Set Design In-Studio

I wanted the last class I would ever teach at After Dark to be a big one, so I decided to end it with a set design class. I went out that morning with the very kind man behind Sweetlight John and gathered sticks, leaves, debris of all kinds, soil, cobweb, and a lantern.

When it came time to do the class, I nearly forgot that it was nighttime! I was envisioning everything being lit by a window. So instead of panicking with 20 minutes to spare before class, I once again nagged the Sweetlight team and asked if they could put one light with a softbox above the subject, pointing directly down. Everyone looked at me like I was nuts…which I might be, but in my mind, I wanted to simulate a moon. So I figured the best way to do that would be to put the light overhead and diffuse it.

Brooke Shaden

Once the light was set the class gathered, and we began building. We started with a simple setup: dirt on the floor (thank you WHCC!), a black backdrop, and our model Marsha laying on top. I put a lantern in her hand and made it look like a forest scene with a girl who had fallen asleep under the night sky.

From there we began adding leaves, and then sticks, and then eventually a bed.

(I should definitely say thank you to the hotel for providing the bed, though I actually think they still have no idea that we covered it in dirt and sticks, so probably best to not mention it…).

My method was to build the scene up, starting with something simple and ending in a crescendo of a beautiful dream sequence – a girl dreaming in the forest at night, still sleeping in her bed. It was probably the most fun I’ve had teaching as far as the actual shooting goes…and to imagine, it was all in a ballroom at a hotel with one light and a black background. That is why I love photography. You can make it whatever you want, your dreams can become a reality, and you can do it with your own rules.

If you’d like to purchase this print to support the Saving Eliza charity, you can do so here!

Brooke Shaden

If you had a blank space, how would you decorate it?

 

  • April 17, 2014 - 7:43 am

    Tom Newforge - Wonderful image. Wonderful cause to contribute to. You are amazing and one of the “good ones”. It could be said more eloquently but sometimes simple is easier to digest.
    Keep chuggin’. Your making a difference on so many levels:)ReplyCancel

    • April 17, 2014 - 7:49 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you so much Tom, that really means everything to me. A year ago I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t hold back in trying to be the best person I could be, and sometimes I scare myself with how often and how close I come to being so much less, and that makes me want to try harder. I know that I have so far to go, but it feels really great to hear such kind words – so thank you for pushing me to be better.ReplyCancel

  • April 17, 2014 - 7:53 am

    Tom Newforge - I just looked at the site and realized he opened it to anyone. That is awesome. I did a levitation shoot last night. I’m gonna twist, tweak and submit.ReplyCancel

    • April 17, 2014 - 11:24 am

      Melanie Myhre - Brooke you are such a beautiful light in the world and a great role model for so many. Never doubt yourself. The set was a stroke of genius and I am so glad I was able to be there to be a part of the experience.Lovely images!ReplyCancel

  • April 17, 2014 - 8:05 am

    Tom Newforge - But to answer the blog question, (cause I’m procrastinating), I would decorate a blank space with gleaming white walls with tall, black, leafless trees painted on it. I would then furnish it with a few chairs and a table made of unfinished dark oak with Snow White marble tops and cushions. In the corner would be a single large, green, leafy plant of some sort. If I were to photograph that space I would wash it out best I could while retaining the dark contrast and lay a model across one of the couches in a pale, off yellow dress.ReplyCancel

  • April 17, 2014 - 8:39 am

    robin spalding - omg brooke! i LOVE these! and your closeup of marsha WOW! it was such an incredible mindblowing experience to be there watching you create this magical space in the most unlikeliest of places! to watch the set come alive was amazing! thank you again for the experience you gave me at after dark! it was surreal it was lifechanging it was to indescribable! i really think it was like being in heaven.
    if i had a blank space? i guess it would depend on my emotion im trying to tell, but i love how you take the outside and bring it in. theres something magical about that. i loved abandoned and ruins as they have soo much story in them so i guess anything to make the space look like that. or to showsomething hidding underneath the clean blank space. or something that shouldnt be there is always fun like water in a room, in fact lara zankoul did a series of a room half in water and it was sooo neat. i love the surreal and unusual realities.ReplyCancel

  • April 17, 2014 - 8:42 am

    Lu - Beautiful Brooke! the portrait is stunning too. You are making a big difference in many ways, in many lives, that’s why I love being here. It is inspiring, invigorating and very rewording. Like Tom, I will go ahead and submit a print. Con mucho amor! LuReplyCancel

  • April 17, 2014 - 8:45 am

    Lu - Oh! and in my blank space I would put…cotton candy!ReplyCancel

  • April 17, 2014 - 2:20 pm

    Paulo Carvalho - Beautiful pictures! Love, love, loveā€¦ And that close up, amazing. And through the photography, you show once again the person you are. Well, about white space, I also would say that would depend on my emotions at the time. And because I loved these pictures, my mind became vitiated and I will be tempted to say that would decorate with these brown tones from the forest in autumn. I like it.ReplyCancel

  • April 17, 2014 - 11:04 pm

    Catherine Rondeau - I keep coming back to your blog Brooke because I so often leave inspired after having receiced or been reminded of important life lessons. Like creating with what you have available to you instead of not creating because you think you don’t have what you need. Does that make sense? To me anyway… So thanks again for sharing and bravo for this great improvised photo session.ReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2014 - 8:27 pm

    Izzy - Brooke this is absolutely stunning! I’m so amazed and inspired by what you are able to create on a daily basis.

    I was wondering, if you wouldn’t mind sharing, where do you rent/find these beautiful dresses that are in all of your photos?ReplyCancel

  • April 22, 2014 - 6:48 am

    Brooke Shaden – Image 7/10 | Alice Riddy - […] is a recent image of hers with the a fairy tale fantasy theme, this was posted on her blog On her blog post she actually explained what her lighting set up was (Softbox directly above the […]ReplyCancel

  • April 27, 2014 - 11:21 pm

    Emma - I’ve always wanted to get a large raffia rug and seed it with wild flowers. I’d also love to have trees growing up the walls!ReplyCancel

  • May 5, 2014 - 7:08 pm

    Los Angeles, California | toemail - […] is a recent image of hers with the a fairy tale fantasy theme, this was posted on her blog On her blog post she actually explained what her lighting set up was (Softbox directly above the […]ReplyCancel

  • May 27, 2015 - 6:04 pm

    ClaraBottrill - I’m excited to find this website. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely savored every bit of it and I have you saved to fav to check out new information in your site.ReplyCancel

  • May 28, 2015 - 3:56 am

    PrestonH44 - Yes! Finally something about veet anti ingrown hair cream.ReplyCancel

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