Promoting Passion Week 46: Dreaming in the Real World

Promoting Passion Week 46: Dreaming in the Real World

The hardest part of starting something new is knowing where to begin. We doubt ourselves, reach into the part of our minds that tells us we will fail or do something wrong, and as a result we never begin. When we step outside of what is ordinary and look for a guide book we stunt our growth. We seek direction in a place where roads have not yet been paved. The myth is that someone else would know where to begin; that someone else would get it right the first time out. But the truth is so far different. The easiest way to fail is to search for the perfect way to do something the first time you try, because in doing so, you rarely ever begin.

We inherently look for excuses to not do something that scares us. We dream big and we dream often, yet we do not always act on those dreams. So many people, including myself, will say to dream well, yet the second part to that equation – making it a reality – is equally important. Dreaming with no conviction – we suffer from this too often.

1. Stop using BUSY-NESS as an excuse.

We are all busy. I complain about it too much. In truth I am grateful, yet still I make empty wishes that I wish I could slow down. The truth is, so many of us seek busy-ness. We want to keep moving and changing and growing. And the product of that way of thinking is being busy: finishing the tasks we’ve already started and dreaming up new ones. Don’t allow being busy to stop future growth. All that can lead to is stagnation.

Find a time, even if it is only one day a week, that you dedicate to future projects. Maybe you wake up one hour earlier, or go to sleep one hour later. Maybe you eat lunch at your computer instead of at a cafe, and you take the time to draft that email you’ve been so scared to write. Set goals for yourself, and write them down, and re-write them often. Don’t let yourself forget.

Routine is an amazing thing, but figuring out how to break that routine to try something new can be even more powerful. Pick a time to dedicate to a future project, make sure you write down exactly what you need to accomplish so you don’t waste time, and then do it. By scheduling time and writing down your specific tasks, your mind will get to work in sorting out details before you ever sit down to do it.

2. Put your personality into it.

I get asked often how to draft an email to a gallery. It is a great question, since there aren’t exactly guidelines out there with exactly what an artist should say. The funny thing, though, is that no one ever taught me how to do that. I can’t say if I’m doing it right or not! So why do I mention it, then? Because the only thing I know how to do is to ignore the assumption that there is a “right” way of doing things. I work on the idea that my personality and genuine urge to move forward is all I need to do just that.

No matter what the venture is, who I am writing to, or what I need, I state my case simply and with my sincere voice. I write how I would speak, and I speak how I would want to be spoken to. I try to be relevant, and kind, and genuine. I end every email with a smiley face. Why? Because that’s me – take it or leave it. It has worked pretty well so far, and for those it hasn’t worked for, then perhaps they weren’t meant to be in my life anyway.

We don’t always know how to be “correct” or “professional” – so don’t! Just be yourself.

3. Seek advice from those you trust.

Here is a really personal example of something I am working on right now. Next year my goal is to host a convention. I’ve got the venue picked out and a lot of details coming together, but I felt stuck and unsure of where to go. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing, or do something too quickly, or simply make the wrong choice. So I picked out 3 people in the photo industry that I trust and I went to them for advice. And the advice they gave me was priceless.

I went into those meetings knowing certain things about myself – for example, that I already had a set way of doing some things that I wasn’t willing to compromise on. I never recommend seeking advice unless you know 1) what your questions are, specifically, and 2) what your opinions are. Once you know those things, it is easier to not be swayed into doing something that you aren’t happy with.

4. Observe others.

So going on this convention example, I have found it very helpful to observe how other conventions are run. I have been on both sides of the spectrum, from speaking to attending, so I can understand what makes a convention run smoothly and what does not. For example, I don’t like having too many options at a convention, and I don’t like being overwhelmed by a huge amount of people. As a speaker it is awesome to have someone there helping you each step of the way so you aren’t lost or in over your head, and it is really nice to have a dedicated space to be when you aren’t speaking. All of this has been learned from simply observing – not judging, as all choices are made for a reason – but discovering what works best for me.

5. Assemble a team.

It is okay to ask for help – in fact, it usually makes your big projects even more successful. Knowing who to trust and how to help them do their part is a big plus in achieving more in the future. I’ve started working with three trusted people in my life to move forward this big project, and I can’t wait to have our first meeting. Delegate and be specific in your needs and wants. Say what you mean, and don’t hold back in sharing your expectations.

Unedited lighting test, in costume.
Unedited lighting test, in costume.

This week I tried something new when I did a lighting test. I set up two bare bulb strobes in my living room and instead of using the flash, I used the modeling lights. I hung a black piece of fabric tied to two kitchen chairs sitting on top of my dining room table. I set all of that up in front of a big glass sliding door for natural light as fill. And then I took some shots! I was dressed normally, not meaning to do a shoot, but I really liked the quality of light and wanted to see what I could build.

I changed into a new costume dress that I recently acquired and took the same picture as the test, only this time I was getting into the “Alice” character. I was shooting with only 4 feet of space between the backdrop and the window, so I photographed my head, shoulders, arms, body, legs, etc…in separate shots. In post I put them together, found a background I liked, created a hole in the ground, and chose cloud shots with lighting to match.

It was quite a new process for me as I usually don’t do so much compositing and especially because I don’t use lights! But it was awesomely fun. I don’t know that I’m necessarily set on doing this from now on, but it does encourage me to experiment a little bit more with light…though I think I still prefer my normal style of diffused, soft light. Trying something new will always lead to one of two things: a new way of doing something, or confidence in how you don’t want to do something. Both are equally important!

The top image is the background I used, something I shot quickly while setting up a group photo in France. The bottom is what was added to it.
The top image is the background I used, something I shot quickly while setting up a group photo in France. The bottom is what was added to it.

16 thoughts on “Promoting Passion Week 46: Dreaming in the Real World

  1. Hey Brooke…
    how I love your job!!
    you absolutely inspire me to dream and believe in myself!
    I am from Brazil and congratulations for your job!
    have you an email I can write for you?

  2. Thanks for sharing Brooke. What am I up to ? Thanks for asking. I’m making an advent calendar. So that’s 24 unique and visually beautiful images for the month of December. I started the project on the 2nd of November and have 9 images completed already. To get the project acomplished I’ve reached out to local groups in the area and have been fortunate enough to get some great volunteers to model and assist and borrow props from. Wish me luck! Only 15 more shoots to go by the end of November, I got this!

  3. I needed a pep talk today and this hits the mark for me. After being made redundant from my day job this year I need to get some motivation back. Great ideas here to help me do that, Thank you x

  4. I love the lighting on this image! You always find the most lovely dresses too.

    My husband and I are working diligently on being able to remove the last vestige of my having to work with someone else by March.

    We have been weekly breakfast meetings and go over our plans, making details and bouncing ideas off each other. These plans are shared on Evernote, and once I accomplish a task I check it off. He’s able to see it in our shared folder, and it helps to keep me accountable for my plans. Having him help me keeps me on task!

  5. Thank you for this Brooke! It came at the perfect time. I’m currently working on a short film with a concept I’ve never done before. I’ve filmed a pond behind my parents house in FL, and want to have a sequence in the film where I’m floating over it. It will require green screen (which I’ve never used before). I reached out to a friend who does special fx this week. He lives in Spain! But I love his work. We’re skyping this weekend, so he can tell me exactly how to film this sequence, and then he’s going to help with the post-production sfx. This film is a very personal story, and I’m pushing myself to get the shot I want, instead of “cutting corners” and doing it an easier way. Intimidated, but also excited to try something new and learn from it. 🙂 Thank you again for your encouragement and inspiration this whole year!

  6. This was kind of a kick in the butt :p because I’ve been putting off so many projects, including the one I talked to you about. I know that the only thing holding me back is fear – I do have time for everything, I just make up silly excuses and get myself busy with little things that I know I could do without.
    Thank you for this, Brooke <3 I'm going to start planning things properly – and actually do them.

    Your new hair is beautiful and I loooove this picture!

    P.s. I miss you </3

  7. Thank you for this, Brooke. I have recently found myself in a situation where I had no space to create, so I went on a mission to change that. I designed some office furniture, and I asked my husband to help me build it. This makes me think about how you said that sometimes we do need to ask for help, and in this case I definitely couldn’t have built this furniture without the help of my husband. With the collaboration of our talents, now I have beautiful office furniture that I designed.
    Thank you for continuing to write blog posts, I look forward to reading them every week. 🙂

  8. Another great and meaningful post. Congratulations Brooke. I agree with you and in many ways we are quite similar. In the coming days is to continue to create and learn and learn. However, I have ideas in mind to be performed. One of them even was held yesterday. Yesterday was the launch of my new and simple webpage. I therefore invite you, and all who pass through here, to visit and to comment. Another project I have for now is to choose some pictures that I have and others that I have yet to edit, to frame and try, for the first time, to sell in a store. It is a store that supports artists in selling their work, whether in photography, handicrafts, jewelry… And next year is to start working seriously for an exhibition that has been postponed for lack of time. Upss! I used the busy-ness as an excuse! Sorry! I’ll work for it. Is a major goal for the next year.

  9. A few things.
    First, I love this image. Maybe I have a reason to be partial to it (lol) but keep me posted on when prints of this are available please.
    Second, another post that sounds like you wrote it for me. You are so good at that and I needed to hear this one. It’s a scary time. Artists left and right are dropping off, getting jobs and giving up.
    Third, I am very interested in this “convention” idea. Not sure what direction you are going to take it but something similar has been something that has been burning in my mind for some time. If you have any interest in hearing what I think or need any help… know where to find me.

  10. LOVE this video Brooke! I actually recently tried something very new that made me very nervous, but in the end I’m so very excited about it! I did my first conceptual photo shoots OUT SIDE OF THE STUDIO!! I was definitely making all kinds of excuses and being way to “busy” to shoot outside, but I was invited to this amazing meet up and had to jump and the opportunity and just DO IT! It was so exciting to be outside of my comfort zone and I made some AMAZING new friends. As far as things I have planned, I really want to get my hands of a space suit of some kind and dive head first into an outer space series!!! Its. Going. To. Happen.

  11. I haven’t had much issue lately with trying new things project wise. Rather, in two weeks time I will be faced with trying new things in the way that I work. Our second child is due any day within the next two weeks and I’m so nervous trying to figure out how the change the way I work in order to accommodate this new little being but still give myself the creative outlets I need. With my first child I had postpartum depression. I didn’t create during his entire first year of life. It wasn’t because I felt I was too busy, but rather I felt overwhelming guilt for wanting to take time for myself to create. And so I didn’t because I felt that as a mother it was my duty to forgo anything relating to myself and focus only on my child. And I never felt justified in asking others for help so that I could take time for myself. That mentality plus the guilt really sent my spiraling into depression.
    With this second child I know better. I have a friend who went through the same experience as me and I’ve observed how she handles her family life as well as her “for me” life. I’m preparing myself mentally now for the way things will be different, I’ve established a strong web of a support system, I’ve wiped all guilt of needing time to myself and am no longer afraid to ask for help. I think this second time around will be a lot better.
    Wonderful post as usual! And I love the lighting from this image!

  12. I´ve been following your blog for a few months now, and as a musician and music therapist, I find so much inspiration both in your projects and your talks. This week your blog was spot on for me – trying to balance a family life and a full-time job with my creative dreams of combining my music with visual art. Thanks for being true inspiration! 🙂

  13. Hi Brooke, I’ve been following you for a few years now and I have to say that you’ve inspired me to pursue that inner voice of creativity. I’ve seen you work with Lindsay and you both have pushed m to do more. I’ve planed several shoots, one of which is tomorrow, another on Thursday, and more to follow. Over the last few years I’ve also realized that by pursuing what really gets me going I am able to help others along the way just as you have helped me. So thank you!

    PS, my website is but for some reason I can’t get it to accept it in the box. Sorry.

  14. This is beautiful! It’s amazing how 2-3 simple pictures put together can create such a strong image! I love your editing and you inspire me to try and work more on mine. After watching your video I am excited to try and do something cool as well. Thank you!

  15. When I saw this photo on your facebook page my jaw dropped because in December the night before I was flying out to NYC I had a dream (of this exact image) I couldn’t distinguish the face in my dream, but everything else was the exact same. It was such a weird dream that I shook my husband and woke him up, then talked to one of my friends about it the following day. Needless to say, connecting the photo, this article, and the place I am were definitely aligned to impact me. This is probably a really strange comment, but thank you! -Mandy

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