What Photographs Mean

What Photographs Mean

What I love most about creating is, after a certain time, the separation that happens between Artist and Work. We step back, we see what we’ve done from a whole new perspective, and we are able to understand something different – more – about ourselves. Creating is always personal, whether we are taking inspiration from our lives or not. It represents who we are – or were – and translates that into a tangible, universal symbol. We see ourselves in what we do because what we do is, very often, who we are.

Looking back at my images this year it is easy to pick out the ones that were better than others, or the ones that I wish I had never created. But that is so far beyond the point of why we create. We create not only to capture the best of the best, but to capture a fleeting moment, even if you are not capturing reality. I create in the moment, inspired by everything around me, desperate to translate my vision into an image. And when it is finished, and I’ve put distance between the picture and myself, I never regret what I have created. I see it as a timeless reminder of who I was and who I want to be. Learning from my mistakes and pressing on with more life.

Those four images above are the ones I am most proud of – visually, thematically – and they will have a special place in my portfolio for the 2014 year. But even more, they will carry on into new years as inspiration, a reminder of the direction I want to go in, and a measuring board against which all other images will be judged.

There are images in my portfolio that I don’t like as much, not for any fault but simply because I was having fun in the moment, didn’t spend as much time conceptually, and I feel they fell flat. But I love them all the same, how much I like them aside. They are part of me.

I created images that remind me of why I love to create. This one took me nearly a whole day to put together. My memory from this day is of spinning around the tree until I got sick with one of my best friends, absurdly wrapping nature in yarn, telling a tale. I will never forget that day.

I created images that remind me of the message I want to send, and inspire me to never let go of what makes me unique. We all have something so wonderful inside. It is a true shame to let it slip away, no matter how other people perceive that gift.

There are images that remind me of how grateful I am to create, and of the people who make that possible. The kind-hearted models who give their whole selves, the friends I’ve made along the way, and the people who have so much vision I am inspired by being in their presence.

Other images remind me of special days, days that were marked in time by which photo I took, and when. Images that show me more than what the pixels represent. This image was taken on my birthday last year. I felt peace and calm. I felt strong. I see that in this picture.

And finally, there are images that remind me of how far we are willing to go to achieve something more. Images that make me reach higher and strive for better, and want to give more to others. When I photographed this image I was on top of a 10,000 foot crater in Hawaii. It was below freezing and I was in a raining cloud. And it was one of the clearest, most soul-deepening moments of my life.

I wish everyone many more moments like that. I would love to see what moments meant the most to you, either through what you created or moments that enriched your life…because you never know when your moments will help someone else, too.


19 thoughts on “What Photographs Mean

  1. In 2014, I got to see you twice – and whenever I spend time with you I feel like my life gets better. The moment that meant the world to me, and enriched my life, is the one on one meeting I had with you in Hawaii. I’ll never forget that.

    Before that, in April I created an image called Across The Abyss (https://amanialshaali.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/the-making-of-across-the-abyss/). I was going through a hard time and after spending way too much time wallowing, I decided to translate how I was feeling into a picture. Sometimes I look back on it and feel bad that I haven’t been able to create something that means so much to me, like this one does, but most of the time I just feel proud because I’m really happy with how it turned out. I’m hoping that I’d be able to do more of that this year.

    I miss you! <3

    1. That meeting was one of my favorites as well. I thought you were going to be mad at me because I was basically yelling at you about how wonderful you are! 😀 I love that image of yours too, and time will keep moving and your emotions will keep swelling, and more images like it will result – of that I am certain. You are a true artist, and with that comes the ability to translate the intangible into something more. Love to you always Amani, I miss you!

  2. 2014 was by far the most challenging and best year I have faced so far. it started out very dark and through the darkness I managed to find light and the will to move on to something better. I reconnected with my photography (since I didn’t photograph the first part of the year), I discovered who I was and I came to terms with accepting darkness as a part in my life and the goodness it brings out in me. All this was translated in most of my art created in the past year, but mostly in this series: http://www.gabrielisak.com/1925745-the-shadow-and-the-self
    Now Im on a new journey (thanks to last years experiences) which is coming out in my sketches and I guess it is time to document the next part in my life now.

    And I got to see you at Academy of Art in San Francisco and can tell you that you taught me more than any of my professors have done (no offense to any of them)!

    I loved to see your transformation in 2014 and wish you the very best for your next journey!

    1. Gabriel, what an honor it is to know you and how amazing to have been through such a transformation! That series you shared is one of the most unique, incredible series of art I have ever seen, and I mean that so wholeheartedly. It speaks to me on many levels, and I think the world would be better for seeing it. Thank you for sharing!

  3. 2014 is when I finally felt confident enough ( still working on it though) to share my creative work with everyone. And I have to Thank you, your blog posts and creative live courses for that.
    I have 4 images that stand out for me this past year, but the most recent and my first self portrait is my favourite because of the meaning behind it.
    I came up with this image over 2 years ago, and waiting until my studio was done to create it. It was emotional for me to photograph and create but it has healed me greatly.
    1 year after my Mom passed away I wanted to create an image using myself as her, visually showing her struggles with loss of speech and the use of the right side of her body, essentially being trapped in her body. It also needed to convey how I felt watching this happen to her, I felt helpless. I was so nervous about posting this for everyone to see, I was afraid of the response which is silly since I did it for myself, but the response I got was just amazing and it blew me away. It also made me realize that I was right along, creating these images is what I truly love to do!!
    Here it is:

    1. Nikki, that image is so powerful. What an amazing way to symbolically portray that struggle. I am so sorry you had to go through that, and also so glad that you shared it so that it might help others. You are brave and I think you are amazing.

  4. This year, I went through a time of depression and experienced more anxiety than I usually do, and this is because my husband (fiance at the time) was at boot camp for the Navy. The images i created at that time were dark, and displayed how I was feeling since I had no one to talk to. Here’s one of my favorites from that time: https://www.flickr.com/photos/modelyo/15388946638/ . To me, this means a lot. I felt as if I was in a constant dream without my fiance with me. This image reminds me of how I felt during that time and reminds me to appreciate the time I have with him. Now, I have another image that displays my current feeling. https://www.flickr.com/photos/modelyo/15856188200/in/photostream/
    This image shows my feeling of warmth and love, and it is very meaningful to me. Over all, I am thrilled to have a new year to experience, my husband by my side, and a new city to explore.

    Brooke, I am so excited to see what you create this year. Thank you for sharing so much with us, you are amazing!
    Also, thank you for sharing your textures, I used your “snow” one in the second one above 🙂

    1. Tea, wow what a year for you! I can feel the pain in your image and I can see the light, too. What a wonderful way to express your emotions and how awesome to be able to look back on them and remember that time in your life. I am so glad that you and your husband are together now and I hope 2015 brings much light and love into your life!

  5. I love all these images. Ok! Some more than others, but there is no that I say I do not like. Throughout 2014 there were moments that enriched my life. One was, and perhaps most importantly, admire your work (and not follow 🙂 ) and your person. Believe me, this blog made me very well. Also allowed me to meet a community where I found beautiful works and lovely people. The first work I’ve ever done in fine art, was the I AM ME, which as you remember, was a challenge launched by you. This image marked the beginning of my adventure. More recent was the image “caged” that marked me, because symbolizes what happened to me for a long time: Stay caged in my fears. Today, I am no longer trapped in these fears and this blog contributes to this. <3

    I AM ME https://www.facebook.com/paulocarvalhophotography/photos/a.351378011692853.1073741829.351367031693951/351372511693403/?type=3&theater

    Caged https://www.facebook.com/paulocarvalhophotography/photos/a.351378011692853.1073741829.351367031693951/376410035856317/?type=3&theater

    1. Paulo, your comments have been a light for me, guiding me through 2014. I am so glad to count you as a friend now, and I hope our paths cross soon! Your images are full of story, and your words are full of love. Who can ask for more? Hugs this new year!

  6. Last year was the year I gained confidence like Nikki as well to share my work. Not just showing it to others, but inviting others to partake in it with me. I created a series (http://www.mmhewittphotography.com/portraits-in-a-nightgown/) around the young women in my church and found so many blessings and enriching moments from working with these wonderful and amazing ladies. I love that my photography has enabled me to make friends since I am a huge introvert but relationships and having human connection outside my immediate family are important to me.
    And after the birth of my second child (http://www.mmhewittphotography.com/blog/2014/7/30/creation-the-tale-of-baby-hewitt-take-2) I learned to balance the needs of my kids and my needs to still create so that I don’t fall into the depths of postpartum depression as I did with my first and came up with this image (http://www.mmhewittphotography.com/blog/2014/12/27/dust). 2014 definitely makes me more hopeful for 2015. I’m so glad I found your blog, Brooke! You have given me so much inspiration!

    1. Melanie, it is so amazing to see these snippets from your life – I love how open you are, and how expressive your art is. I can really feel the emotion of your images so clearly, what a gift!

  7. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you again. I doubt that you remember this but earlier this year, I wrote you an email thanking you for inspiring me. I also told you that one of my dreams was to move to the US, but that it was going to be hard because I had to leave my family and I was afraid to speak English. I just wanted to let you know that I moved here this December. It has been the hardest and most painful thing in my life but thanks to what you teach every week, I’ve been able to bear it all.

    You’re like my mentor of life and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. Thanks for inspiring me to do the photos that make me feel alive, thanks for teaching lessons, thanks because you’ve given me the strength I need to face the challenges that I will this year.

  8. Brooke were can I start your one amazing artist and I’ve paid for your workshop and decided to do a photo to express myself a little this one is called cultivated red rose the rose is the only thing I see in reality mentally it’s blood for red and love which love isn’t much my luck so the rose represents me hahaha I’m still learning, but I love creating a story now to my photos. https://www.facebook.com/veeutifulmakeupphotography/photos/a.365817796869989.1073741836.365431120241990/669866689798430/?type=1&source=46&refid=17

    I am looking forward to see your new work im slowly doing new things and I’d love to share with you to get feedback 🙂

  9. All of your pictures are amazing, but those four that you selected as your favorites are simply stunning. I don’t do fine art photography but looking at your images has definitely inspired me to give it a try at some point in the future. Your post led me to do something that I don’t do as much as I should, namely to look back at and evaluate all of the images that I posted during the year. It’s difficult to pick favorites, but I think this picture of my son is the most meaningful to me. https://www.flickr.com/photos/55959716@N08/14943286686/

  10. Thank you for sharing this Brooke… If I may, here are the 4 images from this year so far that have spoken to me the most…

    Blind Belief: https://www.facebook.com/MargheritaIntronaPhotography/photos/a.165320056962586.1073741828.165302450297680/312614325566491/?type=3&theater
    Hope Prevails: https://www.facebook.com/MargheritaIntronaPhotography/photos/pb.165302450297680.-2207520000.1414437039./338795566281700/?type=3&theater
    Healing Powers: https://www.facebook.com/MargheritaIntronaPhotography/photos/pb.165302450297680.-2207520000.1414437039./319889724838951/?type=3&theater
    Beloved: https://www.facebook.com/MargheritaIntronaPhotography/photos/a.165320056962586.1073741828.165302450297680/283949515099639/?type=3&theater

    In each of these I love that there is movement and in most of them, also a dramatic sky. These are the two main things I love to include in my images. There is also a main colour that stands out, and they all have a glow of colouring that I feel is very much a part of my style, which is a fine touch of purple hue.

    In most instances my work is autobiographical in nature. These images are all self-portraits and hence why they generally speak to me the most. These are my stories and my emotions.

    The following themes stand out: belief, hope, sadness and love. The props used are either very simple items (like the lamp and the strip of material to form a blindfold) or have great meaning to me (my beloved cat Bono and the shark jaw that used to belong to my beloved father).

    The image “Healing Powers” stands out a little differently from the other 3 images I’ve chosen… This is because it is darker and using a very different type of outdoor space. It is a theme I would like to pursue further and I am very happy I took the risk and tried something different with this one as to me, it came out better than I had hoped.

    Still many, many images in my folders from this year waiting to be processed and so many ideas in my heart waiting to be created… I am grateful for all it means to create. It has saved me more than once <3 xx

  11. Hi Brooke, I truly love your work.
    2014 was a year of discovering myself and knowing what I want to do with my life. I study Graphic Design, and I like it, but I always love fahion design and illustration, so I decided to create in base of these two things.
    At the begining I was afraid of what it’s going to result, but I think that If we do not try, we will never know what we were capable to do. Finally, after pretty hard work, all the jury, like the proyect that I present for my thesis.

    I want to say thank you for inspired me so much in my personal proyect. Hope you like it.


  12. I must say I always admire how open you are and unafraid to acknowledge any weakness or failure. I think you do learn most from the projects that didn’t go as planned. Thanks for sharing your year with us

    My choice of pics from this year:

    Leaving a relationship and a house, this was the first picture I took in my new place. Was almost separating my old self from the new and wasn’t an easy process


    A picture that I wasn’t completely happy with and this frustrated me because I wanted it to be so much better but I learned a lot:


    And finally this one just made me smile, some easter fun:


    Hope you have an awesome 2015!

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