I remember the first picture I ever took. A clone shot where I put myself in the image twice. It took more than a day to complete. I cried a lot out of frustration. I don’t like not knowing how to do something. My husband helped a lot. The amount of times he explained the eraser tool in Photoshop was ridiculous.
I remember the first time I posted on social media. I uploaded five pictures. I didn’t know how it worked. I went to Flickr with no expectations except that, if I was very lucky, I would make some friends and develop a new hobby.
I remember the first time someone believed in my photography that wasn’t my mom or dad. I worked with her, Michelle my dear friend, and she came behind my desk one day, looked at the new picture I was editing, and told me that I should take a chance on galleries.
I remember the first time I wrote to a gallery. It was eight months after I started taking pictures. I wrote to every gallery email I could find. I messed it up royally. I burned bridges. I didn’t know any better. I told myself I was young, but that had no role in it. I was just learning.
I remember when I decided to quit my job to pursue photography. I went into my office crying, not because I didn’t want to leave, but because I was terrified at what my boss would say. And to be honest, it was as bad as I expected. I cried every day for two weeks until I finally left, and then I learned what it was like to breathe.
I remember when I had my first exhibition, just a few days after I quit my job. I sold nothing, but felt like I was on top of the world. My parents flew in to see it, my first friend from the internet Christine did the same, and I felt like a real artist.
I remember when I had to get a temporary housekeeping job because I couldn’t make enough money creating my art. I felt embarrassed, like I was less of an artist because of it.
I remember when I taught my first workshop. I was so scared that I thought I was going to throw up the whole morning. But beyond that, I was excited at the prospect of opening up the imagination. I remember talking excitedly and nervously to a man standing outside of my shooting location. At the end of our talk, he said “Your positivity is infectious, never lose that.” I will never forget him.
There are certain experiences that define who we are. We call them memories once they have passed, and those memories dictate how we see the world, and how we see ourselves. There are two things that dominate my mind when I think about all of the memories I have of “firsts” that I’ve experienced. Whether it was taking my first picture or hosting my first workshop, there was fear, and then there was bliss.
These two things are linked so wholly that I don’t know if I have ever had one without the other. Fear is a catalyst for change. It is what we feel when we are doing something new. It is what we feel when we are uncertain. It is what we feel when we doubt. But beyond that, it is our greatest demon. It is what we battle, time and time again, to find our happiest selves. It is what we constantly confront, push past, and conquer. And the conquering of fear is what connects all of my memories. It is what makes them so spectacular.
I heard from someone the other day who said that the aspire to get to a place where they don’t fear moving forward anymore, like me. I wanted to take that person by the shoulders, shake them, and then hug them. “That’s not me!” I wanted to shout. That’s not me at all. I feel fear. I feel doubt. I am scared to move forward.
But I remind myself, even if sometimes my reminders are delayed, that the purest forms of happiness stem from overcoming fear. I remind myself that failures are lessons. That success is only how you see your circumstance. That I am powerful enough to try anything, overcome my losses, and change my life if I want to.
I move forward right now, during this time in my life. I am hosting a “Promoting Passion” convention in October this year for all of us “misfit” creatives who feel fear, chase hope, and who want to do something a little bit differently. I am terrified that it will fail. I am scared that everything will go wrong. But I remind myself in this endeavor that if it does, I will learn. That if it doesn’t, I will find my bliss. If it doesn’t, I will find friends. If it doesn’t…
Melanie - Beautifully said, Brooke! Where will this convention be held or where can one find more info regarding it?
brookeshaden - Hi Melanie!
The convention will be held October 2-4 in North Carolina at an amazingly beautiful retreat center in the mountains. We will be max 200 participants with 10 speakers, and our goal will be to openly discuss storytelling, photography, business and the beauty of life through lectures, workshops, and creative breakout sessions.
I should be releasing info on this in about a month or so…just trying to see how many sponsors we can get on board to keep the cost as low as possible for attendees <3
Margherita Introna - I am about to wage some big battles over the next few days. Battles that will determine which door closes and which door is ready to be opened. This post echoes what is going on in my heart right now <3 xx
brookeshaden - You will be in my thoughts these next few days. Your strength is always apparent and I know it will kick in when it is needed most. Hugs to you, Margherita!
Marcy Criner - This brought tears to my eyes as so many people tell me that they want to be like me..ie fearless. They think because I left a great paying job to pursue my art that I’m some kinda balls to the walls person.
I’m positive and helpful online so maybe that leads people to thinking it’s so easy. The real key has been developing my own set of habits to keep me from freaking out. Plus spending so much time with horses as taught me the power of living in the what is and being ok there.
brookeshaden - It is easy to feel one way and be perceived another. And certainly on some days we feel invincible and on others we feel quite weak. The key is honesty, so that no one feels alone <3
Amani - This was so inspiring to read. I think sometimes we look up to photographers and artists and not realize that they worked HARD to get to where they are, that it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, and that there’s always ups and downs. I’m guilty of that because I’m constantly in awe of the amazing stuff you do and there’s a little voice in the back of my head that tells me that I’ll always remain where I am and never be able to to do things I’d be proud of, like you. I think that’s my biggest fear right now. But then I remind myself that I’ve only been doing this a year (and a few months), that there’s so much I’ve yet to do. There’s also the fear of failure. I was watching your Dreaming In The Real World video the other day and I realized that I’ve been putting off so many things for the exact same reasons you talked about. I want to work on series and start writing a novella and start contacting galleries and I’m terrified of things not working but you make me want to try. Thank you for that.
I’m sorry I rambled, this post just came at a perfect time.
brookeshaden - There is always someone who seems to have done more, and yet we can never know their personal journey, what they went through, or if they feel it is “enough”…In fact, I daresay anyone who has dreams will constantly replace those dreams with greater ones, so that our work is never finished, we are always reaching higher, and we never feel like we’ve done enough. And so, there will always be people who appear higher on the mountain, those who we pull up with us, and peaks that we see in the distance, beckoning us.
You are on your way up Amani and you will continue to climb.
Rose Fredriksen - I admire your open heart and spirit. You are so Inspiring and make such an effort to make everyone feel loved and seen. I have followed you since your first under water video on youtube. I sent you an video when i was very ill, and you actually took the time out of your busy day to answer me back (and it made such an impact and an difference in a very hard time). But please Brooke… remember to take care of your self…ok? <3
You do so much for others, I really wish there was something I could do for you… The least thing I can do is to tell you that it is ok to every now and then take some time of and feed you soul with self loving allowed time. Go and snuggle your cats for me, and know that you are so love (projecting love like really hard right now.. hehe .. I am so certain that if you close your eyes you are going to feel it!)
Take care Brooke.
Xoxo all the way from Norway
Micky - Hi Brooke! I have never been more inspired by anyone in the photography world than you. You push me to try new things, to experiment and persevere and to thrive. Reading this blog entry has only ignited my passion even more, and I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you so much for sharing your passion and promoting motivation in others, it means the world to me and keeps me going in all that I do and love. I would love it if you could check out my flickr page and provide some feedback! But if not, that’s okay too. Continue to inspire others and myself with your amazing work! <3
Paulo Alexandre Carvalho - Today I have the strength to conquer and to help someone conquer whatever it is. Is my birthday! 🙂 Today there is no reason to be afraid of anything and everything goes well and I am very happy. 🙂 Excellent post and inspiring. I admire your work, Brooke and also admire the work of Margherita and Amani. All you are great artists that I admire and who I look for inspiration. You are great and I love you all. Sending lots of inspiration and hugs for you.
Elisabeth on Earth - Happy happy birthday!!! 🙂
Ashley - Thank you for reminding me that everyone faces fear no matter which stage they’re at. It’s so easy to shrink back because of that fear of failure, or whatever else it may be, but we’ll never know unless we try. It’s encouraging to know that it’s not a matter of not being afraid, but rather of facing it anyway. Thank you. 🙂
Ruth - It’s very important to have encouraging people around. Be it family, friends and/or your online communities. Whenever I encounter fear and feel lost or have the feeling I cannot make decisions, I know there is someone who will listen. And that’s one imporant step: Finding words for what you are fearing already helps overcoming fear. If no one listens, you are alone with your fear and it might seem bigger than you. But when you talk about it (or write about it, put it in words) and share it, you might get new perspectives about that fear.
I love the honesty of your postings. You put everthing there is to say into beautiful words and pictures. Very touching work!
Greetings from Germany, Ruth
Diana Brown - You continue to inspire. You are infectious in the most grand way. It is funny how on days that I have self doubt, I see your posts and you keep me going. Your work visually is inspiring, but your writing and self confessing, so to speak, helps to lift even the heaviest of minds, when they need the weight lifted. Here is to being lifted up today!
Many thanks, Brooke.
Rebecca LaChance - Well said and supportive words for all of us. Thank you. Excitedly waiting for information about your convention. 🙂
Michelle - This Saturday is filled with excitement and fear. I am going to a new school for an interview and they are going to review my work. I am afraid of not getting accepted. I hope I do get accepted, I really want my bachelors degree in photography. I have to sell myself to them and I am scared that I might make a mistake. Then everything goes down hill from there and I don’t get accepted. I have gotten rejected by another school before. They told me my portfolio was good, but they said I couldn’t handle the work, because I struggled in school. It was, because I was in special ed in high school. I feel like they judged me before they even got to know me. I have learned I have to move forward even if I am afraid. Life doesn’t go backwards and I shouldn’t want it too. It is nice to look back and see all of the good memories you made for trying hard. I have to remind myself not to get stuck in a rut, because I think that I won’t do good. If you don’t try you will never know. I feel full of so much passion for photography, that it could burst out of me any second now. I’m excited to learn new things and to chase my dreams. You inspire me so much!!! I hope that maybe someday I could meet you. I look forward to your new promoting passion blog posts every week!! 🙂
mira - I read these words, and I want to cry and to laugh and to rush forward, to do something. I want something meaningful for themselves, for others.
Michelle - I enjoyed reading this immensely Brooke, well said! It reminds me yet again to never give up on my dreams and to keep going. With each failure we grow more and develop our character. Your work is amazing and I hope that sometime soon I can get my photography from good to great and re-launch my website. Until then, thanks for the words of inspiration!
Micheline Ryckman - Love this – super encouraging – thanks so much for sharing!
Diana Debord - your posts are always truly encouraging, Brooke! I think it’s important to look back in order to think about your future goals and feel encouragement!
In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.
— Albert Einstein