The other day I walked through a sunny spot in my kitchen and was momentarily blinded by the bright light. When I turned back around I saw that hundreds thousands millions of little dust particles were lit afire by the sun rays, and the photographer in me said: PHOTOGRAPH IT!

So I asked my husband to hold up my blue cloak as a backdrop and I photographed the dust particles against that dark backdrop. In doing so, it looked immediately to me like snow, so I took that image into Photoshop, made it black and white, added contrast, and boom! Snow overlay! I couldn’t help but share that with you today.

That prompted me to start seeing little things in new ways. Those dust particles weren’t just dust particles; they had the opportunity to become snow to add magic to an image in the future. So many things could be so much more if we learned to see them for what they could be, instead of what they are immediately.

I hope that you enjoy this free texture pack that I shot during the making of this new video! All of the textures, save the “snow”, are rocks. There are 11 textures in all including the snow overlay, and I really hope that you enjoy them! They are free to use and if you feel so inclined, you can use the hashtag #shadentextures so that others may find these more easily.

I hope you have an inspired week and that you find all sorts of hidden beauties in the unlikeliest of places!


  • February 17, 2014 - 9:16 am

    Lu - As a mindfulness meditation practitioner myself I can easily relate to this. So often we experience the world in autopilot. If we just take a second to stop and really see it for what it is we might find a snow storm in sun dust <3 . Thank you for being so kind and sharing this textures. I am editing an image today so I might need one! have a great week.ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 9:37 am

      brookeshaden - Hi Lu! I really want to get more into meditation and really being able to calm and center myself – so great that you do that!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 9:20 am

    thomas miles - this is beautiful! Just what I needed πŸ˜€ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 9:37 am

      brookeshaden - Wonderful! Thanks Thomas!ReplyCancel

      • March 11, 2017 - 8:45 am

        milind - i would like to know how to edit them from basic to pro level πŸ™‚ been following your work since 2 years πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 9:37 am

    Bettye Rainwater - Thank you, Brooke, for your new use for dust! I am no longer just a “bad housekeeper.” Now I am an OVERLAY CREATOR πŸ™‚

    This came at the perfect time. I’m headed out this afternoon to shoot at a barren snow-covered beach and I was thinking meh, there’s really not going to be much there to shoot – but now…I can shoot textures!

    Make a beautiful day for yourself.


    • February 17, 2014 - 9:39 am

      brookeshaden - I am SO glad that you’re going to get out there and take advantage of your situation. I think it’s just wonderful! I can’t wait to see what you come back with! πŸ˜€ReplyCancel

    • July 7, 2016 - 5:33 am

      Magick Thoughts - it is the little things that make life beautiful especially in times of great need. I make my art from virtual world scenes and fashion. People bring their beauty and build on it in Second Life. I work with textures to make my images more real and look like they are from another time. Dust and sparkles make all the difference!–amandamagickReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 9:39 am

    Hannah Wheeler - Thank you for always inspiring and uplifting us.ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 9:40 am

      brookeshaden - Aww thank you so much for being here and saying so! xoxoReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 9:41 am

    Svenlovesflo - great textures Brooke and a very good lesson . Teaching us to see things as they could be is a wonderful idea . But I think we should see things as they are as well . I am fortunate enough to live in a snowy climate…and photograph snow regularly…great to do at night for best results…or even at twilight . If you were back in Lancaster you would have plenty of snow to shoot . You are an inspiration…I was in a rut …Watched your recent creative live workshop…and you got me going again…Thank you Brooke…you are a wonderful teacher…and personReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 9:42 am

      brookeshaden - Thanks so much! I agree – to be able to see every side of a thing is beautiful and inspiring. To appreciate everything around you and to see even more as well. I wish I was back in snowy Lancaster right now…so much inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 9:42 am

    Mary Angelini - AWESOME!! Thank you so much – you can never have too many textures on hand and it is super fun to make your own too. I just learned how and I feel like a kid in a candy shop!! I can’t wait to leave the office and go home and make some magic with these. Thank you as always Brooke!ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 9:44 am

      brookeshaden - I am so happy to hear that Mary! Maybe today you’ll grab your camera up and find a totally random texture to be inspired by!ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 9:49 am

      Mary Angelini - That would be great!! I’ll share it if I can too! πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 9:42 am

    Jody McNary - Wow how awesome is this!!!!!
    Thank you Brooke!!ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 9:44 am

      brookeshaden - You are so welcome Jody! Thank YOU for being here!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 9:43 am

    duda bueno - tks a lot Brooke, you rocks!!!!ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 9:44 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you so much!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 9:49 am

    Andrea - So happy you posted those, will definitely try to put them to good use πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for sharing Brooke! <3ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 9:50 am

      brookeshaden - Yay Andrea I hope it goes well for you!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 9:52 am

    cathy nocera - Thank you Brooke. You are a wonderful teacher and giving person.ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 9:54 am

      brookeshaden - Aww thank you Cathy! Thank you for being here πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 9:53 am

    Rocio Martinez - I looooved watching this video for different reasons. First of all.. I love the brightness in the image. I love the sound of the birds. It makes me so happy because I am so over winter. I am so tired of it and so tired of the cold. I’m not sure how cold or warm it is there, but it sure gives the impression of warmth and it gave me a feeling of hope that soon all this cold weather will go away! Thanks for giving me hope!

    Also, I love this video because it talks about the little things. The little things in life are so often overlooked. It’s funny because this past week there was lots of sunshine coming through my windows and it gave me so much happiness. I thought about it so much. How can one ray of light give a person so much strength, so much hope, so much happiness!? How can something so simple lift someone’s spirit up?! How do people not notice such beauty?!

    Thanks, as always.ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 9:55 am

      brookeshaden - Aww Rocio that is such a beautiful thing – being inspired by the rays of light and seeing the little things. I love it.ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 9:59 am

      Rocio Martinez - I love it too! Thanks for being so giving btw! So grateful for all your textures!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 9:57 am

    DanielCely - Thank you,

    I’ve tried photographing textures myself but get constantly frustrated… at least you are here to help inspire my rather unimaginative mind.

    Best of luck and great week to you.ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 9:57 am

      brookeshaden - Ahh I hope this video helps a bit and that you try your hand at it again – and if not, I hope you enjoy these!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 9:57 am

    Tara Eveland - thank you brooke! cant wait to use them, i LOVE the other textures i got last year, the mansion ones i believe they were called, i use them sometimes and adore them!ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 9:58 am

      brookeshaden - Aww wonderful Tara! I use the mansion textures a lot myself. I hope your hand is starting to feel better!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 9:57 am

    Aino - Thank you!!! You are so inspirational! After your last CL workshop I have promised myself to go make my own Brooke inspired photos – with emphasis on MY own. πŸ™‚ I just got your book too and can’t wait to sink into it.ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 9:59 am

      brookeshaden - Aww yay! I am so glad! Can’t wait to see the results πŸ˜€ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 9:58 am

    Margherita Introna - Perfect timing! I’m just going through the last stages of editing a very special image and was pondering what texture to use. I see it here πŸ˜‰ Thank you Brooke <3 It always feels like a little collaboration with you when I use one of your textures and I think that is awesome from all the way across the seas in a different country <3 xxReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 9:59 am

      brookeshaden - Fantastic! I hope they help! I love the sense of collaboration as well – it is such a beautiful thing, to be able to connect and even share images from so far away. xoxoxReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 9:59 am

    Amani - Wow, thank you! I love your textures. I used to try to make my own, it was fun. I don’t know why I stopped, I guess I found it easier to use the same ones. But now I wanna make new textures πŸ˜€ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 10:00 am

      brookeshaden - I love that!!! Yes go out and DO it! There are so many great ones in Dubai…I am putting together another texture pack from my last visit and plan on making more this next time around πŸ˜€ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 10:34 am

    elena - yay, new textures!! thanks so much Brooke!ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 10:42 am

      brookeshaden - You are so welcome Elena! I hope you enjoy them πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 11:06 am

    Paulo Carvalho - Thanks for sharing these textures Brooke! And now, you made me think! Maybe I’ll change and use the snow texture on my “I’ AM ME” project.ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 11:40 am

      brookeshaden - Wonderful Paulo! I love that!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 11:16 am

    Albin Thelander - Brooke, you’ve really made me realize how beautiful life in its simplicity is. Everyday I try to find inspiration and beauty, even though it’s not he easiest thing for me yet. I want you to know what a big help and inspiration you’ve been to me and my life. You’ve convinved me that nothing, or no one, can stop me from doing what I love, which is creating art.

    And I do never say no to new textures, even though I’ve already found a favorite which I use a lot πŸ˜€

    <3 AlbinReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 11:39 am

      brookeshaden - Albin, that is so wonderful. I am so glad that you are seeing the beauty in everything – it makes life so much more rich! I LOVE that you are doing what you love! I hope you soar to your dreams!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 11:43 am

    Becky - Just wanted to thank you for being the single most-inspiring woman I’ve had the pleasure of ‘discovering’ this past year, first on CreativeLive. I look forward to the day I can attend one of your workshops!ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 12:04 pm

      brookeshaden - Aww Becky thank you SO much. You have brightened my world!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 12:50 pm

    Diana - Brooke, you are the most unselfish, most enlightening, most inspiring person ever. You are a true artist. And thank you for the textures. It is like the icing on the cake, but your inspiration is the cake!ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 12:54 pm

      brookeshaden - You have no idea how much this means to me Diana!! Thank you for being YOU!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 1:05 pm

    Carin - Another verbal kick up the backside for me (in the nicest possible way) . It’s always good to hear your positive thoughts, it touches something inside of me that wants to break free. The textures are wonderful. Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 1:06 pm

      brookeshaden - Awww hehe that is awesome to hear. I always need a little kick so I have to fill my head with these thoughts πŸ˜›ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 1:34 pm

    Elisabeth on Earth - LOVE this post. Thank you so much for the reminder. I used to do this fairly regularly, but only started to get back into it late last Summer after purchasing a book called How to Be an Explorer of the World. Just a couple of weeks ago, despite the blanket of snow, I found myself photographing some turkey tail fungi during a hike and thinking, “This is going to make a great dress!” LolReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 1:36 pm

      brookeshaden - Oh my gosh Elisabeth! My best friend got me that book for Xmas and it is AMAZING. Exactly how I want to live my life. LOVE it!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 1:39 pm

    Mary-Claire - Last night, I was going through some photos and found one that I had worked on but couldn’t get quite the right finish. I selected on of your Textures of India. It transformed it to make the photo just what I wanted. Thanks for those and for these!ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 1:41 pm

      brookeshaden - Fantastic! I can totally see what you mean in that picture. That texture in particular is my %100 absolute favorite. I love using it! So glad you liked it, too! I love seeing your photos btw!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 2:34 pm

    Lindsay - We just had snowfall here recently, so I’m really excited to experiment with the ‘snow’ overlay on the photos I took. And let me take a moment to say- you are by far one of my favorite photographers. I’m seventeen, and when I started getting serious with photography several years ago, you were the first I came across whose work I absolutely fell in love with. The concept, the creativity, the innovation, the surrealism of your work- I love it, and always look forward to seeing what you’re working on next! Oh, and I love your bohemian style. It reminds me of a fairy, haha. πŸ™‚ Thanks again for the overlays.ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 2:38 pm

      brookeshaden - Aww wonderful timing! I am so glad the snow overlay can help – let me know how it goes! Try lots of different blending modes until it sticks in just the right way πŸ™‚ Thank you for being SO kind!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 2:59 pm

    Miroslava - Thank you so much for everything you do. You’ve been a huge inspiration to me Brooke! This past couple of days I had been feeling down because I didn’t know what I needed to do to be successful then I went to YouTube and started watching your videos. Now, I feel like I can do whatever it is that I want. I know that nothing comes easy and I will fail but then again we learn from our mistakes and that’s what’s gonna make us grow, mentally, emotionally and professionally. Thank you Brooke Shaden!ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 3:02 pm

      brookeshaden - I am so beyond happy to hear this. Thank you for bringing brightness to my day! You CAN do what you want because we all deserve to be happy…and yes, failure might happen (it will!) and that is a good thing – Failure is the proof that dreams are being realized. So much love and happy thoughts to you!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 3:08 pm

    Shasta - Recently I put down my camera and took a full time “day job” where I began to lose myself and feel my soul lose it’s sparkle… I sat down and had a “Brooke Fest” I watched about an hour of your videos and decided I needed to feed my soul and get back to basics πŸ™‚ Thank you for being an inspiration to so many!!ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 3:17 pm

      brookeshaden - Shasta, you have no idea how much that means to me. Thank you so much for sharing! I am so glad that you’re feeling sparkly again!ReplyCancel

    • February 18, 2014 - 10:51 am

      Shasta - It’s nice to know that someone is listening πŸ™‚ Today I woke up and watched two of your videos and then two of Tyrese Gibson on Facebook πŸ™‚ Life is meant to be lived! πŸ™‚ You are fantastic and don’t forget it πŸ™‚ Do what makes you happy πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 3:18 pm

    camillanyqvist - Thanks Brooke, for being so generous in sharing your passion and your work! You are truely inspirational!!!ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 3:21 pm

      brookeshaden - Aww thank you! Sharing gives me the greatest joy in life <3ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 3:19 pm

    Erica - Love the textures! So sad I missed the AD deadline! Hope to cross paths in the future, but in the meantime these videos keep me pushing my creativity and inspired. Thanks for sharing/teaching!ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 3:21 pm

      brookeshaden - I think our paths will cross – we’ll make it happen! πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 4:12 pm

    Rebecca Cobb - Thank you for another terrific video! I always love seeing your process and hearing about what inspires you! This has definitely inspired me! I hope everything is going great with you, and I will keep you in my prayers! Thank you for being such an inspiration to me lately. I have needed it! πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 6:13 pm

      brookeshaden - Thank you Rebecca! You are wonderful πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 6:18 pm

    BrigitteG - You are always so inspirational Brooke !
    and thank you for the textures !ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 6:20 pm

      brookeshaden - Thank you so much Brigitte!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 6:26 pm

    Siyana Kasabova - Thank you Brooke!ReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2014 - 6:28 pm

      brookeshaden - Thank YOU for being here!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 7:05 pm

    Bronston - Hi Brooke,

    Can you recommend a good source to learn how to artistically incorporate texture layers in photos if you’re new it?ReplyCancel

    • February 18, 2014 - 7:16 am

      brookeshaden - Hmm! I’ve never watched a tutorial but I’m guessing a youtube search would be good! I also talk about textures in my creativeLIVE courses linked in the STORE page here. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help there!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 11:39 pm

    Chantry - You are so amazing and inspiring. I’m so glad I discovered you through creative live. I just got your book in the mail this weekend and it’s already my favorite thing ever! Also a little fyi, my four year old was watching the creative live videos with me and admired your capes so much that I got her a red one for valentines day…it hasn’t left her back for 3 days! πŸ™‚ You inspired her as well πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    • February 18, 2014 - 7:17 am

      brookeshaden - Chantry, that is the most awesome way ever to start my day…imaging your daughter running around in a cape! I love it! Thank you so much for being here and sharing, you made my life brighter!ReplyCancel

  • February 18, 2014 - 12:08 am

    Eva - Thank you so much, not just for the textures, but for being a constant source of inspiration. I wish more people could find beauty in darkness.ReplyCancel

    • February 18, 2014 - 7:17 am

      brookeshaden - Aww Eva thank you truly. I am so grateful for you!!!ReplyCancel

  • February 18, 2014 - 1:29 am

    Vanessa Corral - Thank you for the beautiful textures Brooke! You are such and inspiration!ReplyCancel

    • February 18, 2014 - 7:35 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you for checking them out Vanessa!ReplyCancel

  • February 18, 2014 - 2:08 am

    natascha van niekerk - Thank you Brooke! What a beautiful and generous gesture, as always, true to your very nature!ReplyCancel

    • February 18, 2014 - 7:36 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you so much Natascha!ReplyCancel

  • February 18, 2014 - 2:33 am

    Hanna - Thank you so much for the textures! I was just yesterday thinking that I need snow for my self portrait that I’m creating for the “I am me”-project. So looking forward to try it out :D.ReplyCancel

    • February 18, 2014 - 7:36 am

      brookeshaden - I am so glad that you can use it!! How wonderful! Can’t wait to see πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 18, 2014 - 5:18 am

    Mery Alin - I want the beauty in my life too!! thanks for the inspiration, and for be the way you are πŸ™‚ Blessings!!!! πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    • February 18, 2014 - 7:41 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you Mery!ReplyCancel

  • February 18, 2014 - 5:21 am

    Mery Alin - And Thank you for the textures!!!!ReplyCancel

    • February 18, 2014 - 7:41 am

      brookeshaden - Xoxo!ReplyCancel

  • February 18, 2014 - 6:30 am

    Nicholas Cormier - Brooke! I just got back from Nice, France for a little tour of the city and to run in the Rock-and-Roll Carnival 10-Miler. Saturday started off rather rainy so Casey and I went to a modern/contemporary museum and I tried my hand at shooting some textures. I will letcha know how they turned out! Again, many thanks for all that you do for us and for allowing us to use the textures you have created.ReplyCancel

    • February 18, 2014 - 7:41 am

      brookeshaden - That is awesome! Way to make use of a gloomy day! Can’t wait to see πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 18, 2014 - 9:27 am

    Theresa Szabo - Saw you link on my twitter feed last night so checked it out this morning and your textures are beautiful. You are very generous to share with everyone, thank you for your kindness, it really helps an amateur photographer like myself.ReplyCancel

    • February 18, 2014 - 9:28 am

      brookeshaden - Aww thank you so much Theresa, that is wonderful to hear!ReplyCancel

  • February 19, 2014 - 9:01 am

    trena - Thank you so much for your generosity. I shared this link on my blog. You are an inspiration, not only in photography, but in giving as well.ReplyCancel

    • February 21, 2014 - 7:50 am

      brookeshaden - Aww thank you Trena, that means so much!ReplyCancel

  • February 20, 2014 - 3:22 pm

    Marianna - Thank you so much for the textures!!!! You are amazing <3ReplyCancel

    • February 21, 2014 - 7:51 am

      brookeshaden - You are so welcome! I hope you enjoy them πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 28, 2014 - 7:26 am

    Didier Hannot - Thanks a lot for sharing your passion … and these textures … I ”ve just started with using textures in my work, but we can achieve often unexpected results.

    Have a nice day …

    Best regards,

  • March 25, 2014 - 1:20 am

    Yehoshua Derovan - Thank you Brooke! Just downloaded them – and they look great!
    And thank god for dusty kitchens ans sun rays!!! πŸ˜‰ReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2014 - 10:59 am

    Donna - Brooke you never fail to inspire me! I love the way you think, and how you can articulate so well what you feel and think. I’ve had some ‘dry’ days, where I have not taken photos, even on a beach walk. I’m so grateful for what you said about being mindful of the details and everything around us. I love finding the beauty in dilapidated places, but sometimes I miss it in the ordinary, everyday places. So now I will try to be more mindful and find the beauty everywhere!

    I have always loved and been drawn to textures. Now I’ve started using them in my photographs, and I would like to start creating my own. I noticed that you’ve converted all your textures to grayscale. Most of the textures that I have gotten from other texture artists are in color. Is there any reason you prefer to use grayscale?ReplyCancel

  • March 3, 2016 - 12:48 pm

    igota3rdeye - i was just thinking about it!
    and then i watched your video!ReplyCancel

  • December 13, 2016 - 2:14 pm

    Anthony Scott - Thank you very much for both the resource and the gift of your knowledge. I truly appreciate your presence in the art community!


  • April 22, 2017 - 2:37 pm

    Stilian Rusev - Thank you very much i appriciate it!ReplyCancel

  • February 26, 2019 - 1:36 pm

    raimondo licastro - Grazie di esistere, grazie mille dall’italia!ReplyCancel

My life has culminated into a few very important but sometimes hard to see ideas. I think of them now as I sit at my computer, just finishing a very long edit on a picture while staring out my window at a giant, glowing moon. Even though I’ve just had some disappointing news, I remember those life lessons now; for it is only in a time of lows that you can learn to appreciate all of best things in the world to the fullest. And I am not one to let myself feel down for long…I look to the bright moon for guidance and I hear inspiring words bouncing in my mind.

#1: Do not be afraid to discover your PASSION.

We want to fit in. We want to do what others expect of us. We don’t want to rock the boat for fear of being judged. But put all of this aside. All of that is a myth. The only truth our lives will reflect is the one that we create for ourselves. Try new things. Rock the boat. Discover your passion. And with that passion comes a flood of amazing possibilities.

#2: Do not be afraid to BE who you are.

I don’t mean that you should simply understand your passion or seek inspiration, but that you should completely, wholly, and unabashedly be YOU. Dress how you want to dress, speak how you want to speak, spread your personal story, and be confident in doing so. When this life is over, we have our deeds to tell the story of our lives.

#3: Be KIND.

How simple, yet how often it falls through the cracks. Treat others the way the best version of yourself would behave. Embrace kindness in a way that is not a byproduct of living, but instead is at the forefront of every action you live.

#4: Find your CONFIDENCE.

The moment you realize these two things, you are free: 1) When you do things your own way, others follow, and 2) When you see yourself in a positive way, others are more likely to do the same.


To know your passion is to find your calling, and to understand how you become inspired is to create the life of your dreams. Do not let inspiration come to you – go on an ADVENTURE.

#6: Find your VOICE.

Everyone has a story to tell, and your story is worth being heard. So find it…dig deep and allow it to come out. And then share it, if you’re so inclined. Others can be moved by your vision.


Every missed opportunity, or failed attempt, is a sign. It is a big, neon glow telling you that you are about to embark on a journey that will lead you to someplace amazing if you choose to see it that way. That is how I feel about this recent disappointment in my life. It is not a failure, it is an amazing opportunity that I have yet to see clearly. I can make it happen.

#8: See the world DIFFERENTLY.

When you begin to see the world for ALL it has to offer, you start to understand the possibilities that the world holds for us.

#9: Take CONTROL.

You have power. Your words and actions can move people. You can MOVEΒ yourself. The sooner you understand that you are in control of how you react to the world, the sooner the world becomes your playground.

#10: OPPORTUNITY never stops.

It may seem like opportunities come and go and are lost and are hard to find again. And some opportunities never come back, or at least not in the way that they came originally. We must create our own opportunities and learn to see everything as an invitation to do something greater.

#11: It is NEVER too LATE.

It is never too late to redesign your life.


Change how you see the world to not only seek obviously good things, but to find the good in all things. There is too much inspiration in the world to miss it. Find happiness, and you will spread it to others.

#13: You are POWERFUL.

Never underestimate the difference you can make in the world – in your own life and in the lives of others. We are all powerful in our own ways and we can use that power to govern the life of our dreams.

Β #14: It’s your FUNERAL.

When you are gone, what do you hope people say about you? Live your life in that way.


All of these things are absolutes in my life. They might not be in yours, and that’s okay, but if they can help to govern a small part of your life into a more fulfilling existence..well, that’s why I wrote it. Because it does that for me. I remember these things regularly and wholeheartedly and they help me to be the person I want to be.

I shot this picture and edited a different version of it on creativeLIVE last week, featuring model Jane Love and shot in a kiddie pool in an abandoned building. If you’d like to see that process you can access my class here. It just felt so perfect for how I was feeling and where I am going. Thank you for the love and support that you help to share on this blog.

It is my sanity. πŸ™‚


  • February 13, 2014 - 8:39 am

    Martin - You light my way.ReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2014 - 8:46 am

    Andrea - Beautiful Brooke. The picture turned out gorgeous! The words in this post are very moving. Constructing inspiration at it’s finest πŸ˜‰ All of these things you speak of in this post are so powerful and so necessary. I am so sorry you lost someone. It is truly beautiful that you are transforming the loss. Using it a a way to inspire others and define what holds you to who you are and why you are doing what you are doing is so beautiful. Awesome post. Thank you for sharing <3 <3 <3ReplyCancel

    • February 13, 2014 - 11:19 am

      Andrea - Sorry just was re reading the blog and realized you didn’t say you lost someone at all … Sorry for your *disappointment … <3ReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2014 - 8:47 am

    Kristin V. - My dear friend, I am sending love and light your way in hopes that the news you received is only temporary and that you know that you are the cared for by many. ((HUGS))

    What a beautiful and powerful reminder you shared in this post. Life has a way of giving us opportunities for clarity, some take it and some don’t . It is obvious that you live your life with love and intent and that is what you are helping to spread out into the world. Thank you for being you genuinely.


  • February 13, 2014 - 8:51 am

    Sacha S. - Oh Brooke, how inspiring you are!!! You are truly a gift..I relate to this post in so many ways…mostly the one about doing what it is expected of me..thank you..hugs to youReplyCancel

    • February 13, 2014 - 8:57 am

      Sacha S. - and let me add that I am so sorry you are disappointed. Sending you good thoughts and hugsReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2014 - 8:56 am

    Laura Behary - Brooke, I love the way you blend the positive message with a touch of the macabre! Yes, life is short, full of ups and downs, and in the end, will we look back and have regrets? Probably. But let’s make that look back filled with love and comfort, knowing that we lived life to the fullest, free from fear, facing the challenges, and overflowing with pride in knowing we did our very best! Thanks for being an inspiration: we love you!
    Laura & LolaReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2014 - 9:01 am

    Shaina - Thank you for these very important and powerful reminders. You are wise beyond your years. Truly inspired by your work – I found it just weeks before your cL course and felt like I finally had permission to express all of the things I wanted when I first saw your work. I cannot thank you enough for that.

    Fear is the mind-killer.ReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2014 - 9:13 am

    Mary Angelini - These reminders are so fabulous Brooke – they not only speak to me, but are something I am most certainly going to pass on to my daughter who often struggles with a fear of being who she is and a shyness at expressing herself the way she wants for fear of what others might think. These are tremendously valuable life lessons I wish someone would have imparted on me sooner so I could impart on my daughter sooner.

    Though it sounds like you are going through a little bit of a tough time, draw strength from your friends, your work, your family and any other resource you have. The light at the other end will shine and you will find it and be so much stronger for it. Peace and serenity be with you Brooke!! πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2014 - 9:43 am

    Joshua Pheneger - I don’t know the details or the scope of your disappointing news, but I know you will make the best of it because you are a strong and driven person. You have your family at home, and your extended family here, to support you and give you the strength to find your way. I wish you nothing but the best, and I hope things work themselves out so you can focus on what’s important to you. Much love.ReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2014 - 9:44 am

    Paulo Carvalho - Awesome picture! I am speechless once again, Brooke. You are the best. Regarding your words, they are very beautiful and powerful. And you do not need to thank us. But we have! We have much to be thankful for your words, for sharing your work … And if we give our love and support to you, it’s because you deserve it. As Mary Angelini said ” Peace and serenity be with you Brooke” , is my wish too.ReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2014 - 10:58 am

    Bettye Rainwater - #11. It’s never too late.

    SUCH an important message. Old dogs CAN (and do!) learn new tricks.

    I’m 53 years old and feel I’m changing and growing more with every year.

    Thank you for putting *such* important messages out in the world – both through your pictures and through your words.


  • February 13, 2014 - 11:46 am

    Amani - Wow, I really wanna print that on a poster and hang it up in my room, and in my office. Would that be okay?

    Thank you for writing this. I think we all need a reminder every now and then <3

    Oh and I'm in LOVE with that picture. Jane was such a great model!ReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2014 - 12:08 pm

    Eos - Thank you Brooke! You are big inspiration for so many of us, I love this new blog of you and am happy to follow you along and read and learn from you.

  • February 13, 2014 - 1:20 pm

    Karen Janas - I am in awe of your work…. I am 20 years ahead of you in chronological age, but you are infinitely ahead of me in vision and wisdom. I love your art and I cherish your words. I hope I can continue to be inspired and committed to finding my true passion. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2014 - 2:58 pm

    Rebecca Cobb - You are just so inspiring and lovely! You have truly been the light of inspiration in my life lately and you make me want to constantly create and be happy with my work! I want so badly to find inspiration in anything and everything and express the way i view the world! And you make me believe i can do that! Thank you sooo very much! I cant wait to see what else you have in store for this blog and your future work! You are wonderful! πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 14, 2014 - 7:36 am

    Jody McNary - Great words to live by…thank you Brooke!!ReplyCancel

  • February 14, 2014 - 8:23 am

    Lisa Lizarraga - This is one of those blog posts that i need to come back to daily and read over and over. I need this right now.ReplyCancel

  • February 14, 2014 - 8:24 pm

    Mary-Claire - Thank you once again for sharing your spirit and thoughts even in a time of disappointment for you. I hope you realize that you are an inspiration to more people than you can even fathom.

    When we got another snowfall today, I knew I wanted an “epic” type of photo with flowing crimson cape and an old bridge, an image in my brain roused from its depths due to your constant encouragement and sage words. Despite the temperature and the trek through the snow in a wedding dress, I knew I had to seize the opportunity.

    Thank you for stirring strength and confidence in many of us out here in this land of imagination.ReplyCancel

  • February 15, 2014 - 4:48 pm

    Kimberly A Edwards - Brooke, I can’t thank you enough for your kind heart and the love you put out there. Your passion for life is very evident.

    I just finished another creativeLIVE class where the very end of the class, just like your class, was so mind blowing for me.

    My voice has been muffled and stifled for so long it has been completely mute for what seems like forever.

    I’m at my breaking point of blocking everyone who is muting me and ignoring them unmuting my voice.ReplyCancel

  • February 16, 2014 - 2:57 pm

    Shelle singer - I’m listening and doing.ReplyCancel

  • February 16, 2014 - 8:08 pm

    Kim Bajorek - Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Brooke. I will print these and keep on my desk! You embody all of these and I so appreciate all that you are!ReplyCancel

  • February 18, 2014 - 11:11 am

    Emma - Brooke, these are really great thoughts for inspiration when everything seems a bit too much!
    I really love what you did with the shot from CreativeLive too. It looks a little different to some of your other work, in a good way. Even though we can’t really see her face I feel that the focus is very much on her character and emotion. I can feel the story emerging as I look at it!ReplyCancel

So far this year has been one of change in most of the best ways possible. Every change is scary yet so often works out for the best. I’m hoping to hire my first employee this year, which is terrifying yet so very necessary. I am branching out and trying new things, like making a documentary and writing a novel. I am re-branding just a bit, still creating photos constantly but also becoming increasingly interested in motivation and inspiration.

All of these things make me bubble with excitement. But then there is one thing that weighs heavily on my mind, and that is a change that I’m quite sad about. I can see the silver lining, and I’ll be posting about why later this year, but for now, I want to speak about the darker side.

My very first convention that I ever spoke at was After Dark. I was invited into the family with open arms and was allowed to be completely myself, no matter what. Ever since then I’ve been an advocate of what they do there, and am proud to say that I have become a part of that process and team. I feel so loved when I attend. I try to love on as many people as possible. It is one big lovely love fest.

But at the end of March, the last After Dark will take place. It is like seeing a part of my heart wash away, but at the same time, I know that things must change. If it weren’t for the extreme kindness of the family of After Dark, especially Dave Junion, I might not have found my voice. I knew that I had something to say, but I didn’t know where to say it. AD has become my home away from home, and I will miss it terribly.

I think that we all have something like that in our lives, be it a person or a place or a thing…something that makes us feel accepted, or welcomed, or just like we can be ourselves. That is After Dark to me, and even though it won’t live on past this final convention, I will take what I have gained from it and apply it to everything that I do. I will move forward with a passionate intensity that makes me feel good about being myself. I will spread the love that I learned there to everyone in my path. And I will make sure that AD doesn’t ever fully go away, as I know so many people will do, because we will take what we learned and allow that to guide us in the future.

I sincerely hope that you’ll join me for this last After Dark. I will be giving it my all when I’m there. I’m not going to be fancy. I’m not going to do backflips and tricks (except that one levitation class…). I’m just going to teach from my soul and give all that I can.


Dave said that I could give away a free pass to After Dark running from March 30-April 2 in St. Louis, MO. If you would like to join us, please leave a comment with one paragraph about how you think that this experience will help your future. We’ll be picking one winner to join us!

Deadline is February 16th at 11PM PST.

Do you have something in your life like this? Something that makes you feel like you are okay to be yourself? A person, place, thing? Please do share, I love knowing what is near and dear to your heart.


  • February 12, 2014 - 7:59 am

    Jen - Wow this is a topic that inspired a really deep, and kind of painful, response in me. Community is something that I feel likeI have been searching for during the past ten years. I grew up in a destructive and extremist religious group, and finally had the courage to leave when I came of age. In many ways it feels like I am an immigrant to a country where there are languages and ideas that I am still trying to understand, while sometimes still pining for a few good memories of a home I will never return to.
    Photography, and meeting other misfit artists, has been how I have been able to assimilate myself into this new world. Being able to attend something like After Dark, where you are encouraged to explore your voice and show up with all of you would be such an amazing experience and just what I hope to continue to seek in my life!ReplyCancel

    • February 12, 2014 - 8:08 am

      brookeshaden - Jen, I think that community is something that many of us search for and it is brilliant to find it. I hope that AD is a fit for you and that our paths cross in the future! Your artwork is downright inspiring.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 8:05 am

    domnic santiago - Hi Brooke,

    I have a weird situation in which I feel completely myself, free and aloof, away from my physical pain, and that is in a snow storm, when the everyone is hiding away due to numbing cold or trying to find shelter,

    I like to stand in the middle of it and face it, bear it. Nobody can understand how beautiful and surreal it is, there is something about standing in the middle of the mayhem and to stare right back at it. Did I mentioned I get crippled from arthritis pain…:)


    • February 12, 2014 - 8:08 am

      brookeshaden - Dom, this might sound strange, but how you described yourself in a snow storm sounds like a character that I would love to photograph. With your permission I may do an image inspired by you some day.ReplyCancel

    • March 16, 2014 - 6:12 am

      domnic santiago - Hi Brooke,

      I am sorry for responding this late, you mentioned that you wanted to shoot my idea, which I think is very kind of you and I would love to see your interpretation of it. Keep up the good work.



  • February 12, 2014 - 8:08 am

    Katelyn Demidow - Moving away from my entire family 7 years ago I never thought I’d find that place again. Especially since moving I was thrown into a continual state of changing, evolving, emerging. My husband has always been that place for me, where I can show him my dark and be held and seen by him. But he works offshore so I am alone with my two kids a lot of the year, so no matter how held I was with him, it wasn’t enough for those times he was away.
    After finding my true self and honoring the person I am, the people I have to hold me emerged from the dark. A wonderful midwife, te one who helped me know I was strong enough to birth my second daughter at home, she turned out to be one of my dearest friends. She doesn’t judge me and loves me in my weak times as well as my strong times.
    A friend I had met through etsy, when I purchased a necklace from her, over four years ago, she is now one of those that encourages me and lifts me up.
    And a childhood friend that I lost touch with when she moved away in the 5th grade. We reconnected through Facebook while pregnant with our first child at the same time. We talk almost every day on the phone.
    So I may be away from apart everyone I ever knew, but I am held deeply by the friends turned family now.

    Oh this sounds so lovely. And I know one day I will come to one of your speaking engagements or workshops. Even if it’s not this one. But I would be truly honored to be chosen. I am re dedicating myself to my craft this year and have more inspiration and passion this year for it than I have in the past 5/6 years.
    Thank you Brooke for being one of those continual beams of bright light in my life.ReplyCancel

    • February 12, 2014 - 8:10 am

      brookeshaden - Katelyn, thank you so much for sharing your story. Isn’t it amazing the people we connect with when we least expect it? I would very much love to meet you. I think you are a great person and it would be nice to spend even just a little bit of time around you!ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 8:23 am

    DanielCely - Every time I listen to you, read your blog posts, see one of your amazing creations, I just can’t help but feel anxious and eager to create, to imagine, it would mean the world to me to attend AD, however I’ll leave the opportunity to someone who can actually take it, i’m overseas and can’t afford this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    There is a place whre I feel like being myself is ok (even though some people think otherwise) and it is among my closest friends, each of us unique in our very weird way but full of love and support for each other’s dreams and goals.ReplyCancel

    • February 12, 2014 - 8:25 am

      brookeshaden - Daniel thank you so much for writing. I’ll be hosting another contest like this for a retreat in London if you would want to attend there πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 8:30 am

    Tiffany Noles - Change. Inspiration. Moving forward in my dreams – all of these things are what my soul yearns for, thrives on.
    Today, like yesterday, I gaze out of the tall windows in my kitchen and watch the billowing white clouds move lazily across the blue sky and eventually, out of sight. My hands are dry and cracked. I sigh. They hurt. I put my gloves back on and continue washing dishes. The suds look like the clouds, slowly fading away. My mind drifts away with the clouds, the suds, to somewhere magical. A deep green forest I have never seen, but have visited a hundred times. A schooner at sea. A haunted manor I have yet to explore.
    A voice interrupts my visions, there is a tug on my shirt. “Hungry” a little voice says. I will dream later I tell myself as life beckons me back.

    I am a 33-year-old mother of 5 and photographer when life permits. It would be a dream come true to be chosen to attend After Dark. The thought of being surrounded by creative individuals and dreamers makes my heart swell and my soul glow.ReplyCancel

    • February 12, 2014 - 8:36 am

      brookeshaden - Tiffany, that is so beautiful and heartbreaking. I can tell you have a big imagination and I hope that we can help let it explode <3ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 8:33 am

    Amani - I wish I could apply, but I know it’s almost impossible for me to be accepted, and even if by some chance I was, I really don’t think I’d be allowed to travel on my own all the way to the States.

    I know how Dominic feels (comment above), I feel that way when I’m sitting outdoors and listening to music. Music plays a huge part in my life, and when it’s really windy outside, that’s when I feel amazing. I feel like I can do anything. I can’t even describe the feeling. I try to sit outside as much as possible just so I can feel it. It’s also amazing for brainstorming and getting inspired. It makes me sad that winter’s almost over, because the heat gets unbearable here.

    I know this is going to sound super cheesy, and I apologize for that, but I feel like your blog posts are something that I’ve come to rely on. You inspire me and make me feel better. You make me feel accepted, and like I can be myself.
    Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong place, and this country and society are suffocating me. I want so much more than this, and I dream of escaping some day. But this, what you’ve created here, it feels like a community I belong to, and that is an amazing feeling. So thank you for that <3ReplyCancel

    • February 12, 2014 - 8:35 am

      brookeshaden - Oh Amani I know how you feel, wanting to be outside and inspired. I am so glad we get to see each other in March. You have no idea how much your words lift me up. You read this blog and I am so thankful, because simply by being here you make me feel like I am okay to write the things I do. Thank you so much.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 8:40 am

    Sandra - This is in a way a bit intimidating…only because I was never one to be up front and center in anything. I knew I had ideas and thoughts and an imagination but was afraid to unleash it, for fear of not fitting in. Then one day I came across a Flickr profile where the photographer totally wowed me and inspired me to create regardless of what anyone thought. Her work was captivating and out of the box and Brilliant. It pushed me to learn…to teach myself to create pieces that were important to me . It took me a while to share my work with the world but I got there and along the way came many more amazing photographers who inspired me and allowed me to dream. I am so very thankful for them and most of all you, Brooke. Since early 2009 I’ve followed your journey and cannot be more grateful for having stumbled across your work. When I’m not feeling my best, I know I have a group of people to go to and find strength in ART!ReplyCancel

    • February 12, 2014 - 9:34 am

      brookeshaden - This put me to tears. Sandra, you have been a constant force of positivity in my life since we met and I am so grateful for you.ReplyCancel

    • February 12, 2014 - 10:12 am
  • February 12, 2014 - 8:44 am

    Samantha - Wow, the last After Dark!? I was going to put it in my business plan for 2015 to attend, so I’m a little lost. I need to be there as I’m just finding my voice, my direction, my momentum and feel that being around you, Brooke Shaden, and the other mentors could really help me take my business to the next level. A “free pass” could really help me out financially, obviously, but it would be so great to be around others who are as inspired as me at this point of time. Brooke, to meet you would be amazing. You have helped me to find my inspiration, I was glued to the screen the last few times you’ve been on CreativeLive, I love your work with composites (and have since tried a few of my own) and I love your voice via social media. I feel like I already know you…sounds super creepy! haha. I know whoever you choose will be as grateful as I would be, but thank you for this opportunity.ReplyCancel

    • February 12, 2014 - 9:35 am

      brookeshaden - Oh Samantha, thank you so much for sharing your heart. I love what you had to say, and I am so grateful for you!ReplyCancel

    • February 13, 2014 - 8:50 am

      Samantha - Unfortunately, shortly after I wrote this, I discovered my dog of 13 years old (I’ve had him 11.5 years) had passed away in my living room. The guilt I feel right now is unbearable to think that I spent the last few minutes of his life commenting on this blog rather than being by his side. I am grieving and it hurts and I just wanted to share that, not to win a chance at the opportunity you are giving to someone, but to say that we should not take life for granted, we should live in each and every moment and not regret a thing. Even though I am feeling guilty about commenting on your blog, rather than being by my dog’s side, there is no way I could have known that he picked yesterday morning to slip away into a deep sleep. Guilt, anger, denial, acceptance are all part of the grieving cycle and I just wanted to share that.ReplyCancel

      • February 13, 2014 - 9:02 am

        brookeshaden - Samantha, I am so sad to hear this. Truly my heart aches for you. I had a similar experience a year and a half ago – I went away on a month-long trip to Europe and I had this terrible feeling the whole time that my cat, who was my best friend, might pass away…no good reason for thinking it, but I did. When I returned she had passed away, and I felt that same guilt for not being there when it happened. You will be in my thoughts and I will be sending you positive energy – I admire your courage and strength during this time.ReplyCancel

    • February 13, 2014 - 1:22 pm

      Samantha - Thank you so much Brooke, I’m sorry to hear about your cat. I had those same feelings for the past few months that his time was slipping away. Trying to respect my heart and head in grief right now.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 8:49 am

    Mary Angelini - Since I first left my California home to join the Army back in 1985, I have lived a somewhat nomadic existence, whether that was with my Army families in Fort Knox and Korea, my ex husband’s family in Philadelphia, my current husband’s family here in Illinois, not to mention all the work families I have had from job to job, they have filled a void where my real family has been absent. I can totally appreciate and understand how important it is to have a family of whatever kind and to feel like to are a part of and belong to that.

    More than anything the connections I make and the families I grow through photography have been extremely important to me and to entering a place where I feel free to express myself and find support and encouragement.

    That said, since I am entering this field as a much older person and am not able to hit the reset button and go back to school, it is extremely important to me to find means by which I can obtain education in my field that allow me to keep the day job which supports me and my family and the After Dark Convention would be a perfect environment for total emersion, but in a bite sized piece so I can maximize the benefit of the experience without having to give anything up to experience it, if that makes sense! And since St. Louis is soooo close to me, it is a perfect location!!

    As always, thanks Brooke for your dedication and generosity of self and knowledge, it constantly feeds and fills my creative cup!!ReplyCancel

    • February 12, 2014 - 9:36 am

      brookeshaden - Mary thank you so much for sharing! I am really glad to hear your story a little bit, as I feel like I know you through this blog…and I am always grateful to hear from you. xoxoReplyCancel

    • February 12, 2014 - 10:12 am

      Mary Angelini - You are most welcome Brooke πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 8:52 am

    Candice - To answer your question Brooke, I found that place where I could be me within myself. This last year I have had so many changes that the only thing that felt real was to just be me. And honestly it has been one of the most freeing feelings in the world. I have spent so much time trying to be the photographer and person that others have said I should be and it has really got me know where. I have made a huge jump to just be me, to not be afraid of these crazy ideas that get stuck in my head of projects that I dream about. To not be scared to share them with people. I want my work to genuinely reflect who I am and it is beginning to finally. I have a huge project (for me at least!) I am planning this late spring and I and searching for any and all resources at my disposal to help me create it. I have watched yours (and others) on creativelive, bought books, whatever I can but I am really hoping to go to a workshop and get some real hands on experience. I am wanting to create a three piece series based on the Greek tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice, inspired by the lastest arcade fire album. I have it planned sketched and everything but I am still nervous about some of the technical aspects of it. I have been doing mini shoots to prepare and learning through trial and error but going to something like this would be amazing. Thank you for being you Brooke and at the end of the day I hope you know how much you have truly inspired people, myself included!ReplyCancel

    • February 12, 2014 - 9:37 am

      brookeshaden - Oh Candice that is a beautiful photo idea! I can’t wait to see it come to fruition, and I know it will!ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 9:13 am

    Sacha S. - Oh my goodness what a wonderful topic to explore!!! When I read your post the very first thought I had was….my mom….I know it is probably typical for people to feel most themselves around family, I am an honest person when it comes to other people, not so much when it is about me. I put on this faciade that I always have everything under control, that I am always strong, that everything is always happy go lucky, I help whoever I can whenever I can, I try to show no weakness…I don’t know why I do this?? My mom is my Rock!! I am completely myself with her, I can break down in tears, be completely rediculous with her, be as crazy creative around her, be weak, or silly emotional.. With my beautiful mother and best friend I am 100% my self!!ReplyCancel

    • February 12, 2014 - 9:38 am

      brookeshaden - Awwww Sacha I so identify with this! My mom is the same to me. I adore her wholeheartedly and she makes me feel safe and secure and like I can be myself.ReplyCancel

    • February 12, 2014 - 9:45 am

      Sacha S. - * facade * lolReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 9:37 am

    Dennis - Hmmm… One paragraph. Yes I would like to join you and it has nothing to do with the future but rather living in the present. I would like to be there now because the future is never certain. I’ve been debating with myself about going to AD for a long while. I feel like it is a luxury I can’t afford but it also seems selfish asking for a free pass when other people are paying for the same experience. The truth is that while I would love to be there, you and many others have already generously shared more than I could have hoped for. Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • February 12, 2014 - 9:40 am

      brookeshaden - Dennis that is so kind of you. I am blown away by your words and am so thankful for you.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 9:48 am

    Rebecca Cobb - I know that I can be myself around my mom, and some of my friends, but I am honestly still trying to find that place or what have you that makes me feel completely myself. I am still trying to figure out what makes me feel like me in my photography as well. I’m not sure exactly what my voice has to say in this world. But…I know I strive to say something.
    And I guess I feel the most myself when I am at home. In my room. Home is a safe place. No one can hurt you, and you can’t hurt anyone. But…just as you, Brooke, are trying to push yourself to make a documentary and write a novel (both of which I’m SUPER excited about and can’t wait for them to come out. Cause I KNOW they will, cause you can do it!!), I also need to push myself more. Step out of my comfort zone. And..its very scary…but…I know it will be worth it. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 9:51 am

    Tom Sowders - Hi. I’m about to finish my PHD in English from Louisiana State University, where I taught poetry and writing. I live in Raleigh, NC. I’m a writer and social media person. I’m 33 years old.

    Is there ever a time we should just completely “be ourselves?” Isn’t it more loving to perform strength when strength is needed? To perform certainty even though that’s never possible?

    There is no such thing as a stable self. We are moments, habits. Once we let go of our need to know ourselves, what unexpected destinations await us? If you skim my blog, you’ll see that I have documented some experiments with digital photography. I would like to learn more, to see how expressive and dangerous I can be with a camera. I feel accepted when I’m inside a poem by H.D. or, increasingly, a digital photo that captures something so perfectly that it becomes a world to live in for a while, and that sense of belonging, of rendezvous with the imagination, is enough to make life awesome.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 10:09 am

    Alexandra Lynn - Sometimes when I show a photograph, I get a tightness in my chest, holding my breath hoping that maybe someone can identify with me. I am so passionate in creating an image because it is as if I have personified a piece of my soul to share. The truth is that not everyone will understand the parts of me I display in my photographs. It has taken me a long time to begin to create without inhibitions; like you, I explore the darkest parts of me that no one knows; in their darkness, they are beautiful. To have a place to be able to interact with you, who has been a shining inspiration on not only my work, but my life as well, and also form bonds within a community that holds the same values would be such a blessing. Being in college and still trying to carve out my creative path, creating relationships and interacting with professionals i admire is a priceless opportunity I would treasure. Thank you Brooke, for this opportunity and for being a light to everyone around you.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 10:13 am

    Maria Irene Doten - Dear Brooke,
    I’m writing this for my husband. My husband started out as an artist, but soon fell in love with photography. After his office at work was shut down shortly after we were married, I encouraged him to start a photography business. In 2002 business was doing good and inn 2003 when we had our first child, I decided to join him in the business. We have struggled over the years to keep the business going but somehow we have always managed. My husband has always wanted to pursue photography as an art and really use his talent but has always been afraid. He really had seemed to have lost all interest in photography until he found you on Creative Live. I cannot express how thankful I am to you for sharing your talent and giving him hope and passion again.
    Going to Afterdark would mean beyond what I could express in words. He is more than your fan, he adores you! Your encouragement and passion for your craft has given him a direction and opened up his heart again.
    I hope you will consider selecting him for this wonderful opportunity. His name is Gene Doten, and we have been married for 12 years, he is my love and I wish this for him for Valentine’s Day. Thank you for reading my story Brooke and for all that you share and give to so many!!!!!!
    xoxoxo Maria DotenReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 10:16 am

    robin - i feel like i am missing something in my photography. i know how to make a correct portrait, but i want to make a portrait that leaves me fulfilled. I want to take a portrait that makes me feel satisfied when i am done. I want to know how to take my visions out of my head and onto the portrait….ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 10:29 am

    Anne Snape - Do I feel I can ever be completely myself? No. As a child I lived in my dreamworld which, to me, was the real world…everyone thought I was odd. Even though I was always top of my class, I never had a best friend. I left school at 15 because of familial financial problems (my father was a coal miner) and became a banker. The women in my family have a keen sense of β€œknowing” – sensing events before they happen, seeing auras, etc. I have always had an inner guide. Anyway, I came to America with one suitcase to the land of opportunity where I earned an M.A. in English Lit., wrote articles for a number of local publications, and wrote two cookbooks. Today, I have an amazing husband, exceptional children, wonderful grandchildren, and some dear friends. And yet, I am never 100% in my own self, except when I am alone. Too many horrible dark episodes in my life have estranged me from sharing my soul completely. But, since finding the work and words of Brooke Shaden, I now have an outlet for my experiences, my dreams, and my nightmares in photography. I discovered my visual voice.

    Because I am so fortunate in so many ways, I would like to provide a pass for a less fortunate person at this very important workshop. Please let me know, Brooke, if I may do so.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 10:33 am

    Alexis - I recently returned home from living in Costa Rica for three months doing volunteer work with a small community on the Bribri reservation. While there, I was with 6 other people: 6 people that became family to me. I felt like being in such a remote place with complete strangers, I was away from all the expectations, stereotypes, and images that I had back at home- mostly self created. I was able to be my most raw version of myself and bring that back home. I stopped trying to be a version of myself I wanted to be, and started just being me. I have an incredible group of supportive family and friends who greeted me with open arms. They are the ones who love me and appreciate me even when I struggle to love and appreciate myself.

    I have always loved taking photos and over the last few years have started to develop a business of portrait photography. I am still a complete newbie when it comes to photography, but I know that I love it. I want to be able to show people how beautiful they are through the images I take of them. I want to continue to do volunteer work and try to use my photography to help and encourage others. I want to teach what I know, even if it doesn’t seem like much to me. (Brooke, I think what you are doing in India is absolutely incredible! It’s so inspiring to see how you are using your skills and talents to teach others and build them up). I would love to be able to go to a workshop and learn from people who have all been where I am right now and had someone to encourage them to pursue their dreams.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 11:09 am

    robin spalding - i got back into art photography last year after watching your creative live class. i have always been a person who is bubbly and happy but dealing with depression and anxiety underneath it all. lately those two things have gotten in the way of my usually happy self. my husband is in the navy and currently we are stationed in a very isolated area. a current struggle with infertility has only made things worse. i can’t tell you enough how your CL class hit me at the right time/right place. . .i needed it. it was the push to create again. and my art has comforted me and helped carry me through this hard time. all my work stems with trying to express the dark thoughts and emotions i go through. the constant negative undercurrent in my thoughts. i want to scream out to the world how i feel and for help but i don’t know how to say it, so i show it in my work. my husbands hates it. most of my family don’t understand it. and it usually makes me the odd one. lately i have found to be ok with being the odd one. i know my work is dark and deals with these negative thoughts but when sharing them and my journey through it i want to give people hope and inspiration(much like you) to hang in there. i hope people who feel the same can find comfort in my work and find a friend, feel less alone and maybe hold their head up a little higher to look for the light. i struggle with words and sometimes with trying to express the thoughts and story playing out in my head. this would be an amazing opportunity that i would never be able to attend otherwise. to meet other creative types who express themselves through art. to have a place to meet face to face with others who find themselves through their art.who understand the constant need to create. to meet others with passion in art. to meet you (which is a dream in itself) you are soo inspiring and touching and motivate me so much through creative live and your blog i can only imagine what it would be like in real life meeting you. you are this spark that lights every person’s creative light bulb you meet. this would help give me the strength and confidence and skills to not be afraid to move forward, to share my work, my journey with others and reach out to inspire and help others. thank you.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 11:10 am

    Judy Graham - Brook, I’m older than most of your followers and have retired from a long and stressful accounting career. I’ve always done photography on the side but never to the extent I do now. Yet I still found myself searching for what I really wanted to do with my camera. Then I found you and your work. Owning my own accounting firm made me force myself to be what I needed to be for a successful career but it wasn’t truly me. I’m insecure. I’m not attractive. I’ve always felt beneath others in society. But when I take my granddaughter out for a photoshoot and I can share those feelings and emotions in what I produce from it with my editing that I have learned from you, I feel good about me, my work, and I’m genuinely happy. Life is good, don’t get me wrong, and I am a very blessed individual. But the freedom I have trying to show the world what life is and can be is where I want to go and be. You have so inspired me and I am still watching the videos from Creative Live over and over. I learn something new everytime and I get so inspired I can’t wait to create a new image. Thank you for showing me the way.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 11:48 am

    Jessica Scheuler - I never considered myself an ‘artsy’ person. Growing up, my friends were into sports, so I was too. I’ve always felt pulled by my creativity, but ignored it until a couple years ago when I began creating small things with my hands – nothing fancy or meaningful, just little trinkets for my family and friends. At the age of 30, I graduated from nursing school at 38 weeks pregnant with 2 children. I started working in an ICU 12 weeks after my little girl was born – what a bunch of life changes I had at once! My husband has been with me since 9th grade and has been an amazing support system to me, but even he doesn’t understand the way I feel and the things I constantly think about after working my job all night and taking care of three kids all day. Photography has been a joyful presence for me. It allows me to be a part of the lives of so many and bring them happiness. Then, I found you. Your art has inspired me to create my own. It has allowed me to release those feelings that I have buried deep down because nobody else understands them. Nobody in my family knows what it’s like to watch someone else fade away and to hold their hand on the way out. Or to sit with a family as they reminisce about the one in the bed. Or worse, to frantically fight to save someone, only to have them slip away out of your fingers anyway. Those things have scarred me, deep. The projects I have planned will help me to cope with that pain that no one else sees or understands. I cannot thank you enough for sharing your art with the world and inspiring me to create my own.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 12:10 pm

    Angela - I am a mother of three young children, but before that I did Art all the time. I dream of creating a life that is artistic now, but also don’t want to miss out on these precious years with my children and have a hard time finding balance. I fell into doing weddings and portraits as a way to do photography and make a little money. But it isn’t my passion and over the past year or so I have started saying no more to that which I am not passionate about and saying yes more to that which will bring me closer to who I want to be as an artist and person. Thank you for your inspiration, I love watching and listening to you and the way you think. You are a beautiful soul and have been sort of a mentor for me. This experience would be helpful for me to get out of my normal routine, but either way I just wanted to say thank you for being you;)ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 1:07 pm

    Joshua Pheneger - I wish I could go, but sadly it’s not in the cards. I hope that you are able to create wonderfully vivid memories and friendships that will carry you forward and keep that amazing passion of yours burning as brightly as ever. You’re an amazing person and I can’t wait to see whats next for you.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 3:36 pm

    Lu - Sadly I already have some work plans for those dates πŸ™ But I will keep an eye close to all those new changes you are talking about. I’d love to read your novel!!ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 6:28 pm

    Melanie - The day that I found out there would be no more After Dark, my heart dropped and I wanted to cry. I want so badly to be apart of this iconic event and it seemed like my last chance was impossibly slipping away forever. I have been to only one photography conference before, and it made a world of difference for me! I attended STAR a little over a year ago (It’s a smaller regional conference). At STAR I learned so much and made some very dear friends. In the year since, I have been published in print multiple times, found a corporate sponsor, and started teaching my own workshops. I still have a long way to go, but I am thrilled to have made so much progress in a year. I can only imagine the friendships. inspiration and education that await at AD!
    I have already registered, but I want to share what it is has cost and the sacrifices I am willing to make to nurture my art. Right now I am living in a house heated only by electric heaters in a snowy winter climate because the cost of propane is too high. My car is sitting in the driveway because it needs $550 in repairs before it can be driven. I am nervous that I won’t have enough to pay the electric bill when it comes so I’ve temporalily discounted my portrait sessions to bring in clients. After discussing this with my incredibly supportive fiancee, I made the decision to use my tax refund to go to AD and have faith that the rest will work it’s way out. I believe that sometimes you have to take risks to make your dreams come true. I can’t wait to meet you there Brooke. You are one incredibly inspiring lady!ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 6:31 pm

    chime - Photography is my catalyst and my harbor. The more honest I am with myself, the more honest my work becomes. It is more than a vocation for me. It is a leap of faith (every shoot). I am a nerd with a deep and abiding love for humanity, especially when it is undressed, vulnerable. When I shoot, I think about thinking less and feeling more, unclenching and living heart-wide. I want my images to capture letting go, giving in, passion, intrinsic joy. I want them to honor the dark spaces without feeling tethered to them always. I have never had the opportunity to be in a space where I could explore and refine my skills with other people. It has always only been me and my camera. I know that connecting and learning with others would be wildly inspiring. I’m ready.

    [for some reason the website field won’t believe me, but my website is]ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 9:05 pm

    Becky Morgan - I have always believed that passion starts from within…. that being said~ I first found your work while looking for a inspiration outside of myself. I was drawn to the way you are able to place a feeling inside a image and make your passions come to life in print. I have been following you and am drawn to your work. It keeps brining me back for more…. It’s the freedom to place thoughts, dreams and visions on print that I love. Thank you for all the inspiration that you bring. They say that if you open your soul, opportunity will come. My soul is open….ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 11:10 pm

    chrystal kelly - Hi Brooke!
    I just took the creative live course with you. It’s silly but after 21 hours I feel like we are friends, even though you have never met me. You were beautifully inspiring. I felt like you took me along on a road trip through an enchanted forest filled with gingerbread houses, castles half washed away, giant mushroom forts and a fairy kingdom all while being chased by the stroke of midnight! I learned so much on thursday that I skipped a class friday to stick it out with you. I knew I would get more out of a day with you and I was right! Thank you! I feel happiest when I am creating or helping others to create. The images I make are heavily influenced by my imagination, I choose to illustrate characters in alternate realities as emotions incarnate. Inspiration comes in the form of childhood literature, music, art, and sometimes simply an object, or article of clothing. Creating sets, props, and costumes help bring my dreams to life through the lens. Post production is then used to composite, enhance, and polish (or sprinkle a little magic). The lessons I learned from you have already been helping me to have a better flow, writing out the stories I am trying to share for example. I love writing it out it brings the character so much more depth! I work alone allot as well, if I have an idea I want to do whatever I can to make it happen. I am trying to find my path, were I fit. Meeting people who I can learn from and possibly share something with would be an amazing opportunity. After Dark is a community I would love to experience. Photography is my way of bringing dreams to life. I really wanted you to know how wonderfully inspiring you are as a teacher and an artist! Thanks Brooke!ReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2014 - 9:03 am

    Janice Dodds - Brook you are an inspiration! I got to see your Creative Live last week and was INSPIRED! Your work is so beautiful. You make it look effort less. ( but I know its a lot of hard work). Iam verry thank full for Jun Shu (who will be my photogrper for my wedding this year) for posting about it on her Facebook. I have been a photographer for almost 13 years and havent found my passion. I am currently working on that.!! I ve been stuck doing cookie cutter photography living pay check to pay check for way too long. I need After Dark to help me get to the next level. It would be an honor to be in one of your classes.ReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2014 - 9:56 am

    Russ Turner - The last After Dark? Wow! I guess I should preface this with don’t enter this one in the contest. I’m already signed up with hotel and flight booked. I’m somewhat in the position of Judy who commented above. Photography is not my livelihood. I’m a lawyer by day and then turn to photography/music/theater in my off hours to do something creative and rewarding. I’ve found that for most of my creative efforts, getting the opportunity to interact with other creatives is hugely beneficial. Mostly its because seeing how others see the world is inspiring and encourages me to step outside myself and broaden my perspective. Also, seeing how others approach the art and craft of photography gives me more insight into how to conceptualize and execute the ideas bouncing around in my head. I’ve had the chance to tune into your Creativelive sessions Brooke. Most of the time I’m not able to focus solely on the broadcast – I have it playing in the background at work and switch over every so often to see what’s up. (Alt-Tab is my friend). I can honestly say I’ve gotten so many little “lightbulb” moments when something you’ve said, or the way you set up a shot, or the way you adjusted a photo in post connected with other things in my brain and turned into a moment of clarity and understanding. I’m hoping my experience at After Dark is similar, lots of little moments that expand my knowledge and inspire me to push the envelope of my own skills and creativity.ReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2014 - 10:38 am

    Kassie Jackson - I don’t even know how to begin to explain how much it would mean to me to go to After Dark. Especially with you teaching. I am only 22 years old and have been struggling with finding the genre of photography I want to focus on. For the past few years I just did basic portraiture and have gotten fairly bored with it. That’s when I remembered how I got started. When I was 13 I discovered deviantArt and photo manipulations. I would play around with stock photos and Photoshop to make new creative images. So recently, after watching your Creative Live class last week, I realized that I could make these photo manipulations from my own photography. Somehow it didn’t hit me that I could go back to what I loved and make art from my photography. But since this is a recent revelation, I can use all the help I can get. Coming to After Dark would help me to be more confident in my work and style and it would push me like I can’t do on my own. This would mean the world to me and I have a lot that I want to express, I just need a little help with the technical side of it!ReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2014 - 12:32 pm

    sarah smith - I am an artist first and foremost. But I have struggled my entire life with using my artistic voice to create work that felt satisfying. When I finally picked up my camera, took it off auto, and began to see what an incredible creative tool it could be, my world shattered in the best way possible. I have never felt so free to express myself and it feels great. I ravenously consume every bit of knowledge I can get my hands on to hone my photography skills and keep improving artistically. After Dark sounds like it would be an incredible opportunity to do just that, and help blow the lid off my creative pot that’s starting to bubble over! It sounds exciting! Thank you for the opportunity to enter this contest and share our passion!ReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2014 - 2:07 pm

    Paulo Jordao - After Dark is a unique “convention” that use experienced and talented mentors to help other photographers. Three years ago I went to a After Dark in Miami and I was amazed with all the mentors and how much information they were sharing. Until then, the best I was doing in Print Competitions was 78 points. After that, I’ve won South Florida PPGF Photographer of the Year, four best in shows and 12 first places. All that because few tricks I’ve learned with one of the Mentors. I hope I can be chosen for this privilege of been there for the last After Dark. Thanks for the opportunity!ReplyCancel

  • February 14, 2014 - 12:36 pm

    Andi Polk - In December of 2012, my entire path was redirected.

    It was like I hadn’t perceived the world as it truly was. Suddenly, all I could hear was their sorrow. Even more than lost love, lost dreams seemed fillet the hearts around me. My pride made me a hard worker and ambitious, but what was I really striving for? Acceptance? Material gains? If I died that day… Had my life meant anything at all?

    I sold everything closed myself in to ask the big question. Who am I supposed to be? I never had to “be” anything, I was already complete and you are a mirror for what is in the core of my being. I wish to shine light into the darkness at whatever level I am capable of achieving. I have planted seeds in my family and I can’t see it yet, but I know it won’t stop there.

    I write this with hope, but I feel guilty for even sending it, because I know in my heart someone needs it more than I do. I hope you change someone’s life forever with this convention.

    Que Sera Sera,


    *I don’t have a website up and my first fine art attempt is the only one that’s made it to the web so far, but I’ll try to link you to it.ReplyCancel

  • February 14, 2014 - 1:39 pm

    Travis Biggs - After Dark is one of those events that has pulled at my heart every time I’ve read about. Many conventions offer all sorts of great learning opportunities but none of them have ever held the intense attraction that After Dark has. Unfortunately, every year there has been some roadblock that has stood in my way, whether distance or scheduling or family or whatever else fate conspired against me with. (Well, that last one doesn’t count as ‘against me’, no matter how amazing After Dark is it’s not better than the birth of our first!)

    Anyway, After Dark has become somewhat of my Moby Dick, a mysterious force that lurks right outside of my reach. This final After Dark presents an opportunity for me to learn, to grow, and to engage with others in a way that I never have before. Unfortunately, because this is the last deep dive of After Dark, if I don’t catch it now I’m certain that I never will.

    The opportunity to grow my business, grow in my craft, and renew my passion would be one that I would never, could never, forget.

    Have a great day and thank you for this fantastic opportunity, regardless of who you select!ReplyCancel

  • February 14, 2014 - 5:46 pm

    Tara - yes I do! It is you brooke! for many years I knew I loved photography and bringing priceless memories to families, but i always felt there was something missing. I was always so afraid to step out and try soemthing new and different, something that would come to my mind but i was too scared to attempt it because I already had people that would tell me I was no good, i was a ‘fauxtographer’ i shouldnt be taking photos at all, so why would i risk taking the other “weird’ photos that I had ideas for.
    Last year, June 4th to be exact, I was made aware of a page that had been created about me. it was just a bully page, a harrassing page that went from about my business, to my personal life, and even to my daughters surgery and biopsy checking for cancer, this person was relentless and wrote horrible things about myself and family. for 8 months this went on, daily i would check and save all screenshots,taking them to the police. they never found the person, but in the meantime, i found you.
    I watched you during photoweek on creativelive, i watched you do and talk about the things and the type of art that I WANTED to do, and heard you speaking about failure and excuses, and at that moment my life changed. I stopped looking at that page daily, I stopped caring what was said about me, and I started instead following you and others doing fine art, encouraging, and following their dreams to forge a new path. I learned fromyou how to look inside and ask myself “why am I doing this” and “what do i want to do” and “how can i get to that point”…i stared taking notes, and even started to create. I finally felt FREE of this person and all their followers that would bully me. I no longer cared if others hated my work, and i finally let go of trying to figure out WHY someone would even do this to me in the first place.
    still to this day i do not know who the person is, but honestly i dont care anymore. you;ve opened my eyes to so many new doors that i just need to reach out and open. I set 3 goals for myself in december when i started my blog and i have already reached 2 of them. i work hard each day to focus on what makes me happy, what makes my family and the supportive ppl around me happy, and intentionally stay away from those that bring me down or those that DONT support me.
    I heard soooo much from jen about after dark, and I have looked into it and would LOVE to attend, but simply cannot afford to. this would be the best oppurtunity for me to continue to grow and learn as an artist and continue on this journey.
    even if i dont get picked, this is the story i wanted tot ell you, how you literally changed my life. i was, at one point, so down from this person i started to believe that i was no good, everyone hated my art and i should quit. i was very depressed. then i found you and your different approach to art and living, and it changed my life. so thank you brooke! i am going to continue to grow in my art and journey and the lessons ive learned from you so far have been invaluable to that. i know i am somebody now and i do have something great to offer myself, my family, others, and the world as a whole. god bless you!ReplyCancel

  • February 14, 2014 - 8:55 pm

    Mary-Claire - After Dark was the first photography convention/class/expo/experience I ever attended, almost 3 years ago in Cincinnati. As I am assisting at this (sadly) last AD , I don’t need a free ticket. I just wanted to say to anyone who is thinking about it, even if you don’t win the graciously donated entry, you need to go.

    With 8 children and not a lot of money, I do understand what a big commitment AD is in both time and expense. You would be hard pressed to find more truly generous and talented mentors. But it will change your life. This is my 6th time. Find a way to go. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 15, 2014 - 11:18 am

    sandi - when i was 12, my father took his life. on that sunny day in mid September, my world went dark and very cold. a numbness spread through my body and froze me in time. i stopped painting. i stopped drawing. i stopped sculpting. i stopped playing cello. i found i could no longer create the way i could before his death. kids at school were cruel and spread rumors and whispered in the hallways. i isolated myself even more. soon i discovered that through a camera, it was safe for me to see and experience the world. i’ve had a camera in my hands ever since. it’s my safety and my salvation and my connection. there have only been a handful of times since that day 31 years ago that i’ve felt safe enough to come out from behind my wall and be myself. one of those times was at my first After Dark, in Portland. there i met a group of people who, perhaps because we were sharing the most amazing experience and had all been through challenges in life, bonded instantly and deeply. i feel safe with them. i would love to see them all together one last time at the place we first came together.ReplyCancel

  • February 15, 2014 - 7:37 pm

    Vanessa - I’ve never gone to a photography convention or class in person, but since I’ve found your work, I’ve been so interested in doing so! I have spent the last week watching your Creative Live class in bits and pieces (only a few more videos left to watch) breaking up the work week and the snow days; and they have filled me with this tremendous inspiration and hope for the future! I think being able to attend a class would be just the push I need to bring all of this inspiration into the real world.
    My happy place is a person, my best friend Emily. This is a little weird, because I’m largely not a social person. I like people, I have nothing against anyone, but I prefer to spend my time alone, and am happiest that way. I even go so far as to take a week every year in the mountains by myself for what I’ve dubbed “Alone Vacation”.
    Emily has been my best friend since college, she was my TA in computer science and had a hell of a time teaching me about pointers- She is a person I can talk freely with about absolutely anything. Even though we rarely get to see each other, as we currently live 3K miles apart, we always make time to talk- I’ve even rigged my work instant message program to allow me to chat with her (shh!) I also send her my experimental baked goods for reviews (and it also tests the shipping ability of certain items, which can be mildly disastrous)
    I can truly be any self with her, and she accepts me or tells me when I’m being a total arse (and of course vice versa) I bounce my craziest ideas off of her with no fear of judgement or disinterest. She keeps me real, she grounds me, and she lets me fly. I love her dearly and wouldn’t be the same without her!

  • February 16, 2014 - 1:15 pm

    Sarah Huling - Hi Brooke! I’m Sarah and I am a 19 year old photographer from Michigan. I was so pumped to stumble upon yet another “Brooke opportunity”! I cannot tell you how how much you’ve inspired me. I know this sounds cliche, but your words and passions empower me! I was SO on fire during your class on Creative Live. I snuck my laptop into work a few days in a row and attempted to hide my headphones behind my hair while I listened and vigorously typed notes. I’m so tired of being discouraged by both myself and others who keep saying that photography is not a practical dream. Your words speak to my heart, I even keep screenshots on my phone of the slides you used during your class to look at when I feel discouraged. You give me permission to allow myself to dream my fine art dream. I would love nothing more than to start taking even bigger steps towards bettering myself as an artist and inspire-er. πŸ™‚

    But, let’s get to why I would love this AD opportunity. I want to learn and grow, and do so HANDS ON with someone I look up to. I would love to physically learn from a human being and observe professionals that specialize in what I love/dream about on a minute to minute basis. I love self-teaching and watching tutorial videos online, but I’m ready to be taught and surrounded by others that have my same passions….I have not found that community yet. Taking instruction and guidance from you of all people would be an absolute joy, honor, and dream come true. Thanks for taking the time to read this! I hope that just maybe I get to see you very soon! πŸ˜€ -SarahReplyCancel

  • February 16, 2014 - 7:18 pm

    Jason - Here is my best attempt at one paragraph:

    *I many years back, let myself down. I wasn’t true to myself or my heart. However, as of recent, thanks to you, I feel I found a focus and have a desire. More than anything, I want to find the ability to express myself and do something I truly love in order to be a better father. My children are amazing and mean everything to me. They are incredibly gifted creatively and I no longer want to be the father that needs to inspire them by telling them to follow their dreams and passions to avoid ending up in a position like me. I want to be the father who leads by example; to be myself, to not be afraid to express my feelings, and mostly to follow my passions and dreams to be truly happy and fulfilled. *

    These is my musings/ramblings about where that comes from if you care to read:

    A little less than 20 years ago, I set off to college as an Art Major. Due to some struggles (time and money), I ended up taking the easy route and graduated with a business degree. Ever since I’ve been working jobs that allowed my wife and I to get by as she continued her schooling and pursuing her passion; working and teaching autistic children.
    About a year and a half ago, I was really in a dark place and looking for a way to escape. I had gotten a camera 2 years earlier to take pictures of my children. I took a tech-school enrichment course and was introduced to a 365 being done by a local photographer. He did these amazing storytelling self-portraits. I was really inspired, though hadn’t done any type of art in 10+ years. I made a few attempts and they didn’t turn out anywhere near how they looked in my mind. Though, I was still inspired and didn’t want to give up, so I spend the next year trying to learn lighting, posing, editing and so one. My images were better. The lighting more interesting, the work was more polished, I was getting lots of positive feedback, but to me, the more images I produced, the more I found them lacking purpose when I would go back to look at them.
    Jane, the model you invited to last week’s Creative Live, has been so good to me since I first met her about a year and a half ago. Even when I knew nothing, she made me feel welcomed at a time I struggled to find creative people to work with and learn from. She been a huge influence in my photography and was actually the subject of my first published image late last year. As a result of these things, I wanted to watch to support Jane.
    Too be honest, I wasn’t completely aware of your portfolio or style prior to CL, but after taking a look I was very intrigued. Midway through the second day of CL, I felt as if my eyes were opened. I realized for how I wanted to shoot, I was going about it all wrong. It wasn’t about key and fill lighting, freezing you subject, perfect shots straight out of camera. It is about pulling your personal thoughts and passion out from within you., It is about expression of yourself through the model, their movement, their actions. After those three days, the way I wanted to think about creating images had change. You have inspired me and I am honored to be inspired by you.

    A huge fan of you as an artist, teacher and motivator,

  • February 16, 2014 - 7:21 pm

    Brianna Rannells - I’ve been putting this off since the first day you posted about this, Brooke! I’m awful with putting my feelings and thought into words, but here I go!
    I feel like I’m so close to unlocking something within myself, to figure out who *I* am. Always trying to please everyone- I’ve somehow lost myself being full time in this photography business, but I’m making my way back and can feel myself getting so much closer- to exactly what I’m not sure, but that is what excites me.
    I’ve been making it a point within these past few months to meet and go to a few workshops of photographers I admire and look up to that have such a strong self image- even though it might always be changing- their passion and drive seems unwaivering.
    To go to Afterdark would just be unbelievable- So many amazing instructors with so much to share and the passion to teach and give back- it’s incredibly inspiring.
    Looking to go on a road trip and find a little more of myself- and this would be one opportunity of a life time!ReplyCancel

  • February 16, 2014 - 7:22 pm

    Brianna Rannells - I’ve been putting this off since the first day you posted about this, Brooke! I’m awful with putting my feelings and thought into words, but here I go!
    I feel like I’m so close to unlocking something within myself, to figure out who *I* am. Always trying to please everyone- I’ve somehow lost myself being full time in this photography business, but I’m making my way back and can feel myself getting so much closer- to exactly what I’m not sure, but that is what excites me.
    I’ve been making it a point within these past few months to meet and go to a few workshops of photographers I admire and look up to that have such a strong self image- even though it might always be changing- their passion and drive seems unwaivering.
    To go to Afterdark would just be unbelievable- So many amazing instructors with so much to share and the passion to teach and give back- it’s incredibly inspiring.
    Looking to go on a road trip and find a little more of myself- and this would be one opportunity of a life time!

  • February 17, 2014 - 9:57 am

    Rocio Martinez - I’m so excited about AD. I get to be an assistant and I really hope that I am finally able to meet you in person!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2014 - 12:24 pm

    Melissa Morgan Wagley - I just realized that I had missed the deadline. I was up late last night working on my grad school assignments and discussion posts.

    To go to After Dark and have the opportunity to work & learn from you has been a goal of mine since my instructor Marico Fayre suggested I check out work. She thought that I would enjoy your work and find it inspirational. She was right, of course she was.

    Not only do your create amazing images that push the imagination and bring to reality what is in our dreams but you are an inspiring person. You do so much for the community.

    I would love to sit and have tea with you and chat and of course create some images.

    I had not heard of After Dark before and so glad that you shared them with us. There are so many amazing photographers that will be there from March 30-April 2.

    I started my business in 2007 and went back to school in 2009 and have been working on my MFA in Fine Art Photography. Currently, I am working on Thesis, Mental State, which is a series that explores my experiences and memories of depression using metaphors. There are several images that I need to still work out but there are many techniques that I’ve yet to master and know that you are able to do. I would love love to learn from you. It would help me to create several images for my thesis and to push my skills to the next level.


  • February 21, 2014 - 10:08 am

    Jen Sulak - I have suuuuch mixed emotions – but I know that CHANGE has to happen….and it is because of After Dark I got my voice too. Thanks to people that cared or saw something in me that I didn’t see myself. To see past our own limitations. I just hope that I can gather up – and grab the next opportunities that come my way and our way….that take us to the place where we are supposed to be. I can’t wait!!!! Time to celebrate and say goodbye.ReplyCancel

  • February 21, 2014 - 1:46 pm

    in the dark a light appears ‹ Robin Spalding Art - […] you would like to see the original post for this giveaway and my response click here. my reply is a bit down but i used my full name (there is a robin a few before me) i’m about […]ReplyCancel

You never have to answer to anyone but yourself about why you create.

We become scared to share our work with others because we fear we will have to answer to someone about why we create, or how we create, or about the decisions that went into creating. It is a wonderful to know these things for ourselves, but we never have to answer to anyone about why we do what we do. That is personal and no one can demand the answers of us.

I personally love sharing the why especially. I don’t like laying out a whole story necessarily about the meanings behind the image, but I do love sharing my inspirations and thoughts behind my pictures. That does not mean, however, that I like to defend myself. I love for people to have their own opinions. I think it’s quite interesting when someone dislikes a picture, just the same as when someone likes it. And the reason I feel that I can separate myself from critique is because I understand that I don’t have to answer to anyone.

Opinions are not fact, yet so often we take them as such. We allow the thoughts of others to penetrate our own and suddenly we believe them as though they are fact. This is something that happens to most people at one time or another. It has happened to me. I’ve never met someone who this hasn’t happened to. And it is no one’s fault in particular. If we only blame those who use negativity as a driving force in their lives, we are no better.

We must understand that how we perceive and react to a situation is under our control. Someone may not like what you do. Someone may criticize what you do. Someone may say something mean about what you do. Yet that does not mean that we must take all of those things at face value.

If we understand that we do not have to answer to anyone else…if we understand that we can choose to react in any way we want to a situation…if we understand that our own opinions should be held at a higher standard…then we might be able to break free of those things that hold us back in creating our art.

It is good to be confident in what you do – to like it and feel the power in it. Because even though we can all grow and learn, we should understand that where we are right now is a great place to be: moving forward and taking control of our circumstance. So tell me, what do you love about what you do? Leave a comment letting me know, and a link to your work if you’d like to share.

Own it! Be confident in your craft. Know your worth and find solace in it. And remember that it is a great thing to understand why you create, but that you never have to share that with anyone but yourself.

*I love exploring the dark side of my imagination and I am resolved that if an image is too dark for someone’s taste, I will not apologize. I will recognize the difference between us and appreciate our uniqueness.*


  • February 11, 2014 - 9:36 am

    thomas miles - I love to find places that are boring, and common, and then transform them into something more magical and interesting!

    This is an example of that, where a corner of a nature walk was turned into something more whimsical! I so enjoy creating beautiful things, and yet have that darkness apart of it. (Sort of like you!) I want to try and conquer my fears this year and do underwater photography, as well as doing some where I get the model dirty! I always try to create stuff that I am going to enjoy! πŸ˜€ReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 9:37 am

      brookeshaden - Thomas that image is amazing. I think you really do have a gift for exactly what you say – and I love it!ReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 9:45 am

      Tara Denny - Holy Cow! Your work is amazing! You have a new follower! Also, I love that stupid song too, we’ve been singing it around our house since we saw the movie. Driving my husband nuts. LOLReplyCancel

      • February 11, 2014 - 12:37 pm

        brookeshaden - Ahhh haha that’s great!!ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 9:39 am

    Tara Denny - Thanks for posting this Brooke. Too often I find myself waiting impatiently for someone’s opinion when I show a new piece, a defensive explanation already forming on my tongue. I need to learn to just let them think what they think. It is a source of irritation for me that my favorite pieces are never the crowd favorites, but my least favorites seem to be popular. Go figure. It’s all about what goes into an image for me. I create what is on my mind and use photography to illustrate my emotions. From now on, I’ll try harder to not care if it’s well received or not. If you’d like to see my stuff, πŸ™‚ Keep on being spectacular!ReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 7:19 pm

      brookeshaden - I hear that about the ones you love not being received well πŸ˜› Ahhh such is the artist’s plight!ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 9:42 am

    Vanessa - Your confidence is so inspiring, I can’t help but jump in.
    I love exploring the dark and the strange overlapping into the ordinary world – sort of an everyday darkness. I like the idea of how fragile the boundaries between the strange and everyday are, and introducing others to those ideas.
    I’m in the process of growing my portfolio, but there are some examples here:


    • February 11, 2014 - 9:49 am

      Tara Denny - Do I detect a Harry Potter reference with your blog title? Awesome sauce. Your work is amazing, I’m glad to have read your post here, or I might never have seen it!ReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 10:08 am

      Vanessa - Why hello! Right back at you, Tara! Excuse me while I friend you on multiple social media sites =)ReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 12:38 pm

      brookeshaden - Yay!! You are amazing Vanessa!ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 9:44 am

    Yi Lin - I love the way you think Brooke! I was watching you talk at Creative Live that day and when it came to the part where you were talking about these that I had my eyes and ears glued to my laptop, trying to remember as much of it as I can. Because even though I know most of it, I don’t always remember it all the time. Coming across words like this remind me and it brings me closer to myself again. Thank you <3ReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 12:38 pm

      brookeshaden - Aww thank you so much for watching! That means so much to me πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 9:49 am

    moodphototeija - You write everything what is going on in my head. I wish I had one friend like you, someone to talk to about these things. Someone with same kind of dilemmas.

    I wrote about you today on my blog, because you are an inspiration.

    • February 11, 2014 - 12:37 pm

      brookeshaden - I’m here! Seriously though, just leave a comment whenever you feel like talking and hopefully I can respond quickly. Internet friends are real friends too πŸ™‚ Wonderful blog – I loved reading it! And thank you!ReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 1:16 pm

      moodphototeija - thank you Brooke, you are really nice <3ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 9:51 am

    Amy K - I have always admired the resolve in yours and other artist’s work…work that they clearly feel compelled to create despite the mainstream, despite what many people might feel is too dark or too “something” <-whatever that something is. Thank you for these words. It is hard to remember that just because someone doesn't like an image of yours that doesn't mean that they do not "Like" you. I think the issue for me is that my images sometimes (my personal work) are created as an outlet so they are tiny pieces of my soul. So when someone feels the need to criticize I feel them picking at my being, even if they don't realize it. I'm working on that and will continue on that path. To answer your question, I love being able to show connection in my work and to highlight life's imperfect beauty.ReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 12:36 pm

      brookeshaden - That is so true – our work is often so personal that we take a negative comment to be a reflection of who we are, when often, it is not. Thank you for that reminder!ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 9:54 am

    Lieke Anna - This only adds to the inspiration you gave me over the three days of your CreativeLive course last week. For a long time I have defended myself and my work to others, as a sort of natural mechanism. If you don’t understand it, then I will make you understand type of thing. Listening to you over the last few days I have gained the confidence to stand by my work and be proud of it, without letting others take that feeling away. Exploring new opportunities and creating your own path. I wanted to let you know that I am so grateful that you gave me that push to follow my dream. Not only saying it, but meaning it and really pursuing it. Thank you!

    If anyone is interested to see my work you can find it at my facebookpage: <3ReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 12:36 pm

      brookeshaden - I am SO glad that you can stand behind what you do. You deserve that. It is beautiful – all that you do!ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 10:18 am

    Melanie - I’m in the process of redefining why I create. I actually wrote a blog about it yesterday. Not so much because others need to know about it, but because if I don’t write about it then I won’t own it and I won’t change it. I want to thank you for being the impetus in my reformation. I’m excited to see where I take myself in my creative journey. For now, though, I love finding new sides of things and showing others those sides, the sides that they wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.ReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 12:35 pm

      brookeshaden - I think that is so awesome, that you are thinking about WHY and how you can implement that.ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 10:48 am

    Robyn - You are really inspiring me with this project to get in front of my lens. I am in a poetry group on Facebook where we post one photo a month based on a theme. I’m doing 12 self portraits and your words really help me push through my fears! Thank you Brooke! XReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 12:35 pm

      brookeshaden - I am so glad that you are inspired!! And you inspire me, always.ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 10:58 am

    Mary Angelini - Once again you are totally speaking to a very deep place in me. All my life I have struggled with overly internalizing every criticism which has resulted in me building up a wall and letting very few people in. I fear failure and criticism and that stops a lot from running with wild abandon as you do. The older I get the less personally I am taking things, but it feel like the last vestige of that child inside me that internalizes negativity about my art is particularly rooted and stubborn to being extricated. Not that I need permission, but reading posts like yours feels like mental permission to not give a crap about what people think and just go for it. Still I sit on that ledge afraid to jump, but creep ever closer to the edge…I am feeling the excitement building. Thank you for giving me that!ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 11:02 am

    Margherita Introna - I create to feed my soul and to express my emotions, especially those I struggle to put into words <3

  • February 11, 2014 - 11:52 am

    Caroline Gos - What I love about what I do (or did) is that it is an easy way for me to be honest. Honest about myself, how I perceive the world, and what I want to do. Even when I’d write descriptions to my photos on my blog, I’d find I was honest about everything I thought. Now I’m in a job and have to be ‘professional’. It seems being professional involes a lot of lying, faking, and senseless impressing. My point is, when you’re working for someone…it’s easy to get caught up in having to work by their standards of what is appropriate…even when you get out of work, your mind is flooded with their perception and demands.
    So yeah, when I write and photograph, I’m honest to myself and about myself.

    • February 11, 2014 - 12:34 pm

      brookeshaden - You, Caroline, are such a special soul. I love who you are and what you create.ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 12:02 pm

    Mary-Claire - When I was in college, I majored in Theatre and Film, wore wacky thrift shop clothes and was quite unique. A “real” job squelched that as I had to dress more appropriate for business. Over the years of marriage and children and not wanting to embarrass my family, I conformed to what I thought others would want me to be.

    It turns out that I am still weird and am finally letting go, creating what makes me happy. And I don’t care if no one else likes it, because I now do it for me.

    Done are standard portraits, no more photographing obnoxiously tired children for friends. Thanks, Brooke, for helping my inner voice be heard and just for saying it’s “OK to embrace your inner weirdo.”

    • February 11, 2014 - 12:34 pm

      brookeshaden - You are amazing and I hope you know that! I love that you’re embracing your inner weirdo and just running with it. That is what we should all strive to do, no apologies!ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 12:12 pm

    Juliana Melo - I love that I create what I imagine and sometimes people don’t understand that. I like it because it shows my point of view, and it completely affirms that I do this because of passion, simply and nothing more.ReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 12:33 pm

      brookeshaden - I love that you do what you do for the passion of it. That is the most beautiful thing πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 12:40 pm

    Dawndra Budd - I love creating dark portraits that tell a story. This is where my heart is. I love shopping for vintage dresses and going on adventures with my model.
    Oddly enough I actually love doing portraits for my business, and I struggle to make my portfolio merge in these two worlds, the real and surreal. I also love reading Brook Shaden’s Blog:)ReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 1:58 pm

      brookeshaden - Ahhh going vintage shopping is like my therapy πŸ˜€ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 2:22 pm

    Rocio Martinez - I love what I do because I love creating. I am not only a dreamer of magical alternate realities…but I am a creator. I can create worlds that only exist in my imagination and I like delving deep. My soul knows much more than I do…and therefore, it knows there is much more to this world than meets the eye.

    I also love creating safe spaces for photographers to share their passions and what they themselves have created. In addition, I love interviewing people/photographers because I am able to learn about their soul and their creations.ReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 7:20 pm

      brookeshaden - I love that you said that about creating safe spaces – you do that amazingly well!ReplyCancel

    • February 12, 2014 - 10:56 am

      Rocio - Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 2:25 pm

    Tessa Denae - I love that I can create, literally, WHATEVER I want with no rules or boundaries. That freedom inspires me. I like to create emotion. but YOU are one of my biggest inspirations, truly. I am constantly on both of your blogs checking for updates and such. I’ve watched your BTS videos on YouTube about a million times :p

    I went and did this self portrait after watching your cL class.
    It was my first self portrait I’ve ever done, and I was so nervous.
    But I am actually pleased with how it turned out. πŸ™‚

    (it’s the first picture on my timeline)

    THANK YOU for always being so sweet and uplifting.
    I hop that I get to meet you someday Brooke! You are an inspiration to so many, don’t ever forget that. πŸ™‚ <3ReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 7:21 pm

      brookeshaden - Thank you so much for the support, it means so much to me. I do hope our paths cross!ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 3:36 pm

    Rebecca Cobb - Everything you said is so true! I tend to over think everything when i start to consider ideas for a new project. I think “is this good enough? will people like it? will it make sense? will my message come across clearly?” etc. But, like you said, we only need to focus on making ourselves happy with OUR own work. Our work is just that, OURS. It is no one else’s. And not everyone thinks the same or feels the same way about everything. So, the new project that i have come up with for my Photography Seminar class, I am just going to own it, and get my ideas out of my head and into my camera. I have decided on doing a series of photos that make up a narrative based on a story i made up last night. It is a love story. I get some of my inspiration from films. I ADORE films with all my heart. And the story i thought of has probably been done to death, but, it has never been done by ME or in the way that i plan to portray it. I love creating narratives and a series of photos that can tell some kind of a story. Looking back on my past work, narratives seems to be a central theme. All i can do is put my whole heart into what i do, and only then will i be completely satisfied with my work.ReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 7:22 pm

      brookeshaden - I LOVE how motivated you are to create what is in YOUR imagination and no one else’s. I have every faith that it will turn out fantastically!!ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 8:10 pm

    Allen - Wise words not only in creating but all aspects of our lives. I used to be a massage therapist but having always loved photography and only recently taken it up; I love the creativity in photography and find I don’t take criticism as personally as I did as a massage therapist. Though both are subjective I love the photographs I have taken but can detach from others approval (at this point).ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 8:15 pm

    Gizella Nyquist - Thanks, Brooke, for the awesome CL class last week. It was very inspirational to me. I have been struggling with finding my style(s), but now I understand a lot better how my style needs to evolve from the inside. What do I like about myself? I am a giving, kind, honest, and very simple person. I am observant, and I love to notice small details in everything. I have a much better connection with nature than with people, therefore I do very little people photography (mostly kids, not posed).
    My gallery needs a lot of work, but there are a few pages that show pictures that I love the most. My two favorites are these: , and the first seven on this page: .

    Thanks for everything!

  • February 11, 2014 - 8:51 pm

    April Sarah - I love to test the limits – of anything. I like to see how far I can stretch my imagination and where my skill set can take me. This often leads to some of those dark corners that you express so well Brooke. There is something about stepping out of your box, what everyone thinks of you, and just going for it. In the end after seeing what limits I can hit, it is all about watching how other people respond. Just to get them thinking about their own limits and how they don’t have to remain as they are.

    Here is to no limits.

  • February 11, 2014 - 9:16 pm

    James Bennett - Hi Brooke,

    I recently watched your 3 day class on creative live and absolutely loved it! Watching you work inspired me so much! Thank you for that.

    For a long while I took pictures without much forethought and the results definitely showed that. A short time ago I began shooting film and that process has forced me to slow down and think about every shot in advance. It also led me to explore lesser known or hidden spots which is what I love doing now. Finding interesting spots right off the beaten path is what I love to do right now and I look to the future with a lot of excitement and anticipation.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 12:35 am

    Mysza - I really like this photo, you can see that a good job. Generally, I love your photos πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 2:07 am

    RaphaelleM. - Last year, I was creating on projects with other people, and sometimes, I was not sure about the goal of my creations after doing them.
    Then I had a big reflexion, and it appears to me that I have to create for myself at all, not for others who look on my photos… I have to be in line with me, my inspiration and my faith.

    So I create a photo which talks about this revelation for me : I’ve awoken the spirits of my own story, I’ve discoved myself after reading inside of me, and discoved why I want to create, why it’s important to me and why I need it to survive

    Brooke, thanks for your amazing work, for your words so inspiring… I wish I could be as in line with my work as you
    Thanks for all.


  • February 12, 2014 - 2:13 am

    Annamaria - I love to go back to the basis. Reduce everything to the minimum, reduce it so much there is nothing more to add. I created a series using my basic tools, one single wall, natural light, one lens and myself. The images are driven by my subconscious longings and desires, re-arranging the body. There is a story behind each of them, always literally incorporating my lost twin sister.

    You make the world a better world, you give hope, I can just always repeat myself and just thank you for all the positive energy and inspiration you spread.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 4:25 am

    natascha van niekerk - I love telling stories with my images, creating a visual that in a way embodies a certain emotion or concept. These images are my outlet, a way I express myself and communicate with the world.

    Thank you Brooke for all the beauty and encouragement you bring into the world!ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 5:48 am

    Andrea - Dear Brooke,

    Your words are so inspiring and so true! I already listened to what you said about this during your Creative Live courses and it made me so happy. Often I create something and then I love it but not always others do and I get discouraged. Sometimes they are right in not liking it because they are flaws that I missed and I can change it. But often it seems like the images I like the most and that mean the most to me, do not get the same kind of recognition than others that mean much less to me. I am slowly learning to follow my instinct and not get discouraged so easily.

    What I love doing the most is creating meaningful images, images with a story behind them, with a character. I love great natural locations and shooting in them, I love creating darker, moodier images that are generally rather desaturated – they appeal to me more. And when I look at a lot of the images I created last year, I seem to like images where people have their eyes closed πŸ˜‰ But I never realised that until I saw them all together.

    My current favourite photo is this one ( I recently got back into self portraiture (for a 52 weeks project) and I love compositing images for it.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 9:23 am

    Angela - Brooke, Hi. I found what you said resonated so much with me. I love to create abstract work, but always find myself thinking others won’t like or understand it. So I try to think about what other people might like instead.

    Thank you for sharing your encouragement. Your confidence is inspiring.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 3:32 pm

    Lu - Oh my… sometimes I feel you can read my feelings! So many times I find myself stuck because of judgement. Specially from my family when I do nude self portraits…I am from a traditional south american family so yes…quite traditional. This series in particular made my parents so uncomfortable they didn’t want me to exhibit them in my home town! What I love about this kind of work is how free it makes me feel, and how connected to something bigger. Have you ever had that feeling from your relatives? as you use nude too, I was wondering…ReplyCancel

  • February 14, 2014 - 5:28 pm

    Tara - right now I am loving exploring my own past and experience with childhood sexual abuse. seems crazy to say it, but it is really helping not only myself by creating it but i hope it helps others as well. there are so many stories people have emailed me about how my speaking out and my photography has encouraged them to do the same and it touches my heart to be able to even help one person heal or even feel they arent alone in this journey as a survivor. so currently that is what im working on and yes ive had some say horrible things to me, mostly about using my daughter as the model for the iamges, BUT i stand behind what i create and why i create it. my blog has a few of the images in the series on it, but some i have kept to myself, they can be found at and also a very detailed ‘why i do it’ in my about the artist page πŸ™‚ thank you for always encouraging me to keep my head high and create brooke!ReplyCancel

  • February 27, 2014 - 3:34 pm

    Stephanie Necessary - Thank YOU!!! You’ve been an inspiration to me from day one.
    Even though I know I’ve grown and learned new things – and have improved…the ole enemy, Self Doubt still rears its ugly head. I am too worried about what others will think – and I take their criticism too seriously.

    I. needed. to. hear. this. It’s funny that it should seem obvious that an opinion is not fact, but I had to read it in black and white to actually get it.

    Here’s one of my newest pieces: The Phoenix. The idea for it was born while watching your Creative Live show. The brainstorming really helped me. I ended up circling rebirth, red, and fire on my paper and this is what came of it.

    You really are making a difference.ReplyCancel

  • May 13, 2014 - 4:52 am

    Julia - I legitimately just went searching through your blog for a post like this – I knew you must have one, and I really needed it! You are such an inspiration through not only your work but your whole persona: you are so encouraging and inspiring Brooke.

    I study commercial photography, but a part of my final year folio includes a lot of non-commercial style work which I aim to capture suggestive stories (nothing specific, just the idea that a person can look at the image and come up with a concept or idea of what might be happening in the image).
    Today my teacher told me she didn’t like any of my work, with only negative things to say about my images – and the one positive thing she did say about an image was only in reference to the lighting/time of day, and not the image itself.
    So I came searching here for a pick-me-up and you’ve helped me remember that I am shooting for me, what I love, and not for my lecturer.ReplyCancel

I know that I can’t say in so many words what the video already does, but let me give this a short try. My life was changed last year when I visited Kolkata, India. I taught photography to survivors of human trafficking with emphasis on storytelling and confidence. We did self-portraiture and learned about the importance of finding your own voice and using art to tell it. After that experience I felt something was missing, and with the beautiful idea from Dave Junion in partnership with, we decided to take it one step further:

A self-sustaining photography school free for survivors of human trafficking.

This is where we hope to have your help and support. The incredible photo community is one of a kind and I believe that if everyone donated just one dollar, the could fund this project. I am so hopeful, nervous to ask, humbled, and eager to see this project off the ground. So many emotions running through my body…so I’ll leave it there. I’ll let the campaign page say it all.

And if we do nothing else today, let’s promote passion in our own lives and in the lives of others.

Donate to the
Photography School for Survivors of Human Trafficking


  • February 10, 2014 - 8:26 am

    Amani - What you’re doing is so incredibly amazing, and when you spoke about it on creative live, I cried too. I love your passion and dedication to this project.
    I want to help in any way I can, so I’ve decided that when I sell my first print, I will donate that money to the school. A friend of mine told me she wants to be my first customer and that she’ll buy one of my prints soon.
    I would also love to help you out more, so if there’s anything I could do, please let me know. I know you’re working with other people to make this happen, and I would love to contribute.

    You are a beautiful person inside and out, Brooke. I hope you never forget that.ReplyCancel

    • February 10, 2014 - 11:46 am

      brookeshaden - Amani, you are so kind and giving and truly, a unique person. Thank you for being you!!!ReplyCancel

  • February 10, 2014 - 12:17 pm

    Tara Eveland - I thought I would watch this again, since I was bawling the first time, and I cried AGAIN. Its just so, idk, personal to me I guess.

    You are so beautiful inside and out Brooke, and I am so blessed to have met you and spend those 3 amazing days with you. Even more blessed to call you a friend and have such a great person in my life to look up to and inspire me.ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 2:15 pm

    Rocio Martinez - This is incredible. I, also, cried when I watched this during your cL course. You are so giving in so many ways. It’s marvelous what you want to do for others!ReplyCancel