Opinions Are Not Facts

Opinions Are Not Facts

You never have to answer to anyone but yourself about why you create.

We become scared to share our work with others because we fear we will have to answer to someone about why we create, or how we create, or about the decisions that went into creating. It is a wonderful to know these things for ourselves, but we never have to answer to anyone about why we do what we do. That is personal and no one can demand the answers of us.

I personally love sharing the why especially. I don’t like laying out a whole story necessarily about the meanings behind the image, but I do love sharing my inspirations and thoughts behind my pictures. That does not mean, however, that I like to defend myself. I love for people to have their own opinions. I think it’s quite interesting when someone dislikes a picture, just the same as when someone likes it. And the reason I feel that I can separate myself from critique is because I understand that I don’t have to answer to anyone.

Opinions are not fact, yet so often we take them as such. We allow the thoughts of others to penetrate our own and suddenly we believe them as though they are fact. This is something that happens to most people at one time or another. It has happened to me. I’ve never met someone who this hasn’t happened to. And it is no one’s fault in particular. If we only blame those who use negativity as a driving force in their lives, we are no better.

We must understand that how we perceive and react to a situation is under our control. Someone may not like what you do. Someone may criticize what you do. Someone may say something mean about what you do. Yet that does not mean that we must take all of those things at face value.

If we understand that we do not have to answer to anyone else…if we understand that we can choose to react in any way we want to a situation…if we understand that our own opinions should be held at a higher standard…then we might be able to break free of those things that hold us back in creating our art.

It is good to be confident in what you do – to like it and feel the power in it. Because even though we can all grow and learn, we should understand that where we are right now is a great place to be: moving forward and taking control of our circumstance. So tell me, what do you love about what you do? Leave a comment letting me know, and a link to your work if you’d like to share.

Own it! Be confident in your craft. Know your worth and find solace in it. And remember that it is a great thing to understand why you create, but that you never have to share that with anyone but yourself.

*I love exploring the dark side of my imagination and I am resolved that if an image is too dark for someone’s taste, I will not apologize. I will recognize the difference between us and appreciate our uniqueness.*


55 thoughts on “Opinions Are Not Facts

  1. I love to find places that are boring, and common, and then transform them into something more magical and interesting!


    This is an example of that, where a corner of a nature walk was turned into something more whimsical! I so enjoy creating beautiful things, and yet have that darkness apart of it. (Sort of like you!) I want to try and conquer my fears this year and do underwater photography, as well as doing some where I get the model dirty! I always try to create stuff that I am going to enjoy! 😀

    1. Holy Cow! Your work is amazing! You have a new follower! Also, I love that stupid song too, we’ve been singing it around our house since we saw the movie. Driving my husband nuts. LOL

  2. Thanks for posting this Brooke. Too often I find myself waiting impatiently for someone’s opinion when I show a new piece, a defensive explanation already forming on my tongue. I need to learn to just let them think what they think. It is a source of irritation for me that my favorite pieces are never the crowd favorites, but my least favorites seem to be popular. Go figure. It’s all about what goes into an image for me. I create what is on my mind and use photography to illustrate my emotions. From now on, I’ll try harder to not care if it’s well received or not. If you’d like to see my stuff, http://www.taradennyimages.com 🙂 Keep on being spectacular!

  3. Your confidence is so inspiring, I can’t help but jump in.
    I love exploring the dark and the strange overlapping into the ordinary world – sort of an everyday darkness. I like the idea of how fragile the boundaries between the strange and everyday are, and introducing others to those ideas.
    I’m in the process of growing my portfolio, but there are some examples here:


    1. Do I detect a Harry Potter reference with your blog title? Awesome sauce. Your work is amazing, I’m glad to have read your post here, or I might never have seen it!

  4. I love the way you think Brooke! I was watching you talk at Creative Live that day and when it came to the part where you were talking about these that I had my eyes and ears glued to my laptop, trying to remember as much of it as I can. Because even though I know most of it, I don’t always remember it all the time. Coming across words like this remind me and it brings me closer to myself again. Thank you <3

  5. You write everything what is going on in my head. I wish I had one friend like you, someone to talk to about these things. Someone with same kind of dilemmas.

    I wrote about you today on my blog, because you are an inspiration.


    1. I’m here! Seriously though, just leave a comment whenever you feel like talking and hopefully I can respond quickly. Internet friends are real friends too 🙂 Wonderful blog – I loved reading it! And thank you!

  6. I have always admired the resolve in yours and other artist’s work…work that they clearly feel compelled to create despite the mainstream, despite what many people might feel is too dark or too “something” <-whatever that something is. Thank you for these words. It is hard to remember that just because someone doesn't like an image of yours that doesn't mean that they do not "Like" you. I think the issue for me is that my images sometimes (my personal work) are created as an outlet so they are tiny pieces of my soul. So when someone feels the need to criticize I feel them picking at my being, even if they don't realize it. I'm working on that and will continue on that path. To answer your question, I love being able to show connection in my work and to highlight life's imperfect beauty.

    1. That is so true – our work is often so personal that we take a negative comment to be a reflection of who we are, when often, it is not. Thank you for that reminder!

  7. This only adds to the inspiration you gave me over the three days of your CreativeLive course last week. For a long time I have defended myself and my work to others, as a sort of natural mechanism. If you don’t understand it, then I will make you understand type of thing. Listening to you over the last few days I have gained the confidence to stand by my work and be proud of it, without letting others take that feeling away. Exploring new opportunities and creating your own path. I wanted to let you know that I am so grateful that you gave me that push to follow my dream. Not only saying it, but meaning it and really pursuing it. Thank you!

    If anyone is interested to see my work you can find it at my facebookpage: http://www.Facebook.com/LiekeAnna <3

  8. I’m in the process of redefining why I create. I actually wrote a blog about it yesterday. Not so much because others need to know about it, but because if I don’t write about it then I won’t own it and I won’t change it. I want to thank you for being the impetus in my reformation. I’m excited to see where I take myself in my creative journey. For now, though, I love finding new sides of things and showing others those sides, the sides that they wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.

  9. You are really inspiring me with this project to get in front of my lens. I am in a poetry group on Facebook where we post one photo a month based on a theme. I’m doing 12 self portraits and your words really help me push through my fears! Thank you Brooke! X

  10. Once again you are totally speaking to a very deep place in me. All my life I have struggled with overly internalizing every criticism which has resulted in me building up a wall and letting very few people in. I fear failure and criticism and that stops a lot from running with wild abandon as you do. The older I get the less personally I am taking things, but it feel like the last vestige of that child inside me that internalizes negativity about my art is particularly rooted and stubborn to being extricated. Not that I need permission, but reading posts like yours feels like mental permission to not give a crap about what people think and just go for it. Still I sit on that ledge afraid to jump, but creep ever closer to the edge…I am feeling the excitement building. Thank you for giving me that!

  11. What I love about what I do (or did) is that it is an easy way for me to be honest. Honest about myself, how I perceive the world, and what I want to do. Even when I’d write descriptions to my photos on my blog, I’d find I was honest about everything I thought. Now I’m in a job and have to be ‘professional’. It seems being professional involes a lot of lying, faking, and senseless impressing. My point is, when you’re working for someone…it’s easy to get caught up in having to work by their standards of what is appropriate…even when you get out of work, your mind is flooded with their perception and demands.
    So yeah, when I write and photograph, I’m honest to myself and about myself.

  12. When I was in college, I majored in Theatre and Film, wore wacky thrift shop clothes and was quite unique. A “real” job squelched that as I had to dress more appropriate for business. Over the years of marriage and children and not wanting to embarrass my family, I conformed to what I thought others would want me to be.

    It turns out that I am still weird and am finally letting go, creating what makes me happy. And I don’t care if no one else likes it, because I now do it for me.

    Done are standard portraits, no more photographing obnoxiously tired children for friends. Thanks, Brooke, for helping my inner voice be heard and just for saying it’s “OK to embrace your inner weirdo.”


    1. You are amazing and I hope you know that! I love that you’re embracing your inner weirdo and just running with it. That is what we should all strive to do, no apologies!

  13. I love that I create what I imagine and sometimes people don’t understand that. I like it because it shows my point of view, and it completely affirms that I do this because of passion, simply and nothing more.

  14. I love creating dark portraits that tell a story. This is where my heart is. I love shopping for vintage dresses and going on adventures with my model.
    Oddly enough I actually love doing portraits for my business, and I struggle to make my portfolio merge in these two worlds, the real and surreal. I also love reading Brook Shaden’s Blog:)

  15. I love what I do because I love creating. I am not only a dreamer of magical alternate realities…but I am a creator. I can create worlds that only exist in my imagination and I like delving deep. My soul knows much more than I do…and therefore, it knows there is much more to this world than meets the eye.

    I also love creating safe spaces for photographers to share their passions and what they themselves have created. In addition, I love interviewing people/photographers because I am able to learn about their soul and their creations.

  16. I love that I can create, literally, WHATEVER I want with no rules or boundaries. That freedom inspires me. I like to create emotion. but YOU are one of my biggest inspirations, truly. I am constantly on both of your blogs checking for updates and such. I’ve watched your BTS videos on YouTube about a million times :p

    I went and did this self portrait after watching your cL class.
    It was my first self portrait I’ve ever done, and I was so nervous.
    But I am actually pleased with how it turned out. 🙂

    (it’s the first picture on my timeline)

    THANK YOU for always being so sweet and uplifting.
    I hop that I get to meet you someday Brooke! You are an inspiration to so many, don’t ever forget that. 🙂 <3

  17. Everything you said is so true! I tend to over think everything when i start to consider ideas for a new project. I think “is this good enough? will people like it? will it make sense? will my message come across clearly?” etc. But, like you said, we only need to focus on making ourselves happy with OUR own work. Our work is just that, OURS. It is no one else’s. And not everyone thinks the same or feels the same way about everything. So, the new project that i have come up with for my Photography Seminar class, I am just going to own it, and get my ideas out of my head and into my camera. I have decided on doing a series of photos that make up a narrative based on a story i made up last night. It is a love story. I get some of my inspiration from films. I ADORE films with all my heart. And the story i thought of has probably been done to death, but, it has never been done by ME or in the way that i plan to portray it. I love creating narratives and a series of photos that can tell some kind of a story. Looking back on my past work, narratives seems to be a central theme. All i can do is put my whole heart into what i do, and only then will i be completely satisfied with my work.

    1. I LOVE how motivated you are to create what is in YOUR imagination and no one else’s. I have every faith that it will turn out fantastically!!

  18. Wise words not only in creating but all aspects of our lives. I used to be a massage therapist but having always loved photography and only recently taken it up; I love the creativity in photography and find I don’t take criticism as personally as I did as a massage therapist. Though both are subjective I love the photographs I have taken but can detach from others approval (at this point).

  19. Thanks, Brooke, for the awesome CL class last week. It was very inspirational to me. I have been struggling with finding my style(s), but now I understand a lot better how my style needs to evolve from the inside. What do I like about myself? I am a giving, kind, honest, and very simple person. I am observant, and I love to notice small details in everything. I have a much better connection with nature than with people, therefore I do very little people photography (mostly kids, not posed).
    My gallery needs a lot of work, but there are a few pages that show pictures that I love the most. My two favorites are these: http://gizellanyquist.smugmug.com/Other-Photographs/Flora/Animals/Non-Square-Images/ , and the first seven on this page: http://gizellanyquist.smugmug.com/Other-Photographs/USA/Former-El-Toro-Airbase/ .

    Thanks for everything!

  20. I love to test the limits – of anything. I like to see how far I can stretch my imagination and where my skill set can take me. This often leads to some of those dark corners that you express so well Brooke. There is something about stepping out of your box, what everyone thinks of you, and just going for it. In the end after seeing what limits I can hit, it is all about watching how other people respond. Just to get them thinking about their own limits and how they don’t have to remain as they are.

    Here is to no limits.

  21. Hi Brooke,

    I recently watched your 3 day class on creative live and absolutely loved it! Watching you work inspired me so much! Thank you for that.

    For a long while I took pictures without much forethought and the results definitely showed that. A short time ago I began shooting film and that process has forced me to slow down and think about every shot in advance. It also led me to explore lesser known or hidden spots which is what I love doing now. Finding interesting spots right off the beaten path is what I love to do right now and I look to the future with a lot of excitement and anticipation.

  22. Last year, I was creating on projects with other people, and sometimes, I was not sure about the goal of my creations after doing them.
    Then I had a big reflexion, and it appears to me that I have to create for myself at all, not for others who look on my photos… I have to be in line with me, my inspiration and my faith.

    So I create a photo which talks about this revelation for me : I’ve awoken the spirits of my own story, I’ve discoved myself after reading inside of me, and discoved why I want to create, why it’s important to me and why I need it to survive


    Brooke, thanks for your amazing work, for your words so inspiring… I wish I could be as in line with my work as you
    Thanks for all.


  23. I love to go back to the basis. Reduce everything to the minimum, reduce it so much there is nothing more to add. I created a series using my basic tools, one single wall, natural light, one lens and myself. The images are driven by my subconscious longings and desires, re-arranging the body. There is a story behind each of them, always literally incorporating my lost twin sister.


    You make the world a better world, you give hope, I can just always repeat myself and just thank you for all the positive energy and inspiration you spread.

  24. Dear Brooke,

    Your words are so inspiring and so true! I already listened to what you said about this during your Creative Live courses and it made me so happy. Often I create something and then I love it but not always others do and I get discouraged. Sometimes they are right in not liking it because they are flaws that I missed and I can change it. But often it seems like the images I like the most and that mean the most to me, do not get the same kind of recognition than others that mean much less to me. I am slowly learning to follow my instinct and not get discouraged so easily.

    What I love doing the most is creating meaningful images, images with a story behind them, with a character. I love great natural locations and shooting in them, I love creating darker, moodier images that are generally rather desaturated – they appeal to me more. And when I look at a lot of the images I created last year, I seem to like images where people have their eyes closed 😉 But I never realised that until I saw them all together.

    My current favourite photo is this one (http://www.flickr.com/photos/pucki/12285427244/). I recently got back into self portraiture (for a 52 weeks project) and I love compositing images for it.

  25. Brooke, Hi. I found what you said resonated so much with me. I love to create abstract work, but always find myself thinking others won’t like or understand it. So I try to think about what other people might like instead.

    Thank you for sharing your encouragement. Your confidence is inspiring.

  26. Oh my… sometimes I feel you can read my feelings! So many times I find myself stuck because of judgement. Specially from my family when I do nude self portraits…I am from a traditional south american family so yes…quite traditional. This series in particular http://lulight.com/2013/06/18/humannature/ made my parents so uncomfortable they didn’t want me to exhibit them in my home town! What I love about this kind of work is how free it makes me feel, and how connected to something bigger. Have you ever had that feeling from your relatives? as you use nude too, I was wondering…

  27. right now I am loving exploring my own past and experience with childhood sexual abuse. seems crazy to say it, but it is really helping not only myself by creating it but i hope it helps others as well. there are so many stories people have emailed me about how my speaking out and my photography has encouraged them to do the same and it touches my heart to be able to even help one person heal or even feel they arent alone in this journey as a survivor. so currently that is what im working on and yes ive had some say horrible things to me, mostly about using my daughter as the model for the iamges, BUT i stand behind what i create and why i create it. my blog has a few of the images in the series on it, but some i have kept to myself, they can be found at http://www.inspirationjourney.org and also a very detailed ‘why i do it’ in my about the artist page 🙂 thank you for always encouraging me to keep my head high and create brooke!

  28. Thank YOU!!! You’ve been an inspiration to me from day one.
    Even though I know I’ve grown and learned new things – and have improved…the ole enemy, Self Doubt still rears its ugly head. I am too worried about what others will think – and I take their criticism too seriously.

    I. needed. to. hear. this. It’s funny that it should seem obvious that an opinion is not fact, but I had to read it in black and white to actually get it.

    Here’s one of my newest pieces: The Phoenix. The idea for it was born while watching your Creative Live show. The brainstorming really helped me. I ended up circling rebirth, red, and fire on my paper and this is what came of it.


    You really are making a difference.

  29. I legitimately just went searching through your blog for a post like this – I knew you must have one, and I really needed it! You are such an inspiration through not only your work but your whole persona: you are so encouraging and inspiring Brooke.

    I study commercial photography, but a part of my final year folio includes a lot of non-commercial style work which I aim to capture suggestive stories (nothing specific, just the idea that a person can look at the image and come up with a concept or idea of what might be happening in the image).
    Today my teacher told me she didn’t like any of my work, with only negative things to say about my images – and the one positive thing she did say about an image was only in reference to the lighting/time of day, and not the image itself.
    So I came searching here for a pick-me-up and you’ve helped me remember that I am shooting for me, what I love, and not for my lecturer.

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