This week on the Promoting Passion video blog I get to explore a much sought after location with one of my favorite models, Jen Brook. We spent an entire weekend shooting while I was hosting a retreat, but when that was all over we still couldn’t get enough. So, while driving away from the retreat, we made a B-line over to this location that a couple of my friends helped me locate.

It was stunning, and I had an idea for it a while before I ever got there. However, I didn’t know I was going that day, and I ended up having to use whatever I happened to have with me. Unsure of what the angle restrictions would be, I decided to scope things out and then start shooting when the sun went down. On the beach, that always leaves very little time to shoot given that the horizon line is not obstructed by anything; so essentially, once the sun goes down, you only have minutes to get the shot.

There were also many other photographers there shooting everything from fashion to engagement shoots, so the advantage to shooting later was that the moment I pulled my camera out, everyone else was packing theirs in. I had the whole place to myself for a blissful 20 minutes.

After creating the image of the tower, I decided to shoot a sequel…a fairytale gone wrong, in which she ends up on the ground after jumping from the tower. In the first image I had imagined a fairytale character trapped in the tower, so she fashions herself a dress from her bed sheet and uses a rope to jump/fly/float down to the bottom.

It was incredibly inspiring to use props that I happened to have on hand. Rope and a bed sheet were all that I had in the car, so I used what I had to create. The bed sheet truly made the perfect dress for my vision and I was so thrilled that I didn’t feel held back in any way by not having expensive props. I hope you enjoy the resulting images!


Do you ever shoot with whatever you have laying around? Do you ever challenge yourself to shoot minimally and see what your imagination does? I challenge you!


  • February 3, 2014 - 8:14 am

    Mary Angelini - I wold love to be that free and imaginative. To take what is on hand and just make a story. My problem is my imagination runs away with me and I get lost in the details, “OMG, if I had xxx, it would be so perfect!” Then I find I box myself in with the constraints of my detailed vision that I never end up getting it done. Sometimes I wonder if I subconsciously do that to myself to give myself an excuse not to take that risk. These are emotions and whatnot I have been mulling over and exploring for a while now. I just need to learn to be more like you and just LEAP! You are inspiring as always and reading your blog and following your work fills my creative cup every day!ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 8:17 am

      brookeshaden - Yes Mary I agree that often not doing a shoot for lack of this or that can be an excuse. We make ourselves believe that we need more so that if what we create doesn’t work, it will be the fault of something else. I do this to myself sometimes and I always kick myself. Now some images really are better saved for having the exact right things, but so often creating an image is about personal exploration and adventure, and I love the freedom of that. Thank you for being here – your support truly brightens my days. I am so grateful for you.ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 8:25 am

      Mary Angelini - You are most welcome, it is the least I can do in return for all you give to me ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 4:19 pm

      Anne Snape - Mary: I think you just ‘hit the nail on the head’ for me with your statement, “if I subconsciously do that to myself to give myself and excuse not to take that risk.” I am trying, with great difficulty I might add, to remove the dross from my head and follow my vision. Thanks, Mary, for your insights.ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2014 - 8:33 am

    Stacy Shaeffer - Absolutely stunning shots! I have been in love with that location since seeing for the first time about a year ago in another photographer’s work. Would love to visit and shoot there.

    I am constantly amazed at your drive to put your vision to image. It is so inspiring!ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 8:40 am

      brookeshaden - It is an amazing space!! Definitely visit ๐Ÿ˜€ Thank you for your kind words!ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2014 - 9:05 am

    Tara Eveland - These are great! So cool that you literally just shot with what you had! I have never done that, never even thought to, but if I were in that exact moment with THAT location I would totally have done something. Its so gorgeous and so is the model!ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 7:25 pm

      brookeshaden - It is so much fun to just let loose and realize that it is all a learning process, so you might as well just use what’s available ๐Ÿ™‚ I love it! Perhaps you’ll feel inspired to try it out? Super fun!ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2014 - 9:10 am

    Martin - My best work often happens when we have a long walk to a location and I’m forced to bring only what we can carry. It is very liberating to have only what is on hand to compose an image.ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 7:26 pm

      brookeshaden - I totally agree Martin. That sounds so peaceful and wonderful.ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2014 - 9:11 am

    thomas miles - recently I too have been making dresses out of bed sheets, but typically I make it over their clothes and edit different arms in XD I wish I had more antique dresses to be honest :LReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 7:27 pm

      brookeshaden - Ahhh that is so awesome Thomas! Maybe we’ll do an antique dress exchange or something fun like that ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2014 - 9:13 am

    Elisabeth on Earth - I love this challenge! Thank you! Something to always keep in the back of my mind ~ the option to get out of the car and just do it. Only just recently have I begun to scout the neighborhood for locations (*very* new to conceptual photography); I can’t wait until the weather gets warmer. With all the hiking trails and historic buildings in our area, I know I’ll discover lots of treasures!

    Looking forward to your CreativeLive workshop later this week!ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 7:35 pm

      brookeshaden - I’m so glad that you like it Elisabeth! If you do create something share it with us ๐Ÿ™‚ I love that you are scouting your area. I remember the first time I started shooting outdoors, and how exciting it was to walk my neighborhood and notice all the nooks and crannies that I never saw before. So many possibilities in everything, and that is the beauty of realizing that we can create anything.

      Thanks in advance for watching cL! I hope I do ya proud and that you learn lots!ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2014 - 11:11 am

    Margherita Introna - Oh I love this image! It totally made my day <3 Ha! And just yesterday I commented on your image โ€œFallen from Flightโ€ that I loved the fact that you created it just by wrapping a piece of material around your model and used a simple prop such as a rope. Yet both these images are stunningly beautiful and rich with story. A few weeks ago I did two sessions with some friends of mine with almost the same thoughtโ€ฆ to use a simple prop (in my case a piece of chain), the same location and just a piece of material as a wardrobe. The one day my friends modeled for me and we created two images that look completely different, with completely different stories. Then next day we were at the beach and we again used the same piece of material in the same location. I did a self-portrait and one of my friends modeled for me to create another imageโ€ฆ it was exactly this challenge that I wanted to set for myself โ€“ create images out of almost nothing ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was so much fun! I look forward to working on the images and releasing them soon <3ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 7:36 pm

      brookeshaden - Awww you are so sweet! They were mega fun to create and I feel newly inspired!

      Pleaseeeee please send me the images when you finish! I am dying to see what was created. I would love to take a peak into your imagination ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2014 - 11:44 am

    Maggie - I would love you to share the location? how do you get there? where is it?ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 7:37 pm

      brookeshaden - It is near Laguna Beach…I can’t remember the exact location. I was on the phone with 2 different friends the whole time shouting directions at me ๐Ÿ˜› But it wasn’t hard to access at all, and was very popular for shooting, so I’m sure its Google-able!ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2014 - 12:40 pm

    Michelle Magnoli - What is the name of the lighthouse? This image is stunning! I love it so much. & I almost always use bed sheets as dresses:) Nearly all of my costumes are makeshift.ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 7:38 pm

      brookeshaden - I wish I knew! Somewhere near Laguna Beach..I’m terrible! I love that you embrace that part of creativity – the I CAN DO ANYTHING! part ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2014 - 4:20 pm

    Anne Snape - We have a number of lighthouses on the Outer Banksโ€ฆ.I need to start shooting thereโ€ฆ.Never thought of using bedsheets…ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 7:38 pm

      brookeshaden - Oooh definitely Anne! I wish I could join you. What a beautiful area!ReplyCancel

  • February 5, 2014 - 4:59 am

    Amani - Ah, I can’t believe I’ve missed this! I love these pictures so much, and I never would’ve guessed that that’s a bed sheet!

    A few weeks ago I shot something with a bed sheet, but only because I didn’t have a white dress. This is it
    It was freezing and the water was soo gross and slimy haha but it was fun to shoot ๐Ÿ˜€ReplyCancel

  • February 5, 2014 - 9:27 am

    karen ridenour - I’m in awe and intrigued by your photos they are beyond beautiful.
    I would like to take your ideas and apply them to “everyday” women. In most of your photos the models are thin, beautiful and have long hair… question is how would you photograph an older, overweight woman with short hair? This is by no means a criticism….I have an interest in photographing cancer survivors, who I believe are beautiful beyond the visual…but would love to have the skill sets and knowledge to make them feel beautiful during a difficult transition in their lives.ReplyCancel

  • February 6, 2014 - 2:44 pm

    Janelle Pietrzak - Brooke,

    I have been just getting into compositing a little and one thing that I see you do a lot and that I wish I could do better is fixing the hems of skirts so that they flow. You did it here and it looks amazing. Do you have any videos you can recommend to help me lean how to do this better?ReplyCancel

  • February 7, 2014 - 12:58 am

    Przemysล‚aw Wrรณbel - This is wonderful, breathtaking …ReplyCancel

  • February 8, 2014 - 9:01 pm

    Rebecca Cobb - I just wanted to say, I watched your CreativeLive workshop this weekend, and i purchased it! I had to! You are SUCH an inspiration to me when i need it most, which is a lot of the time lately. I am having trouble discovering my style, who i am, and what i want to say and put out into the world. However, reading your Inspiration in Photography book(which i finished about a month ago, AMAZING!), watching your CreativeLive workshop, and following this blog, you provide me with the encouragement and inspiration that i need. You say that your goal in your life is to be inspiring to other people. Well, KNOW that you and your message are inspiring to me everyday. I am so thankful to have randomly stumbled across your book in Barnes and Nobles a few months ago. It has changed my life for the better! Thank you!!!!! ๐Ÿ˜€ReplyCancel

  • February 10, 2014 - 4:38 pm

    Lu - My husband is originally from Laguna so I know exactly where this is. It is very inspiring to see it now trough your lens. I adore all the images you have with ropes, such strong meanings.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 8:54 am

    Kim - Just recently stumbled on your work. I am an intermediate beginner, I would say. And fine art photography is not where I plan to go, but I am absolutely fascinated by your process. I’ve been in a rut lately and have had no motivation to shoot. Just haven’t been inspired til I saw your work. I love it! Your images draw me in, story wise and technically. Amazing! Thank you! I think you’ve really helped me to see I need to look elsewhere for inspiration! Such a breath of fresh air, I realize looking at the same backlit, lifestyle, mom-with-a-camera images just wasn’t getting my creative juices flowing any longer. I think I’m heading out to an art museum here soon. As a side note, I live on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. There are tons of old buildings and settings you would love!ReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2014 - 2:32 am

    โ€œWhen Fear Wins” » district photography - […] have to give a huge shout out to the amazing Brooke Shaden for turning me on to this location. I will be forever grateful. It was as amazing as I […]ReplyCancel

As photographers, we know how hard it is to suddenly step on the other side of the camera, whether it is for ourselves or for someone else. I personally feel much more comfortable taking my own photograph for the simple reason that I have control. I can hit delete or use any picture I choose, whereas with someone else, they have that control.

I was in need of a new headshot because I’ve been using the same thing for ages. I have always taken my own headshots because it just seemed normal. I know how to work a camera, so why would I get someone else to do it? Well, I the more I thought about that notion, the more it intrigued me to ask someone else to portray me as they see me. I wondered where we would shoot, and what types of poses or expressions they would ask for.

So, while I was in St. Louis, MO and staying with my good friend Amy Parrish, I knew she was the perfect person to ask. I adore her style, though it is different from my own. I believe in her ability to capture a person’s soul. So I asked her if she would honor me with a picture. I am so thankful she agreed. We had a whole thing planned for the forest, but with freezing temps and busy schedules we never got around to shooting there. So instead, on a short break, as we stood in our hotel room, she took my picture.

I had been playing with the curtains and watching how the beautiful evening light filled the room, and when she noticed, she fell in love with it too. I started walking away from the window when she told me to stop, and asked if we could do the shoot right then and there. I thought it sounded perfect, and so in less than 5 minutes she took these pictures of me.

Strange, how a 5 minute photo shoot in a hotel room can completely capture how I feel inside, but it did. The way she processed the images, the way she posed me…it felt right. I felt like myself, and somehow, that is the hardest thing to feel when in front of the camera. Like you belong. Like you are being captured in a way that is true to who you are.

So there we have it. A new headshot and some pictures I will cherish forever because of the memory and because my amazing friend Amy captured them.


  • January 31, 2014 - 5:27 pm

    Mary-Claire - Really pretty. And you will remember your time with Amy and at AD when you look at the pictures. Perfect.ReplyCancel

    • February 1, 2014 - 8:11 am

      brookeshaden - I definitely will ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 1, 2014 - 8:11 am

    elena - you’ve got gorgeous eyes! (besides being such a wonderful person all around)ReplyCancel

    • February 1, 2014 - 8:12 am

      brookeshaden - Awww I’m literally blushing behind my computer! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • February 1, 2014 - 8:21 am

    Mary Angelini - You look so beautiful, vibrant and happy. I think they really embrace (I hate to say capture because it sounds malicious) who you are and the color pallate is so you!!ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 8:32 pm

      brookeshaden - Thank you mary!!ReplyCancel

  • February 1, 2014 - 8:21 am

    Lisa Lizarraga - I sometimes wonder what is being thought by the person i am doing a portrait of. I look into their eyes in post processing and wonder. I feel like this is very authentic to you and it seems as if your eyes are saying, “This is just me”. Very cool.ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 8:32 pm

      brookeshaden - Definitely so interesting to consider. How does the other person feel, and what is running through their mind?ReplyCancel

  • February 1, 2014 - 8:48 am

    Kelly Buechlein - you look so YOU and the moments/memories behind them are even better.ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 8:32 pm

      brookeshaden - Awww thank you Kelly!ReplyCancel

  • February 1, 2014 - 8:55 am

    Rocio - WOW! These photos absolutely do show who you are inside and out. You are so beautiful inside and out as well! Your light shines through your eyes. I feel like I can see your soul! <3ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 8:35 pm

      brookeshaden - Thank you Rocio!ReplyCancel

  • February 1, 2014 - 9:00 am

    Paulo Carvalho - Well! I do not even know what to say! I lost myself in those eyes and soul! Beautiful! In Portugal we say, sometimes an image is worth a thousand words. What appears to be the case. Congratulations to you and Amy Parrish.ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 8:35 pm

      brookeshaden - Aww thank you Paulo!ReplyCancel

  • February 1, 2014 - 9:10 am

    tiffaney - Beautiful images. I notice some great catch light in your eyes. Is it natural Window light?ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 8:35 pm

      brookeshaden - Yep window light!ReplyCancel

  • February 1, 2014 - 9:42 am

    Amani - Beautiful pictures, you look amazing. I think Amy did a great job at capturing who you really are.
    And I love that headband <3ReplyCancel

  • February 1, 2014 - 11:48 am

    Vinod Krishnan - you look so beautifulโ€ฆ.ReplyCancel

  • February 2, 2014 - 6:51 am

    Susan Eckert - Dear Brooke, not to undermine your dear friend but I imagine it would be difficult to NOT get beautiful shots of you. You radiate from your soul and that what makes your presence so beautiful (of course it doesnt hurt that youve got fab eyes, hair and skin!) lol! These are gorgeous. And your trust in your friend certainly shows in your eyes. ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 2, 2014 - 9:16 am

    renee stengel - Just beautiful Brook. I feel so blessed to have met you in St Louis, I truly feel that you helped awake something inside me. I have been so focused on how to run the business of my photography studio for the last 18 months, that I believe I had lost some of the passion. Watching you and your passion has reignited some of that joy in me. You are truly a beautiful spirit. Thank you for giving of yourself so freely. ~ ReneeReplyCancel

  • February 2, 2014 - 10:02 am

    Mineisha - You are such a beautiful person! I wish more people could appreciate these little things like you do. I feel so blessed that I know about your existence. I hope I can meet you one day.ReplyCancel

  • February 2, 2014 - 1:12 pm

    Margherita Introna - So beautiful <3 I totally hear you about surrendering control to allow somebody else to take your portrait… Your friend did a wonderful job. I think she captured your light and depth beautifully.ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2014 - 9:10 am

    Tara Eveland - Wow, I just noticed this post and I thought I’d read it because yesterday I went and got my own ‘new me’ head shots done (I have lost about 40 lbs in the last 6 months so it was time). I felt so odd posing for someone else, being the person in front of the lens instead of behind it. But I did what you did, as soon as I knew I needed a new image of myself I sought out the person I felt could capture ME best. His name is Cliff Ingram, from Princeton Indiana and he is AMAZING with light. In fact he specializes I would say in turning photos of women into art. He’s just fantastic!
    As I guessed he did a great job, I loved the new photos, the essence they captured! If you have a chance to look him up his studio is Ingram Images, I think you’d find his work with fine art interesting.
    Also, I LOVE the second image of you.The light, your eyes, you are just gorgeous inside and out Brooke! Get well soon and see you in a few days!ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2014 - 9:20 am

    Cliff Ingram - It was a pleasure to have you in. And thanks for the kind words.ReplyCancel

  • February 7, 2014 - 12:51 am

    Przemysล‚aw Wrรณbel - This is the truth as it is difficult to pose a photographer, I’m a rule I have made silly faces ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 8, 2014 - 5:14 pm

    Bryon Cole - Brooke, I’m enjoying your ” Master your Craft ” course on Creative Live and came over to see your blog. Your headshot looks amazing, such a timeless beautiful photograph. I completely agree with the others that you have gorgeous eyes and the lighting really enhances your natural beauty. Stunning!ReplyCancel

  • February 10, 2014 - 4:41 pm

    Lu - You are like an Elf from Lord of the Rings. But you created your own fairy tale. Thanks for sharing with us. Cheers to you!ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 8:39 am

    Siyana Kasabova - I know what you mean! I always say that it’s important for photographers to have their photos taken by someone else as well.. We need to feel vulnerable, it helps us better understand our models and it makes us learn to love ourselves ๐Ÿ™‚ To trust a photographer is not an easy thing to do! ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • December 11, 2018 - 10:24 am

    Anna D. Bruce - You could totally be on the set for Lord of the Rings.ReplyCancel

If you know me, you know that I am a child. I am a little innocent child at the center of it all and that is how I love living my life. I don’t turn a blind eye to all things, but if I can control how I see a situation, it is very often with a child’s innocence. For this reason, and many more, I have a vivid imagination as well as an insatiable appetite for all things magical.

I’ve been counting the months until I would be able to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Oh yes, I adore Harry Potter…more than you are understanding right now. So when I got the chance to give a lecture in Florida, I immediately resolved that I would be going to visit the Harry Potter theme park. It was Tuesday. I woke up in a flurry of excitement very much like I used to do as a child on the summer day when I would get to go to Hershey Park (my local theme park) once a year. I put on my best magical wardrobe that I had traveled with (completely with fairytale white dress, TARDIS knee socks, a cloak, and pigtails) and headed out the door.

When we started walking up to the park, I realized that I had forgotten my camera. I felt heartbroken! I wanted so badly to capture the magic of the day. We didn’t even have cell phones with us. So it was decided that when we got into the park, despite it being far overpriced, we would buy two disposable cameras. I hadn’t used one in about 7 years, and holding it in my hand felt magical somehow, as though I had stepped back in time to when that was normal. I loved not being able to see the pictures I was taking. I loved not worrying about camera settings. I just took pictures of everything that made me happy, silly or not, and I was completely content.

I got many knowing winks and nods and shouts from people who recognized my Doctor Who socks and even waited in line with someone I went to college with, all the while approaching the wand shop (my favorite thing). When I finally got to go inside there was a demonstration of how to use a wand, and myself and my sister-in-law were chosen to demonstrate the feat. I was over the moon. I was smiling ear to ear and couldn’t believe that I had beenย chosen. Yes,ย chosen. Don’t hate.

After my wand chose me and I got to perform a spell in front of the crowd I hurriedly moved into the wand shop to purchase my pride and joy…a tourist trap, perhaps, but completely worth the money spent. To feel like a child. To feel magical. To feel powerful. To believe in make-believe. A wand is just a stick in the wrong hands, as so many things in life are. Any situation can be turned negative or positive. Any part of life can be seen with magic or without, and it is up to us to decide which side we are on: the side of magic, or not.

The pictures I took with my disposable camera show the happiest of memories. I was beaming all day long and still am, thinking of how in control I felt over my happiness. I truly felt as though I let the magic in me shine.

  • January 30, 2014 - 10:19 am

    Russ Turner - Ah! So cool! Thanks for sharing! I’m hoping to go this fall and get the chance to escape for bit into the Wizarding World.ReplyCancel

    • January 30, 2014 - 10:21 am

      brookeshaden - Yes do go! Most magical place ever!ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 10:20 am

    Jillian Peeples - I felt the SAME way when we went! Thank you so much for sharing. Perspective sometimes is everything! ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

    • January 30, 2014 - 10:22 am

      brookeshaden - Ahhh that is wonderful. It brings out the kid in you in the best ways. I adore it ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 10:22 am

    Amani - And here I was thinking you couldn’t get any awesomer.. I LOVE HARRY POTTER!! I grew up with the books and later, the movies and I can definitely say that it was the best part of my childhood.

    You do look super happy, and I’m happy for you! And the pictures turned out great. They have this vintage feel, it’s awesome.ReplyCancel

    • January 30, 2014 - 10:23 am

      brookeshaden - Thanks Amani! I adore HP! I also grew up with the books, always being the same age as the main characters. I thought it was just incredible.ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 10:25 am

    Daniel Tuck - I went there with my wife last year and we both loved it SO much! Also you need to go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London which is just as incredibleReplyCancel

    • January 30, 2014 - 10:26 am

      brookeshaden - Ooooh sounds massively fantastic!!!ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 10:36 am

    Kim - Oh yes.. I understand everything single word you have written only all too well. I went to Warner Bros studio in London with my son. We met up with around 18 Potterheads from around the globe whom I met on Pottermore. I was literally like a jumping bean all day but totally immersed in it all.. and your face of wonder up there was my face of wonder that day. ps: still waiting for my letter of acceptance to Hogwarts XReplyCancel

    • January 30, 2014 - 1:34 pm

      brookeshaden - Oh my gosh meeting up with other fans must be such a blast!ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 10:40 am

    Margherita Introna - Ah what an adorable post! Life is filled with magic… one must just never stop looking for it <3 I hope we will be seeing your new wand in an image soon ๐Ÿ˜‰ <3ReplyCancel

    • January 30, 2014 - 1:35 pm

      brookeshaden - Life IS filled with magic, and I adore you for embodying that Margherita!ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 10:44 am

    Paul Kepron - Brooke, you are so lucky to have had the chance to go! Looks like you had a blast. We all need to embrace our Inner Child once in a while and let it out! ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

    • January 30, 2014 - 1:35 pm

      brookeshaden - I agree – I felt like the luckiest kid in the world ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 10:58 am

    Mary Angelini - How utterly AWESOME!! My daughter went there with her dad a few years ago and I was totally jealous. The entire Harry Potter series is awesome (the books are better than the movies, which themselves are pretty darned good). It looks like you had a blast and were in the perfect place to feel free to unleash your inner child! Fabulous!ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 11:09 am

    Alysha - So amazing!! I love love LOVE Harry Potter. We took the kids to Florida just so we could go to Harry Potter World. Did you hear there’s a new Harry Potter section opening I think this year??
    Sorry, I feel like such a creeper – I’ve watched some of the Creative Live classes you’ve done and you are incredible inspiring! Thank you for sharing your talent. And I’m so excited that you’ll be at the Click Away conference in Sept (registered for your class) ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 11:12 am

    Nicholas Cormier - Brooke!! Haha. I can’t stop laughing while reading this! It’s awesome! I can’t wait to get back stateside and travel south and visit Hogwarts! Thanks for this, I needed a great story and laugh today ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 11:40 am

    Anne - Please remember that all Snapes are not naughty! I am Anne Snape and I live at Snape Cottageโ€ฆ.throughout my childhood I often travelled ‘through the wall’ and, actually, I can still go there whenever I so choose. Brooke, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog.ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 12:31 pm

    Jen Kiaba - This made me tear up a little bit to read! I loved the idea of approaching something with unabashed joy and wonder! Bravo!ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 12:33 pm

    Tom Newforge - I love it Brooke. So funny how the images you shot are so similar to mine. When I visited, I was with my wife’s friend and her young son.
    I tried so hard to make all the images in that area appear as if we were actually in that world. We had so much fun and the ride was a blast! One of my favs for sure. Imagine something even bigger with more actors and more of a renaissance faire feel. I’ve always had fun at those. Being sent on “quests” and totally immersing yourself in that world. Fun stuff. You put a smile on my face even though I’m still fighting this nasty cold that’s going around. Thanks for that.ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 2:54 pm

    kate hailey - i very much wish to visit this one day. now that most of my family is in florida, i’m sure it will happen!

    i just watched a bunch of the movies again, so wondrous! glad you got to go there.ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 3:07 pm

    Erin - I love reading your blog and find you so inspirational! This blog entry is just wonderful! I am a huge fan of fantasy and sci-fi and think that a little bit of whimsy in life is very important! Thanks for sharing your images, they are fantastic! (And awesome socks!!)ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 3:41 pm

    Crystal Dickerson-Hancock - Thank you so much for sharing your magical day with us!!!ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 5:01 pm

    Carlee - You are a true role model! Like these photo still wow me and make me want to be a better photographer . You a re just amazing! Thank you so much making this blog. Also may I ask you a questions I love the dresses you use in photos! How/where do you find them? Do you make them? Thank so much for being you :-).ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 6:46 pm

    Jenna - I adore this! I love how you just embraced your inner child and inner geek, I am totally jealous of those tardis socks! Also, I think the disposable camera was just what you needed for that magical day, the images are priceless! You wouldn’t have captured the same moments with digital. : )ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2014 - 9:09 pm

    jen sulak - i hope you nodded/winked/waved at the blue man group production there <3 ๐Ÿ™‚ looks like a GREAT TIME girl. and i love your tardis sox. ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • January 31, 2014 - 12:23 am

    Kelly - Any situation can be turned negative or positive. Any part of life can be seen with magic or without, and it is up to us to decide which side we are on: the side of magic, or not……. You are so wise for your young years, ever been told you’ve an old soul? I would love to visit Harry Potter world, my kids grew up avid readers because of books like this series. I’ve been told I see things through rose colored lenses & I always reply & why would I want it any different, keep the magic alive! ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • February 1, 2014 - 8:00 pm

    Josh Cloud - are you going to gallifrey one later this month?? I just need to finish sewing the purple coat and my eleventh doctor costume will finally be done ^.^ReplyCancel

  • February 8, 2014 - 10:45 pm

    Paige Jahoda - Brooke, you are magical! You inspire me to no end, you exude so much whimsy!
    With love,from one Whovian to another. ๐Ÿ˜‰ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2014 - 2:55 pm

    Britney - If you get the chance, try to go to the one in London. It is the movie studios where they filmed all of the films and has all of the costumes, sets, props, and I nearly died!! ALL of the everything. I am obsessed and planning to go back for the second time this year! I actually made a texture pack including textures from the Triwizard cup, the rug in the Gryffendor common room, and the mirror of Erised ๐Ÿ˜‰ReplyCancel

I have been thinking a lot about self-portraiture and why I adore it so much. It certainly isn’t because I love being in front of a camera or because I adore the way I look. It goes far beyond our traditional standards of beauty and into the realm of self-discovery, which is so much more beautiful than what any industry can tell me. Self-portraiture is a way of putting yourself in your imagination and becoming the character of your story. It is the ability to understand your own strengths to create an impactful image. It is so much more than meets the eye. It is your own personal declaration of pride, love, and strength.

For these reasons, I am starting a project entitled “I AM ME” which makes the very clear statement that we should be proud of who we are no matter our differences. The most powerful message of self-acceptance must come from within, and if at all possible, that message should be spread far and wide.

What I ask of you is this: Create a self-portrait. It does not have to be personal, or it can be the most personal thing you have ever photographed. It does not have to be traditional, but must feature you (or part of you) in some way. Along with your self-portrait, I want you to finish this sentence with one word: “I am ________”.ย 

In the comments of this blog post I want you to share your self portrait by pasting a link and writing the sentence “I am _________”. The deadline is March 15.

It can be incredibly scary. It might be less scary than you think. It might be very difficult to push past how you see yourself to see the truth: your physical beauty is irrelevant. By not seeing yourself for the person you are (a beautiful and unique individual), you buy into the idea that there is a universal standard of beauty.

Let’s not. Let’s do something to change it. Let’s decide, all together, right now, that we can be the main character in our stories. I sincerely hope you’ll join me on this.


If more people talked honestly about their failures rather than their successes we’d be able to see that we’re all in this life together.

In making that statement I do not mean to target any one person, nor was there anything in particular that really made me think it. And I also don’t mean to say that I’m perfect, or that there is any right way of behaving. Hearing about success makes us want it more and is a big motivator, and so in the right context it is wonderful to hear about. I get so excited for people when I hear about good things happening.

However, it is so easy to follow another person in your field and say, “wow, so many great things happen to that person and they probably never fail like I do.” That ย is never true. Everybody fails. Everybody has bad days. But not everybody talks about it. I am a big believer in failure. I would rather tell you about that shoot last week that went horribly wrong than to tell you all about how proud I am of myself for getting a picture published in a magazine. Why? Because it’s human.

We all fail. We all make mistakes. There are times when we find success and times when we don’t. But what success matters? That is the important distinction. I have a personal philosophy that if I don’t have to, I won’t post anything about “name-brand” successes. Sometimes there is obligation, like having to share about gallery shows. And that’s great, because it is information that people might want to know about. But sharing publicly about this award or that magazine doesn’t seem relevant, and makes me feel like I’m too focused on what my images do for my career rather than what my images do for me; which is more profound and important than anything else.

I like to share personal successes, when I’ve created an image that touched something inside of me. I share that. I shout it to the rooftops that I am doing what I love and I want with all my heart for you to do the same. My biggest hope in doing so is to encourage someone else to live the life of their dreams.

  • January 26, 2014 - 7:44 am

    Lakel Yolmo - Well, thrs one old famous saying … “Failure is the Pillar of Success”. But i wud say its more of a learning process ….. we do not fail to loose, no one should. We sud learn from it … and share the experience instead of hiding it. Get inputs and suggestions frm people who’ve already “been thr did tht”.

    I wanted to thank you since many days, for inspiring me and many others and kudos to your weekly “Promoting Passion”. makes me think why im not out thr, why im not creating wat i want. Seriously, you’r an inspiration. And yes, i will do wat i want to do n will create wat i feel i sud.ReplyCancel

    • January 26, 2014 - 1:33 pm

      brookeshaden - Thank you so much for your thoughts and kind words Lakel!ReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2014 - 8:00 am

    Margherita Introna - Thought provoking as always Brooke <3 You hit the nail on the head for me with what your own images do for you… so much more valuable. Failure is just part of the journey… and often, this is where the fun happens.ReplyCancel

    • January 26, 2014 - 1:34 pm

      brookeshaden - Agree completely Margherita!! Failure is pure gold ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2014 - 8:01 am

    Thomas Doggett - Well said. several months ago I quit all of the online photography groups I belonged to for this very reason. Too many ego’s; not enough humility.

    What is most disappointing is the hate so many photographers exhibit towards another’s success. I feel that on social media many are just waiting for a failure to happen so they can pounce.ReplyCancel

    • January 26, 2014 - 1:36 pm

      brookeshaden - I hear that loud and clear Thomas – those types of things can really breed negativity and the more people who are honest about failures the less that happens.ReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2014 - 8:04 am

    Thomas Doggett - Well said….several months ago I quit all of the online photography groups I belonged to for this very reason. Too many ego’s; not enough humility.

    What I find most disappointing is the hate so many photographers exhibit for another’s success. I often feel that they are just waiting for any failure to pounce.ReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2014 - 8:16 am

    Lisa Lizarraga - Negative news gets more response than positive response and that makes me sad. When people post about the good things in their life it sounds like bragging and that makes me sad. I wish I could live in a happy bubble in the sky and I wish someone would come along and pop it, causing it to explode open and splash on everything around so everything would be infected with happy bubble peices.ReplyCancel

    • January 26, 2014 - 1:37 pm

      brookeshaden - Oh my gosh Lisa I adore you – happy bubble pieces….YES!ReplyCancel

    • January 27, 2014 - 2:31 pm

      Faran Khan - love your thoughts lisa… the happy bubble theory ๐Ÿ™‚ infact brooke you should make something out of this concept ๐Ÿ˜‰ReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2014 - 8:17 am

    Andrea Gore - I think this is a great view point Brooke. This is a great topic and I love that you are putting it into the thinking pool. I have had a problem comparing myself. In the same aspect I never trying to make someone feel less than when telling about my successes. At times while reading friends, acquaintances or people who share similar circumstances successes I have felt inadequate. To the point I avoid all of my social media and conversations about it. Not because I am jealous or resentful, simply because it makes me somehow unhappy with myself. I go into compare and contrast mode. A vicious attack on how to get where they are. Which is totally unfair and irrelevant. I loose all concept of why I am where I am, why I am doing what I am doing. I recognized this sometime back about myself. It actually was part of my motivation create the life I want, the life I dream of. This very issue helped me define what I want. Realizing some of the things I was badgering myself for not achieving or having I never really even wanted! That is a truly freeing time ๐Ÿ™‚ Since I have changed my perspective I find myself reading others successes and feeling proud for them, overjoyed with excitement for them, not critical of myself. Part of me wants to think that entertaining people to share their successes may give them the mtivation to keep going. Feeling love from people around them may help them continue to keep climbing through their goals. To me this is a very complex topic that could be flooded with view points I am hoping to read. I definitely think of this often. Is it selfish to share successes to give yourself a pat on the back with hopes of inspiring others to pursue their goals when there is a chance someone could feel inadequate because of it? That’s a hard question. How do you weigh that out? Being sincere and thankful about your successes is I think a way to put it out there. Hopefully sharing will inspire someone not result in personal criticism. I am glad you made me think about it this morning. Thanks for the post Brooke ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

    • January 26, 2014 - 1:39 pm

      brookeshaden - Yes definitely Andrea! Sometimes it isn’t about not wanting someone else to do well (quite the opposite) but instead about feeling like less when compared. I think that being genuinely proud and sharing that personal satisfaction is the best thing to motivate others. xoxoReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2014 - 8:20 am

    Amani - You’re the only person who’s been able to make me see failure as something more than what it is. I’ve started and given up on so many things because when I failed I thought, this isn’t for me. I took violin lessons and gave up, I tried painting and gave up, I even wanted to start my own business: home made protein bread (during my fitness-obsessed phase) and I gave up on that because I tried a few recipes and nothing worked.
    Photography is the one thing I haven’t given up on, and I know I ever will. I’ve only started this recently but I already have so many files of photoshoots that didn’t quite work out, and I keep them. Not only to learn from my mistakes, but also to remind myself that it’s OK to fail, as long as I keep going.
    Thank you <3ReplyCancel

    • January 26, 2014 - 1:40 pm

      brookeshaden - I am so glad that you see your self worth and are pursuing something that you love, and I know that self-confidence will follow you in all that you do!ReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2014 - 8:29 am

    Jennifer - Love this. It reminds me of a quote that resonates with me from Winston Churchill:

    “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”ReplyCancel

    • January 26, 2014 - 1:40 pm

      brookeshaden - Beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2014 - 9:14 am

    Rocio - I think you’ve encouraged and inspired so many of us by just being you and sharing who you are that there really is no need for you to share the successes from your career! Most of us only know what you’ve shared in workshops, videos, your page, and blogs. I believe most of it has been from your heart and your beliefs. Yet…only with that…you have changed so many lives and so many paths. Sometimes, I think you have no idea!!!

    For example, if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have created the group on fb and if that group hadn’t been created, a lot of people wouldn’t have met and become amazing friends…a lot of people wouldn’t have been noticed and recognized in other blogs/countries, etc…a lot of people wouldn’t have been inspired and challenged to create new pieces of art…some wouldn’t have gotten the help they need to make their work better…we wouldn’t teach online classes, I wouldn’t have learned as much as I have since the group started…and we wouldn’t be planning a retreat in 2015!

    I believing in exposing one’s soul to the world as long as what you say doesn’t give room from someone else to hurt your heart. And.. I think you have done that! Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • January 26, 2014 - 1:41 pm

      brookeshaden - That is wonderful to hear Rocio!ReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2014 - 12:19 pm

    Miu - I agree with you.

    I never shy away from blogging about my struggles & failures.

    Yet, at the same time, I can see that some photographers who sell their works to their clients (for example: glamour photographers) can use the credibility boosts that awards & media coverages can bring …

    I’m not a professional photographer. I create made-to-order items for a living. I rely on awards & media coverages to show my potential customers that:
    – I’m a real human being (and not a made-up entity created by a scammer), and
    – They don’t need to worry about the quality of my works (because I do need them to pay me in advance)


    I just want to share my thoughts with you~

    I love your works and find your blog posts thought-provoking. Thanks for sharing your worldview with all of us.


    • January 26, 2014 - 1:42 pm

      brookeshaden - I love your thoughts Miu! And I totally understand why that can be a necessary thing – and I believe that these things should be shared in the right context xoxoReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2014 - 3:09 pm

    Paulo Carvalho - When people ask me if I regret having done something wrong, I always say no. And why? For the simple reason that I cannot regret something that made me learn. In life, if I did and failed, then I learn from this failure. This way of living I also carry it for the photography. If I were afraid of my failures, I would not communicate and transmit my passion through my few works on my site or blog. I’m no professional, far from it, so far from it! But I love photography, and I still have to much to learn and so I am not afraid to show and talk about my failures. Thatโ€™s why I prefer to talk about my failures than my successes. If I show my failures and someone criticize the work in order to teach me, help me improve, then is no longer a failure, is a success, because I learned and took another step. And I can talk about my failure also to teach others. So I always want to keep these thoughts, for more successes I might have. I know I’ll never stop learning, so I need to talk about my failures. And if I stop talking, I stop learning. With affection I give you my regards.ReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2014 - 3:09 pm

    KaLee Kilgrow - I love that you posted about this! I have actually been struggling with this issue for a few days! I posted a blog about my experience with failure. I have set out to shoot and had everything go terribly wrong before, but this time was different! If you are interested, I posted about it here:
    Thanks for creating this site talking about passion rather than only success- It’s been such a resource this past week! ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2014 - 11:46 pm

    Diana Chao - Ugh Brooke, you’re so awesome. Thank you so much for this truly important reminder. I wish so badly I could’ve gone to your gallery opening a few weeks ago, but circumstances… *sigh* Anyways, just wanted to say you’re super inspiring, and you’ve taught me to not dwell on one magazine’s rejection because the photo itself is what matters in the end. <3 So thank you!ReplyCancel

  • January 27, 2014 - 10:58 am

    Libertad Leal - And it does Brooke. More than you think ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • January 28, 2014 - 9:30 pm

    Jen Sulak - what i found interesting at after dark (and hopefully other future teaching endeavors)…is that i see more people open up about huge failures. I actually have loved over the years sharing my failures with my peers – and even today – tried an idea that may have completely BOMBED and how many times did i make the mistakes of sucky lighting….and on and on. How many times have i let my mouth slip and say something I might have regretted? a lot ๐Ÿ™‚ I just love sharing period. I think the more REAL we are about how we got where we are…the better…because let’s face it – no one wants to hear the DARKNESS and STRUGGLE of being and doing. ๐Ÿ™‚ But the more we share everything…the more we see each other in new lights. ๐Ÿ™‚ peace.ReplyCancel

  • January 28, 2014 - 9:35 pm

    Lu - Congratulations on this new site! It is my first time here as I was away from the photography world for a little while. I am happy to be back and to be here. I love to listen to what you have to say as it is always wise and uplifting. Cheers to you!ReplyCancel

  • January 29, 2014 - 12:50 pm

    Tara Eveland - Very thought provoking, and very true! I love this new blog; love it!ReplyCancel

  • February 8, 2014 - 7:09 pm

    Allen - Thank you for this statement! New to photography and finding a new passion. Happy to find you.ReplyCancel