life as a full time single mom… so I can’t be lost in my own world all that often.

    What also makes me a bit weird is that I do 10 things at the same time, I go wherever my thoughts lead me… for example I put laundry in the washing machine and when I am half way done I rush to the kitchen and write something down. Cupboards are open and things are in a mess. This applies to everything that I do, at work and so on ;)….

    Last but not least, I absolutely love the perspective of the image above, lovely!ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 4:30 pm

      brookeshaden - I agree Hanna! I love being in my own world…it is unique and brilliant because it’s mine, and same goes for anyone else creating their own unique space.ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 1:28 pm

    Margherita Introna - Walking around the convention in a bit of a daze… yep, I get that as that would be me 😉 Brooke, you are wonderful and a breath of fresh air… Wish I could have been there.

    I spend a lot of time on my own. I am content in my own company. I am apparently one of the few people that has learnt to be happy on my own. There is a long story behind that, but my art and being able to express my emotions through my images is what has healed me and help me on my journey of self… I love being in my word and creating. I retreat into it more and more. But I also realise it is not good to always be on my own. I do need to reach out. I struggle with that sometimes, but I have found that I am able to do so through my art… I have started to include a friend sometimes on shoots. Often just for company as I usually do a shoot after a hike or walk on the beach. My friends love it and have started pitching in and helping out on shoots. Some have now also modeled and collaborated on shoots. This was a huge dream for me this year and I have already managed to achieve 🙂 Although I value my solo shoots and would not ever give them up completely, I have started to learn to enjoy the company and collaboration with others. I hope to do much more in 2014 and have already reached out to fellow photographers in the area to meet and collaborate.ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 4:31 pm

      brookeshaden - I think it is great that you are okay being by yourself. I bet that means you have a wild imagination 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 2:48 pm

    Jenna Reich - It was also my first time at a convention and I felt a little out of place too. While I’m not strictly a fine art photographer, I’m certainly not mainstream. I shoot births and do editorial sessions for families in their homes. I love how your lecture reminded me that although I do editing, pricing, website, settings, camera gear, etc, etc differently from anyone else, it’s relevant and good because it’s mine and it works for me! It was so good to get that validation. And, although I am still tasting baby powder, I feel very inspired by you to take my portraits and create something a little outside my comfort zone. Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 4:34 pm

      brookeshaden - Very interesting line of photography! I’d love to see that. I was about to apologize for the baby powder…but…I’m bad! So glad that you liked it! Thank you sooooo much for being there!ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 3:17 pm

    Kate Kelly - We absolutely loved you! I attended the conference with my mom. We flew in from Houston, TX. Like you, it was my first convention. You see, I am very young… I am eighteen. Throughout the three days we were there everyone thought my mom was the photographer. The expo was very overwhelming for me because I have a very small business and I felt overhwhelmed by all of the high tech equipment and products. You see, I am a natural light photographer and I simply take my subjects out at an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset and simply use the sun as my light. Your talk TRULY touched our hearts because it came straight from your heart. We loved your uniqueness and your sense of humor. Personally, it really helped me to hear you say that you stay true to who you are because I sometimes struggle with my self confidence.
    Thank you for sharing your heart and honesty with us. You truly inspired me and I learned a lot from you.ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 4:34 pm

      brookeshaden - Aww Kate thank you endlessly! I am so glad you were able to come and you know what – it is so awesome to be different, because those who are different now set the standards for the future. xoxoxoReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 4:05 pm

    Mickey McLean - I am a big fan of you. Old dogs can still from the young creative people. Keep up the great work.ReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 4:34 pm

      brookeshaden - Thank you so much Mickey!ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 6:18 pm

    Sara Cunningham - “Controversial speaker” — You? I just don’t see it. I am in complete awe of the confidence you have in yourself, and the beauty that radiates from you through your art and always-inspirational words.. It’s crazy to think of all the people you’ve inspired in such a tremendous and personal way…
    I’ve long lived with a fear of other human beings, and what they think or may possibly think of me, and how I am perceived in their eyes — Something that is deeply rooted in me, and something I am still in the process of forcing myself to overcome.
    Along with the obvious love of your artwork, I find such admiration in the way you are able to put your personal thoughts into words..
    I’d love to say more, as my head is swimming with inspiration, but the words aren’t coming to me. I can only hope that one day our paths cross, if even for a moment…. Keep up the beautiful work. <3ReplyCancel

    • January 16, 2014 - 7:47 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you so much Sara! I didn’t see it either 😛 I understand that fear quite well, and I know you will work your way past it – if I can help in any way…
      Thank you for being so kind xoxoReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 9:15 pm

    Karen Nakamura - Hello Brooke. I wasn’t able to see your program because of my schedule but please know that your program was the only one I really wanted to see at Imaging.
    I have a friend who has been complaining to me for the past year that he isn’t creative and he doesn’t have the gift of creating art. He almost seemed to become very depressed about it. I demanded that he attend your program and he did. He came out of your program truly inspired. He’s so happy he attended. He said that he had plenty of new ideas. I wish you could’ve seen the smile on his face when he told me thanks for making him attend your class.
    I’m sure you have plenty of posts before me saying the same thing… Please forget about the few negative comments you hear because you touch and inspire thousands of people everyday through your art and your teachings. That includes me. Your art makes people say “Wow” and people leave your programs feeling better about themselves and have more confidence to create work themselves. I wish you the best and look forward to seeing your new creations. Thanks for always sharing….ReplyCancel

    • January 16, 2014 - 7:49 am

      brookeshaden - Hi Karen! Ohh so sorry to have missed you! I am so glad that your friend liked it 🙂 That makes my heart happy! And no worries about negative comments – truly. They don’t bother me one bit, and I actually don’t think that what was said was negative. Live and learn and grow, and so even a negative comment can be learned from in some way 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 16, 2014 - 12:19 am

    natascha van niekerk - Absolutely love this image Brooke! And you are exactly the kind of person we need more of in the photography industry! Always honest, authentic and sincere, without gimmicks and cheesy sales pitches, just simple sharing of yourself and your art… I love every person’s strangeness, it’s what makes the world interesting! I was lucky to be raised in an environment that was conducive to individual thinking and have never been a fan of the mass produced ideologies or conventions.
    Thank you Brooke, you are one of a kind, and we appreciate you for it!ReplyCancel

    • January 16, 2014 - 7:49 am

      brookeshaden - Aww thank you Natascha, that means a lot to me. I love everyone’s strangeness too!! 😀ReplyCancel

  • January 16, 2014 - 8:15 am

    Jishnu - I absolutely adore the way your mind thinks. if it was me i would have taken it in a negative manner and i would have got really upset.I am and has been very worried about what others will think . But you are one of my true inspiration to be what you are in life. . You’s blog posts have been pushing me to get out of my shell and be what i want to be. Being an entire stranger and still you can manage to make an immense change in my life just through internet shows your passion and the human being you are. you are a true inspiration and a great teacher. Thanks a lot Brooke for always inspiring and helping me push my limits. LOVEReplyCancel

    • January 16, 2014 - 9:12 am

      brookeshaden - Aww Jishnu thank you so much, that really means a lot to me. I am so grateful for your kindness.ReplyCancel

  • January 16, 2014 - 12:03 pm

    David de Lange - I love it brooke, thank you for inspiring me.ReplyCancel

  • January 16, 2014 - 3:12 pm

    Rocio - I usually find myself lost in my own little world. So much so that my mother is always telling me to wake up, to snap out of it and pay attention to my surroundings. When I started college I began a spiritual journey. I immersed myself in the “new age” world. My mind went to so many places. It went places that for some people, only hallucinogens could take them. I lived in that world for years until I got married. Then I sort of fell into the fine art photography world …when you gave your cL workshop… my life changed. Now, again, I’m in a world where my family and friends see me as a strange little bug! A lot of it they cannot understand.

    I believe that these days more and more people are coming out and showing others their strangeness. People want to be themselves and show who they are!ReplyCancel

  • January 16, 2014 - 5:08 pm

    Sherry G. - Brooke, In your life you have been given a great gift — maybe from your parents, maybe from somewhere else — that allows you to totally accept yourself in all your brilliant and quirky uniqueness. I am in total awe of how you back yourself up and support yourself in situations where your values and being may be so foreign to others. But what I also really love is how you pass this attitude and approach on to to others and model it for us — so that we in turn, no matter what messages we have internalized, are encouraged to go forth, proud of our particular talents and way of being in the world. You. Brooke, are a gift to us all!ReplyCancel

  • January 16, 2014 - 8:59 pm

    Emily - You are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your passions. Your art. Your love for what you do. I identify with you SO MUCH and am so grateful for artists like you, who truly LOVE what you do. And convey it in such an HONEST way. Thank you for doing what you do and doing it the way you see it. You – and your work – are beautiful. Blessings to you!ReplyCancel

  • January 16, 2014 - 10:44 pm

    jen sulak - I kinda think for me, in most large spaces and places…I actually start to retreat and hide a bit LOL 🙂 I will get overly-sensory-stimulated and find myself drowning in an ocean of voices and noise. However, I still get out – I still head outward outside of the zone…and keep pushing to where i’m supposed to be. Weird, awkward and all…experiencing life in all its glory…is pretty awesome. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 8:33 pm

    Joel - Brooke you spoke from your heart with passion & sincerity. I do believe you touched many people in that audience. You do inspire. There were many folks excited to have the opportunity to be there. I saw it in their eye & heard it in their voices when I would confirm that they were at the right room.

    The free flow of the process was fun to watch. It was obvious you had a vision in mind, and allowed it to come to it’s own fruition as the sticks enclosed & the powder floated in the air.

    Thanks for helping me to push the door of my creativity cabinet open a bit more- to better hear it’s voice.ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2014 - 7:23 am

    Lisa Lizarraga - yes i am so lost…but it was loosing myself that finally allowed me to find the real me. I no longer care what the world thinks. Happiness is now mine.ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2014 - 5:46 pm

    Mary-Claire Fredette - It made me laugh that my roommate at AD thought that it was bizarre that I would bring a juicer to AD. (That is SO tame!) You see, my inner weirdness has been squelched for far too long. My husband and I have felt for a long time that we don’t really belong anywhere, stuck between who we feel like we “should” be for our family and who dances inside. I often daydream as well and am never surprised that I am not paying attention.

    Although I often feel like your work is a little dark for me, I love the passion, the stories and the weirdness of being you. I follow your blog precisely because you are indeed the master of your own tales, and because you inspire me as well.

    Thanks for being the huggy, passionate, sharing and giving person that you are. I promise you’ll get your own homemade juice next time I see you. And I’m working on the wall of water photo too. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • February 8, 2014 - 1:52 pm

    Lynette - Brooke, thank you! I am watching your Creative Live workshop and looked at your website and blog. I am blown away! But most of all, thank you for the “self-portrait challenge”. I’ve always been too afraid to try one. But, after seeing you in action and hearing you speak about it, I am binding my fear and going for it. You’ve inspired me and I think I will enjoy working on it. I’ve always felt restricted in so many areas of my life… restricted to be the real me. So I will use that as a platform for my self-portrait and will send it to you when I’m finished. My talent is not on your level, but my heart will be there and hopefully it will show in the finished portrait. God bless!ReplyCancel

This week I wanted to talk about something that has been close to my heart these last few months. I did a blog about it before so I won’t go into huge detail, but the subject of losing the people closest to you has been in the forefront of my creation process lately. I have been invested in photographing the people I love in ways that I feel embody who they are.

I had a health scare with my mom towards the end of last year, and it was a sad but necessary reminder of the fragility of life. I am grateful that I have had this long with her, and truly any moment could be the last. The same goes for everyone, and perhaps that is why I have been increasingly interested in making connections that really mean something rather than letting people flit past me without a true understanding of who they are.

When my mom landed in the hospital last year, it was a shock while at the same time being something that we knew could happen. She is the strongest person I know, yet also has Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis, and her health has always been fragile. I didn’t even know she was in the hospital. She didn’t want me to know because she didn’t want me to worry. That’s just who my mom is…a mom through and through, someone who puts other before herself and never wants anyone to worry.

But worry I did, and that worry lead me to this photo series: photographing the people closest to me before they passWhen my mom came to visit in December we did a photo shoot together. Not a far-fetched idea considering my mom is insanely photogenic and loves the camera. My dad assisted, throwing her dress and hair in the air for me, while my mom twirled and danced and ran from the camera, coy and energetic. It was a time I will never forget, and if I do lose her sooner than I feel ready for (but then again, that is the way with everyone), I am so glad I have this image and the memory of creating it to represent who she is to me.

Thank you, mom, for who you are and what you have given me. It is far more priceless than this photograph, but for now, it is all I could think of to give. Sometimes even the smallest gestures speak volumes about the heart.

Do you photograph the people you love, or document their lives in some way? We are storytellers, and I feel now more than ever it is my job to tell the stories of those around me, even if it is in my own twisted voice. Do you have any unique experiences with love and loss? If nothing else, I am inspired to think about the abilities we have with our creativity in new ways.


  • January 13, 2014 - 8:25 am

    Gina Miller - Beautiful Brooke! Love it.ReplyCancel

    • January 13, 2014 - 8:34 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you Gina xoReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 8:31 am

    Maryanne - simply beautiful.ReplyCancel

    • January 13, 2014 - 8:35 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you so much Maryanne!ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 8:31 am

    Kristin V - I love that you are sharing this with us. Through your fear of loss and vulnerability you were able not only to create this beautiful art celebrating your mom, but you also created a wonderful memory to be cherished. What a gift.ReplyCancel

    • January 13, 2014 - 8:35 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you Kristin – I can only hope that sharing something personal inspires someone else to consider the time we have together and cherish it. I know I needed a reminder xoxoReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 8:37 am

    Carla Paton - Beautiful. I bet your mum loves the photographs. Illness is a hard thing, and as we grow up we notice even more how important spending time with the people we love becomes.ReplyCancel

    • January 13, 2014 - 8:38 am

      brookeshaden - That is, I have to say, the wonderful thing about growing up 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 8:39 am

    Mary Angelini - Wow, that is so deep Brooke. I am sorry that you and your family are going through this. I absolutely love the picture you made of your mom, she is very beautiful and photogenic as you said but your image makes her more so!

    I am not close with my mom at all and actually we rarely speak anymore, something I have come to terms with it. However, my daughter who is now in college has opened up to me recently about her fears of losing me. Just hearing her talk like that, imagining her having to get through the next decade or more of her life without me rips my heart out. Tears are welling up now just thinking about it.

    Since she’s gone off to college I try to make the most of the times we are together and, unlike your mom, she loathes having her pictures taken. However, maybe seeing the bigger picture – that it’s more about the time together than the activity, she finally indulged me and let me photograph her.

    We had a fabulous time and I now have great images of her that sustain me in between the time we are together. The rest of my family are far flung across the globe, quite literally, but now that I have discovered my passion for people portraits, I am planning on ways I can get to see and photograph them, if for no other reason than to bring them closer to me and bridge the distance apart.

    Thank you as always for opening yourself up to all of us and sharing your beautiful story! inspiring as always 🙂ReplyCancel

    • January 13, 2014 - 8:41 am

      brookeshaden - Mary, that is so beautiful. I am so glad that you are using your camera to make those connections which are so very important…but of course it isn’t really the camera, it is your big heart and love xoReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 8:42 am

    Tara Denny - Whoops, That one had me in tears. Oh my, Brooke. You have a gift, and a powerful one at that. To move people to tears and inspire them with a single image. You create more than art, you create hope and dreams, and love. Now, excuse me for a minute, I have to go call everyone I love. BRB.ReplyCancel

    • January 13, 2014 - 8:42 am

      brookeshaden - Oh Tara that means so much to me, thank you for being a positive force in my life. And yes! I love that – call everyone, time can be short but so meaningful 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 8:42 am

    Amani - Brooke, it is so amazing how you can turn negative feelings into beautiful and meaningful pictures. I can only imagine what it must have been like to have that kind if scare. And I truly hope that your mother gets better.

    I don’t claim to know what it’s like to lose a loved one, the way you’re talking about it. But I have lost someone who I loved ever since I was a kid. I built up dreams and hopes around that person. And about a year and a half ago, it turned out that everything I believed in was a lie. That person betrayed me in a way that made me feel like the person I knew and loved died, and there’s a stranger standing infront of me. I don’t know if I dealt with it the right way, but i didn’t know what else to do. To this day, I’m not sure if I’ve accepted what happened and it still hurts. I’m not just saying this Brooke but what you gave me during the workshop was exactly what I needed, and I didn’t even know it at the time. But after losing hope completely, you sparked something in me that made me want to fight my demons. Thank you so much.ReplyCancel

    • January 13, 2014 - 8:44 am

      brookeshaden - Amani, you have proved to be one of the strongest people I have ever come across and I don’t even think you know it. You have had a profound impact on my life just by being open and honest and loving. Thank you so much for that. And I am so sorry to hear about that loss…yes, that can be just as huge as death, and in many ways the same. It will get better though, and I hope that you find something within yourself that can fill the empty space. Hugs!ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 8:49 am

    Joshua Pheneger - I wish I had thought to do this with my mother and sister, it is such a beautiful and loving sentimentand and a remarkable way to preserve your memories of your loved ones.

    I lost my sister suddenly several years ago, and my mother just as suddenly at the end of last October. I wasn’t prepared to lose either of them, and I have few physical reminders of them, but they are a part of me and they will never truly be gone.ReplyCancel

    • January 13, 2014 - 9:03 am

      brookeshaden - Oh Josh I am so sorry to hear that, truly. My heart breaks.ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 9:52 am

    Ana - What a beautiful creation! I share your feelings about doing something before it’s too late, but only because of my regrets. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer I was unable (out of fear) to take photos of her. I wasted so many opportunities and regret it to this day. I have many other things that remind me of her but very few photos. She was my best friend and we had this amazing bond and it’s been three years that she’s been gone.
    Because of that I decided to take lots of photos of my dog when she was diagnosed with cancer. We had nine months together after the diagnosis and there are so many photos of her and of the two of us. This past Friday my beloved Bella (aka The Fuzz) crossed over to be with my mom. My apartment is painfully empty but at least I have all these beautiful memories of her in my photographs. Some people will think that a dog is not the same as a human, and I respect that, but for me she was my world – I have no children and no family in the country and she was just about all I had. We were together for 14 years and we shared many good times and bad. There is a special bond between some people and their pets and I was lucky to share that with The Fuzz. I am even luckier to have had the courage to express and document that love while she was here.
    Thank you for this blog post – it was perfectly timed.

    • January 13, 2014 - 10:22 am

      brookeshaden - Oh Ana, I feel you so much. My cat died a year and a half ago now and I felt just the same. I wouldn’t really speak of it to anyone because I knew no one would understand how great that sort of a loss can be. It still hurts. I am so glad you have those memories, and so sorry about the ones that were missed. It takes a strong person to realize though that there is still time with others and those moments can be documented. I commend you and your bravery!ReplyCancel

    • January 13, 2014 - 12:22 pm

      Joshua Pheneger - Thank you, while it hurts to lose someone – it also shows us what, and who, is important to us. I am doing my best to make sure I honor them and not take for granted those who are still with me.ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 10:40 am

    Rocio Martinez - Okay, before I even start watching the video I want to say that I want to cry. My throat is in knots and my heart is sore. As you may or may not have seen me publish, my grandfather passed away last Monday. I was told about the news two days after. He lived in my home country of Puerto Rico and luckily, I was able to visit him one last time this past October. I am still deeply saddened and in total disbelief. I was not ready for that to happen. He was the one that would last to 100. His death was the first event that inspired me to create an image expressing my feelings. I had never done that before. If you ever wish to see it – it’s here:

    I also want to say that I sort of understand what you are going through. My grandmother had exactly the same diseases as your mother and she died of that at an early age. When she was diagnosed with that, the doctor told her she would only live a couple more years and that was when she was about 20 years old. She died at age 72. Because of her love and faith, she was able to enjoy more time on this earth with us. The last couple of years of her life she spent at my mother’s home, bedridden. Yet, we had her. However, we were not ready for that either. There is always a hope that things will get better. That things will change. That miracles will happen.

    Okay, now I’m off to watch the video.ReplyCancel

    • January 13, 2014 - 10:48 am

      brookeshaden - Oh Rocio I am so sorry to hear that 🙁 How terrible, as all passings are, but when it is unexpected..My heart breaks for you.ReplyCancel

    • January 13, 2014 - 12:05 pm

      Rocio Martinez - Thanks.ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 10:52 am

    Rocio Martinez - Your mother is an incredibly beautiful woman. That image is perfect. It depicts the beauty of her spirit!

    The video is amazing. It’s filled with beauty and soul. Your feelings and love for your mother really shine through.

    I, too, worry about losing my mother and my father. They are both young at age but have gone through so much and have so many physical things going on that it’s always scary. My mom has atrial fibrillation and she get’s really tough episodes all the time. It’s really scary. My father has diabetes among other things. He is a physician and the worst part is that he knows for a fact that he will lose his legs in a few years. How scary and sad is that?

    I wish all the good luck in the world to your family and especially our mother. It’s definitely important to imprint their spirits before they pass. I believe that those that pass are still with us, yet we cannot touch or see them. Do like I once did with my grandmother. I laid by her side and held her hand. I felt the warmth of her body and promised myself I would never forget that moment and that it would always be imprinted in my mind. It’s been 5 years and I haven’t forgotten her warmth, nor her hands, nor that moment.ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 11:41 am

    Avital - You are an inspiration to me Brooke! I feel like I know you
    thank you for everything you do, for every word, thought, and for being such a kind beautiful person!ReplyCancel

    • January 14, 2014 - 8:17 am

      brookeshaden - Thank YOU so much, you’ve brightened my day 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 12:10 pm

    Menna Hossam - This is beyond beautiful! I just wanted you to know that you TRULY inspire me and that I wish I could be as half good as you are 🙂 <3ReplyCancel

    • January 14, 2014 - 8:18 am

      brookeshaden - Menna, thank you! But remember that you can be better than that – you can be as good as you allow yourself to be <3ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 12:11 pm

    Margherita Introna - Oh Brooke, I cannot even begin to explain how much I have been touched by your series “Before they pass…” Your work always seems to have a profound effect on me, but this series goes so much deeper for me. On 14 February 2013 I lost my father suddenly. There was no chance for goodbyes. The shock was unbearable. Six months later my brother died in my arms from a brain tumour – and even though the time between diagnoses and his passing was just a mere 6 weeks, it gave us time together that I will forever treasure. As hard as it was to see him like that and as scared as I was to see him die, it was such an honour to have been there. I am crying so much now as I type through my tears… but one thing I want to share with you is that in his last few days as I sat by his side and held his hand and cared for him, I took a few snaps with my cellphone of us together and of our hands… I have never shown these to anyone and nobody knew I took them. I can barely look at them still, but for me who sees life in images… these images are so close to my heart and I know I will need to cling onto them when I am ready <3

    May you still have many beautiful memories with your mother and family. This series and the insight it has brought you will be of much comfort to you… take the time and treasure it. Sending you much love and light… <3 xxReplyCancel

    • January 14, 2014 - 8:19 am

      brookeshaden - Oh Margherita, you have *me* in tears. I am so sad for you but so glad to know you have some images to cherish. Thank you for sharing – in that strange way that death can inspire, you have inspired me – to do more, shoot more, cherish more….love more. Thank you for being you, and you are in my thoughts.ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 12:27 pm

    Alicia Raft - Oh Brooke, this was so emotional! Besides being gorgeous, this image and video have heart and soul.

    I’m really proud of you starting this project. I think it’s amazing how like your mother you are. You both seem selfless and full of love. You radiate positive energy and just seeing this brightened my day!

    Hope that today brings you many smiles. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • January 14, 2014 - 8:20 am

      brookeshaden - Alicia, thank you so much. You’ve brought tears to my eyes <3ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 12:33 pm

    Denise - Brooke, your Mother’s Light and graceful Spirit is reflected so purely in this beautiful image. The photography you so artfully create, inspires us not only to express ourselves as the photographer, but coax out the dreams and fantasies of others before our lens. I have found that moments shared during photography can sometimes eclipse the purpose, as well as the final image, when one’s essence is willingly revealed.

    The Love and Security you offered your parents, which created this opportunity for their soulful expression, is a gift that shows your strength and gentleness combined. So great of you to share this moment, the video of your thoughts, and encourage others to create an image of those they love. I lost my Mother two years ago. I remember whispering to her before she passed… “Find a way to talk with me”. And she has, in a way that makes me laugh and find comfort in knowing she is just an ‘inner smile’ away. May your Mother dance long upon this earth and forever in the comfort of your heart.

    P.S. I was able to photograph a special moment when my Mother’s Spirit brightly pierced through the stormy haze of Alzheimer’s … and I am so thankful.ReplyCancel

    • January 14, 2014 - 8:21 am

      brookeshaden - Denise, that is such a beautiful story that aches and inspires. Thank you so much for sharing, I will not soon forget it.ReplyCancel

    • January 14, 2014 - 11:04 am

      Denise Neale Jensen - Oops, left my second reply under Chandra’s post by accident – please see below.ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 10:46 pm

    Chandra Achberger - I have no words. (okay I have a few) Simply WONDERFUL! Every single second is a gift.ReplyCancel

    • January 14, 2014 - 8:22 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you so much Chandra xoxoReplyCancel

    • January 14, 2014 - 10:58 am

      Denise Neale Jensen - Thank you Brooke. An image of fighting through jumbled layers of one’s mind to connect with someone – even if for just a moment, is a project I’d like to explore.ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2014 - 2:18 am

    Ashley - I cried while watching this, I’ve often wanted to photograph those I love especially my parents but have always been too reserved to do so and this reminds me of why I felt so passionately to do so.ReplyCancel

    • January 14, 2014 - 8:23 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you so much for writing Ashley – I hope that you can share a moment with them through your lens, and if not, that you have beautiful memories xoxoxReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2014 - 5:06 pm

    Jacs - I photographed my fathers decline from Parkinson’s and Dementia prior to his health. It was one of the most important times in my life. I’m glad you are doing this project now.ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2014 - 7:02 pm

    Karen Johnson - What a beautiful, beautiful image, story and tribute to your Mom!ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 10:06 am

    mindy wilson - Brooke, you are so right-on about making connections that really mean something. It’s been six months since Ron’s son Andrew died and we still talk about him daily and see reminders of him in so many places. He’s still a such a big part of our lives but we miss his voice, his laugh and the way he saw the world and especially his big spirit of love and gratitude. He’s taught me so much about how to live in this world. And so have you. If you have a minute watch this video and meet Andrew. Love, Mindy

    • January 15, 2014 - 10:33 am

      brookeshaden - I absolutely love it Mindy – brought tears to my eyes <3ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2014 - 7:14 am

    Lisa Lizarraga - I ask myself on a yearly basis: “If i were to die tomorrow what would i regret?” that question helps me to put so much in perspective. I now spend almost all my time pursuing my passions and loving the ones i love. I have finally learned what is most important in my life and what is not. At this point in my life there is finally a good answer to my question…nothing.ReplyCancel

  • December 10, 2014 - 4:45 pm

    Mickael Fjaere - so beautiful Brooke, I always tell my mom how I feel and how much I love her, I also do some tributes to her time to time… life is so unpredictable and fragile… just cried watching this… thanks for sharing… Its so important to show how we feel, both ways… you are truly an inspiration, not just as an artiste, but has a person… A big hug, MickaelReplyCancel

  • October 3, 2018 - 8:59 pm

    Linda - Thank you for this reminderReplyCancel

My new year has been hectic. On January 2nd I drove to Los Angeles, prepped for a retreat I was hosting, and attended a gallery show. The next 3 days I taught the retreat. The day after that I filmed an educational DVD. That night I took a redeye to NYC, shot the whole next day, and then flew home the next morning. Now I’m home and looking back on my first week of the new year and I feel two things:

I am grateful, and I am stressed.

I value calm. I value being centered and balanced. Being busy is great because it is often a sign of life moving forward. But sometimes we put too much value on being busy. I am guilty of this. I send out a tweet listing all the things I have to do. I let others know that my life is constantly moving…and why? To compensate for something? To make my life seem bigger than it is?

I don’t value being busy in this way. I don’t like doing things for the sake of doing them. I am most inspired when I am home with my other half. I am most calm when I can sit and think and write and shoot and edit. I am most inspired when I’m not rushing around airports or scheduling the next thing in my week.

I think that we put too much emphasis on how busy we are, but not on how productive we are. Have you ever heard someone list all the things they had to do in their day? Often it will start with: Well I got out of bed at 6 o’clock, and then I put clothes on, and then I drove to the coffee shop and ordered coffee for my coworkers, and then I had to be at work by 8…

And all of that listing to say that someone drank coffee and went to work.

I am guilty of this. I hear people talk like this. And that is okay – we are all feeling stressed at some point and we all need someone to say that they understand, or that you’re doing a great job. But at what point do we start to place real value in those lists, to the point that having a lot to do is more valuable than the things you’re actually doing? At what point does our stock in being busy outweigh the actual living of life?

One of my goals for this year is to not be as busy. It might mean I make less money. That is something I would have to accept. It might mean that I make fewer “industry connections”, but does that really matter? I’m not one for networking, I’m one for living. Being busy is great, but to a certain point. Everyone has their own idea of how busy is too busy, and now more than ever I know my limits.

If I looked back on my life would I be able to say that I lived it exactly as I dreamed? No, probably not. And not because I am unhappy in any way, but simply I feel the need to be home more. I feel the need to spend more valuable time with my loved ones, and treasure that time in the moment. We all put emphasis on different things that are important to us. Being busy should never be something we put emphasis on, but instead it should be about the things that keep us busy – our passions – that we feel most connected to.

What are your thoughts on being busy? Are you too busy or not busy enough? What is something that you think you could use more of in your life to feel more fulfilled?


  • January 12, 2014 - 8:49 am

    Natalia Pek - I always find my life is not as busy as I expected. I really do wish to be more busy than I’m now and be more productive, however, i don’t really know what comes ahead. Plans changed and other things happened.

    Well, anyways, I still grateful for what I did now and will keep developing myself to a better one 😀ReplyCancel

    • January 12, 2014 - 8:52 am

      brookeshaden - I love your spirit Natalia! To let things happen and take it as it comes.ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 8:50 am

    Tara Denny - I understand. I am not a busy person and I keep it that way, because once my schedule fills up, no matter what it is with, I start to feel like my time is being stolen from me. I keep my life pared down to the necessities, work, family, art. If I have to keep appointments and run errands, it stresses me out. This is how I know I could never live your life, glamorous as it sounds. I’d go mad. 🙂

    Love the image Brooke, and love the inspiration!

    • January 12, 2014 - 8:51 am

      brookeshaden - Tara, I feel just the same way – As though sometimes time is being stolen. And you know what? The biggest thing in my life combating that right now is this blog. I get to sit here and read comments that make me swell with joy and know that this is my peaceful place, so thank you for writing <3ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 9:04 am

    Lieke Anna - I think it’s also because people think that if you are busy, you are succesfull. Succes is not based on how busy you are, but may be seen that way by others. If you have a day without plans or meetings, does that mean that you have no succes? Absolutely not, of course not! And I think that it’s more to do with what people from the outside see as succes, it does not equal being busy áll the time. I am sometimes super busy, but in my head, planning all the ideas, shoots and edits. Ordering your thoughts, that’s also being busy.
    But of course it is good to be busy, but the thing is to not let it get to you. Take the time you need, don’t rush it, that is a lesson I’ve learned in the past year. You can’t do áll the things on your list in one week, you’ll have to plan and stop it from overwhelming you. Well that’s kind of my thoughts on being busy. I love the way you address these kinds of things that all of us can relate to and we can help eachother out with how we think and see these things, <3!ReplyCancel

    • January 12, 2014 - 9:06 am

      brookeshaden - I love your thoughts Lieke – they mirror mine at the moment, trying to internalize all of these things and take them to heart 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 9:06 am

    Gary Blinn - Love the image above. Just normal life with work and family is often hectic. With yoga and meditation I can ground myself. I find just being me for 15 or 20 minutes can put life in perspective.ReplyCancel

    • January 12, 2014 - 9:08 am

      brookeshaden - Gary I love that – “just being me” – what a great thing to do that we surprisingly forget about.ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 9:10 am

    Julie Ray - Brooke, this really speaks to me. Over a year ago, I left a good paying job because I was so unhappy there. In doing so I had to sell my beloved BMW, cut down on shopping sprees, and focus more on what makes me happy. Although I would love to be a little more busier in my photography business, I know that it will fall in place one day. As long as I have my camera, any other material things just aren’t important to me anymore.
    xoxoxo JulieReplyCancel

    • January 12, 2014 - 9:12 am

      brookeshaden - I hear that Julie, for sure. You do seem happy and I am so glad for that. It can be so hard to leave what you know behind – good for you for being so brave!ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 9:11 am

    Russ Turner - Thank you for the insightful post. Love the image too! The issue of busy versus downtime has been at the forefront of my life for many years: There was a time when life was difficult even though I wasn’t busy at all. A dear friend advised that instead of focusing on the things that weren’t working, concentrate on putting my energy into the world and see what comes back. It was good advice and many wonderful things have flowed from keeping that perspective.

    I do find it to be a constant struggle to find the right balance. Sometimes I’m not busy enough and feel that I’m wasting time and then I over-schedule and find myself too busy without a moment to myself. I think the key for me (and my challenge) is making sure that when I’m busy, I’m doing things that are rewarding, positive and uplifiting. That way even if I am constantly on the go, and don’t have a moment to sit and reflect and recharge, my energy is being spent in a good way and will ultimately flow back.ReplyCancel

    • January 12, 2014 - 9:13 am

      brookeshaden - I completely identify with you Russ – I am learning the same lesson, that when I am busy (which I am always grateful for), I need to be doing the types of things that keep me feeling positive and fulfilled. Thank you so much for writing, I appreciate it a lot!ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 9:16 am

    Charlotte Key - My problem is I’m plenty busy but not productive enough! I am a perfectionist and if an image I create doesn’t meet my “standards”, I abandon it and start over. I need to relax more and take my time, otherwise it isn’t any fun.
    I’ve been concerned about you Brooke, that you are working too much and stretching yourself thin. We all love you and your work.ReplyCancel

    • January 12, 2014 - 9:18 am

      brookeshaden - I hear that Charlotte! And wow thank you for saying that! I had no idea that anyone noticed, which might sound silly, but still…I appreciate it so. I am extremely happy literally all the time so I’m good, just need to spend more time at home feeling centered 🙂 I’ve got a couple trips coming up that I get to have a lot of fun on, so I’m pretty excited about the future.ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 9:21 am

    Rukmini Poddar - your point of being productive over being busy…is profound. Thank you for writing this and sharing your insight. I really love what you have to say and it’s something I definitely need to hear. It’s actually such a gift to be busy with what I love..every day. But I need to see it that way and not allow myself to become overwhelmed by it. And also not allow myself to always bring it up publically with people in order to compensate and make my life seem more exciting than it is.

    feel the peace, but also live in the heat of the moment and focus on how i can further improve my productivity…:) These are great meditations for the new year. Thank you, Brooke!ReplyCancel

    • January 12, 2014 - 9:23 am

      brookeshaden - I completely understand everything of what you said and yes, great to be busy with what you love, but always good to remember to stay centered.ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 9:26 am

    Delphine Millet - I am always worried about not doing enough. When I shot one photo by week, I wanted to shoot 2 and then when I shot 2, I wanted 3. And then I want to do something different, I want to expose my work … To being busy is to have the impression of doing something with my life. But every time I’m alone, I doubt. Where do I go? What am I doing with my life? Why it takes so long? I am not enjoying the travel, by being busy I focus on the end of the road. We have the impression that when everything will be done, we will be happy but no, we will find something else wrong which needs to be fix or done.

    You post reminds me the important : to do what I love to do and stop worrying about what others would think.ReplyCancel

    • January 12, 2014 - 9:28 am

      brookeshaden - You have no idea how much I agree with this. It doesn’t matter if we cross everything off of our to-do list…we will find more to fill it.ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 9:32 am

    Kate Barry - I hit the pause button about 3 months ago by quitting my full time job in retail. It’s been the most interesting time of my life and I’m learning so much about myself every day. I still have a distance to go yet but it’s all part of life’s journey. I’m so pleased that I see your blog and the community you have built up because I feel like it speaks directly to me and is a beacon of light showing me that I’m on the right path and that I’m not the only person who feels like this! Thank you 🙂ReplyCancel

    • January 12, 2014 - 9:34 am

      brookeshaden - Oh Kate wow, how amazing of you!! To be on this journey of finding yourself. I always have to remind myself to do the same, no matter what is going on: to take time daily to remember that this is all a journey and we can make the most of it. Thank you for your kind words – they are cherished.ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 9:40 am

    Alexandra - I want to get out of the house! There’s no “thinking” here…too much noise…LOLReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 9:50 am

    Bettye Rainwater - I think the human spirit has such a strong natural tendency for ONWARD & UPWARD – do more, do better. Do more. It can be hard to step back from that and reflect on what we really *want* from life – AND to understand that what we want will continue to change as we go through life.

    I think the greatest year of my life was when a job suddenly up and ended, leaving me jobless. I spent the next two years getting by by the skin of my teeth BUT – had all the free ME time I’d always dreamed of. And that was wonderful. I’m still paying the price financially (ha), and yet I still feel that was the greatest time in my life.

    Now I’m WORKING towards getting back to a similar place (mucho debt dictates that I must work for the man for now)…but…yeah. That year I had time to THINK. and DREAM. and REFLECT. and TRY. Things I don’t have or make the time for now. I struggle w unplugging and having thoughtful time. But I struggle Onward & Upward 🙂 and I hope that someday I’ll find the balance.

    I hope you do, too.ReplyCancel

    • January 12, 2014 - 9:52 am

      brookeshaden - That is so wonderful that you had that time to reflect, and that now you know yourself better than ever. How inspiring!ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 10:04 am

    Vanessa Powell - I think lately for me, busy has been under the microscope for a while. My life is compartmentalized in little boxes of doing. There’s all these pieces of my creative and ‘real’ life that seem to not want to mesh and being busy sometimes feels like running from corner to corner of my life straightening up the boxes so that nothing tips or, heaven forbid, falls and then they all come crashing along.

    It’s one of my goals as well, Brooke, to be less ‘busy’ and more productive and reflective. I feel like when I am too busy, trying to hold on to too much, that my art suffers, and I suffer. My heart can see what it wants to see and I am stifled, frustrated and moody. That’s no way to live a life, and it’s certainly no way to encourage creativity.

    I’ll be slowing down this year, and beyond. Savoring and paying attention. As usual, your inspiration comes at a wonderful time.ReplyCancel

    • January 12, 2014 - 10:09 am

      brookeshaden - Yes I understand that all too well. We can encourage each other this year, periodically checking in to make sure we aren’t doing too much…and perhaps even knocking a few less needed boxes over from time to time 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 10:11 am

    Amani - That is such a beautiful picture! I don’t think I’ve seen it before. I love it.

    I’m wondering – you mention that being at home is what you need at the moment, but I also know that sharing your work and interacting with people makes you happy (and also keeps you busy), so does that mean you’ll be doing less of one thing that makes you happy to be able to do more of what makes you.. happier?
    If that doesn’t make sense at all, just ignore me haha.

    Sometimes I feel like I’m too busy, and other times I feel like I’m not doing what I want to be doing. I’d never quit my job, but it does come in the way of something I’m more passionate about (photography). That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy it though. There are days when I wake up and think, I’d much rather go out and shoot than go to work. But I try to make up for that by shooting later in the day or in the weekends. I think I just need to find some sort of balance, which I know is attainable, but I’m still struggling with it – because one of my other passions is reading. So between work, shooting, and editing, it’s hard to fit in reading time. Also, I really need to get back to exercising. Oh god, typing all that made me anxious! hahaReplyCancel

    • January 12, 2014 - 11:04 am

      brookeshaden - Hi Amani! Hehe I hear what you’re saying. I adore all of it…and that is why it is such a hard choice to make. I love interactions. But I need fewer yet more meaningful interactions. So I’ll be traveling less, but trying to make sure that my time spent out and about is more rewarding for everyone involved. This is one of the main reasons why I put short workshops on hold this year and am only hosting retreats – it allows for more time to connect, so that my trips are spent more meaningfully.

      Don’t be anxious!! Celebrate the fact that you understand what your passions are. Not everyone does. You will find the time, just like you do for photography. I have all the faith in the world when it comes to you.ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 10:12 am

    Tawna Brown - Where do I even begin? I relate 100% to this busy-ness. That has been my life for many years, and I’m not so sure i’m very proud of it. I’m always on the go, full-time job and trying to expand my photography business on the side (which would be during most of my “free time”). I’m always traveling, for work and pleasure… Traveling and photography are two of my greatest passions, so as soon as one trip is finished, i am thinking about the next…. And when I come back from a trip, I usually have tons of images to review and edit… And I spend all of this time doing that, and what do I do with them? For the most part, nothing except post a selection on Facebook. All that time just to post on Facebook, when a random handful of people might actually take the time to look at them and comment. (I know FB is not the way to go…and I’ve been wanting to build a website and start a blog as well, and even though I think about these to-do list items all the time, I keep getting distracted with a million other “little” things.

    So it’s also about choices….what I choose to “invest/spend” my time on… I would rather “invest” than “spend” time, as it is a valuable, non-renewable resource. Once it is gone, it is gone. I can’t get a 2nd job to “earn” extra spending time. I need to focus my attention on priorities and not get distracted by “busy-work” (work that really gets me no where, and is a time-spender). And in order to do this, I need to really know what my priorities are. But…this requires me to slow down and think differently, and I don’t know how to slow down.

    Just the mere “thinking” makes me busy, it preoccupies me from other things. I am a walking to-do list. I will go from the kitchen to the front door, and the to-do list is running in my mind; it is going non-stop. I have to-do list notes on the kitchen counter, on my computer screen, in my calendar and written on my hand. I guess feel a sense of accomplishment when I can cross things off my list; I can actually see it on paper…but what if those things are taking away from the more important things that i want to accomplish? That’s what is happening.

    The more important things sometimes are bigger to-do items (like building a website)….and I don’t even know where to start…so instead of moving forward with that task/project, as long as I have other things on my to-do list in the meantime (and i always will), I will shelve the website (the important thing) and wash the floors, or go to the store to pick up paper towel, or take the recycables out. I will do this, because I can see the results of my efforts much more quickly…I can see things crossed off my list. While the website and blog still remain….

    I could write forever on this subject. But I should stop now and pour my cup of coffee. Thank you for getting me to think about this, as it reinforces for me that time is ticking away, and I’d rather be investing that time than spending it during this one and only precious life I have to live. I want to feel full at the end, not empty. I want to make it count. (PS- I’d love to be at your France workshop! Maybe you’ll have another like that one??)

    Wishing you a wonderful, productive, fulfilling Sunday!ReplyCancel

    • January 12, 2014 - 11:01 am

      brookeshaden - Tawna, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. They were very insightful and really made me think. I am guilty of the same things.

      When you do finish that website of yours (I’m cheering you on!!) show us all here..I know I’d love to see!ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 11:24 am

    David Cortez - As someone who feels like they started late in the game, I understand what it means to feel busy. I wonder now, if being busy is being productive, and if I’m even going in the right direction. I often find myself contemplating that direction and the speed at which I’m operating. I feel like I’m always playing catch up. I think that at a young age, we are taught that hard work equals success; that not being busy is being lethargic. We are children of clay, molded by our parents and society to believe what we are told and what we observe. Breaking the mold is not an easy task unless we’re vigilant.

    There’s always something left to do, isn’t there? We wake up and see our world around us and feel driven to do more. That unfinished task, that unrealized goal, the can haunt us if we think too much on them. Robert Browning once said, “A man’s (or woman’s) reach should exceed his grasp.” I think we’re forever reaching and being busy doesn’t mean we will ever catch up, nor should it. What makes a person great is not keeping busy but mastering (inasmuch as possible) those endeavors which become priority when we realize we are happiest when doing them. I think.

    I have to tell myself sometimes, that I can’t do everything. That will not fulfill my life, but rather, getting really good at something and having the time to enjoy with my wife and my family, will. I think you’re on to something.

    I met you in Laguna at your gallery, you seemed like a genuinely sweet and amazing person. Soon as the gallery filled up though I did notice it got a little stressful. I understand now why you love shooting in nature so much. It’s therapeutic, calming, and when anyone is at ease, they seem to perform much better.

    Thank you for the inspiration, best wishes,

    • January 12, 2014 - 11:28 am

      brookeshaden - David, thank you so much for these thoughts. It was amazing getting to meet you the other week. Thank you for being there. Yes, I believe that we all need to be in touch with what our passions are, and realize fully how to live out those passions in a happy way.ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 11:27 am

    Faran Khan - I think you are right when you said we usually pretend that we are more busy than we actually are.But weighing the productive output against the time we keep ourselves busy determines the prime reason of that particular time spent, which ultimately defines us who we are, and what are our priorities. Definitely if those are the things that gives us inner peace and satisfaction then its worth time spending for.ReplyCancel

    • January 12, 2014 - 11:29 am

      brookeshaden - Yes Faran I agree with you – how we spend our time is how we are perceived, and so this debate of being busy vs. being calm can be one that ultimately makes us feel our worth.ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 12:08 pm

    Tony - Your blogs are like therapy, asking the obvious questions that most of us have to think about.
    I have learnt to appreciate ‘me time’ and make sure I have enough of it.
    You have such a wise head on young shoulders, I now use the phrase ‘Work to Live’ rather than ‘Live to Work’. I too enjoy being outside in the fresh air and nature as relaxation. Getting the work / life balance correct is very tricky. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 12:39 pm

    Paulo Carvalho - Well! If I am not doing anything, I get stressed. But if I have to do immense things in one day, then also get stressed. So, I always look for the balance between the job, being with family and friends, to practice my hobbies and sleep. I do not dispense, a few good hours of sleep. Sleeping is my time to reenergize. It is certain that I could occupy most of my time making money with all the projects I have in mind. But for me the most important is also to be with those we love and have time for other things. For me happiness is like a cooking recipe. All the good recipes need good ingredients and to me, photography, to practice mountain bike, running, cooking and being with friends and family are my ingredients for happiness. And that is how I occupy myself 24 hours a day.ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 2:00 pm

    Margherita Introna - Thank you for this post Brooke <3 It puts in words my thoughts and feelings in a profound way. Last year was a painfully sad year for me as I lost my father and six months later my brother, but 2013 also taught me that life is fragile and life is too short. It has made me take a good long look at my life and made me realize that I must change my focus. I have a very good job that I really enjoy… but it comes with so much stress and too often I have felt I am running on empty. I such an emotional person that I take the stress so much to heart and they weigh so heavy on me. I am so tired of feeling this constant stress on myself. I need to do those things that feed my soul. Yes, this will mean less money perhaps, but what is the point of money if one does not have the time or energy to enjoy what it can bring… It is strange as I was just speaking to my mom today about many of these thoughts… And my plan is that within the next 2 years, I plan to resign and do photography full time. I wish with all my heart I could do it immediately, but there are complications and priorities that hold this back… but my heart has made the decision and I know now it is the right one <3ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 3:27 pm

    Dominic Panico - I grew up with a busy family. My mother spends her life working so she can make a better life for her children and I think growing up watching this has caused myself to not feel “fulfilled” unless I always have busyness in my life.

    I don’t agree with this way of living and I battle myself everyday to just feel successful by just enjoying a simple day off. I go to school full time, work at a studio full time and run my own photography/videography business on the side. Some days I hate how much I am running around, but when I think about it, I question if I will fall back into that slump of not feeling accomplished If I am not running around like a mad man.

    Again, I don’t agree with this because the whole point of living is to experience the world, love, and share it with people. Not only working (being busy) so you can get that quick feeling of accomplishment that will just fade in a couple days. It is hard to snap out of that mentality, but a goal I am working towards in 2014.ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 3:28 pm

    Vanessa - I also got to the point where work and daily busy-life was overwhelming any form of creative expression, so I pushed back and took more time for me. For me, it was an issue of balance. In 2013, I swung too far left, and convinced myself that the time I was being lazy and accomplishing nothing was actually much needed rest. It really tuned out to be equally frustrating as the busy/spinning my wheels mentality had been. Personally, I need structure to maintain productivity, or either of those extremes can occur. This year I’m focusing on creative productivity and balance for my photography, baking, and some writing on the side. I’d like to keep each element alive and productive, because they all make me happy, but I’m definitely going to have to prioritize and stay on top of that to maintain it! It’s a challenge, but I look forward to tackling it, growing as an artist, and having a happy life for it all!ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 3:44 pm

    Brian - I used to be busy at what I wanted to busy at; now I’m just busy. I wish I could be busy again at what I want to be busy at. That, of course, is photography.ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 4:20 pm

    Kim - Hello dear Brooke,
    I feel like I am on a roundabout that I want to get off. It has not always been like this for me.
    I lived for 14 years ‘on the road’ where I lived each moment as it came. The importance then was pretty much the same as now keeping warm, feeding our family (not always relations), being healthy and happy. But before we took hours, fetching and chopping wood. Going on the water run to fill butts. Working on farms to earn money as needed by choice. Cooking what we had bought or found. We travelled through some really hard times but; time was spent with others, talking, laughing, dancing and generally feeling free just to be.
    As the children grew older it became necessary to remain in one place and henceforth, for ease and hot water I now live in a house. But I find now I am driven by the cost of living. I love being busy, working, helping others. What I do not like is that I feel these days I am going round and round without getting anywhere. I feel unstimulated so I seek out more to do or fill my time with. But I rarely draw (which I love) or run barefoot (which I love too) even just ‘be me’. In essence I don’t feel free.
    I think that years ago I would have ‘tatted down’ and moved on to pastures new. I wish life was just more ‘simple’.
    ps: I am still dancing like a crazy person at every opportunity <3ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 5:34 pm

    Brian - Beautiful image by the way. Love it.ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 7:24 pm

    Rocio Martinez - WOW. I had never seen that image. It’s stunning. Your work surprises me every single time…even though I shouldn’t be surprised by now! HAHA.

    I think that I have a little bit of both worlds. I’ve been out of college for almost 4 years. I loved school and I loved being busy and always learning new things. I had different jobs off and on but I haven’t worked in a “real” job for about two years. I’ve mostly been a stay at home wife. My husband works A LOT…so much so that he is at work almost every weekend; so, I’m usually alone at home or visiting my mother. She lives about 2 minutes away from us. I am with my mom a lot. I usually help her at her house and help her watch my nephew about three times a week. I’m over at her house 4 or 5 days per week and the rest of the time I’m home. Since I started photography, I’ve spent a lot of my free time studying photography and lately, trying to build up my business.

    For the last 6 or 7 months though, I’ve had my mind on the fine art photography group. It’s become such an amazing community that most of my days are spent doing things for the group and researching to build the organization that I have previously told you about. It’s ridiculous because I am ALWAYS online…even while doing chores, even while with my mother, even while watching tv or playing video games with my husband. The group keeps me so busy that I don’t even pay enough attention to building my business. It has become my full time job and my life. It’s absolutely overwhelming. My family has noticed and have even told me that I need to do something to start making some money from this.

    Sometimes, I feel bored because I do nothing else…but I am busy all the time. I just wish that I could travel more and like you talked about in your previous post…have more one on one human connections. Hopefully, the organization will end up leading me towards that.ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 5:29 am

    Beata Rydén - I can just say that I´m thinking a lot about balance this year. My main goal is to find balance during this year. Not working too much or too little, but finding the perfect balance between work, social time, alone time, exercise, rest and so on. I hope that I will make it 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 7:50 am

    Michelle Baisa - You always make me think, Brooke. I love that. I, too, am busy. I make myself busier than I need to be. I have what I think is often that wife/mother’s idea that I must get everything on my to-do list done. Today. That, unfortunately, often bumps out my creative time. One of my goals this year is to NOT allow my creativity to be pushed to the back burner. I absolutely need to balance the things important to me and that includes my photography. It gives me joy which I know will invade the other areas of my life making living ALL of it that much more wonderful!ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 8:38 am

    Joshua Pheneger - I feel as though the world is a monster who feeds on my free time, devouring every second that I can spare towards furthering my art.

    It is extremely frustrating to only want to create beautiful images, yet get bogged down with the details of what needs to be done at work, what needs to be made for dinner, when were the bathrooms last cleaned, where do I need to be and when, and for whom?

    Yet when I do have those spare moments I tend to waste them. I hide behind my fears, I make excuses, I lie to myself and say that I can’t do it alone. I think I make myself busy on purpose, so I have more time to avoid the things that scare me. Yet another thing that I need more time to change.ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 6:33 pm

    Tell a Story | Decent Exposure - […] Less lawn mowing, more adventures. Metaphorically and literally. See Brooke Shaden’s recent blog on busy-ness. Don’ confuse being busy with accomplishing anything worthwhile. I have a theory that every […]ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2014 - 2:09 am

    Ashley - I am a very busy person, but sadly it’s a busy in a way I feel is not good for me. Instead of being busy working on my passions, making my life what I want it to be, and spending it with the people I love; my life is filled with rushing around a job I sometimes enjoy and bills I can not afford. This year I wish to change my hectic busy into a busy for me.ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2014 - 11:39 am

    Crackle - Ahhh ms ancient soul in young physical form! You have found the golden bullet!! Nail on the head. The retreat home to Nz last year gave me peace and space the lifestyle here in the USA is definitely driven by the focus of productive over contemplative I find. Rush rish means busy means productive and contributing. As this has seeped back into our lives I am craving the peace, famy time and creative thoughts I began to feel returning. A renewal of energy and inspiration can only happen for me when I carve this space back out and it’s harder and harder when I look at the list of have tos and need tos so what I do is literally this year I blocking off time for peace. I block out time for family and I am getting up thirty minutes earlier to have time to write.
    Thank you for so clearly expressing thoughts that I share. Love your light and I believe your year will be richer in all the important things for pursuing this. And from that you will find the financial coffers fuller as your soul will be to xoxReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2014 - 1:39 pm

    Tara Eveland - I just now had the chance to read this post, I was BUSY this weekend, but not in the ‘usual’ way my family remembers of last year. BUSY on the weekends for me has meant for the last 2 years, taking studio work and spending 8-12 hours a day in studio or office, all weekend long, working on other families shoots.
    Not that I don’t love that, but I told my family, and myself, when I embarked on my inspiration journey as I call it, that I was going to spend 2014 being less ‘busy’. So, I’ve limited myself to 2 clients a MONTH now, and this past weekend was spent out of town at a childrens museum, a mall, the park, and all with MY family. It was just awesome.
    I am so happy you are the one that inspired this journey of mine, I am so happy to be shooting ‘stock’ after ‘stock’ in my studio that is for my own use. My daughter is loving it as she is my model for most of my new series ‘cracks’, and I am also teaching her some photography along the way. We also cleaned and rearranged the studio to better suit MY goals for this year and what I want to shoot.
    I am only into January and praying every night that I am the winner of the essay contest and given help and a spot to come to your creative live class and that chance to spend time picking your brain and just talking with you, getting to know you from more than just a computer, or a webcast (which was awesome of you and lyndsy to do by the way, the interaction personally was something I really enjoyed! and laughed when you almost blew away at the end)
    But yes, I can totally relate to this post. Last year I was always on Facebook updating my clients on the ‘lineup’ of edits, when the custom albums would be done, constantly marketing myself and trying to get referrals, and the relief from that and the joy in creating for myself is so amazing.
    so im busy making memories with my children this year, and busy on my inspiration journey 🙂 lovin it! best wishes as always God bless you, and please slow down girl! I really want to meet you but it cant be healthy with the schedule you’re keeping!ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2014 - 6:59 am

    Lisa Lizarraga - I think i am finally in the perfect place in my life. I have the things and loved ones i want surrounding me and i am pursuing my passions on a daily basis. I love a simple life filled with what fills the soul, i am such a fortunate person. Gratitude is mine everyday. I wish this feeling for you all.ReplyCancel

  • January 28, 2014 - 8:42 am

    Yu - Dear Brooke, thank you for sharing this. I cannot agree more. I have lived very busy some years of frequent travels and long hours of work. It brought me a ‘success’ in terms of social recognition and financial rewards, but not calmness and peace in mind. I realized a big (financial) success does not mean much if I do not have small success at home; having time and energy to cook for myself and loved ones, keeping my temple (home) clean and tidy, and having fun with friends. These personal activities keep me grounded and balanced…

    The challenge is that we do need to pay our bills while we pursuit our dream life, and that the world is full of busy people who admire business. I think it takes strong faith to follow our inner voice and let go of fear for not being busy.

    Calmness and peace of mind will be attained if we are free from our plans and ambitions. I have one day or half-day a week free from everyone/everything. I spend time only for myself without plans/phones. Such a mini-retreat will get me grounded and inspired again.


  • February 10, 2014 - 12:21 am

    Andrew Pelt - I just want to tell you that I am new to blogging and site-building and really savored your web-site. More than likely I’m planning to bookmark your website . You absolutely come with great well written articles. Thanks a bunch for sharing with us your website.ReplyCancel

The other day I blogged about the power of connecting with people, and I realized after writing it that I could do even more to facilitate those connections. Meeting people in person is amazing. It is intimate and heartfelt and so often it leads to bigger and better things…even if that bigger and better thing is a simple smile.

But let’s get to know each other here. I want you to answer 3 questions with as much heart as you can – with honesty and conviction.

What is your worst quality?

What is your best quality?

Why do I bother asking? Many reasons. I want to get to know people. I want to feel like I know more than what their pictures look like or what they ate for breakfast. I want to be aware of my best and worst qualities so that I might fix the ones that are bad and utilize the good. I want to meet people in person and online and put my best quality forward.

Personal growth comes from understanding who you are and who you want to be, and making changes for the better.

Describe yourself in 5 words.

I believe that we can embrace one another and grow and change. I am willing to bet that so many of our bad qualities intersect, and even in the negative we can identify positivity.

My worst quality: My inability to handle stress and how I take that out on others.

My best quality: My ability to see life as an ever-changing adventure with a positive spin.

5 words: Introverted, inspired, creative, motivated, nervous.

Celebrate the BEST in you! Do not deny the worst – understand it, and move past it. The sooner you know who you are, the sooner you can become who you want to be. 

  • January 10, 2014 - 7:50 am

    stephanie - My worst quality:
    the way i talk to people i love. “it’s not what you say it’s how you say it” constantly working on this one.

    My best quality:
    ability to adapt to change.

    5 words:
    creative. passionate. honest. silly. perfectionist.ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:52 am

      brookeshaden - Stephanie, I so identify with you. Specifically, your worst quality. Isn’t it amazing how we can be so lovely to strangers but when it comes to people we are closest to, it all falls apart? I am so guilty of this in so many ways. It becomes easy to take them for granted and believe they won’t be going anywhere, when the truth is we can never know how soon someone will be taken from us. I feel freshly motivated to make that quality in myself better – thank you for saying it.ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 9:03 am

      aniya - HI all!!

      best quality – im kind. i care, i have a soft spot for people.

      Worst? so connected to the first – i am a HUGE people pleaser. i will hurt myself, to not hurt others. i ALWAYS put others before me.

      5 words: creative, smiler, emotional, timid, motherReplyCancel

      • January 10, 2014 - 9:08 am

        brookeshaden - People pleaser – I hear that! Awww, smiler 🙂 I love it!ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 11:54 am

      Sandra - My Worst Quality: I am such an introvert and I am shy which makes it hard to have confidence in my work.
      My Best Quality: I always want to take care of people. Which can be related to my worst quality because I care too much about what other people think.

      5 words: Introvert, Inspired, Creative, Quiet, ThinkerReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2014 - 2:52 pm

      barbara - My worst quality: low self-esteem, I worry too much about what others might think of me, impatience
      My best quality: loyal, caring, enjoying little moments
      5 words: shy, imaginative, dreamer, nerdy, anxious
      Thanks for being an Inspiration Brooke! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 7:51 am

    Tycho - Best: Socialable, loyal, reliable, punctual, creative
    Worst: jealous, negative self-image, lazy, doubtfulReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:53 am

      brookeshaden - Tycho, I love how you said punctual – something that I bet not a lot of people think about but means a whole ton to me!ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:56 am

      Tycho - To me it means the world. I really dislike waiting for appointments, Waiting for a bus that’s running late, waiting for a friend who overslept. All I can do is try to make sure people generally speaking don’t have to wait for me. It’s really not that hard in my opinion. I rather be half an hour early than 5 minutes late.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 7:52 am

    Samm Bate - My worst quality is my nose!! haha also how i look at things. Everythings half empty to me.

    My best quality is how i push and take on board all criticism and make my modelling work to high standard!

    5 words: Anxious, Motivated, inspired, open and hardworkingReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:54 am

      brookeshaden - Samm, your 5 words are mine too! I feel the same. And your nose?!?! I grew up thinking I had the worst nose, but eh, now I turn to the side to take pictures to show it off ;-DReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:56 am

      Samm Bate - aha! same really and to prove those wrong who believe i can’t do it. I can do it, i have the motivation and will push myself until i succeed like you 100% have!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 7:52 am

    firoz - My worst quality:sometimes i lack faith in my work .

    My best quality:letting go of old things and embracing new things.

    5 words:moody,.smiling,shy,daydream,inspiredReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:55 am

      brookeshaden - Aww I love that you can let go of old things. It’s amazing how much that can hold people back. I have a friend like that, who can’t let anything go, and while I always want to lecture about how things are just things, they mean something different to everyone. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:56 am

      Samm Bate - aha! same really and to prove those wrong who believe i can’t do it. I can do it, i have the motivation and will push myself until i succeed like you 100% have!ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:56 am

      Samm Bate - sorry didn’t mean to reply on here ahha!ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:01 am

      firoz - my brother changed my perspective of things by his words “things are meant to be used and not loved but people in life are meant to be loved and not used “ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 7:58 am

    firoz - I was in depression and didnt picked up the camera for almost a year……i undervalued my work so much that now i feel sorry for it….but soon my life took turn and one day i felt that enough is enough , no one is going to respect me or my work if i dont respect it myself…….and it sparked me once again… i have new goals and many plans for 2014….. brook you have a big role in inspiring me…..i read your blog more than i watched your pictures ….. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:59 am

      brookeshaden - I am so relieved to hear that you are creating new goals and dreams for this year. I think that we all fear losing our passion, and I am so happy that you’re finding what makes you happy again.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:00 am

    Eric Yagoda - My worst quality:I am very cynical
    My best quality: I am extremely compassionate
    5 words: kind,passionate,intuitive,steady,curiousReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:02 am

      brookeshaden - Eric, I used to share that “worst quality” with you. It has taken me years to let it go. I love that you are compassionate. That is exactly the trait I tried to use to get rid of the cynicism 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:00 am

    Ninon - My worst quality would be how easily my mood can change: one day, I’m all about loving the world, being optimistic… and the next day it seems that everything is dark and nonsense. This is exhausting, not only for me, but for the people who know me and live with me.

    My best quality would be to be able to chill about so called important things, and to really let it be, or let it go.

    My five words would be: sensitive, empathetic, genuine, anxious and different.ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:03 am

      brookeshaden - Ninon, I am guilty of the same…Sometimes I wake up in a mood and I’m not sure why. I have gotten so much better about combating that, but I am definitely one of those whose mood can change quickly. I blame it on hunger 😛ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:01 am

    Carla Paton - My worst quality: My insecurity and how i let it control what i achieve in life.

    My best quality: My ability to see the world with love and sometimes seeing the details that others can miss.

    5 words: Creative, Emotional, Empathetic, Curious, Scared.ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:04 am

      brookeshaden - Aww Carla, I love your best quality. That is an amazing thing to be able to do. I often find myself shrieking about how amazing the clouds are when no one else sees it. Life is about details <3ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:03 am

    Rocio Martinez - My worst quality: I would mention several but since it’s the worst…it would be…stressing out so much all the time that I have a serious/sad face most of the time.

    My best quality: Again…I would mention several but the best I can think of right now is… Loving passionately and with hope!

    5 words: Passionate, Introverted, Listener, Spiritual, OpenReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:06 am

      brookeshaden - Rocio, your best quality is what I have already come to know and love about you, through the few interactions we’ve had. I completely agree 🙂ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:14 am

      Rocio Martinez - Awee, thank you! <3ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:16 am

      Carla Paton - Thank you Brooke.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:03 am

    Julie Ray - Best quality: passionate about everything I do

    Worst quality: Impatient and sometimes too serious

    5 words: Maternal, kind, soulful, animal lover, creatorReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:06 am

      brookeshaden - Aww Julie yes I agree – maternal, and creator. Yes 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:13 am

    Dottie - My worst quality: Having faith isn’t something that comes easily to me. My first instinct is usually to feel like something isn’t going to work out or people (including myself) won’t live up to something. Constant work in progress. Trying to retrain my brain!

    My Best Quality: I feel very passionately about things. To me, if it’s worth caring about, do so with gusto! This isn’t always a welcomed quality…but I’m glad I keep it in my pocket 🙂

    5 Words: Caring, Curious, Passionate, Loving, ImaginativeReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:17 am

      brookeshaden - Dottie, what an amazing thing to point out about not having faith. I think that is something that most people struggle with, the idea that something might not work out so it isn’t worth pursuing. But I love your passion, that is such an amazing thing to have.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:13 am

    Sydney Paige Richardson - Worst Quality: I put off things. I am trying to stick with a schedule this year. I am buying a giant calendar and sticking to it. When you have dreams the only way to reach them is to make yourself do it. And I need to do that. And I should probably smile more, I get comments about how I look like I am depressed or moody because of my expression – when really I am just sitting there perfectly fine and content. I need to make sure I express my feelings on the inside – on the outside.

    Best Quality: I filled this out last. Perhaps that might say something about me. I think my best quality is my imagination. I can create a story about someone, something, an object – anything – just by looking at it and be inspired. I have an almost too vivid imagination. (or so I am told)

    Describe myself in 5 words: For some reason this is hard for me. I think I need to figure out who I am. I am forcing myself to think about my qualities and my work. Even the nitty gritty stuff.
    Dreamer. Imaginative. Worrier. Contemplative. Awkward.ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:16 am

      brookeshaden - Sydney, I identify with so much of what you said. But too big an imagination – no way 🙂 It’s just perfect. I also got a big calendar for the same reason and you know what?? I forgot to hang it! Gah! So thank you for that reminder!ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:26 am

      Dottie - It’s nice to be reminded that we’re not alone in our struggles. Thank you for connecting us all to one another!ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 9:04 am

      katrine - thank you for sharing that. I totally know how you feel and trust me, you are not the only one. it’s a constant struggle for me to keep up with my stuff whilst I work and when I have time not to just sleep til I have to start the my ‘real’ work again…ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:16 am

    Kristin V. - Best Quality: My heart. I care deeply for others, It is really important to me to make others feel encouraged, loved, appreciated and acknowledged.

    Worst Quality: Lack of confidence/self esteem.

    5 Words: Caring, Empathic, Creative, Silly and loyal.ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:18 am

      brookeshaden - You DO care deeply for others, and for that, I am so grateful for you. And I am working on that worst quality. *cough* prints *cough*. XoxoReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:18 am

    Teija (Moodphoto) - I just made today some personality test… and this continues, that soul searching <3
    My worst quality impatient… there are many others… thinking too much etc, self-critisicm
    My best quality.. loving the life, and seeing the little things

    5 words… kind,passionate,creative,emotional,romanticReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:19 am

      brookeshaden - Seeing the little things <3ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:27 am

      Kristin V. - I promise, I am NOT going to brush the prints under the rug. Honestly, we both know you wouldn’t let me get away with it anyway. 😉 xoReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:18 am

    David Charles - Worst: Negative viewpoint, which I believe meditation, better diet and exercise are helping with.

    Best: Sticking up for people I love

    5 Words? Photographer with a day jobReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:19 am

      brookeshaden - That is so awesome that you are taking clear steps to eradicate your worst quality. How amazing to see change happening. Haha! I love your 5 words 😛ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:43 am

      Kimberley Yanick - Those are some AWESOME 5 words. Well played. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:19 am

    Brad Walsh - My worst quality: My inability to make a decision in a timely fashion

    My best quality: My ability to lend an ear or be a shoulder to lean on for family and friends when needed.

    5 words: shy, quiet, creative, passionate, lovingReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:20 am

      brookeshaden - Ahhh decision making…yes I know many who struggle there. Sometimes I am the opposite, too quick to make a decision only later to realize I hadn’t thought it through 😛 Your best quality is so giving and loving, and I need to adopt more of that.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:21 am

    Danielle S - My best quality is my ability to forgive!

    My worst quality is my guilty concience. It messes with everything!

    5 words describing me: shy, maternal, somber, open & dreamer.ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:25 am

      brookeshaden - Oh I love that – the ability to forgive. Such a rare thing I find, and so often when someone is forgiving, it can be to their detriment. Good for you! <3ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:22 am

    Ella Ruth - I love what you said about the power of connecting with people. How very true! There is something so enlightening and uplifting about connecting with someone new. It reminds us how big the world really is.

    Worst quality: I sometimes find it hard to be forgiving.
    Best quality: I genuinely care about people.
    5 words: Independent, creative, adventurous, loyal, a dreamer.ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:24 am

      brookeshaden - I completely agree Ella – the world is big with endless opportunities. <3 Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:23 am

    Brad Walsh - Yes see the key is find some middle ground on the decision making, not to hastily make decisions and don’t take too long because you could really miss out on something. Thank you Brooke for doing this and bringing this type of thing to the forefront, really makes you evaluate things. You are amazing Brooke!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:33 am

    Noel Yuen - Hihi(: I love your work and your blog is amazing because you will reach out to people and create a community to connect with people. It’s just really amazing getting to know different people.


    Worst quality: I get jealous easily and I think this is because of my lack of self-esteem (because of issues that have happened in the past)

    Best quality: I care about people a lot and I tend to help others and understand them. I also might go out of my way to help someone I really care about.

    5 words to describe myself: Bubbly, Optimistic, Empathetic, Crazy and Loyal

    Thanks for putting up this site<3ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:41 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you Noel! Ahhh I see myself in your worst quality. That has been my number one thing I’ve been trying to change these past few years <3ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:34 am

    Naman Verma - My worst quality: being an introvert and not interacting much with people.

    My best quality: the way i understand things and come to an appropriate conclusion.

    5 words: quiet, creative, photoholic, shy, travellerReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:41 am

      brookeshaden - Naman, always remember that being an introvert can be amazing as long as it doesn’t hinder you. I hope that you can reach out and interact while still maintaining who you are <3ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:38 am

    Marko Nadj - Best quality: I try to be friends with everyone on this planet.
    Worst quality: Unconsciously I think of me like I am better than other people.

    5 words: inspired,ambitious,bossy :/ ,impulsive,generous.ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:42 am

      brookeshaden - Wow Marko that is such an insightful thing to say, to see yourself above others…I think that most people naturally do that but never recognize it, and that is where selfishness comes in. Good for you for noticing! I love how you want to be friend with everyone, that is so awesome 🙂ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 9:22 am

      Mariela - Worst: Most times criticism brings me down instead of inspiring me to get better ,like to have control of things (things be done my way), easy to compare myself to other people.

      Best: Creative, when passional I give the best and all I got, Im super honest cant really lie.

      5 words: Magical, Insecure,Funny, Huggable, Anxious.ReplyCancel

      • January 10, 2014 - 9:26 am

        brookeshaden - I think it is great that you can’t lie. My whole family has that trait…gets us in trouble sometimes but mostly I find it refreshing. I can always ask my mom something and know I’m getting a straight answer 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:47 am

    Jen Linfield - Worst quality: I expect perfection from myself so I expect it in others too.
    Best Quality: Ferociously Loyal. My love is BIG, open and unapologetic, so if your my friend you will know it in sickness and health and until the day I die.
    5 words
    Big Hearted, Generous, Sincere, Hardworking and Compassionate.
    Geez that was harder than I thought. lol
    I enjoyed reading everyone’s honest self examinations. Have a great day everyone and focus on those 5 words because it is likely what others think of you first. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:49 am

      brookeshaden - Love what you said Jen. I am guilty of the same in having high expectations for others. I am learning to let that go a little bit so that I can enjoy life more 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 8:52 am

    Shermin T - Not Long ago I went into a teashop to buy some tea, usually I don’t talk much to the shop keeper but magically that time I did, and it appeared that she is a fashion student, and I am an aspiring fashion photographer looking for People like her, and there goes a new opportunity. Its amazing how we actually meet people sometimes, we just have to open our mouth.

    Best : Knowing what to prioritize, which allowed me to multitask

    Worst : at times my self esteem goes down and up like a roller coaster, especially before a shoot, sometimes making me feel depressed

    5 words : Dreamer, Passionate, Believer, Introvert, PerserverenceReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 8:54 am

      brookeshaden - Aww I love that. Amazing where you meet people who can change your future!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 9:02 am

    katrine - my worst: I wait to the very last minute, I guess because I want to be overly perfect, instead of doing it. which sometimes leads to not doing it at all.

    my best: my undying optimism and loyality.

    5 words: dreamer, bubbly, loyal, compassionate, ambitiousReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 9:08 am

      brookeshaden - I love a great optimistic person!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 9:15 am

    Lucia Sal - Dear Brooke, thanks for asking.

    My worst quality: Do not believe in myself.

    My best quality: My intuition is always right.

    5 words: generous, procrastinate, curious, adatable to change, hardworking.ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 9:21 am

      brookeshaden - Good intuition is a great thing to have, and to believe in!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 9:22 am

    Evelyne - I’m so in love with this blog, Brooke!

    My worst qualities: definitely my jealousy + wanting everything to be perfect

    My best qualities: appreciating life and probably my helpfulness

    Talkative, happy, enthusiastic, perfectionist, dominantReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 9:25 am

      brookeshaden - Awww thank you Evelyne! I appreciate you <3 Ahh yes, being a perfectionist. So hard to move past, yet so hard to get right ;) And you know, I really love a good helpful person. I need to be more of that.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 9:25 am

    Paulo Carvalho - Worst quality: My inability to handle stress and anxiety.
    Best quality: My ability to make friends and believing them.
    5 words: introverted, passionate, altruistic, creative, sensitive…ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 9:26 am

      brookeshaden - I am totally with you on the stress and anxiety. That has turned into my number one goal for myself this year.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 9:29 am

    Sanket Pandit - My worst quality:

    I lack consistency. If I love anything, I easily get biased.

    My best quality:

    Whatever I do, I do with total devotion.

    P.S: Your way of photography is one of the most amazing inspirations I had.ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 9:31 am

      brookeshaden - Aww I love that you throw yourself into projects, that’s great! Thank you for being so kind!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 9:31 am

    Miro - Worst: Expecting too much from myself and that leads to tons of disappointments, prolonging projects, having fear of starting new once and depression.

    Best: Passionate.

    5 words: Introverted, funny,creative, dreamer, loyal.

    Thanks for doing this. Honestly I have never tried to analyse myself in this way before and this was not easy at all and I am going to think some more on those.ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 9:39 am

      brookeshaden - I am with you on the expecting too much and feeling disappointed – we must all realize that our best is good enough. A difficult thing to do. Thank you so much for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 9:44 am

    Heather - Worst quality: Lack of punctuality. I often feel like I have no conception of time. An hour goes by, and to me feels like 10 min.
    Best quality: I am going to share two. One is that I am very passionate, and love deeply. The other is a belief in myself, that I can achieve anything I set my mind to. It hasn’t always been that way, but since discovering myself through photography, I am more confident, and motivated than ever in my life.
    5 words: passionate, dreamer, creative, intuitive, motherReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 9:45 am

      brookeshaden - Heather, that is so wonderful that you have found your best qualities through photography. What a gift you have given yourself!ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 10:00 am

      Heather - Thank you Brooke! And I must say that any time I read your blog, or facebook posts it makes me smile on the inside. You are genuine & inspirational. And I love you for it. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 9:46 am

    Libertad Leal - Oh my goodness this is so great! I loved reading what everyone has written! 🙂

    My worst quality: I can be passive and insecure therefore I let other people rule me. I also interrupt people when they talk and I absolutely hate this about myself.

    My best quality: I am kind and compassionate and always try to see the good in everyone and anything.

    5 words: kind, hardworking, joyous, emotional, fun

    (also, not sure if anyone is having this issue but the form won’t accept my website, just thought I would mention it).ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 9:51 am

      brookeshaden - That worst quality is one that I think a lot of people share at least in some situations. I have tried very hard to rid it from my body…not sure if it has worked yet! I will look into the website issue, thank you!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 9:47 am

    Amna Talaat - My worst quality: I get discouraged too easily because I expect too much from the results I’ll get after the hard work I’ve put in something, and then I don’t try again.

    My best quality: I have a very strong character and that helps me survive many situations and handle the people around me.

    5 words: honest, shy, mad, artist, humanReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 9:51 am

      brookeshaden - Oh I love that you wrote mad. And I identify with your worst – same!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 9:50 am

    Kine Bakke - My worst: i tend to think ‘i can do that tomorrow’ whenever boring things needs to be done. Then they pile up, and suck the energy right out of you as the pile grows.

    My best: I believe all people have a talent, and I encourage everyone I meet to find it and have the courage to say ‘I am good at this!’.

    Five words:
    Positive, passionate, stubborn, caring, creatingReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 9:52 am

      brookeshaden - Two wonderful points! I think I procrastinate now more than ever! Comes with being busy I think. I ADORE your best quality and wish I had more of it!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 10:05 am

    Shaun Poston - Truly touching post Brooke, as I often struggle with this same issue. But like you, when I do manage to conjure up the courage to do so, I have often found that people are just as willing to make small talk as you are once they realize there is no need to keep their guard up with you. I have actually been wanting to reach out to you to thank you and this post post was a blessing in that aspect. I have only been in the photography field for right at a year and I like many others were just stuck in the over-edited HDR phase! Lol! That was until I saw your work and interview on SLR Lounge and it was the most influential moment I have had in my short career thus far. What’s even more fascinating was the image that caught my attention was the exact image you used on your facebook page for this post, “waiting to fly.” It was definitely a sign telling me to reach out. 🙂 to make a long story short, your work and your true passion has been extremely contagious and so moving it has inspired me to lengths you couldn’t even imagine and taken my work to a completely different level. Although I have just begun my journey and am only scratching the surface thus far, because Of your inspiration, I have had the courage to put myself out there and was just invited to showcase my work at the RAW Artist event here in New Orleans and have set goals to have my work in galleries by the end of the year. I honestly had no clue I was capable of becoming so passionate about something as I am for this amazing field! Your Creative Live workshops were amazing and I can’t tell you how many times I have watched them and learn new things every time I do. Can’t wait until February! So I just really needed to write and say Thank You for all that you do. It’s amazing how you are able to have such an effect on complete “strangers” by just being who you are. So for that I am grateful! Keep doing what you are doing because you are an amazing soul!!!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 10:08 am

    Shaun Poston - I apologize! This comment was meant for the connecting flights post. I’ll repost it there. Not sure how it got switched around.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 10:14 am

    Michaela - My worst quality –
    I sat and thought about this for ten minutes, and finally decided that what I least like about myself is the way I treat others when I disagree with them, or if I’m upset about something in particular that happened to me that day. I’m struggling to find a way to release my frustration in healthy ways.

    My best quality –
    I’m happy with my mind and my point of view. On the outside, I’m very average and shy, but inside, I’m bursting with ideas and creativity. I believe my view of the world is different from most, however everyone else could just be hiding their true self, too.

    5 words that describe me –
    artistic, quiet, thoughtful, driven, dreamer

    (By the way, Brooke, I wanted to thank you for teaching me what photography is truly about. It’s more than just taking beautiful pictures. It’s an art, a form of expression, and a way to make dreams become reality. I’ve looked up to you for a long time and you’ve inspired me to become a photographer, even if the world says it’s not a good career choice. Thank you. You’ve helped me find myself.)ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 10:15 am

      brookeshaden - Michaela, wow thank you so much. I am so moved <3ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 10:22 am

    Richard Bremer - My worst quality:
    I have a tendency to talk myself down, creating unneccassary stress and anxiety and cornering myself into not taking action.

    My best quality:
    (hard one…) My love of helping people and teaching them new things

    5 words: curious, sensitive, dreamer, huggable, laid-back.

    I love reading everyones input on this one. Makes me feel sort of happy to know we are all so diverse, yet connected in love of art and/or photography.ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 10:28 am

      brookeshaden - I agree Richard, it is so nice to hear from everyone and feel like we are all connected in some way. I love that you have a love of teaching – that is such a passion of mine too.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 10:30 am

    Kimberley Yanick - Like the direction these blogs are taking. I think that as artists we grow from the work we do. It’s our way of healing our issues, and if brave enough, allows us to push past fears – of course I am totally talking about my own experience. As for your questions – I am not so black and white to be able to say one thing (depends on the day really…. we are so darn complex as women and artists) right off the bat. After a bit of pondering:
    My worst quality: Inconsistency – As much as I try to be consistent with so many things (eating healthy, being deliberate in my shooting, getting to the gym, shooting regularly, staying on a schedule to progress forward) I am like a popcorn fart in the wind sometimes. I go with my feelings that day.. I am going to ponder this one more because I think the issue is deeper – it’s never what we think it is.
    My Best quality – The ability to see things from more than one perspective, and allowing for an opinion or point of view I had to be changed based on new information. (I am not great at debates)
    5 words: Knowledge seeker, Spiritual, Supportive, Empathic, Juggler (not the circus kind but tasks, ideas, thoughts, etc)ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:42 pm

      brookeshaden - Kimberly, thank you so much. I appreciate the feedback on the blog!

      It is so hard, isn’t it? To just say one thing or another. We cannot be defined so easily, and the more we realize that, the more room we have to grow. XoxoReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 10:33 am

    Shell - Worst: intolerant
    Best: kind
    5 words: youthful, flighty, ridiculous, loner, eccentricReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:42 pm

      brookeshaden - I struggled with intolerance for a long time – maybe not in an obvious way, but certainly in a big way.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 10:33 am

    Sacha S. - Worst: I am a procrastinator, when it comes to my personal responsibilities I do most everything last minute, then it stresses me out and I take that stress out on loved ones, like it is their fault, and this something I really have to work on..

    Best: I am very loyal and honest. If you know me then you know I am always there for you.

    5 words : loyal, procrastinator, creative, adventurous, humorousReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:43 pm

      brookeshaden - Sacha, in the brief time I’ve known you, I can already tell that you are a loyal and honest person xoxoReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 10:36 am

    Marcia Russell - Wow! What a thought-provoking post. I love it!

    My worst: I am afraid of failure so sometimes I don’t even try.

    My best: I try to see the best in people, situations and the world.

    Five words:
    Artist, supportive, airy-fairy, passionate, noticer of small things.

    P.S. I had to put http:// in front of my website to get it to show up as valid. Hope this helps someone. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:46 pm

      brookeshaden - Thanks Marcia! I love that you have a bright outlook, that is wonderful!

      Thanks for the website tip!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 10:40 am

    Ron - My worst quality is that it is difficult for me to share my feelings. So often I stay hidden out of fear of not being accepted or liked.

    My best quality is that I really enjoy encouraging, affirming, and blessing others. I am growing in self-care, which photography is part of!!!

    Five words: funny, generous, not punctual, kind, loyalReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:46 pm

      brookeshaden - Ron, I understand the desire to hide feelings. It can be so hard to open up to people. And how wonderful that you are so loving…I crave people like that in my life 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 10:50 am

    Brandi Douglas - My Worst Quality: My anxiety takes over me so I end up not taking opportunities.

    My Best Quality: My motivation. Because of it, I have been able to continue to grow, show people that they can be motivated too, and I have been able to stand up for myself.

    5 words: compassionate, feminist, motivated, creative, understandingReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:47 pm

      brookeshaden - Brandi, same! Anxiety – go away!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 11:08 am

    Mary Angelini - Worst Quality: Epic impatience – with myself and, more so, with others, especially when I have a vision or an idea that I need others to help or get on board with and I am unable to effective communicate it so they understand what I am talking about and see it as I do.

    Best Quality: Since I struggle with self acceptance, this is hard for me, but if I had to pick something it would have say it is my ability to understand and execute just about any task to which I set my mind.

    5 Words: Funny, adventurous, multi-talented, intuitive, independentReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:49 pm

      brookeshaden - Mary, I am so impatient too! I remember as a kid I would sit and wait for an hour before a friend would come over, and complain on car rides. I was an annoying child. And I still have that quality today.

      That is an amazing good trait to have. So many people struggle with that.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 11:11 am

    miu - My worst quality: I refuse to do things that don’t make sense to me.
    Best quality: I’d do anything for the people I care about.

    Five words: Free-spirited, workaholic, focused, fast learner, distrustful.

    (And, my 5 words to describe you whenever I gush about you to anyone who listens: Eloquent, creative, inspired, cheerful, inventive).ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:50 pm

      brookeshaden - Miu – that “worst quality” sounds just like my husband 🙂 And I love that you are so loyal to those you care about – such a great way to be.

      Thank you SO much for being so kind!! That means the world to me!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 11:14 am

    Rebecca - Worst quality: I am EXTREMELY insecure and self conscious.

    Best Quality: I am a good listener and a good friend. (Which is strictly an assumption).

    Five words: Dreamer, Lazy, Insecure, Funny, Friendly.ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:50 pm

      brookeshaden - Aww Rebecca – I wish I could come over and shake you! Sending you good, secure vibes! I love that you’re a dreamer. That’s my favorite thing to be 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 12:02 pm

    Carin - Hi Brooke
    I wasn’t going to respond but then thought yeah go on see all the good and bad in writing, (btw writing this made me cry) so here goes:
    Worst Quality: Worrier & scenario builder
    Best Quality: Empathic to the extreme

    Five words: super-sensitive, compassionate, jester, creative, lostReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:52 pm

      brookeshaden - Aww Carin I am so glad that you put yourself out there. That is wonderful that you did – I’d be nervous to as well. I am extremely empathetic as well. I can’t help but cry if I see someone else crying.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 12:46 pm

    Rachel - Thank you, Brooke, for allowing this space to share and be encouraged & inspired:

    My worst quality: Procrastination – especially when it comes to money.

    My best quality: Creative thinker – coming up with interesting solutions or ideas.

    5 words: Love, passion, positive, serious, intuitiveReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:52 pm

      brookeshaden - Thank YOU Rachel for being here and participating – I am so grateful!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 12:49 pm

    Tony - My Worst Quality:
    Procrastination, I lack focus and am easily distracted. Always trying to do too many things at once!

    My Best Quality:
    Understanding, I empathise with others when helping to resolve their issues. (Useful for my day job in IT Support)

    5 Words: Honest, Direct, intuitive, helpful, open-minded

    Brooke; you really do get us thinking 🙂ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2014 - 7:53 pm

      brookeshaden - Tony – I need to work on being more understanding, and just reading that gave me the push to work on it, so thank you!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 1:17 pm

    Lisa Ech - Worst Quality: I always have a lot of great ideas, but they seem to stay just that. Ideas.

    Best Quality: I have, what I think is a great ability so see others true self. I see peoples spirit beyond their humanity.

    5 words: Loving, open, anxious, simple, spiritual.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 1:51 pm

    Rosa - My Best Quality: When I throw myself into something, be it gardening, photography, an event or a new project I do it heart and soul planning things down to the tiniest details. (I think details are that extra something that makes life magical. . .)

    My Worst Quality: When I throw myself into something, be it gardening, photography, an event or a new project, I do it heart and soul, planning things down to the tiniest detail.

    This often causes me to become deaf and blind to anything else going on around me. I become impatient, sigh loudly when asked about anything not related to what I’m working on and neglect my sweet husband, grown kids and dear friends dreadfully.

    5 Words: Whimsical, dreamer, Introvert, Story lover, Information Ninja (That’s on my library card. ;D )

    Oops! That’s 7 words . . .ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 1:55 pm

    Gina Miller - Ok, well here goes!
    My Worst Quality: I procrastinate. I’m a deep thinker and think way too much into things which is why I can’t seem to get things done. I wrap myself up in to much which then makes me sit and ponder for so long that I will second guess myself. Do you know how long it’s going to take me to write this? LOL

    My Best Quality:
    I would have to say being creative and crafty. Been this way my whole life.

    My 5 words: Creative, Deep Thinker, Aquarius, Introvert, Dreamer

    I just need to take a deep breath and keep going.
    Hugs to you Brooke.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 2:22 pm

    AshW - Worst quality: If I deeply care about something, my imagination takes me to envisioning the worst things happening despite my inclination towards optimism. Because of this, I am nervous and self-doubting. It doesn’t seem to matter how much hard work I’ve put into making my life a better one, anxiety still follows me.

    Best quality: I am not easily angered and am quick to see both sides; I tend to see the best in people. I encourage the ideas and passions of others and am welcoming to those who may feel left out.

    5 words:
    Introverted (I suspect I’ll be otherwise when I have a smile to match my heart)

  • January 10, 2014 - 2:26 pm

    Jamie - Just stumbled across you and would like to say how much I’ve been enjoying your posts! Thank you!
    Worst quality: Procrastination – by far.
    Best quality: sense of humor?
    Five words: motivated, funny, too friendly, creative, sometimes lazyReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 2:47 pm

    Corinne - What is your worst quality?
    My worst quality, far and away, is my self-doubt. I grew up thinking I was a “stupid little girl” and got mentally convinced that I was by many of my teachers in elementary school. When things get tough I often find that I revert to that mentality, especially with my photography. It’s something I work on changing every single day! (my other worst quality is I elaborate…A LOT haha).

    What is your best quality?
    My best quality…I guess my friendliness or acceptance? My father was an archeologist and I grew up around many different cultures and different types of people so I’m very accepting of anyone and everyone. I’ve been told that people find me very easy to talk to.
    5 Words: Kind, Creative, Emotional, Dreamer, Animal LoverReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 2:47 pm

    Chantal - Worst quality: my lack of self confidence

    Best quality: being a survivor and always keeping it real and honest!

    5 words: insecure yet creative, perfectionist anxious, obsessive compulsive!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 4:49 pm

    JeanMike - Worst Quality: Inertia, even in times of great inspiration.

    Best Quality: An eye for creating/structuring narrative. A desire to simplify grand concepts to their simplest, most beautiful representations.

    5 words: introverted; positive; ADD; honest; sensitive.

    Fun exercise! Thanks for being a constant inspiration, Brooke.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 5:23 pm

    Reem Eissa - I love how you can share so openly and encourage people to do the same. I’ve never been as inspired by someone as I am by you, not only as a photographer but as a human being. So, thank you.

    It’s tough to pinpoint these answers, because I feel there isn’t one worst and one best quality. Nevertheless, I would say:

    My worst quality: my crippling inability to distance myself from the people who hurt me or do me wrong
    My best quality: helpfulness of ability to be a good friend

    Five words: emotional, hard-working, dreamer, trusting, friendlyReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 5:32 pm

    Matthew - Worst Quality: Not pushing myself

    Best Quality: Learn quickly

    5 Words: introverted, smart, imaginative, intuitive, observantReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 7:28 pm

    Samantha Pugsley - Worst Quality – I am incredibly anxious, self-conscious, and I worry a LOT about what other people think about me.

    Best Quality – I’m very passionate. When I love something, I love it with all my heart: my husband, my family, my creativity, my dreams. (Though I will say this sometimes lends itself to anxiety :p)

    5 Words: passionate, creative, introverted, anxious, nerdy

    I love that you’ve created a safe place for us to open up and learn about ourselves and others. It’s been lovely to read all these responses.ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 10:24 pm

    Ellie Chavez - Worst Quality – I feel like it’s a tie between three. Being my own worst critic, thinking badly about myself, and always wondering how I appear to others.

    Best Quality – When it comes to anything art related, I’m fearless.

    5 Words that describe me: inspired, soft, creative, photography, loving.

    I went into this comment box thinking that these were easy questions, but I sat here for a good while figuring it out! I hope to soon be able to fill out the best qualities faster than the worst ones.

    Promoting Passion is such an inspiration, Brooke. I feel connected and at home when I read these posts and it always inspires me to go out and make something wonderful. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • January 11, 2014 - 12:28 am

    Amani - Sometimes I feel like saying “this is what I’m good at”, or “this is what’s good about me” makes me sound a little.. conceited. I think I grew up thinking that selflessness is above everything, and somewhere along the way selflessness got mixed up with self deprecation. I’m not sure if that makes any sense, but I am slowly realizing that it’s OK to love and accept myself; not just ok, but necessary. So here it goes:

    Worse quality: I’m very insecure, and naive.
    Best quality: I’m kind and sympathetic and I try my best to be there for everyone.
    5 words: shy, creative, loving, anxious, emotionalReplyCancel

  • January 11, 2014 - 12:36 am

    Anmol Kapuria - Worst Quality – I am too open about me with people on the first meet due to which some start taking me for granted.

    Best Quality – I am a very strong person from within. I always try to make the best of time with my friends and family and i try to store all my precious moments in a diary i keep secretly in my mind.

    5 words: lazy, cheerful, crazy, nature lover, creative.

    And i love your photography. Your work is Beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • January 11, 2014 - 1:25 am

    Leenda - It is so enlightening to read about everyone’s personal insights. Really good questions to have to answer….

    My worst quality….stubbornness when I think I am right

    My best quality…. compassion for all living things

    5 words: friend, particular, appreciator, spiritual, artisticReplyCancel

  • January 11, 2014 - 3:58 am

    natascha van niekerk - Worst quality: I tend to struggle trusting people again that have (in my silly opinion) wronged me in some way…
    Best quality: I love to encourage people to follow what is in their hearts. There are few things so beautiful to me as a person living a fulfilled and inspired life! Life is too short for regrets…

    I would describe myself as an explorer, intense, quiet, expressionistic, stubborn.

    Thank you Brooke for this awesome space of sharing!ReplyCancel

  • January 11, 2014 - 9:02 am

    Rand Huneidi - My worst quality: being selfish with the people I care about the most. by selfish I mean when I am committed or passionate about a project or something specific, I will forget everything exists and concentrate solely on the thing I’m doing.

    My best quality: I’m a dreamer. My husband considers it a bad quality but for me, it pushes me to try new things and work hard to achieve them.

    5 words: passionate, energetic, punctual, extrovert, self-criticalReplyCancel

  • January 11, 2014 - 9:21 am

    Kate - Hi Brooke! Thank you for this blog post! Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and truly question how you perceive yourself. I believe it induces a wonderful sense of self-awareness that often gets lost in our “daily grind.”

    Worst quality: My fear of the unknown.

    Best quality: My curiosity.

    5 words: dreamer, caring, anxious, adventurous, introvertReplyCancel

  • January 11, 2014 - 9:22 am

    Alexandra - Hello!

    My worst quality would be the fact that I am constantly afraid of what people might think of me, and this really affects my photography. For example, I am always terrified of taking my camera and shoot outside my house. I am not strong enough to overcome the fear of street photography, or simply somebody else watching me while shooting. I consider this to be my worst quality.

    My best quality is probably the fact that I am a good listener, since I’m so shy and reserved, I don’t talk much, so most people come to me and just say what’s on their mind knowing that I will listen.

    5 words: Introverted, kind, observing, simple, creative

    Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • January 11, 2014 - 9:29 am

    Dina Hampton - Worst quality: Procrastination due to fear

    Best Quality: Being creative and enthusiastic

    Im creative peaceful, perseverence , insightful, excitedReplyCancel

  • January 11, 2014 - 9:42 am

    KaLee Kilgrow - ~Worst Quality: Fear, I fear more things than not in life, I am constantly working on this and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone in life and my work!

    ~Best Quality: Passion, I have a passion for my work and I am willing to do whatever it takes to succeed and grow in my work. I never want to stop learning and growing.

    ~Passionate, inspired, quiet, dreamer, anxious.ReplyCancel

  • January 11, 2014 - 9:48 am

    Adriana Anaya - I love you your posts so so so much.

    I think I’m a sensitive person, ant it affects my hole life, so maybe…

    My worst quality: is that maybe when I go through a bad period in my life, I suffer more than necessary.

    My best quality: When I go through a good period, I’m the happiest person of the world, and I enjoy it so much.

    5 words: Sensitive, creative, reflexive, empathic and messy.

    Thank you, Brooke.ReplyCancel

  • January 11, 2014 - 1:02 pm

    Tom Newforge - I know I’m a little late to this but I did promise I’d be back when I had time and at the very least I find these types of exercises interesting when approached in a vulnerable state. So here we go,

    Best Quality: I’d say my best quality is that I’m always aware of different perspectives. (Some would say, “To a fault.”.)

    Worst Quality: I always expect people to do “the right thing”. I’m often disappointed.

    Five words that would describe me: Curious, Adventurous, Driven, Kind, and Honorable.

    Well, there ya go. My first “official” comment on your blog. Here’s to many more and I hope your having a great day.ReplyCancel

  • January 11, 2014 - 2:40 pm

    Colman - Worst, procrastination… When I get stressed I want to just forget about the problem and do something fun.

    Best, I put everything into my relationships.

    Fun, outdoorsy, honest, creative, extrovertedReplyCancel

  • January 11, 2014 - 4:45 pm

    Jean - Worst quality: I trust everyone in good faith

    Best quality: I love everyone and see the beauty in everything

    5 words: loving, giving, beautiful, warm, creativeReplyCancel

  • January 11, 2014 - 10:12 pm

    catherine brand - Worst Quality: Not having the confidence that I need to over come the fear of failing. The lacking of believing in one’s self, causes a person not to want to take action, and even though I know this, it;s still hard to move forward and overcome the fear.

    Best Quality: Im a people pleaser, and I take the time to listen and encourage people to follow there dreams, no matter how silly, it may sound to others. I’m generous and I’m always willing to help others in need.

    5 Words: Passionate, motivated, perfectionist, loyal, caringReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 9:13 am

    Pauline - My worst quality:
    My craving for self-destruction. I always destroy what I have built for myself and then need a long time to give it another try…with the same result – destruction.

    My best quality:
    My empathy for other people and how I see the best in everyone.

    5 words:
    Dreamer, sensitive, kind, introverted, lazy.ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 10:00 am

    Annie laura - Seems there is trouble for us all limiting to one trait…

    And so… my series of best include: patience, calmness and loyalty (easy to list simple words here…)

    I battle wether my sensitivity is a good or bad trait… I hold to it as though it’s good, but experience sets it in the bad trait category. Sensitivity lends to being hurt. When I’m hurt I stumble and don’t reach the goals I aim for… when I’m hurt I also get defensive which may be my single worst trait. I’m also a sloppy dresser and bite my nails when it’s cold.

    Simply stated in five words: female, adventerous, imaginative and artsy-fartsy

    Thank you for inviting a platform to release these thoughts.

    Blessed be,

  • January 12, 2014 - 10:39 am

    Esther - You are so amazing Brooke!!I am in love of your work!

    My worst quality is that I am lost right now.. I love photography and I’d like to learn more about it, people say that I have improved a lot in short time but I studied engineering and I know that I can’t do everything.. =( but I’d like to find the way

    My best quality is I can be sad or happy, I always have a smile

    5 words: creative, multifaceted, dreamer, sensitive, caringReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 2:56 pm

    Sarah Allegra - Best quality: my passions

    Worst quality: my insecurities

    5 words: artist, healer, passionate, fighter, animals (friend of).

    Thanks Brooke! I always love your posts 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2014 - 8:27 am

    Joshua Pheneger - My worst quality: anger. I can be quick to anger, and I have little patience. Its something I have struggled to overcome and causes a lot of friction in my life.

    My best quality: determination. I am able to achieve goals I set for myself even against significant challenges. It is what has helped me to survive, become successful, and to heal.

    5 words that I would use to describe myself: strong, stubborn, scarred, caring, hopeful.ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2014 - 2:03 am

    Ashley - My worst quality: My lack of belief that the things I do/create are actually good and worth putting out into the world.

    My best quality: My love for people close to me and the passion I put out their to make them know it.

    5 words: hopeful, happy, inspired, determined, lovingReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2014 - 10:42 am

    Tara Eveland - oh this is hard to face! But I get it and I love reading all the others:

    Okay here goes:

    My worst quality: I am not a trusting person. I don’t trust anyone in fact except myself and God. I have been abused in my life by my own parents, let down so many times by people I trusted loved. I simply cannot trust anyone.

    My best quality: I am loyal and never lie. If I do make a friend I am loyal to the end of the earth for them. I am loyal to my children in being the best mother, the mother I never had. I don’t lie. I hate lies. Its been the thing I have carried with me since childhood that still at 30 years old I can say, I do not lie.

    5 words to describe myself: Survivor, Giving, Faithful, Strong minded, evolvingReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 9:01 am

    Malin - It’s afternoon here in Sweden and I’m about to finish work. Stumbled across your blog – god knows why I haven’t seen it before as I’m following you on FB! Anyway, started reading some of your blog posts and you make me feel so inspired – to go out creating, following my dreams. Came to this post about best and worst qualities – and it made me stop and think. It’s hard to put such things in writing, but at the same time it’s good to actually do that – it makes you look upon yourself from the outside.
    So here we go.
    My worst quality: I don’t fully believe in myself and my abilities, and when things in life don’t turn out as a dreamed of I tend to find someone else to blame it on in my mind. I have to find a way to stop that as that road sure leads to bitterness.
    My best quality: My mind went blank here. I can’t think of any right now – I’d love to say I’m caring and kind, but then I think of situations when I’m selfish and hurt people. I’d love to say I’m a good mother, but then I think of the times when I prioritize work over playing with my children. So hey, I need to think a bit more about that one.
    And me? Mother, wife, daughter, traveller and dreamer.

    Thanks for inspiring me to take a moment on reflection.ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2014 - 6:44 am

    Lisa Lizarraga - Worst: I don’t handle real responsibility well or take responsibility for my actions, thoughts and emotions.

    Best: I live in a constant state of imagination and i have finally embraced it and love it.

    5 works about me: childlike, loner, creative, passionate, dreamerReplyCancel

  • January 28, 2014 - 8:11 am

    Yu - My worst quality:
    I tend to push myself too hard and overwork, and expect it from others too.

    My best quality:
    I am open and strong drive for learning and personal growth.

    5 Words:
    Curious, joyful, focused, sensitive, creativeReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2014 - 7:46 am

    Heather - I’m a little late to the game here (as I just found your blog and site, BUT…)

    My worst quality : I don’t believe in myself and so I procrastinate until the last minute when the deadline is looming and the stress is almost unbearable and I have to drink coffee and stay awake for a week to get things done.

    My best quality : Hmm… it’s funny, this one is harder. It’s easier to belittle yourself than it is to pat yourself on the back. I need to work on this. I have many good qualities… I’m kind and caring and funny and a dreamer… but my best? I don’t know.

    5 words:

    friendly, imaginative, strong, careful, … but afraid.

    (Which is why I liked your blog on fear and turning the What if statements from bad to good. What if I completed my project this year? What if I gained more business? What if I got everything I wanted this year? … What if… 🙂 )ReplyCancel