I felt a transition coming on. You can always feel them from miles away but sometimes you choose to ignore them, and other times, you simply can’t. My world was shaking like a train was passing right by, and as often as I closed the curtains so I wouldn’t see it, the floor was vibrating with intensity. I wanted to change the way I created. I wanted to do something different and challenging. But I was holding on to a lot of creative baggage that I didn’t want to let go of. I had no idea how light I could feel. It turns out, stripping away that baggage is an ongoing process.
What I mean by creative baggage is feeling like you have to create in a certain way, or that you are defined by what you have created in the past. It can mean something different to you. It is personal. These are five common excuses I hear regularly about other people’s creative baggage.
5 HANGUPS of creativity
1. I am not creative.
2. I haven’t done any thing creative in a long time, so I’ve lost my creativity.
3. My creativity will run out.
4. No one will understand my unique creativity.
5. It has all been done before so I won’t try to be creative.
I have never and hopefully will never believe in those 5 points above. But some people do. And I have my own hangups that shape who I am as an artist and person. All we can do is recognize them as opinions, not facts.
I found some quotes that helped me see everything a little bit differently.
“Occasionally, in times of worry,” Vincent Van Gogh writes to his younger brother, Theo, “I’ve longed to be stylish, but on second thought I say no–just let me be myself–and express rough, yet true things with rough workmanship.” from INC.com
The artist Matisse said, “Don’t wait for inspiration. It comes while one is working.” from INC.com
I first picked up my camera when I was just shy of 22 years old. I first started filmmaking when I was 17 years old. I started writing when I was 8 years old. From the earliest time I can remember, I knew what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. Clearly things changed. I decided I wouldn’t be a writer but instead a filmmaker, and I was so certain in that decision. When photography came along I decided I would be a photographer and never anything else, and I was so certain. In recent years nothing else has come along that has made me change my mind, yet still I find myself yearning for something else. When I was younger, and as most young people do, I fought hard and longed for a title. Professional photographer. Filmmaker, director, writer, you name it. A title brings a sense of legitimacy to a world that is obsessed with labels. If you fit into a box, you can be easily understood. Legitimized in the eyes of those who would judge. And I wanted to be judged. I wanted to be praised for knowing what I wanted. And in those moments, I really did want those things. Now, though, I find myself breaking from photography and filmmaking and writing in the sense that I do not want to be defined by those things.
This year I started creating in an entirely new way. I have created one image so far this year. Just one. In previous years that might have sent me spiraling down into a depression caused by fear of becoming irrelevant. But now, my fear is that I will remain entirely too relevant. That my “style” will eat me alive and that I will be defined by it so tightly I will not be able to escape. Distance from my traditional craft has taught me that the more I shed the bonds of style and artistry that I’ve come to know, the less I will be defined by my body of work and more by the way I think.
Consider great painters, like the ones I mentioned above, or any of your favorites. Yes, they are probably known for their body of work, but they are also probably known for their way of thinking. I believe it is just as important for someone to create consistently as it is for someone to create with from within. That creating from within is what allows the artist’s thoughts to feel tangible in their work. This is why, whenever an artist stands out, we say we feel a connection to them. So this year I am spending more time thinking, and less time creating. I am spending more time analyzing why and how I create than creating for the sake of producing more work.
Just last week someone sent me a message that said “Why aren’t you creating anything new?” and my answer was that I am creating new content constantly. That I am creating within first, and manifesting it later. That I am thinking more, that I am crafting more. We carry so much creative baggage when expectations are set. I believe expectation is the death of creativity. When we expect something of ourselves, believe someone else expects something of us, or when we listen to our societies beliefs about what makes an artist prolific, we succumb to creating because we feel we must for others, instead of for ourselves.
Never let your creativity fall into the hands of another.
Create because you must, not because you are afraid you must.
This month, create something different, in a fundamental way, from how you usually work. Let yourself break free from any creative baggage you are carrying around, and take a chance on what it feels like to create with a lighter artist’s soul. Share your work and how you changed your creative process (it can be as simple as a mindset shift, a technique, etc.) and post both a link to the image and your description in the comments under this post. All commenters will be entered into a drawing to win a prize package in the mail.
Fred Crown - Thank you so much for your inspiring talk on Letting Go of Creative Baggage.
I felt I hit a wall this fall and could find nothing to inspire my creative process. As you say, just start something, anything is the key to get the creative juices flowing.
I am currently attempting to learn Large Format and the technical aspects have been weighing me down. Your talk is helping me get over that technical landslide that is blocking my road to creativity.
brookeshaden - Wow large format – I feel myself moving in that direction sometimes, but not sure I’m ready for that kind of investment yet. I wish you lots of joy in finding your way with it! You’ll have to share an update once you crank some images out. Thank you for writing, Fred!
Ana - Hi, Brooke, I really felt this post talk to me, most of the fears you mentioned I sometimes have… It was of great help to actually listen to someone talk about them since, most of the time, I feel like I can`t even acknowledge them to myself. The idea of a long creative journey, detached from any which specific area, has been taking form in me for some time, and I sometimes feel as if the pure action of producing is what satisfies me. But there is this river of expectations that seems to diminish this joy, especially as I get older. Questions like “what am I to do with my life?” always echo away in the back of my brain.
One thing I have recently come to accept is that our interests might eternally shift from one thing to another, and that that`s ok, it doesn’t translate itself as superficiality or lack of commitment, and I figure your video says alot about this too.
I do have one question I’d like to raise… I see myself creating personal work only in times of great angst or sadness, as if if it’s not exploding out of me, I have nothing to say…so, even if I do produce something, it doesn’t have any real value to me other than an aesthetic one… Have you ever experienced this? As if you were empty or apathic…? In the end, I noticed that what I most love about photography is being able to work for others, to help them express whatever it is they might be feeling, since I myself have nothing to say. And this has been really an amazing experience, creating such intimate relations with others.. but it does make me wonder…
I really love your work and admire your openness and willingness to share!
brookeshaden - Hi Ana! I love that question you raise: “What am I to do with my life?” Isn’t it a bit sad that we are so conditioned to always be questioning this, when in fact our greatest passions might not always translate into a career? Either way, it is a question I ask myself from time to time and need to catch it and throw it away.
As for creating works that I feel nothing toward – I’m actually the opposite of you. I need to be happy in order to create. I like order in my mind and happiness in my heart, and only then do I feel like I can conjure up my greatest imagination. When I’m sad or upset, I need to shut down and restart, so I’ve never been one to create when angsty. However, I totally understand the need and desire to. And however you create best is up to you! I think creating other people’s visions is an amazing thing to do. We are all called to a different area for a reason, and I think you telling stories that others might not be able to express on their own is awesome. If I were you, I’d try some creative exercises on the day to day to see if I could get my happy mind thinking creatively and meaningfully, but otherwise, embrace the creativity and inspiration that you’re gifted with! <3
Cynthia Kannan - This is so very true and I relate to that, Brooke. I struggle with the guilt I feel whenever I am not holding the camera, shooting new work or editing and instead, use that time to work on my website, paperwork or simply organize myself. I feel I am restricting my creativity, that perhaps in that time that I am “wasting” on these other activities I could be creating something Awesome. I have to keep reminding myself that this is also part of the process…and after a creative period you need time to unwind and focus on other areas that indirectly do support your creativity.
brookeshaden - I love the way you said that Cynthia. When I was listening to Jennifer Thoreson speak at PPC this year, her talk about recycle time really hit me! I’ve never been one to work like that, but it did make me realize I can take a break and that doesn’t mean my creativity is diminished, but instead it is being built back up again. XO!
Norma - I love Jennifer Thoreson! You two are such an inspiration! Tanks thanks!!
brookeshaden - She is AHmazing, seriously. Hearing her talk was such an eye-opener for me <3
Norma - Hi Brooke,
I have that all the time!! And it even has led to a half year’s pause from photography for me a few years back. Luckily I missed it after a while to be a creator and through iphone photo’s (just experimenting) I got back in the saddle! Thanks for being so open about how you feel, it makes me (at least) feel I’m not the only one being insecure about my creativity! What I do when I feel I am losing my creativity? I take a break and do things completely different for a while like reading, listening to music or riding with my horse… then, all of a sudden my creativity comes back to me : ).
brookeshaden - Hi Norma! That is a great way to refuel – to do something entirely different! I’ve been doing the same, learning piano and guitar in my spare time and practicing yoga…it has been really therapeutic in ways!
Barbara Becker - Brooke,
I hadn’t even thought of the idea of creative baggage or how that might interfere with my daily happiness until I watched your video today. You totally hit on the issue that seems to stump me so often and that stifles my creativity! I, sadly, have experienced all 5 of the Creative Hangups you talked about, but number 4 seems to run through my head ALL. THE. TIME. I always feel misunderstood and always convince myself that it is my lack of refined communication ability or something that causes the misunderstanding. This, in turn, leaves me not being true to myself. Which, ultimately, leads to unhappiness. Becoming a cycle of non-productivity.
I chose the word “Create” this year to be my driving, defining word for growth. And you just renewed my passion! Thank you!!!
Your words: “Create because you must, not because you are afraid you must,” will go into my journal TODAY and onto my inspiration board.
brookeshaden - I love you for saying this Barbara! I felt the same way…not realizing that I was carrying so much weight with me in my pursuit of creativity. To shed it, even if it is slowly, is very freeing. And I agree on number 4 – if any have plagued me, it has been that one. I’m so glad that you’re focusing on creating, I hope you’ll share an update of what’s new in your creative world soon!
Tammy - Thanks for sharing your gifts and talent and motivating others to create! Create for ourselves, not others! Just what I needed to hear!
brookeshaden - <3 Thank you Tammy!
Nick Cormier - Brooke,
Probably my favorite P.P. Video Blog yet (and it didn’t even have a speed edit 🙂 ) Thank you for being so honest and humble with your words and for truly being such a positive inspiration when it comes to creativity. I took in every word. After I get done writing this message, I’m digging into my notebook and making one of my many sketches come to life. I took nearly a year off of creating images to enjoy and photograph our little one during his first year of life. I’m excited to get back out there and create something for me, not anyone else. Thank you, thank you.
brookeshaden - I have to say, it has been awesome to know that you’ve been enjoying your son! I’m happy for you to get back into creating! Thank you for always being so kind and amazing…and I can’t wait to see what new images are brewing in your mind!
Barbara Simmons - Brooke: This new year, I have found myself residing more and more in the ‘Vortex’ (the place where we are connected to Source, where things happen easily and without thought, where we can just BE and manifest effortlessly, trusting that we are exactly where we are meant to be.) It is the place to be, if we can overcome our human condition to think and analyze things to death!
This image entitled “Take no bag for your journey…” is the end result of contemplating the emotional and creative baggage that holds us back.
Coincidentally, I completed this image several days prior to your creation “letting go of Creative Baggage!
brookeshaden - Hi Barbara! That is SO amazing to be in that place. I hope you stay there forever in your happy creating bubble! I’m getting there, too 🙂 And your image is the perfect portrayal of that concept. Thank you for sharing!
Janice - I just liked you fb page. beautiful inspiration work.
Janeane Sanborn - Thank you Brooke – this discussion is so timely for me. I have a job interview tomorrow that would bring me back into a corporate environment. I have been twisting in the wind with fear about giving up my dreams to create my own business. I think I was drawn to this corporation because somehow it would legitimize my skills. I am seeing that what I feel about myself and my abilities is an inside job. Pats on the back have never actually worked at ending my insecurities. Just like you, I feel a huge creative surge and I really want to move forward – but again there was the fear – just as you outlined in your piece about creative baggage. The truth is that the universe has provided me with the space to make this happen and being authentic and creative is what gives my life juice! Thank you for the timely nudge. Best to you Brooke!
brookeshaden - Hi Janeane! Wow that is timely! I hope that you continue to pursue that amazing creative space and that you find the freedom to create in your own way with nothing holding you back! Good luck tomorrow if you do go for the interview…either way, we are in total control, and creating something fulfilling is always within reach!
Ankur Banerjee - Hi, I’ve been a follower of your creations and your inspirational videos on YouTube. Finally started to read your blog posts and this one truly brought a change in my thinking I really feel free now. Before even I used to think in this society one must create their work to be recognized but I feel you must create what you feel like and not think about the society, this gives you freedom and peace of mind.
You are really a nice person and I would love to learn more from you! 😀
brookeshaden - Thank you for the comment Ankur! Indeed, the only way to creative freedom is to stop thinking about what others want from you! 🙂
Carrie - I am so grateful for this post and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Today is my 38th birthday and I have plenty of creative baggage. One little satchel holding me back is lack of confidence. My school closed after I only had one semester towards my goal of a degree in photography. That was 3 years ago and since then, I have been utilizing online tutorials, books and inspiring works of others to keep moving forward. The downside to this is the lack of hands-on training and receiving “critiques” or advice specifically designed for the kind of images I’m working on. That being said, I sometimes feel directionless. In a forest of ideas and no compass. I am in the process of trying to find and connect with other people who have the same passion for photography or even a small group to confer with. I believe that giving and receiving honest feedback will help me with this lack of confidence. I want to find a mentor who can help guide me. I have plenty of friends who say kind things about my images but as sweet as that is, I need someone who will also tell me how it could be improved or maybe just be a sounding board when I am unsure of something. I am greatly inspired by not only your work as a photographer but also by your kindness. You are a kindred spirit, in my book! Fantastic first post of the year and a fantastic birthday present!
brookeshaden - Happy Birthday Carrie!!! I am sending you all my love and inspiration! I can’t wait to see where this year leads you…or where you lead yourself, I should say. That is a bummer about your school. If you’d like, please email me with a selection of your images (maybe a link to a website) and I’d be happy to offer a critique. XO!
Carrie - You are such a beautiful person! I am about to bawl my eyes out! You just singlehandedly made this the best birthday!
Thomas Miles - My baggage is fear of growth and commitment to my creativity, I’ve really wanted to shoot bigger and with more people involved, trying to shoot more fashion based. This has truly terrified me and as a result, I haven’t felt a push to contact those designers, MUA and models that I would love to. I think I fear change too much, I feel like tingles of inspiration, but not the drive to go after it. Im not really sure why but its something I battle more often than not. This year I am hoping to meet more people and put my happiness in the drivers seat and be the priority of my work.
brookeshaden - Thomas, I’ve watched your photography blossom into what it is now, and I can definitely say you are going up and up! I understand entirely the hesitation you’re having. I had the very same one. I never wanted to do fashion photography, but I have wanted to work with a larger team before and it scared me so much. I did it, and realized that process isn’t for me, but gosh it was hard to try! Start small and build an awesome team. And on the other hand, the worst someone can say is “no”, so there is no harm in trying. Next time I’m in your area maybe we can collaborate 🙂
Diane - Boy, Brooke I definitely drove one point home for you!
Janice - hi brooke. i love your knew image. i don’t know what it means to you exactly, but i see myself struggling upill, my head blowing off with frustration. i am an ER nurse within corporate healthcare (it’s all corporate healthcare in this country); and i’m overwhelmed and uninspired by this. in 2013 i began a 2 year fine art photography certificate at an art school, i drove about an hour each way over a highway twice a week to get this done. it is one of the happiest places i’ve been in my life. last june i finished the program and i sit here struggling with what i want to do now, so tired in my job, which i need to pay for my mortgage and my car. you mentioned titles – “I am an ER nurse.” no i am not. but who am i? what am i?
last week i deactivated my fb account. i am calmer today. no more politics, abused animals, antagonistic comments, debating or arguing, exposing vulnerable parts of myself in the wrong moment and in the wrong way in a moment of emotional “vomiting.” my new page is only about creativity, only about the right messages and the right stimulation. i am doing a 52 week challenge, i am learning about lighting, i am finally going to watch my CL workshops (2 of which are yours). i want to find me. i want to be me. i want to exist in this world on my own terms to the extent that i can. i hope that unsaddling myself with peripheral clutter and noise is the first step.
on my website is a group of images called “the journey through”. although i am proud of my work, probably because i invested so much of myself into it, i feel like it isn’t as appreciated by other people. i wonder if i need to work on these images to make them more interesting or relatable. this is part of my journey.
thank you so much for your post and the opportunity to share my experience, my journey. this isn’t a new image, but it’s my story of finding one’s way through. http://www.sheppardjphotography.com/the-journey-through-1/
brookeshaden - Hi Janice 🙂 I am so glad to hear from you. Massive respect for the job you do in the ER. My cousin works as a nurse, sometimes in the ER, and I know only a fraction of how difficult that must be. I think it is amazing of you to not be defined by your job title. To search and seek and want to be more, do more, create more…that is what a true Artist does, in my opinion. It was an honor to view your images, I can see such growth in your series and such a sense of expansion, from close up shots to wide open images, which is very meaningful to me. I can’t wait to see how your year unfolds. And I hope you enjoy the CL classes!
Linda Kristiansen - Hi Brooke, I loved your video on creative baggage. I think my biggest obsticle is to let go of fear and to follow my instincts when it comes to creating what I want. I had a very strange and new experience on this recently. I was on a bus to work, when I suddenly got this idea for an image. It was so strange and different from what I usually do, but I got all excited and wrote it down on my phone. Then the weirdest part was when I could not get this out of my mind, and the whole workday I could see this image before me, and my heart was actually beating so fast I felt all strange! I texted a model I use and asked if she could come to my place the next day and amazingly enough she could. Even after I told her I was gonna wrap her in sheets, lay her on the floor and pour water on her. She’s a trouper 😀
A few hours later I started to regret the whole thing. “The idea was wierd, very different from my other work,no one was going to like it and they would just think me crazy”… See how quickly I went from bursting with energy to total anxiety.
Anyway – I did go through with the shoot, -and I LOVE the way it turned out! Felt like I could finally breathe again once I had finished it!:) That of course is the most important part, but I also got amazing feedback once I put it out on instagram and other social media.
This experience was so amazing for me! I simply had to make that image, and I am so glad I didn’t let fear stop me. Which is the thing I need to constantly keep in mind. Don’t let fear stop me.
I am constantly working on being less afraid, and being more me 🙂
Here is a link to the image, I havn’t put it up on my website yet so I’m linking to a publishing on 1x.com – hope that is ok 🙂
brookeshaden - Linda that is AMAZING! I am so happy for you. To have an idea like that is an amazing way to be hit by inspiration…and then to follow through takes real vision and confidence. The image turned out fantastic. I wish you so many more experiences just like that one. Way to go out of your comfort zone to pursue your vision!
Linda Kristiansen - Thank you so much! 🙂 It was almost a bit overwhelming at the time, but I keep thinking maybe I have in some way managed to open myself up to being inspired like that, and so I just feel exited about what will come next 🙂 Not that I expect this to happen a lot, but every now and then would be nice, haha 😀 There is one thing I find very facinating. I think that the way our creative mind works is always changing, and I feel that the more we use it and challenge it, the more creative we become. Its like we need to exercise the “creative muscle” and it then gradually becomes stronger over time, -or more receptive maybe. The more I follow through on my ideas – the more ideas I have 😀 I think it’s kind of magical <3
Lauren - Hi Brooke,
This video really hit home with me. I fell in love with photography in high school and went on to study it in college. After college I had a dream of using photography to create art. Unfortunately I let the voices of others get in my head that I would only be successful if I used my skills to open a business and create family, engagement..etc portraits. I did this for awhile but I knew it wasn’t where my heart was. I then came across your blog and watched some of your videos. You truly helped open my eyes to not waste another moment not doing what I loved. I’ve created two images so far and I’ve never felt happier. So for me I have let go of listening to what people think is best for my life and just doing what makes me happy.
brookeshaden - Oh Lauren that is amazing! I am so happy to hear that you are pursuing your creative calling. I would love to see those images sometime if you’re willing to share!
Lauren - Of course! I just put both of them up today 🙂
brookeshaden - So awesome!! Thank you for sharing Lauren!
Janice - just in case anyone missed this….
Janice - sorry, that was my email. feel free to delete that last one brooke. but in the spirit of stimulating creativity, this just popped up. i’ll repost on your fb page brooke, in case you feel it doesn’t belong on your blog.
brookeshaden - Awesome! Totally belongs here 🙂
Greg - Hey Brooke. I’ve literally just discovered your work and it’s really inspiring! I’ve been taking photos as a hobby for many years (as music has been my full time thing for 8 years) – but I’m now making the transition into full-time photographer and well, it’s really tough! All of the points you touched on I can relate to. Having been a musician for so long I know what it’s like to constantly be criticized for you work. Putting yourself out there is tough and it is one of the hardest parts of being a creative. I’m hoping that with photography I can give a little less of shit about what people think and just do what I believe in! Greg
brookeshaden - Hi Greg! Thanks for the follow! I think that is amazing that you’re making that transition. I always find that music and photography are very intertwined. I hope your transition is rewarding! And I love your attitude…it really is time to care less and create more!
Roger Graham - After watching “Letting Go of Creative Baggage”, I decided to share. After 20 years of amateur-to-intermediate woodworking, I decided I was bored, that the work just wasn’t fulfilling enough anymore. A flyer for an upcoming local art competition led me, on a whim, to make a piece of wood sculpture, very abstract and unlike anything I had ever tried. Long story short, I won a 2nd place ribbon and was trilled to be recognized for something new!
But once I tried sculpture, I found I didn’t want to limit this fresh start, and that I wanted to add more to it than just the wood elements, so now, a couple years later, I am incorporating bits of clay sculpture into my pieces. Then this led to rubber mold making and resin cast making so I could have multiples of my simple sculptures in my work. Three things I new nothing about I have learned to use, at least crudely:)
I now feel no limitations to what I can create and even when an experiment with something new doesn’t work as well as I would like, I still come away with the feeling that I am still advancing and “pushing the envelope”.
brookeshaden - Wow Roger! I had the biggest smile while reading your story. I hope that everyone reads your comment, because you are the perfect example of breaking free from what we know in order to pursue our greatest passion. Thank you for inspiring me today, I appreciate it beyond words. Makes me want to go build a sculpture…or at least take a new photo 😉
Ron McDonald - Hi Brooke!
I always love your posts and appreciate the deep thought you put into them. You express some of the same feelings I have concerning photography.
I just watched and read your post on Creative Baggage and couldn’t agree more. I think your sentiments are common among most photographers in general – big-time pros as well as us lesser known. I’m always amazed when I hear a photographer that I look up to say they worry about their creativity and if they can continue to produce images that the public will like/buy.
Watching you talk about Creative Baggage, I kept waiting for you to say the ‘I’ word – Insecurity. You were very creative in putting together a 13+ minute vlog without saying that word. I’ve personally found that insecurity is probably the biggest killer of my creativity – that voice that keeps telling me that I’m not good enough. I sometimes think of myself as an imposter pretending to be a photographer. After all, I’m a trained IT professional not a photographer. But, I’ve won Best of Show twice in the four years that the local “Images of Illinois” contest has been in existence. Over 200 photographers compete in that contest. The first time I won I totally believed (and still do) I just got lucky – imagine a fake photographer winning Best of Show! The jokes on them. I felt very self-conscious accepting that award in front of a group of real photographers. The second time I won, a couple years later, I thought it was some kind of weird coincidence – how could that happen? Lightning just struck twice! I might just be lucky but I’m starting to be consistently lucky! I don’t understand it but I’m becoming more OK with it. And that’s what I tell people, I just got lucky.
This reminded me of a song by Joe Walsh called Lucky That Way. Here’s what he says about being a world-renown musician,
I’ll let you all in on a little secret
If I can share with you a thing or two.
If you just act like you know what you’re doing –
Everybody thinks that you do!
And when anybody asks me, “Joe, How do you do it
‘cause you do it with such style and grace.”
I just shake my head and smile, look ‘em in the eye and say,
“I’m just lucky that way!”
Artists of all art forms probably deal with this same creativity issue and are not just unique to photographers. I still constantly strive to be as creative as possible and I worry less about losing my creativity anymore. As you said, you’ll always have it and no one can take it from you. You can choose not to exercise it for periods of time but it will be there waiting for you when you’re ready for it.
The more photos I make, the more confidence I gain which in turn helps to banish away insecurity and worrying about acceptance of my creative ideas. I still find myself somewhat apprehensive each time I display new photos and have to remind myself how “lucky” I’ve been in the past to gain acceptance. I now try to immerse myself into picture making and not even think about all the negatives – just keep doing what I love doing.
Thanks again for the thought-provoking blogs! And Good Luck in everything you do!
brookeshaden - Hi Ron! I like how you’re bringing up insecurity – I think that is largely where it all stems from, right? I try to leave it out of my vocabulary as a rule and I think that translates into my videos, haha! Imposter syndrome is something I’m thinking about writing about soon…it is so very real and detrimental! And it’s so easy for me to tell you that you ARE amazing…which I fully planned on doing…but at some point we have to start believing in our infinite potential. Love those lyrics, too.
Mary Robinson - Yay Brooke I’m so glad your “back” LOL! I’ve missed your videos and posts so much! I love your new image btw! This video was so perfect for this week! I’m one of your “cabin” girls! Chelsea and Katie who I meet at your PPC are doing the 52 week conceptual challenge together! Its so fun and exciting. Thank you so much for inspiring us!! I can’t wait for my photoshoot this week! I’m going back to some of my roots but also trying something new that I’ve been wanting to do! XOXO -Mary
brookeshaden - Awww Mary that is awesome!!! Be sure to post updates here so I can see the progress. That is a big undertaking, I’m super proud of you girls. XO!
Sam Read - Glad to see you back Brooke. This video really resonated with me, lately I’ve been taking on more clients in a commercial sense which really put my self portraits on the back burner. When trying to get back into them I ended up hatin everything I was producing, I felt like the colouring was always wrong and not what I wanted. So I’ve decided that for the next 2 months I will edit entirely in black and white. I think I need to get back into the importance of storytelling and why it is that I picked the camera up in the first place, I need to get back in touch with why it is I have the desire to create. My other greatest creative venture is that I’ll be moving from my home town in rural Australia in a few weeks to move just outside of a big city, because of this I can finally pursue one of my biggest photographic dreams and that is to shoot colour film, there aren’t many film houses in Australia anymore, however the university I’ll be attending has colour processing. Thank you for all your support over the last 2 years Brooke, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and your videos and photos encouraged me to find my passion. I’m a better person now because you taught me how to express myself!
Heather Arsement - This topic could not come at a better time in my life for me. I got sick about 6 months ago and couldn’t create anything because I didn’t have the strength. And now that I am better and able bodied I haven’t been able to create anything because I am scared that I lost it. I am waiting on inspiration to hit me over the head like a brick. Like it’s saying WAKE UP Heather! Thank you Mrs Brooke
Grace Morningstar-Hamilton - I learned a big lesson recently. Every February for the last 8 years I have hung lots of big and small lighted hearts outside my home to spread joy to others. Every year I make more so that the display both changes from year to year and gets bigger. This year I almost didn’t hang them. I have been under a lot of stress and was not feeling the joy. My thought was that it would be hypocritical of me to try to spread joy when I wasn’t feeling joyful myself. I decided to hang my hearts anyway. And the joy came when I was in the process. I realized that sometimes my creativity is the same way. I don’t have to wait to feel creative before I create. For me the creativity comes from the creating. And the notion that I have to feel the magic before I start is my creative baggage.
brookeshaden - That is the most amazing, inspiring, gorgeous revelation that inspires me beyond words. I love you for that. <3
Stephanie Besse - Brooke,
I have been following your journey since I first saw you on Flickr and you have been a big inspiration in the work that I have made. I have been dealing with creative baggage for the past 3 years – to the point that I stopped creating completely for a whole year. I graduated from college with a portfolio of highly-praised works and packed up and moved away from everything I knew to start grad school in Chicago. I had developed a creative identity of a successful artist and hit a wall when I entered grad school and my work was suddenly and constantly questioned. I didn’t know how to handle it. I struggled through my first year and ultimately decided I didn’t want to do it anymore. The next year I didn’t make a single thing. My passion that I loved the most was photography, and I realized that I didn’t know how to make work for myself, and not for the approval of others. I am still trying to strip away that creative baggage and start making work that I approve of and for the first time in too long this year I feel motivated and excited to relearn how to make my art again. I discovered the book “Art & Fear” by David Bayles and Ted Orland and it has been tremendously helpful in calling attention to the things that prevent me from making work and fears that get in the way. I’m trying to stop comparing myself to the work I used to make and just focus on the discipline of making and doing it for me. And one way I’m doing this is by keeping my art to myself for a while without showing others being the end goal, much like the considered approach you are taking now. Thank you for continuing to be an inspiration and for your uplifting positivity!
Margherita Introna - Thank you for this heartfelt post Brooke. It is so inspiring to see you evolve and I know this means much magic is in store!
One thing I am sure of is my creativity. I know where it comes from and how to access it. I am inspired by everything I see, touch and feel. It is something that never leaves me and I feel it truly in the depths of my soul. It is what gets me through my darkest hours and celebrates my joys, it keeps me whole and I know I will always have it because it lives inside me and part of who I am. I have many other personal fears and struggles, but creating is my safe haven – everything else is inspiration. I am blessed and grateful for this process. Time and responsibilities often get in the way, but the images that form in my head keep me pushing through.
You spoke about job titles and how some always seem to feel this is what is important. You are correct, it is not. I’ve always felt that the word “artist” or “creative” is the key. We are all artists/creatives – regardless of the medium.
Love & Light
Chrystal Kelly - Brooke it sounds like you are flying and stumbling (enjoying every minute of it) through your journey to opening new possibilities and recognizing the well of unlimited potential that we sometimes just have to stomp around in the mud hard enough to fall through the rabbit hole once again. I have been doing allot of searching in what I have to say and express in the work I create. over the last couple months I really started to analyze my most heartfelt work. I realized that it was all me expressing my own emotion in an illustrative way, my way of working through things and sharing something deeply with out being to literal. So the struggle for me has become is that all I really want to express am I the only person I want to make heard and do I want it all to be about me? I got really stuck. I love creating the images i create it is a sincerely joyful way to work through things and I pick up inspiration from all around but…I just started to beat myself up a little and got stuck. But then a couple weeks ago a series of images came to me that I believe may help people that struggle with not there own acceptance of themselves but with societal judgments and intolerance. I want the portraits to be beautiful, mysterious, alluring, a little theatrical when appropriate. I want to represent each person as they see themselves and as they want to be seen. I am still in the planning phase, but I know it is a good direction because it gets me choked up. Its funny when that barrier came down I started getting ideas about other images too dealing with children and income inequality, the funny thing is that idea came from a mere tincan i was washing after dinner such a shiny new can and I thought of the telephone game and how two totally different cans could symbolize allot if done right. I am also struggling with big changes in life right now and trying to figure out if there is any way that I will be able to establish myself enough and quickly enough to keep a roof over Logan(my 8 year old) and my head or if I will have to figure out something else job wise while I continue to work on getting up and running. I do know that it will work out, one way or another, and that I am inspired, motivated and tend to work well under pressure. Thank you for sharing your story. xoxo
Mari Nino - A great topic for discussion, Brooke! I believe it is a nice idea to slow down sometimes and think for a while – do I really do what I want? Or am I constantly trying to keep up with the certain society standards?
I also have certain issues with my art. When I produce a successful picture I start feeling it was my peak and I won’t be able to create something more meaningful and profound in the future. Sometimes I feel that I don’t want to shoot at all. But it all passes away quickly as long as I remember how many positive emotions my art brings to me, how many great things I have found out with my photography about people and this world.
I would like to share the pictures that means a lot to me. It was shot in Tbilisi, Georgia (a place I really wanted to visit). Malvina’s routine – https://www.flickr.com/photos/mariam_pic/23357147429/in/photostream/lightbox/ Whenever I stumble upon not liking my path I look at this picture of mine and understand that my unique experience is what makes me.
Brooke, even though you don’t add videos every week now, I see from your first video of 2016 that you definitely decided to make your videos not only lengthier and profound, but more educational and thought-provoking. And I couldn’t be more delighted 🙂 I want to thank you for sharing you thoughts that are as pure cloud on inspiration.
I wish everyone in this community to find out a little bit more about your inspiration and the reasons why you create. And if you don’t feel desire to create these days – then let your soul relax for a while before a big start.
Paulo Carvalho - How I missed your videos! But it worth to wait! What a great video and message. I love it! You already did more than me this year. I have not created anything this year! Or better! I did not create a picture! Like you, I have created a lot and continue to create, but it’s not visible to you. yet! 😉 I have been creative in my workplace and on a personal project that has occupied me some time and that will only be visible in a few months. And it’s not a picture! It is quite different and something I never thought I could accomplish. However I have in mind, in fact, other creative ideas and yes will be pictures and want to see if I begin to do this month. About the creative baggage, you touched at a point in which I been thinking a lot. Sometimes I find myself creating something different, even in the photography, and I wonder if I have to define myself as an artist. Do I have to always follow the same line of creation? So I conclude that the answer is, no. And the quote that supports me to this conclusion is from 2014 and is yours: “Do what you love because you love it.” xoxo
Patricia - Brooke, thank you so much for this post and video! I can’t begin to tell you how much I needed it at this moment. I see myself as an artist who delves in many different mediums, clay, photography, drawing etc. it took me awhile to be okay with that, with flipping between the different creative processes. I am 51 and suffice to say I have a lot of creative baggage.
On Dec. 31 I finished a 365 nature photo project, though it was rewarding (I started it because of a creative lull) nature photography is not what I want my main focus to be. If anything I want to work on incorporating it again in to my figurative creations. I feel as though I have many struggles right now and the main one is being what I think is the expectations of others. I realize now after listening to you that in order for me to move forward I need to let go of those right now and go create something.
I’ve been trying to do more with photo manipulation to pull together all the ideas I have in my head, in notes and in sketches. I’m really struggling with learning all the different ways to make this happen in PS but I’m pushing through it, I’m trying, I’m doing. I keep reminding myself that this is what matters until I end up with something that I love. I am also very shy about showing that kind of work but I’m going to be brave at some point and release it to the world. 🙂
brookeshaden - Hi Patricia! You are the winner of my random giveaway! Will you please email me via http://brookeshaden.com/contact/ to send your address? 🙂 XO!
Patricia - Thank you so much! I replied to the other email you sent. xo
Kristy - Your posts are always so inspiring. I find that I can be creative all the time, I love to work with my hands, I make things, I photograph, I paint. When it comes to sitting down to write a blog post or sometimes even a tweet is when I get hung up. That is when the “I am not good enough” fear rears its head and begins to tease me. As I am moving into the mid stages of my life, I decided that this is the year that I am going to move forward and face my fears. But the month of January slipped away, just like my 2015 without a written word. This is my struggle. I have thought about focusing on one of my other passions, I love to learn about and implement nutrition and holistic health principles into my life. Or maybe just doing a drawing a day for IG. But the cycle continues no matter what area I attack. It is only ONE fear, it should be easy to take down – but it is not so easy. I started with affirmations yesterday and meditation. This is going to be my next attempt, along with enrolling in an education program. I think that maybe going back to basics could help.
Amanda Meyer - HI Brooke and thank you so much for sharing! I know we have all been looking forward to your latest video, inspiring as always!
Over the last few years I have been down on myself because I have felt that I am not living up to my full potential. I wasn’t creating enough, not growing or moving forward in any way. I find that my fear of stagnation and failure hold me back on a regular basis… I know that I have these fears, but not why. I feel like I am missing out on life and that where I am isn’t where I should be. I know I want to create, and to connect, to inspire and help others and to be heard! But I still feel that is not enough…After attending your Promoting Passion Convention last year I felt rejuvenated, emotionally and creatively. It was so amazing to be around so many creatives! Not long after your convention I had a birthday. This made me think and reflect on my life, and I asked my self “who do I want to be’? The scary part was my answer… “I don’t know”. I decided that I can’t just wait around for things to change and that I need to start doing what it is I want and being who it is I want to be. At that moment I decided that this new year was going to be my opportunity to find myself. I have committed to creating more regularly and have started a journey to self discovery through my creativity. I have started two photography projects for 2016 : 365Grateful and PROJECT52.
My 365Grateful project is meant to help me discover who I am and what is really important to me in my life. I am taking a photo a day of something I am grateful for, my hope is that I can once again notice all the beauty in life and in nature that is always around me. I need to remind myself that I am good enough and I don’t need more to be happy.
PROJECT52 is a creative project in which I will be creating one Fine Art Portrait every week for the entire year. These images are projections of myself, my fears, my most inner self. I have decided to start creating more meaningful images, that come from my soul. In the past i’ve created only because I though that what I was making would look cool or pretty. I have realized that those are all empty images. The images I am creating now mean something to me, they are a part of me. This is a concept I only recently realized…I found that if I create with a feeling and tell a story about myself I am able to connect with myself and with others. This is going to be a tough emotional journey but I know this is what I need to do to find myself.
Thank you Brooke for giving us all the opportunity to grow and to share.
Gaby - I so enjoy listening to you. Thank you for sharing.
I actually AM (tentatively) walking down a new creative path … thanks to you and your course on CreativeLive 🙂 – I will be trying some self portraits and “story telling” in my images. Still need to find the right time and place to prance around in my wedding dress (28 years old!), but I hope to get there one of these days soon.
I have shared this link on a FB group I am on, I hope that is OK.
don johnson - Bang on remarks, Brooke. Thank you. I don’t care how many times I hear it, or pass it on, I always need to hear it again – expectations can kill creativity! It’s a subtle trap. Having gone through creative cycles more times than I can count (I’m 64) I can say that I don’t freak out so badly now when my Muse takes a vacay. She needs a break from me more than I do from her. She goes off in her own time and always comes back refreshed with a bag of new surprises. It took me a long time to realize that attachment to the need to create was itself a creative liability. Thanks again for the reminder, because I’m sure to forget it again. 🙂
Carrie - Hi again,
I was just trying to find an email to contact you through but can’t find one anywhere. I promise I won’t inundate you with a bajillion photos! For now, I am content to send anything at all. I have been watching the 2 collections of CreativeLive courses I have of yours over and over- learning so much! I see you are having a conference in September and I have already notified the hubs that I want to start stockpiling my pocket change now! Hopefully, you’ll still have seats left when it comes time. I have never traveled so it would be like a dream vacation for me! Anywho, if you could direct me to an email, I will send you my most recent image which is still a work in progress (like myself). No rush as I know you are probably very busy these days and I am grateful for any time of yours I take! Muaaa 😉
brookeshaden - Hi Carrie! You can email me through the contact form on my website 🙂 http://brookeshaden.com/contact/ XO!
Fit BMX - Large format would be so cool to learn, you are lucky! 🙂
Fit BMX - This was supposed to be a reply to Fred Crown, but I goofed up!
Fit BMX - Great video to start off the year with, I have been wanting to get out to take some photos, but our weather has stunk lately.
On a tech note, your audio sounds really great in this video! 😉
Tim Stephens - Brooke! I’m listening to you talk and smiling and nodding and all the while labeling you: No, you’re not a photographer. You’re not a filmmaker. You’re not a writer. No, you are and always have been, first and foremost, a storyteller. Someone who filters the raw emotion present in the world, processes it, and feeds it back into the world for others to engage with. And then you called me out in mid-thought when you said you don’t want to be labeled. And of course you don’t. Because as soon as we label something we limit it. And we are all limitless. I believe it was Richard Bach that said, “Argue for your limitations and, sure enough, they are yours.” 🙂 I love that your words inspire me to reflect which is, perhaps, the most important sort of inspiration for me.
So, “Fear is the mind killer.”, and “Expectation is the death of creativity”. Do I sense another tattoo in your future? 😉
And my baggage? The bag that’s always sitting there taunting me is the one that reminds me that the sands of time never pause as they slip through the hourglass. That’s a pressure I do not need but always feel… :-/
cheryl - I have been contemplating giving up my interests as a way to be more responsible. Thank you so much for sharing this, I really needed to hear/read this for encouragement and inspiration. I realize that expectations from myself and others have kept me directed down a path that made me feel very unfulfilled with my work. My goal now is to rediscover my passion for photography and experiment with new styles. Thank you! All the best to you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and incredible work!
Wendy Hurst - This is timely advice for me. Too often I let consistency control my artistic vision and suppress whatever images come to mind that don’t meet that expectation. So today I suspended those expectations and built a scene in my kitchen to composite into another image I took on a foggy day. Little artistic boosts like these remind me of why I even fell in love with storytelling photography!
Link to my image: http://wendyhurstportrait.blogspot.com/2016/02/week-552-arrival-wend-hurst-portrait.html
Erin Applebee - Hi Brooke I love this post its quite relevant to my life right now, I’ve felt like I’ve been under alot of stress lately, and been putting alot of expectations on myself because i felt like they were coming from people around me, even if all they really wanted was just the best for me.
I felt like this has been effecting me mentally and creatively and i would like to try more of flicking that emotional baggage this year, and hope that it helps me move on and be the person i know i can be.
I recently did your fine art compositing course on creativelive.com and have been experimenting with some of the techniques I learnt. I created this self-portrait using some of the things i learnt, its so different from anything I’ve done in the past and i love it.
Michelle Mackie - I just see this and it couldn’t have come at a better time.iam still in the beginning of my photography/creativity journey. For the last few weeks iv not wanted to create or even pick up my camnera,so this video really struck a chord for me.I really need some time out to think what direction I want to go.I also need to learn some more editing skills to move forward.Its funny how I beat my self up when I’m not creating tho,iv never felt that befor its quite a strange experience! Thankyou for sharing Brooke its very appreciated xx
Michael Waller - I had a bit of a rough start to the year. I ran a promotion that resulted in zero response. So needless to say, January was thin. In order to make my time constructive I started working on my studio. I now have 5 or 6 different shooting zones without moving anything but lights. To break out of not shooting so much in January, I created a mood board and invited 5 or 6 mother daughter combos over during the next two months to shoot. I think it is going to be a lot of fun, and I’m hoping I get them some great photos in the process. This is something I have never tried before.
Suzy - https://www.facebook.com/destinygracephoto/
Not sure if the link will work, but it is the picture of the women with blue hair and butterflies. 😉 Posted 2/8/16
I have been a wedding photographer for 11 years now. I’ve never said this out loud before, but I don’t like being called creative. I feel like I just have experience and because I take pictures, the word to use is “creative”.
I was talking with my assistant just last month on this very topic. She is the one in my portrait. I told her I wanted to be more deliberate with my photos and come up with ideas and shoot things that get me excited again. I told myself I wanted to come up with an idea, at least once a month. Plan and shoot. I know it is only Feb., but I am having so much fun with it!
Joanne - Brooke,
How can I possibly thank you for sharing this post?!
You can put into words something I have been feeling for some time. Your words and video have helped me realize that I can embrace my creative process. Riding the ebb and flow of my creative journey is difficult. Questioning if I am no longer creative (Shaden Hangup #1), or if perhaps because the ideas are no overflowing that in some way I have lost my passion.
Thank you for the realization that the process of creativity is unique. It cannot be forced out of expectation or obligation. It simply my happen in each artist’s own, organic way.
Thank you, thank you, thank you….
Signed, one creative soul who continues to create and press beyond the creative hangups!
Sherri Herring - Thank you for sharing about creative baggage. I find myself facing number 1 and 5 of your hangups of creativity. I also deal with self confidence in myself. I have been praying to my Lord and Savior to help me develop my creativity. I found your work. I have searched, read and watch every free video you have put out to learn from you.
Aubrie - Brooke:
Thank you for talking about creativity and your process. This all hits me at the exact right time. I’ve been running a business photographing newborns and toddlers. It is my second business, I work a full time job as well. With that, the time spent on clients leaves me no time to pursue what I truly want to shoot. So, I decided I am closing my business and will shoot only for me. The more I feed the creative side of me, the more ideas I come up with. There are some things I’m dying to shoot. But part of me is terrified. My baggage is that I won’t be able to execute the ideas in my head, that I will let myself down. That I can’t create the images I see in my mind. I can see the images already, and I want to honor my ideas and make them reality. But the fear of failing to do so is so scary. I have promised myself that I will create a timeline for my first image. And I will try. Because if I never try…well, that’s just not an option. Thanks so much for sharing and listening!
Andy G Williams - Hi. After watching your video I had a little cry and came to realise you are so right. I absolutely love the 5 points and I have, and still, say these to myself on a regular basis.
I am self taught and came to photography proper later in life (40’s). I have had a prolific few years creating but for some reason it has just stopped, and the points you make are the reason. I am so inspired by what you’ve said and I want to start creating again, but just for me.
Thank you for this video.