Promoting Passion Video Blog: Creating the Red Dress

The other week I was teaching a class about how to build a wardrobe for $10 or less, both in what you see in front of you and in Photoshop. I did the class not fully expecting to use the picture. I light-heartedly asked the class if I should turn it into an underwater picture, and so I did. I darkened the background, added bubbles, and hot dog, if she didn’t look underwater.

But this is my problem. I have a hard time committing to an image if I don’t see the story behind it. Certainly I could make up a thousand stories for why this woman was underwater, but they didn’t feel genuine to me. So I sat with the pictures, knowing I didn’t have to use them for anything, but still they were in my mind.

And then, just yesterday, I had a vision of what the picture could look like. A powerful red dress, her reaching to the sky, and a sense of freedom and power emanating from her. It was calming to me as much as it felt chaotic, and that is the best way I can describe the scene.

Imagine you are in a very loud place. Maybe the wind is whipping around you deafeningly. Yet in that moment of chaos, you are calm. You block it out and you hear nothing but the soft music in your mind. That is how this picture makes me feel. And so, in the truest sense, there isn’t a traditional story here that I had figured out. But sometimes that feeling is enough, and on rare occasions, the feeling translates to the viewer.

Whether it does or not, I hope that the video is enjoyable. Those who donated to the fundraiser I had going on will be receiving a 1-hour long editing tutorial for this image later this week.

What is your favorite feeling or emotion to portray in an image? Share with me the sentiment and even the picture if you’ve created it.


  • April 14, 2014 - 8:11 am

    Sharon Fibelkorn Chapman - 🙂 It makes me happy to see you working on my Monday. 🙂 thank you once again for being such a wonderful inspiration to me.ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 8:12 am

      brookeshaden - Sharon, I feel like I’m going to become a broken record but seeing your name pop up here in the comments makes me jump with joy. You are such a bright soul!ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 8:24 am

    Andrea Gore - I love her hands in this photo. Er arms being extended to the sky make me feel strength and her hands are so graceful. It is so beautiful!! I would say my favorite emotion to portray in photos is confidence. It is something I find myself doing over and over in my self portraits. I truly believe it may be something I portray often because it is so important to me and it is something I want to inspire in others . I struggle with it at times . Capturing it with my camera is a process I find therapeutic and personally stimulating . 🙂 Thanks for the post Brooke <3.ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 8:26 am

      brookeshaden - I love that your favorite emotion is confidence…I think that all artists could benefit from trying to capture that in an image. I also love that feeling, and I have certain models that I love to use for it because they exude strength. I don’t often think of myself when it comes to that emotion, so you’ve given me something to think about! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 8:26 am

    EVE - Hi Brooke, love the post and your work!. I just wanted to share a really good tutorial for underwater photos I came across. You might find it useful.
    Love from AustraliaReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 8:28 am

      brookeshaden - Thanks Eve! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 8:29 am

    Karina - Wowww! That’s amazing!! Love your work!! Can I buy this video class!? Would love to know how to do it…ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 8:32 am

      brookeshaden - Hi Karina! Thank you! Right now this tutorial cannot be purchased – it was created for those who donated to a charity project I had going. However, I will be doing a class on this later this year 🙂ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 8:33 am

    Lisa Lizarraga - I am not sure what my favorite emotion is to portray in an image but it seems dark sad fearful into happiness, joy, hope, love is what i like. I just did an image called, Hidden Monsters, and it is about the dreams and hopes within me being my own hidden monsters. Thank you for the video blog Brooke it feels like you edit without fear and i love that.ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 8:34 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you Lisa! You should link to your pic, I’m sure others would love to see 🙂ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 8:50 am

      Karina - Oh, cool! Thanks for your attention! I’ve been looking your store page, can I buy those ones?? I’m a beginner on photoshop.. It will help me? Or just for who already know how to use it? Thanks a lot! X xReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 8:53 am

      brookeshaden - Hi Karina! It’ll definitely help, please do check them out! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 8:35 am

    tori - I feel like I am that girl, reaching out to the universe feeling freed from my own constrictions. Over the weekend I made a decision to start consciously choosing and creating a life worth living. It finally occurred to me me that my dreams are important and worth exploring. I believe my favorite emotion to portray is freedom. Freedom from self doubting thoughts. Freedom from constraints that hold us back from living a life we want to live. Your words, your classes have inspired me beyond what I can express with a keyboard. Thank you for all that you share!

    • April 14, 2014 - 8:38 am

      brookeshaden - Tori, you have no idea how much you’ve touched me. Thank you for sharing your journey. I am so proud of you and excited for your future. When you chase your dreams, you always have the satisfaction of knowing you are living life for yourself in the most sincere way possible. Your blog is beautiful – I really enjoyed looking through and can’t wait to read more. Wishing you so much love and inspiration!ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 8:58 am

      Karina - For sure I will do it! Thanks a lot Broke! Hello from Brazil to you, you are a such inspiration for me <3 🙂 thank you again!ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 8:37 am

    Alex McCombie - If you are going to perform a rain dance, then you should at least dress the part 🙂

    for a story line ….
    What I see is a representation of how every single person was effected by the power of nature and the backlash of how we treated her.

    Race, wealth, age are all equally effected.

    The hopeful, yet somewhat submissive posture of the model conveys a genuine apology to mother and a hopeful wish she will forgive.

    “A Mother’s Tough Love”

    A pleasant indulgence on this Monday morning.
    Thank you Brooke.ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 8:39 am

      brookeshaden - Absolutely beautiful Alex. I really loved reading your thoughts. Thank you for them, truly.ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 8:38 am

    James Taylor - I love that you always want a story in your photos, it gives them such meaning and emotion. I always attempt to figure out the story before I read your description. I rarely get it right but I like the idea that each viewer can take away something different is awesome.
    Anyway, I have always loved the emotion of wonder or sadness. mainly because it the only facial expressions I can make haha 🙂
    I hope you have an awesome day Brooke, you always make my mondays better!ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 8:40 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you James! You have no idea how much I relate to that! I also can really only do wonder and sadness and have always gravitated to those two exact emotions. Love it!ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 8:41 am

    Robert Cornelius - I love to portray a struggle, because it means there is something over come, something to triumph over. Even if the subject is about to succumb to the struggle at least we know they fought all they could. I guess that’s not quite an emotion, but there are so many emotions in a struggle, fear, pain, anger, maybe even joy sometimes.

    • April 14, 2014 - 8:43 am

      brookeshaden - I completely understand that Robert, especially in your work…which, by the way, gets better and better by the second. I’m pretty certain you are poised to take over the world. Just sayin’.ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 8:56 am

    Amani - That video was definitely enjoyable, it’s always amazing to see your editing process! It’s incredible how you can turn a simple image into a beautiful and evoking piece.

    I think my favorite emotion to portray is strength and freedom, letting go.
    When I created this image ( what I had in mind was a girl who’s too blind to see all the pain that others are causing her because she’s naive and chooses to see the best in people. But as I worked on it I realized that that girl also possesses a huge amount of strength, because even if she’s getting hurt, she’s standing strong, and her naivety is what makes her pure.
    And letting go and freedom to me also means forgiveness- forgiving yourself. This is the image that I feel portrays that the most

    sending you lots of hugs <3ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 12:06 pm

      brookeshaden - I love that emotion – strength amidst hardship. You do it very, very well. xoxoReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 9:07 am

    Brooke Golightly - I like to portray a sense of longing because I know it’s something everyone has felt at some time in their lives. A desire for more. And also because it has been such a struggle for me for many years. I can relate to you wanting a story or some kind of background to your pictures. I often feel that way, and like I don’t have anything to shoot if it isn’t always saying something. I love that you are able to reach inside yourself and find that hidden voice (or the quieter one, who has such difficulty being heard). Another lovely image and sentiment, Brooke.ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 12:07 pm

      brookeshaden - Ahh I absolutely love that emotion in images. I don’t know that I’ve really explored it myself.ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 9:20 am

    Melanie - I love this image! I wish I had your editing expertise. I think all images, whether they had a story behind it or not, carry an emotion. Often times the story evokes the emotion and in other times the image is the emotion itself. Right now my art is focused on the loving of yourself, becoming who you are. I don’t know what emotion that equates to, I’m still trying to figure it out but the more I photograph it the more peace I feel. I think the image that captures that the most would be this one, though my third in this series “Release” is a very very close contender.
    Without sounding creepy or anything, I hope one day to actually meet you and learn from you in person. You have fed my soul and creativity in more ways than I can say.ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 12:08 pm

      brookeshaden - Thanks Melanie! I don’t have any real expertise except to click randomly in Photoshop until something seems to work. Thankfully I like it so much that I don’t mind patiently clicking until it works 😛

      Loving yourself – beautiful sentiment, I love it. And your image is beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 9:24 am

    Mary Angelini - Maybe it is about turning lemons into lemonaide, but I like taking an otherwise ok image and giving it life, whether it is to warm it up and add a ray of sunshine (, to take an already moody scene and play it up by accentuating the existing darkness ( or make it the stuff of my imagination ( That said, looking at all of these and other images of mine, I think the overriding current is about solitude. There is a dichotomy to solitude that both intrigues and saddens me. I still don’t know what it is, but I enjoy exploring it! 🙂ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 12:10 pm

      brookeshaden - Yes I love that too Mary! But it’s funny because you see solitude, and I understand that, but I see life. I think that you have a unique way of photographing spaces that brings a light to them that others might not see, and I think that is absolutely beautiful and unique.ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 9:30 am

    Jessica Devlin - Beautiful! You are a real inspiration and have helped guide me to think of the Why I do and Why I like certain things.

    Is the fundraiser still going?ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 12:11 pm

      brookeshaden - Aww I am so glad to hear that! It is not going on anymore, but I do have items up on Ebay that I’ll be announcing tomorrow to aid in the fundraiser and anyone can make a private donation through our non-profit by emailing 🙂ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 9:48 am

    Tom Newforge - Think I missed your fundraiser. Sorry Brooke. I was away and would have participated.
    Your creative philosophy is quite the enigma to me. Not that it’s strange or out of the norm at all but I am one of those people who creates the story after the fact. I know that’s not a good thing and at times ideas can get lost in translation if not executed with precise intent. The best way to describe it would be that I take a bunch of pictures…..and occasionally get lucky with one that speaks to someone else.
    I’ve had this personal stigma of overly prepared/visualized images not feeling organic and looking too rehearsed. I’m starting to get past that and it’s one if those things that I am learning from you through osmosis if you will. Taking in tidbits by just following your words and reading and listening to you speak about your process.
    I’m not to the point of putting thoughts to paper yet but I am definitely previsualizing what I intend to convey before I shoot. It’s a step in the right direction and once I find my voice I hope to unleash some of the work that I’ve held back.
    Hope your fundraiser went well and if you need any more help, you know where to find me.ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 12:12 pm

      brookeshaden - No worries Tom!

      I think it is really wonderful that you are exploring new avenues of creating. It is not easy to put what you know to rest for a time to explore something new. Pre-visualized or not, as long as the creator has intent by the end, I love it all.ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 10:08 am

    natascha van niekerk - Just loooove the colors and tones in this image! And so you! Love that about your work, I can spot a Brooke Shaden image from a mile!
    I often create images based on a feeling I want to express… and I think the emotion that pops up in my work the most is the concept of freedom, and even of reaching for freedom from a place of constraint. This image, “Untethered” is my favorite image depicting this…
    Thank you for this awesome space of sharing!ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 12:13 pm

      brookeshaden - Oh yes I definitely see freedom! I especially love your lighting and color choices for that image – it all speaks of a better time of freedom for the characters.ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 2:00 pm

    lovelyn - I photograph landscapes mainly. It took me a while to realize that it’s a perfectly acceptable thing to do. For some reason I always felt like including a person in my pictures would make them more valid. It’s crazy the funny ideas we come up with sometimes. Anyway, I try to express a sense of endless possibilities in my photographs. There are possibilities everywhere and opportunities to discover something amazing.

    I love the finished result of your photograph. I think it’s amazing that you can build a dress like that in Photoshop.ReplyCancel

    • April 14, 2014 - 4:13 pm

      brookeshaden - Landscapes are lovely, and in so many ways, I think it takes someone extra special to capture the soul of the Earth without relying on the soul of a person to decorate the frame. All art is beautiful art.ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 5:29 pm

    Adilson Andrade - Ms Shaden,
    Lately your work has been my best source of inspiration and ideas.
    It is really very kind of you posting the making of most your work.
    Sharing is something magical like your images. Thank you very very much. Greetings from Brazil.ReplyCancel

    • April 15, 2014 - 8:53 am

      brookeshaden - I am so glad to hear this! Thank you for being so kind!ReplyCancel

  • April 14, 2014 - 6:25 pm

    C Gabriel - I love your work… You have inspired me so many times – You have no idea. My favorite emotion to capture is “The Innocence” wich actually is the theme Im working on for an expo here in Puerto Rico on May!!! (Sorry for re-post) I forgot to share one of my works. Here is the link:

    • April 15, 2014 - 8:54 am

      brookeshaden - I think you are sharing the theme of innocence really well through your work. It is intimate and beautiful.ReplyCancel

    • April 16, 2014 - 7:49 am

      C Gabriel - Thank you so much!!!ReplyCancel

  • April 15, 2014 - 5:03 am

    Margherita Introna - Brooke, this image is wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing so much of how it came to be with us <3 As always, your use of colours and tones are magic… I love the model’s pose. It feels as if she is reaching for the sky to draw power from it, making this image symbolic and powerful.

    A huge part of the inspiration to my images are my emotions, whether happy or sad. With the sadness that has been so much a part of my life over the last year, it has been the emotions surrounding the sadness that has been expressed in my work the most.

    But I also love to capture the moments in-between, where calm and wonder survive. The beautiful moments of peace and magic, because I have been grateful to experience those as well. In such cases, it has been the feeling of connection to the environment – beautiful open spaces on the mountains or on the beaches – where my heart is happy…

    Here are two such examples of what I mean:
    “The Spaces Between”
    “Summoning the Elements”

    • April 15, 2014 - 8:56 am

      brookeshaden - What I love about you and your work is this calming sense that I get when I read what you write and when I see your images. I completely understand the in between moment you speak of, and you capture it amazingly well.ReplyCancel

    • April 16, 2014 - 7:48 am

      C Gabriel - Thank you so much Brookeshaden!!!ReplyCancel

  • April 15, 2014 - 7:27 am

    Vinod Krishnan - awesome work..ReplyCancel

    • April 15, 2014 - 8:56 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you Vinod 🙂ReplyCancel

  • April 15, 2014 - 11:27 am

    Lu - Brooke! you are so kind to show us your process, both in a technical and in a personal way. Your images are very emotionally charged and powerful that’s what I like about them. The move me.

    In my images I like to portray a sense of calm, acceptance and love. What can I say… I am a lover and some times I can be very corny…but I’ve come to terms with that. You can see some of my images as an example here .

    Thanks for the video too! I am now editing an image that’s bringing me a lot of headaches so it is nice to see how you do it. Is seems so effortless from the video. You seem to flow with the image. Love that! Mucho Amor!ReplyCancel

    • April 15, 2014 - 7:44 pm

      brookeshaden - Lu, your pictures are SO fun and captivating!!! I just spent the last 10 minutes browsing through. Amazing work!ReplyCancel

  • April 15, 2014 - 5:49 pm

    Mary-Claire - Having seen you shoot Marsha in Union Terminal made it even more cool to see the editing. I love it.ReplyCancel

    • April 15, 2014 - 7:44 pm

      brookeshaden - Thank you!!ReplyCancel

  • April 16, 2014 - 12:03 am

    Janca - Hi! Your work is really incredible, it reminds me very often paitings of old masters especially your work with chiaroscuro. I give to my photos very often feelings like: sense of separation and reconciliation and “panta rhei”. Here is my last work:

  • April 16, 2014 - 12:19 am

    Catherine Rondeau - Such a powerful image Brooke! I think what I find so engaging in your work, and it’s what I strive to do in mine, is how you are able to portray tension between opposing forces. Life is a constant tug of war between contradictory emotions, ideas, qualities and faults. Being caught in the extremes is never good. I believe the path to peace of mind and wellbeing lies somewhere in the middle, in the quest for balance, which is perhaps one of the keys behind the magic of your work…

    In my latest image, entitled Mother Nature, I tried to convey both profound distress and wild hope. You can see it on my blog:

  • May 12, 2014 - 9:54 am

    Alicia Heaney - This is so inspirational! I am just starting to get in to making scenes like this and it is really cool to see your process!ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *