Anytime we start a new project, we look to the horizon to see a time when things will be easier. We look for that moment, sometimes so far away, when everything will settle and our project won’t just be a small baby in the grand scheme of life. We wait for a time when we won’t have to work as hard, worry as much, or put as much blood, sweat, and tears into our ideas.
Ideas come and go. They are planted and buds spiral and we watch them grow up, but even then they need to be watered. We look forward to a time when our ideas become successes so that we have something to work toward. But to answer the question of “Does it get easier?”…I have to say, not really. And that’s how it should be.
Sometimes things get easier. Sometimes your little idea grows into a big idea and then you’re finished. You did what you set out to do and boom, it is complete. But most ideas, the ones that really come from our hearts, are never left to the wayside to just be. They are nurtured and cared for as long as possible. And such is true with artists. To be an artist is to put your heart and soul into your work, and to abandon that project would be to disconnect the artist from the art.
I used to think that I would reach a certain point in time when I didn’t have to work as hard or worry as much. And in some ways, this is true. But in most ways, it is so far from the truth. I think constantly about what my next photo series will be because that is what keeps my heart thumping. I think all the time about how I can use the educational platforms I’ve been given to empower and inspire. And I will never, ever stop these things because they are my passion. If I let them go, I would be lost.
Every single time I post a new workshop online, my stomach tenses up, I hide from my computer, and I cry. This is not an exaggeration. There will always be things that make me worry and stir my nerves, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad thing either. It is okay to worry from time to time, or feel less than spectacular, because it means you care. If you didn’t feel that sometimes, you’re probably not terribly invested in your project.
Does it get easier? Yes and no. Yes, because you learn to understand your own process and how that process will be received. Yes, because you learn about who you are and why you do the things you do, and suddenly you are so connected to them that not much else matters. But I have to say no, it doesn’t get easier when it comes to putting your all into your passions. And sometimes that means that you worry, and other times that means you get to experience the euphoria that is the AH-HAH moment we all dream of.
Should it get easier? I don’t think so. We strive for so much because we are beautiful creative creatures meant to put our stamp on our own little worlds. And as long as we’re pursuing what makes us unique, we will do whatever it takes, from beginning to end, to nurture our special journey.
sumit - I have observed with my own experiences that when we expect the least we can truly enjoy the journey though this can be extremely hard to achive at times. Love your concepts and how you bring it to life kudos 🙂
brookeshaden - Yes I love that perspective. Sometimes people say that is a negative approach, to expect less and be excited about more…and I don’t always adopt it, but in other situations it is the perfect way to just relax and enjoy the ride.
robin spalding - i love you brooke. i must say though don’t run and hide when you post workshops! you are such an incredible, powerful, and inspiring teacher that everyone who learns from you will take away at least one thing they will treasure and grow from . and i say at least one thing but seriously i think people gain MANY things from you. and i believe there will always people wanting to learn from you. and you know what? if people stop coming to your workshops (which if that happens i am sad to say that means you are the last one alive in the world because this would never happen) but dry your tears because you have changed so many others. i can only speak for myself ubt you have fundamentally changed me and the path i’m on. it is so awe-inspiring how i have grown and changed and flourished by watching your videos, your CL classes, reading your blog, and learning from you in person. . . you woke me up and lit a passionate creative fire that is determined to never quit again. remember that. you have affected my life in such a positive, motivated way that now i am slowly spreading my wings and hopefully can inspire others as well, your influence and inspiration is already reaching out to people i know. it is spreading. ;o)
brookeshaden - Robin…you are so amazing. You have this way of lifting me up and making me feel like the world is a playground…and it is. And this is a perfect reminder. You are so unique and I am really honored to watch your journey and progression. It is incredible.
moodphototeija - You are so right about that sometimes we worry, sometimes even we cry, and then there are those euphoria moments.
I love how you speak out loud about these things, I feel that there are many beginners like me, and we get so much from you when you tell honestly about those feelings, failures, happy moments… It is important, because really everything is not so fantastic. In art or in life in general.
Have a great week again and I love love love that photograph. It gives me so much inspiration too <3
brookeshaden - We will all have good moments and bad, and this is just the truth of it. It doesn’t matter how much success one has or how little, there are still triumphs and heartaches to deal with, and we are all the same in that regard. Your comments always get me thinking, thank you so much for being here xo
Alex McCombie - I have always regarded my nervousness and fears regarding showcasing a new product/service as my validation that I truly care about what I am doing. I care about actually being successful by my own standards, if not those of everyone else.
In regards to art though, I find myself losing interest as things become easier. Not that I constantly like to struggle, but as it becomes easier for me to get the result I was searching for, it feels like I have somehow lowered the bar for the sake of being successful at it. That feels like cheating, or at the very least shallow.
I think that the struggle to create is part of what defines the joy of the creation for many. Ironically, it’s often the most hidden part of any piece… people dont see the struggle when they see the outcome. Perhaps that is for the best as the struggle is a uniquely personal aspect of the process and keeping that as intimate as possible is part of the dance between artist and their art.
At least that is the way it manifests for me.
Great post Brooke and wonderful piece.
brookeshaden - I like how you talk about not wanting your art to get easier. I feel the same way. Sometimes I’ve found myself creating essentially the same photo again and again. Just yesterday I was working on one that I thought was beautiful, but I decided to put it away because it was just the same thing again…we should all push ourselves.
Mary Angelini - Such is true for any pursuit in life, to which I have to agree that you can’t really be that invested in your pursuit if you don’t feel the spectrum of emotions that come with following your passion to its fullest. It makes me sad to think that you cry after posting new workshops – you have to know that people fill flock to you with wild abandon every time! Were I not 1600+ miles away, I would be all over them in a heartbeat – I guess I need to move back home to CA!! 🙂
brookeshaden - Mary, you you you!! You always make me feel so renewed! I think my hope is that since I know *I* will flock with wild abandon to other people, I hope they meet me in the middle 😛 One day, you and I will meet there too! <3
Mary Angelini - I have no doubt Brooke, I think it is destiny and it will truly be an exciting and humbling experience for me!
Lu - Brooke! your passion is contagious. I can see in your images and your words how you put your heart and soul, you are all in, and that’s what make your work so special, just you 🙂 . If we would all nurture our special journey we would be happier…busier yes…but a good busy. Mucho amor! lu.
brookeshaden - Aww thank you Lu! Yes indeed…to follow our own path is the greatest reward life can give.
Rhiannon Brunett - “Every single time I post a new workshop online, my stomach tenses up, I hide from my computer, and I cry.”
This line made tears jump to my eyes immediately. This same feeling happens to me every time I post a new photo or blog. I am always absolutely sure that no one is going to care. Just knowing that an artist that I admire so much goes through the same thing gives me courage. That this is part of the process. That it is ok to not feel incredibly great about what you put out there sometimes. The feeling passes. Then on to the next project.
I love you so much Brooke. Your words always seem to come at just the right time and they always resonate with me. I’m glad we got to live in the same time period.
brookeshaden - You have no idea how glad I am that the feeling resonates. Inside I know that everyone feels this way, yet it is so easy to assume that we are personally going through the worst of it and everyone else is just having a jolly ole time! 🙂
natalie - I LOVE YOU <3
brookeshaden - xoxoxo!
Tom Newforge - Like it was said above, I too feel like when things get easy you become stagnant. This has been a double edged sword for me. Not so much as an artist but as a photographer.
Once I master a certain shot or type of photography I tend to dismiss it and seek the challenge of what currently has my attention. I think this is to a fault at times. Finding the balance is key.
For example, I have always been obsessed with moving water. Put me next to a two foot waterfall with a camera and you will lose me for an hour. My love of it hasn’t changed but the way I approach and shoot it has.
I’ve noticed this recently at a place I frequent that has a small spillway from an old mill. I started out taking close up, high speed shots of the the water hitting certain rocks and splashing. That morphed into using a neutral density filter to get a longer exposure and that silky feel. Recently I’ve been very taken by trying to catch the way the reflection bends just as the water is just starting to spill over.
My last time there I remembered how cool the high speed close ups were but it felt different. The challenge was gone but I felt very comfortable in what I was doing and actually enjoyed spending time with a fellow, less experienced photographer and explaining the method to catching those shots.
That my dear, is where you shine. My latest foray into utilizing Photoshop to create consists of stacking a few photos, getting zoomed in with the eraser tool, and removing things to create something new. I didn’t pull this method out of thin air. I remember you saying that it was how you started. That stuck with me. I am creating, (on a very basic level), because of something you said one time that made me believe that I could do it.
So now we are coming full circle. Don’t get yourself too worked up about your workshops. Some of the most simple things you have said have stuck with me. It’s because you know how to speak to people of varying levels of skill. It’s because your unapologetic about doing some things at a basic level. You own it. That is inspiring. When you speak you make people believe that they can do it too. When people attend one of your workshops it’s not to see Brooke’s next big thing….it’s to see Brooke. It’s to see you in a pool with point and click and a sheet and creating something out if that. It’s the way you make people feel like they’re capable of the same thing. It’s the way you take something that people feared as complicated and uncomplicate it.
My point is to not let these things stress you too much. People want to see that girl from Lancaster who can create a work of art from nothing. That should be quite easy to produce as it is who you are. You just also happen to be a world class fine artist as well. Your ability to merge the two and translate that to others in an easily understood manner is what sets you apart from the rest.
Hope you have a great day.
brookeshaden - Tom, I absolutely loved reading every single word you just wrote. I relate so much to your waterfall example. I often fixate on such things and try to find new ways of photographing what I love. I think that is what gives a photographer a certain voice: when they understand what fascinates them and then tries to do it differently each time. Growth and rebirth.
Thank you for being so kind about the workshops. Teaching is part of who I am…though “teaching” doesn’t exactly feel like the right word. Sharing? Gathering people and forcing them to listen? hehe! Either way, you have no idea how much you have lifted me today and you’ve made me feel like a million bucks! I will probably always be stressed about announcing a new workshop, but mostly because of the amount of money that I have to potentially lose if no one signs up 😛 That will always be stressful. But at the same time, I know that whoever signs up, I will be giving them my 1,000% and that will never change. Can’t wait to see you 🙂
Tom Newforge - I’m on mobile so I can’t directly reply but your very welcome and you really are quite the gifted teacher. You come off as genuine and non authoritative. It feels like your just learning from a friend. That opens people up to learn.
As far as the money goes, ugh. Welcome to my world. I’ve told you before that my yearning to create worlds takes a backseat to photographing the worlds of others. I’m not totally complaining but paying the bills comes first at this early a stage for me. So I sorta know the feeling.
Don’t stress. You filled France in what? A day? Your inspiration is contagious and people want to be a part of that.
Ok gotta run. Hope you smile a lot today and I’m psyched to see you too. It’s coming up sooooo quick:)
Kimberly - This is wonderful because it shows that there’s nothing wrong with things not being easy. It just shows that if we expect easy, we’re not putting our heart in it. Thank you Brooke! =-D
Carin - I’ve struggled and strived all my life to prove I’m worthy of “that exam”… “that job” …”that promotion”…”that training”. Sometimes I’ve hated that struggle I mean really loathed the fact I’ve had to try harder, work harder to prove to others I am actually quite talented. I find writing that a challenge ‘cos it’s hard for me to blow my own trumpet.
Now tho I realize it’s the struggle I enjoyed most. Proving that I have what it takes to do it and do it well. I need a goal I need to strive it’s who I am and how I’m built I guess. So I’m happy it didn’t get easier and I’m sure it still wont! What I know now is I can do it, I will do it and I’ll enjoy doing it.
So glad to read others feel the same, and it’s great to be able to vent these thoughts with like minded folk.
Please don’t stress or cry about posting up a new workshop ‘cos you are so well respected, admired, loved and diligently followed I can’t ever see them not being sold out, with deep sighs of regret from those who missed their chance at a place.
When are you coming to the UK Brooke? I promised you that scissors 🙂
I count numbers to calm me when I’m stressed the higher I go the more stressed I must be but it kinda works……..that’s 20 yrs in finance for ya. Sending smiles ur way x
lovelyn - It definitely doesn’t get easier. I was hoping it would, but now I realize that if it were easy it would mean that I probably didn’t care about it enough.
Laurie Mire - I want to say “thank you” This marks my seventh years as a working photographer…and I love my job. But I wasn’t being fulfilled..in my heart and soul. That is when I came across one of your youtube videos in December and I was in awe. Your vision is beautiful!!! I raced out and bought your book and have been shooting for me on a regular basis now. This month I was part of a women’s art show and displayed a piece. THANK YOU for your sharing your beautiful, giving spirit 🙂 Hope to meet you one day!!
Tara - Oh Brooke, I agree with Robin, please don’t run away from your computer and cry, instead the next time, do what you tell us to do all the time and face our fears! Fear is the mindkiller remember, you taught me that! You are always giving me challenges that I face and I do head on, so I want to challenge you the next time you post a workshop to sit there, just 30 minutes and watch how FAST it books up girl! Because they always do! And if I have the money and means, I would be the first booking. You have changed my life, and so many others, so many that you may not even know about! You gave me the needed PUSH to do what I love, leave behind those that didnt support me, and create a new path for myself! again, thank you! I love you brooke and as always you are in my prayers!
8 Photographers Who Blog - […] Promoting Passion: Fine art photographer Brooke Shaden is all about encouraging others to follow their creative pursuits. “This blog is my special place,” writes Brooke, “I write here everyday for my own personal joy.” Luckily, Brooke’s joy also includes lots of salient information for photographers, as Brooke asks vulnerable questions like “does it get easier?” […]
8 Photographers Who Really Nail Blogging | Home Design - […] Promoting Passion: Fine art photographer Brooke Shaden is all about encouraging others to follow their creative pursuits. “This blog is my special place,” writes Brooke, “I write here everyday for my own personal joy.” Luckily, Brooke’s joy also includes lots of salient information for photographers, as Brooke asks vulnerable questions like “does it get easier?” […]
Monica - Brooke – I stumbled across you and your work on CreativeLive, and I just love your imagination. I find your images inspirational because I aspire to be able to create images that are so surreal and magical, and speak so clearly to a story; however, after watching CreativeLive, and many of your youtube videos, I realize that more inspirational than your work is your attitude. You have such conviction and work with such passion that it just breeds inspiration. Listening to you and reading your thoughts on this blog, the doubts and second-guessing goes away, and is replaced instead with motivation, to try, even if it doesn’t work out.
I am attending the ClickinMoms conference, and am looking forward to hearing you speak then. I can understand the nerves you must have in hosting workshops and speaking at conferences, but you shouldn’t worry. Those who come are there because they are inspired by you, and you have wisdom and thoughts to offer them that they can’t get from anyone else.