Building a Set

Building a Set

In my years as a photographer I can remember a handful of times when I told myself I was going to be more proactive in building sets, costumes and props. And in all of those instances the enthusiasm went down the drain and I never really tried much of anything. I have never been naturally good at building things with my hands. My sister was always the one doing that – sculptures and pottery and painting and drawing. I was always the one making up stories and trying to direct films. In other words, I’m the bossy one and she is the artistic one. Usually.

But now, in hindsight, I realize the reason why I was never able to build something that I loved, or stick with it, was not because I didn’t have the talent or the skill set. It was because I didn’t have the wherewithal. I didn’t have the right motivation. And it wasn’t the right time in my life yet. Last summer I decided something had to change in the way I create. It wasn’t until I had a portfolio review that I was tipped over the edge and I came up with an idea for a new series. And it wasn’t until right after that, when I heard Jennifer Thoreson speak at my Promoting Passion Convention, that I decided I needed to just start. Because sometimes beginning a project is the very key you need to figure it out.

So I started building. I came up with a plan, a sketch, an idea and then five. I went to Home Depot more times than I can remember so that I could ask the people there how to build something very basic, yet challenging to me – a room, with no windows or doors, and a moveable wall. At first no one took me seriously. They laughed at me and asked how I’d be able to even pick up the piece of wood I was purchasing. And it was mean, and it was probably sexist, and probably justified in a way, too (I’m a very tiny person). But I won them all over, and we ended up laughing together, and each time I’d go in they would ask how the progress was going and I’d give them an update.

I wanted to share that process with you in this behind the scenes video. This was shot from mid-December until mid-January, which is how long it took to build the room and cover the floor and some of the walls in yarn. I hope you enjoy this insight into the process…

…and remember, if you are thinking about starting a new project, sometimes you just have to BEGIN.

Have you accomplished something this year that you didn’t think would actually happen?
Or do you have plans to make something happen that has been nagging at you lately?

Final images to be released in an exhibition opening January 2017 in NYC.

15 thoughts on “Building a Set

  1. Oh my goodness, what fun!!! A true labour of love. And I adore the sewing on the hand. So excited for you.
    Having just spent the last few months putting my little home studio and office together, it hit home to me seeing this now how rewarding it it to put a space together where you are free to create and it opens up so many possibilities.
    When I heard Jennifer Hudson/Thoreson talk on CreativeLIVE about how she puts her series together, it made me think of what you are trying to do with this new series. It is going to be so rewarding, of this I have no doubt…

  2. Omg what a huge amount of work that is!
    I can already imagine the images will look amazing <3
    The sewing on the hand is really gorgeous.

    Just last week I received a message that a new photo set of mine will be published in a magazine! That was definitely one of my goals for this year. Other goals include to keep growing as an artist and to do bigger productions by making sets, costumes and headdresses for my shoots.

    Amazing video. I admire your passion <3

  3. Oh my goodness! This is incredible! The very last part of the video gave me chills. I’m so excited to see what this magic room brings to life.

    Something I did that I’ve been nagging myself to do for the last year is I finally submitted photos to an art call! Of course, no telling whether they’ll like my work enough to feature it in their exhibit, but I did it and that makes me already feel more confident in doing it again.

    Thank you for sharing this behind the scenes with us, Brooke! I can’t wait for your images!

  4. We used to stick needles under our skin when we were kids, and Mom would tell us to stop it! LOL
    You guys did a great job on the little room, I love the yarn on the floor, now I know how make my own carpet! 😉
    Sorry the morons at Home Depot where such jerks. That is uncalled for!
    I have experience building nearly everything, including jacking up a house, and building a small office from the foundation to the final finish trim finish work. So if you or anyone else on here need help figuring out how to build something let me know! I can even make a video if I need to, I am always happy to help who ever needs it. 🙂

    The next thing I will be making for a photo shoot will be fake blood. Do an of you have a good recipe?

  5. I loved the video! So awesome! In fact I accomplished, not this year, but last year the exhibition I thought it would not happen. Today I plan to do something different and that really is… I would not say nagging me, because I’m enjoying to do, but is giving me some work. But I do not care, because I believe that this new design will amaze and so it have to be very well worked. The problem is that takes me time to create images. But as you said, we are creating in a different way. xoxo

  6. I can’t wait to see the images you create with this set! It looks amazing!

    I admire what you are creating this year, I myself have set high expectations for creating this year. I want to push my self and discover my style and explore my passion. I decided I was going to do two year long photo projects this year, ( 365Grateful and PROJECT52) which I have previously shared. Honestly I did not think I could commit to these projects. I knew it would be difficult, and it has been. I knew I had to atlas try.The important thing to me is that I have stuck with it. I have stayed committed even though I have had thoughts of giving up. I know this process with help me creatively and emotionally, I am proud of myself for getting this far and its exciting to see my own progress! I know not everything I create is going to be amazing but I don’t care. If at the end of the day I created something then I am doing it right ! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share.
    XOX Amanda

  7. Today is my birthday and, like many before this, I woke this morning with a sense of dread. It’s like New Years Day for me…I always think of all the things I didn’t do and all the regrets I have from the past year of my life. Something made me go to your page and this is the first thing I saw and I can’t tell you how much I needed this today. Why I have been so frozen in my tracks to just simply begin is complicated, but I’ve decided nothing good happens without that first step. If it scares me I know I need to do it. It begins today….

    Thank you Brooke…xo

  8. Hi Brooke,

    I think you are absolutely amazing and listening to you has, very honestly, changed my world. I love the way you think and encourage everyone to let go off their creative baggage and think outside the shackles that we have put around ourselves. More recently, I had started thinking that I am not creative enough and if I think of a new idea, I shouldn’t purse it as I don’t know how to accomplish it. You have helped me so much in re-defining my process and helping me think about what I want to express through my photographs.

    I really enjoyed this video and am so excited to see the results. I loved the red colored yarn in the set. What a brilliant idea to use it on the floor! Keep up the amazing work and thank you so much for your optimism and motivation.


  9. It was so inspirational Brooke!! I’m very very proud of you! I’m very excited of all you are doing!! You keep being my hero! Thanks for being the real you and letting us experience your imagination, your inspirations, your creativity!! I’m so looking forward to experiencing your image!!! Thank you so much Brooke! I do hope to see you in September again!! Have a blissful inspired gorgeous day!!

  10. Wow, that is a huge project and obviously a labor of love! I’m looking forward to seeing what artistic results come from this. I’ve often thought of creating elaborate costumes and sets but just never have. Maybe some day!

  11. Brooke, I used to that when I was a kid! I learned sewing with my grandmother and remember doing the same thing and mom grant getting mad at me! I can’t wait to see what’s coming!!!

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