brooke shaden

brooke shaden Follow

Art photographer, speaker, author, philanthropist on a mission to share passion. Sony artisan. New videos every Monday:

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"One of the universal fears of childhood is the fear of not having value in the eyes of the people whom we admire so much."
- Fred Rogers 🌙

If I can be a voice of positivity, I extend it to you if you need it. I value you though I might not know you, because I believe that the goodness in someone's heart can always grow. I believe that we are capable of incredible things that are as big as love and as small as achievement. I believe that who we are now is not who we will be. I believe in the people we can choose to become. 🌙

When I saw the Mr. Rogers documentary yesterday, I was reminded of something so important as I struggle with being prolific as an artist while I'm making a new series: Being good at what I do pales next to being a good person. 🌙

If you're struggling right now with your value/worth/love, I hope you'll reach out and let someone know. It is such a universal feeling that understanding cannot be far away 💛
"Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be." - Ralph Waldo Emerson 🌙

Inspiration is my obsession. Being inspired, harnessing inspiration, trying so hard to inspire others. In a sense, inspiration is my passion. Above any craft or hobby. Above my desire to be known for something I've created. I want to leave this world having inspired people. So, this week's video is all about inspiration - how to find it, how to keep it, how to use it. You'll see a BTS photo shoot, metaphor dice (AMAZING, must check that part out), and lots more. 
Link in bio!

This image was inspired by the metaphor "Death is not a cryptic wasteland". I challenge you to create inspired by one of the metaphors in the video!
As a "professional" (I use the term loosely), it takes some mental preparation to create something...and videotape myself creating that something (link in bio)...and be okay with letting others see a process that might not lead to something I'm happy with. 🌙

I try to show that kind of vulnerability every week when I release my Monday videos. Every week I try to do something a little different or weird for the sake of two outcomes: 🌙

1. Being an Artist is not about creating perfection. It is about creating, period. Trying. Failing. Innovation. Trailblazing. So, every week, I strive to be an Artist, not a Professional. 🌙 
2. I want to show that you can have a career as an Artist and also not know what you're doing sometimes. It is okay to play. If we don't, we won't progress. So, every week, I'm taking you into my play-process. 🌙 
This week I shot some self-portraits with my little Instax Mini camera. It was a totally new experience for me. I don't know how I feel about the final result, but truth be told, I don't really care. That's not the point. I hope you'll take a look at the video I made this week and, if you want to fulfill my hope - go out and try something you've never tried before.
My life has many joys. I make sure of that. I create them by myself. At least once a week, while by myself, I laugh uncontrollably, marvel at how weird I am, and make memories. How often do we set out to make memories by ourselves? This photo shoot and behind-the-scenes video shows the process of cultivating joy better than most. Link in bio, and if I might say, don't miss this one. It's too fun :) (~4mins) 🌲

I've made many memories in the name of art: from jumping in a glacier lagoon to covering myself in molasses. But, in truth, the art was the excuse. The activity was the reward. The memory of doing something strange, the boldness of it, the lack of fear, the willingness to say YES to my imagination. YES to IMAGINATION. How wildly important. 🌲

This photo shoot took quite a while. I kept slipping in the massive puddle of molasses. It took a long time of trying to hold limbs upside down to get the molasses to drip the right way. My camera wouldn't trigger for a while. And cleaning. CLEANING. Oh my goodness. And I wouldn't change that day for anything in the world. 🌲

Wouldn't trade this picture, and all it represents to me. 🌲

What have you done lately that's out of the norm? Or, what might you do now?
Do you ever feel silenced? 🌙

There are moments when I feel like I'm just not being heard, like no one wants to hear what I have to say. In those moments I have often reverted to thinking about all of the people in the world who really can't project their voices, who need help but are not heard. It makes me feel guilty for feeling the way I do. 🌙

Isn't that how suffering works? There is always someone who suffers more, who has earned the badge better than I. And yet, this is what I believe most truly: 🌙

That if we can stop ourselves from being silenced, even in the smallest of ways, in the microcosm that is my very personal life, we can help others from being silenced. We can lend our voices. 🌙 
So, how do you feel misunderstood? How do you feel small? How do you feel insignificant? Answering that question for yourself might be a step toward helping others. That is what I believe, it is what I have witnessed. Let your insecurities loose so that you may conquer them.
“If something burns your soul with purpose and desire, it’s your duty to be reduced to ashes by it.” ― Charles Bukowski 🌙

What brings you purpose and desire?
Specifically, what burns to be let out? 🌙

For me, it is always stories. My own, those of other people, especially those who suffer. Stories for people who feel they don't have a voice, for those who feel unseen, for those who feel too different. Stories are life - can save lives. They let us see ourselves in mythology, history, and let us visualize our future. 🌙

Though I love creating what I do, my hat is off to those who can depict the stories of others who suffer with such grace. Maybe one day I'll figure that out, too. In the meantime, this is for those whose families have been torn apart, which is epidemic in scope. From my experiences in India, Thailand and Greece working with sex trafficking survivors and refugees fleeing war, to all the places I have not been, like the border here in my own country. 🌙 
What is your purpose?
It's time for a little reset and reintroduction. People change - a lot and frequently - and that is important. This is who I am, and I want to know who you are - not superficially, but really. Really. 🌙

I'm a person who loves to inspire people but never feels accepted in a group, adores public speaking but can't talk to someone at a party, am inspired by darkness but am light and happy. I cannot work when I'm sad. Can create infinitely when I am joyful. 🌙

I'm not sure who I am as an artist anymore and that excites me. I only worry that it doesn't excite you. I'm writing a novel, making a new photo series, very interested in sculpture and interactive art. 🌙

I'm obsessed with science fiction because it shows us the face of humanity masked by other worlds. Interested in the human experience - what it means to be alive - because too often we don't truly live. 🌙

I almost never share the moments the mean the most to me, almost never reveal when I'm feeling deeply, almost never show my depths to people around me...but when I do, it really means something. 🌙

I think that my friends trust me deeply and that surprises me, though I'm not sure why. I think I have a lot to say, and that also surprises me. I think I will make an impact on the world, and that surprises me the most. 🌙

And mostly, and most importantly: I want to be a good person who does good things and who makes good art. 🌙

Now, who are you? 💛
I love creating from scratch, making something from nothing, using what I have to bring a vision to life. In this case I used paper stars. In others it has been bed sheets to look like dresses, a figurine of a boat to look like a ship, lamps to light my scenes, and a single key to look like a thousand. 
If we start to think that money or connections or gear will make or break our creativity then it is doomed from the start. Let those things help us in the company of our pure will to create. But never let them dictate if we are artists. 
Create no matter what. 
Have you ever used something unexpected to create with? 
Link in bio to a new blog and old video that's very appropriate for this topic. 💛
The world will give us enough obstacles. Don't fight against yourself. Don't struggle against who you want to be.
How do we put our mark on what we create? Do you ever scroll and see an image that you KNOW is a certain someone's? That they must have created it because their essence is in it? I think that happens when we are aligned with what we create - when we create what already lives inside us. 
I have always tried to create what my imagination tells me to - not what trends dictate, not what others like. I haven't always succeeded (more times than I care to admit), but it is my life's mission to always create what is aligned with my soul. And I mean that in more ways than photography. I mean that with every decision I make, anything my hands create, anything I dream of.

This week's video is about just that. How do you find a signature style? (Featuring editing!). Link in bio 🤗
Let's talk about dedication with a little throwback to 2016 when I created this image and the series it belongs to, "Fourth Wall".

In 2015 I went to my first portfolio review. It went great, so-so, and very poorly between the 5 reviewers. One of them told me I'm not an artist, my work is surface level, that I need to choose between posting online and being a real creator. I got knocked down a notch for sure.

But, that meeting did 2 amazing things for me. I realized that no one else can dictate who is an artist or what makes a person an artist. It is in me, or it isn't. And it is. Second, I decided she was right in some ways. I could go deeper with my work. So I did.

Fourth Wall was born, and I spent all of 2016 in a studio building a room, painting, filling that room with all sorts of weird things, and spending way too much money on a pipe dream. It was epic.

And then, it was finished. And I didn't know what to do. So, I showed one of my galleries and she loved it. That got me my first solo show in New York City. Then, I started submitting it to contests - something I rarely do - and it won 5 of them. That allowed me to make the money back that I spent on the series. And, it remains my proudest work to date.

I went into that series from adversity, after being told I am not a real artist, trying to prove that woman wrong with all my might. But what I ended up doing was proving myself wrong. Deep down, I didn't think myself capable of producing a series that meant something more. I didn't think I was good enough to justify the money I was spending. And I realized, most importantly, that art is best NEVER created for someone else. It was only when I stepped into my rightful sphere as an artist that the series came together in a way that was unique, and to me, totally beautiful. 🌙

There will always be people trying to pull you down - or maybe, in their own way, trying to make you better - you can learn, or you can wallow. You can grow, or you can stagnate. Let us rise to the challenge.
As we hiked back from the lake I was taking pictures in, we saw this thorn patch. We looked at each other with that knowing grin and knew we'd have to create something here. My sister-in-law is always willing to jump into a thorn patch for a picture, so I brainstormed for a few minutes, asking myself, deeply, why I cared so much for this space. The answer become obvious: the equal destruction and beauty of thorns. The bowing and the breaking, the small strength. 
My Monday video features my editing process on this image, slowed down and talked out. Plus some philosophy, plus some of my thought process. It's a juicy 10 minutes today. I really hope you like it. Link in bio.