People ask me sometimes how long it took to develop my style, and I think the reason that question gets asked is because it is assumed the answer will be some sort of guideline. I think the question is wrong in the first place though. I find the length of time something took to be irrelevant, whether it be how long an image takes to edit, how long a shoot goes for, how long someone has been doing photography, or how long it took to develop a style. Length of time means nothing. Amount of fulfillment while doing those things is everything. Personal process is king.
Sometimes I feel it is appropriate to answer the question by saying it took no time at all. Or, maybe, that it has taken all the time in my life. I had a style before I picked up a camera. That doesn’t meant that my pictures looked how I wanted them to look. At the same time, they will never look how I want them to look…or if they do, for now, they inevitably will not later. The reason is because we are always growing and learning and achieving and failing. Failing, most importantly.
The length of time something takes is only important insofar as we can measure our life’s journey, and how content we were living it. The amount of time something takes is relevant if we make it so, and if we do not place emphasis on it, it no longer becomes something with which we measure ourselves against.
Never look into another person’s life and think that how they do something is the right way. Never watch someone else’s process and believe yours must be the same. Judge yourself based on your own timeline, or ignore it all together. Be present, be happy, and fulfill yourself.
On one hand I would tell you to lower your expectations, because expecting nothing of yourself means you are free to live how you want to live without being judged, by someone else or by yourself. On the other hand, I would tell you to set high expectations of yourself so that you are always reaching and growing and striving. Yet both are true. Desire. Grasp. Live. These are the goals we set for ourselves. Fail. Fall. Fly. This is how we walk the path to fulfillment.
Think not of time but instead of each moment as an opportunity. Do not worry about the future, or the past, or how you measure up against other people and the limitations they put on themselves. Think of your timeline as being forever in flux, moving with you and not ahead of you. You will go at your own pace. You will fail. You will succeed. And if you are willing, you will do it all in bliss.
Martin - You always recharge my creative batteries.
brookeshaden - Happiness 🙂
Katlego - this is so true… we spend so much time witnessing other people’s greatness and forget the greatness that is ourselves, we spend so much time hoping and wishing for things we want not realizing how much we ourselves have…
brookeshaden - Yes I too am guilty of this. Such an interesting thing we do – we use others to motivate us as well as bring us down.
T Michael Testi - I remember a writer being asked how long it took them to write a book and they something like “I usually start at the beginning, make my way through the middle, and when I get to the end, I know I am done. That is generally about how long it takes!”
That always seemed about right!
brookeshaden - I LOVE that so much!!
Elisabeth on Earth - Beautiful post. I love it ~ and can very much identify with a lot of your points from experiences in my own creative development. (I LOVE my failures!) You’re going to be an amazing motivational speaker.
brookeshaden - Elisabeth thank you thank you so much <3
Liam - When I begin to feel weary with the goals I set myself these posts always rekindle the passion I have for them. Thanks for sharing Brooke!
brookeshaden - I am so glad to hear that Liam. I believe you can achieve all that you set out to do in some way!
Denise - Oh, this certainly helped this morning, Brooke. Your writing is as lovely as your images – but mostly it is plain spot on and so lovingly encouraging. Such a pleasure to see your blogs.
brookeshaden - Denise thank you endlessly <3 xo
Jen Kiaba - Such a wonderful reminder; thank you Brooke!
I can be so hard on myself about my process in many areas of life. But to slow down, be a little more Zen about it, and tell myself “It takes as long as it takes” is so vital. Otherwise I’m always in this headlong rush and completely missing out on what makes life beautiful and worthwhile.
brookeshaden - Absolutely Jen – I am always battling with taking things slow vs. feeling the need to be “prolific”, I suppose. Xoxo
Alex McCombie - If your goal is to try then you have already succeeded the moment you start.
So many times I look back on pieces… (I just shared one from 7 yrs ago) and chuckle. Not because they are too simplistic or undeveloped. Rather because I am constantly reminded of how they feel the same now as they did the day they were made.
Before the complication of mastering complication we still managed to express ideas and thoughts and emotions. We succeeded merely because we tried.
Thank you for another reminder in this day of reminders that sometimes when you find you have circled way back on the path it’s actually a blessing because you get to see it all again with different eyes.
Have a wonderful weekend Brooke!
brookeshaden - Alex I love that so much. I do the same, look back on pictures with fondness not because of what they are, but because of what they meant. It is a beautiful thing to revisit that journey.
Emiko Franzen - Could not agree with you more, Brooke. I mean this in the most sincere and heartfelt way, but I am so enamored with the journey of the “process” itself…as you said, including the successes, learnings and failures…to whatever degree they can be “measured”. If we feel we’re experiencing or wanting to only experience the successes…we’re only experiencing part of the package. It’s the contrast in the success/failure that gives it all shape. Love your work and your sentiments.
brookeshaden - I love the process as well. When it is personal and fulfilling, it is everything 🙂
Michelle - thank-you Brooke….I needed to read this today!
Paulo Alexandre Carvalho - Not much to say, because you’ve said it all, and in a very clear way. Let me just wish you a lovely weekend, for you and your family. A big Hug. <3
Belinda - Thank you for writing this. Sometimes I need a reminder. Your work is so inspiring, I love it!
Diana - That image is beyond inspiring! No words necessary!
Sharon Fibelkorn Chapman - Such great wisdom in your post! I automatically try to put a formal to everything I do and yet, when I simply relax and “do” then I get a wonderful (or I think so) result. Oh why do we make our lives so complicated?! lol Best to you! Love hearing your words and seeing your visions. 🙂
Sam - I wish you were my lecturer at university, they emphasise all the same things as you do but when they explain it I think
“Oh god I can’t do this, I’m terrible!”
When you explain it it always makes me feel so much stronger! Thank you.
Jason - Hi Brooke,
I think it is magic that I can feel your energy and be inspired from so far away ~ South Australia. Every time I read your pieces it adds another seedling to the forest that I am encouraging to grow around me.
Rocio - Beautiful!
kaylee - Amazing!
janene - Wow Brooke, you hit a nerve – judgement. My daughter recognized it the other day. Thank you so much for this.
Sonja - Thank you for this insight. I needed to be reminded of that. 🙂
Howard Koor - Love your work and your heightened philosophy about creativity. Thank you.
Jen Sulak - you wonderful YOU. 🙂 I love this so much. This is a power-packed-statement well said about style. LOVE