The other week I got a comment that is not at all unusual, simply saying that I should try new things so as to not get stale. I get comments like this frequently enough and they are usually respectful hints that my style might be getting a bit old. Now granted I also get comments saying that my portfolio is too diverse, as I have heard that from a few galleries, so neither can be taken too seriously. If I were to try and please everyone, I would fail. Some would be pleased while more would not be. And what’s more, I would be serving others instead of myself.
Creatively, I watch my own back. I create what I want to create, when I want to create it. And I don’t mean for that to sound selfish, but simply factual and smart. I say “smart” not because I think I’m some genius, but because the only reaction to our art that we can rely on is our own. If no one were watching, it would be all that matters. And so I create under that pretense – that I must love my art first, and then hope that it is embraced by others in some way.
“Yes!” I exclaimed. “Time to do something new.”
And so I set out in my imagination to conjure something up I had never thought of before. A technique, an idea, a location…anything.
My mind wandered to an image that I had half-heartedly pressed before, but not truly delved into. I wanted to make it look like I was coming out of a thick fog, or another dimension. Something between the two, as I would later tell my husband. He and I talked it through – how it could be created – and then I continued working on the why.
If you know me, you know I am a stickler for the why. I don’t care how neat a technique is to try if I don’t know why I’m creating. The why came simply: I wanted to create a wall between worlds, to literally step through from one side to the other. I also liked the idea of being sucked back into the world I was trying to emerge from. All of this intention informed how I would pose.
I photographed my body in a kiddie pool that I purchased for the shoot. I rigged my camera on my balcony so that I could shoot with some distance. I sunk black fabric in the pool so that the background would be dark, and then I poured soy milk in the pool for a murky effect. It didn’t take much soy milk, and soon the pool was murky and dark at the same time.
I knew I would be photographing a forest as the eventual backdrop, which is already very dark, so I thought that the murky background of darkness from the pool would transfer well to the forest.
It was important that I photograph myself in water to create believable water lines on my body. It is one thing to blur and obscure fabric and skin behind a wall of fog, but quite another to recreate water lines (or in this case, “other dimension/fog” lines) on skin especially. So I photographed myself in the pool and then made sure to photograph the forest from the same angle. The two images blended nicely, and I sampled the murky color to paint over the forest as well.
With different blending techniques and some cutting my body started to blend into the forest. After some shading, it seemed complete. I wanted the color palette to be simple and striking, so I chose to stick with red and blue as the main colors in the image. Texture only in the background helped to give the fog some grit that I felt made it more believable, and then I was finished.
All in all, this image took me…
3 hours of planning
2 hours of setup
1 hour of shooting
12 hours of editing
…And I had a blast! I hope that you enjoy the finished product, and that, if nothing else, you are inspired to try something new and see where it leads you!
Minnie - Wow, I don’t know why I wasn’t looking at the image like that. Now that I know what the idea is, it’s simply genius. A great technique. And the result was fabulous. Thanks for sharing your techniques, I always learn something new.
What if I want to take a shot in a kiddie pool from that angle but don’t have a place where I can shoot from above? Doing a self portrait..
Tanya - This is very impressive Brooke. I really love the shade of blue that you chose. Once you finished the image and had time away from it, what where some of your first thoughts when you viewed the image again after some time had passed? How often do you revisit some of your past/finalized pieces?
Love and light….
Andrea Gore - “The only reaction to our art we can rely on is our own”- BS
Thanks for inspiring my Monday morning Brooke <3 Loving all the blue in this photo, so dreamy. 🙂
Jeff Madison - I am doing this actually! I have started my project Saturday! This is going to be my biggest challenge yet. Very different from what I have ever done. Stepping out of the comfort zone and branching out. Thanks Brooke for your Passion, the Passion that you are promoting!
moodphototeija - Amazing… I love your way of creating! You might not believe but you really are best in your genre. There are whole lotta wanna be yous out there! But there is only one Brooke!
And I hear you about that social media feedback… I am not quite sure how to deal it myself, even I do not get that as much as you, but it really drives me crazy sometimes. What to listen and what not… it can be such a mix of different opinions!
Have a great week and hope you are feeling happy!
Tom Newforge - Very cool. I really like the image but I really appreciate the creativity that went into it.
I also really like the direction you are aiming at as an artist. I see a common pitfall of listening too much to others and not trusting yourself and your art. Continue to listen to yourself Brooke. I’m hard pressed to think of another person with the creativity that your capable of. I just know that one day I’ll be reading an amazing book or watching a movie based on one of your stories.
Paulo Alexandre Carvalho - I understand when you say that you do not believe in someone that tell you “you’re the best”. So I will not tell you that, but I will tell you, that I truly believe in you and in your passion for life and for your work. I’ve always been very reluctant to manipulate photography, but today, and despite I do not dominate the PS in this sense, it is only ideas that sprout from my head and with urge to put into practice. Step by step, I am learning and doing. And that, thanks to you, to your work and your ability to transmit, trust and inspiration. Thank you. About your work and willingness to do something different, like blending techniques, I can only say, outstanding.
Kora - I’m kind of in love with that dress.
Melanie - I love this image and the concept behind it. I have been wanting to try a “kiddy pool” shoot ever since your CL class. It’s kind of my “scary” thing right now. I’ve never shot in a kiddy pool before!
Sarah Treanor - Thanks for sharing this post. I’m always exploring new techniques in my own self portraits, and the milky water idea is one I haven’t yet explored but have been wanting to recently. Loved seeing what you did with it! Nicely done and a beautiful, surreal image. =)
Sarah Allegra - Question 1 and 2: where did you get both of the dresses you’re wearing? Both the teal and the baby blue. They are both so lovely! Knowing you, I’m guessing they came from a vintage shop but I figured I’d ask just in case 😉
I LOVE the new technique you came up with! It makes me want to try something similar, though I’ll be sure to credit you if I do 🙂 Good for you for listening to yourself, creating for yourself and still pushing yourself to do more and be even better!
Lastly, you just look extra beautiful in this video! I’m not sure exactly what it is, and of course you look pretty all the time, but you just look super radiant 🙂
Jishnu - Wow.. That was awesome . You just released this video at the perfect time i have hoped for. I did my self portrait shoot outside. I am always worried what others will think so finished the shooting as quick as i can and tried to edit it. As i rushed the shoot the shot wasn’t great at all , i edited it and made it look some hat the way i wanted to and said to myself enough, i have pushed my self enough. I wasn’t excited and vibrantly happy but just thought to myself i can do only this much. This is when i came across this video. I can’t express how much of inspiration this gives me to get back there and do a better job than being content with my photo . Thanks a lot . 🙂
Diana - I, for one, am so happy that you are intelligently secure enough and true to your own art and visions, to not let any post sway you. If they gave you a little push to do something out of your comfort zone then that is wonderful and shows that you are ever evolving, even when people think you have already reached the top. Your work is not too much of either way. It’s your way. Each image tells a different story. I anxiously await each image to see your next story. You are a film maker, storyteller, writer, photographer & inspirer to all. Bravo!
robin spalding - the biggest thing i took from this is how you reacted to the comment. i woulda cried and been upset and maybe stopped working or woulda rethought everything i did to the point that i hated it all but you took it with such grace and optimisum! and it lead you to break out and try an amazing new approach. this is the biggest reason i love following u so, how you handle everything! thank u brooke!
Margherita Introna - Brooke I am totally blown away by the details of this image. I love your inspiration to create this and the concept you were going for. Brilliant visionary thinking 😉 What is the little smudge on your fingernail? It looks like the ink they use to mark that you have voted here, so I am curious… 😉
Tara - THAT is AMAZING!!! When I first looked at it I could not understand what it was, then reading that and going back I totally see it! I bet seeing this in a big print would just be fantastic! I think I did see the comment that was left and your gracious reply that you would indeed think about that and appreciated the feedback. Well it looks like you sure did think a lot about it! I love it! Its totally different than anything Ive ever seen you do!
Tara - Hey Brooke, I do have a question here, how did you set the timer and run down to pose? Or does your remote reach that far? Or did hubby hit the button for you? And how exactly did you rig the camera to securely hang over the edge like that, what tripod do you use if you dont mind me asking, this is really really cool!
I do wish you WOULD take the comments of ‘you’re the best’ for real because to those of us that say it, you ARE the best to us!
natalie - Hey Brooke!
Just one question. Have you read Robin Sharma’s books? 🙂
Lel - So awesome. I would love to show you a photo I took circa 2000’s that was based on ‘Ophelia’ by John Everett Millais! It’s quite similar in many ways to this new and exciting piece you’ve created!
Pauliina - Thank you VERY MUCH for inspirating and encouraging articles!