brooke shaden

brooke shaden Follow

Art photographer, speaker, author on a mission to share passion. Watch my Fine Art class on Creative Live for free here:

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The fact that I can release a dark image and share my dark feelings and hear nothing by support back is truly amazing. I remember, when I first started creating and I didn't have this community yet, how isolating it could be to share something dark and be judged for it. You make me feel such a part of something beautiful that I am truly grateful. πŸŒ™ 
I felt it was important to say though, after such lovely outpouring of kindness yesterday, that I'm actually really okay. Yesterday was the first time I took a day to myself in over 2.5 months (very, very literally). It was much needed. That said, let me tell you about me when I'm not having a breakdown kind of day (which is most of the time). And I'd love for you to share about yourself, too! πŸŒ™

1. I am the most joyful person I know - which I say for two reasons. One is to give thanks for my naturally optimistic and bouncy personality which keeps me running at unusually high energy; and two, because it is a choice that I make everyday and it is important to recognize the choices we make. πŸŒ™

2. Some of my favorite places I've traveled to: Paris for a city choice, Scotland for the countryside, Cambodia where I felt I most belonged. Where I want to go next: Tibet. Where I love to be most: HOME (to cook all my meals, do yoga in my living room on my favorite black embossed mat, and snuggle). πŸŒ™ 
3. In my down time, particularly on planes, I alternate between reading and brainstorming. Currently I'm starting Good Omens which will undoubtedly be a treat for the imagination. I'm getting very close to being able to shoot my new series, which I've been conceptualizing for the past 7 months. It has been a long incubation period, but I think it was needed. Interestingly, my increased reading load has helped tremendously in understanding story in my images.
Yesterday I had a bit of a breakdown day where anxieties and pressures built up and I started to crack under the weight of it. Instead of internalizing that and trying to understand it, I created from it. I don't do this very frequently. It isn't in my nature to create in the heat of sadness. I am trying to train myself to do just that, because being able to create what you are feeling in a moment is valuable. πŸŒ™

Even though an image like this might not resonate with everyone, it shows that there are different ways to express ourselves. Sometimes simply being exposed to a new way of expression can help someone out of a bad place. In the last few years I've been fortunate to connect with girls who have traumatic pasts to help them express their stories visually through self-portraiture and storytelling. Next year I get to go back to India and Thailand to work with those vulnerable to sex trafficking. In a new initiative, I'll be going to Greece to work with Syrian refugees as well. It is so important that everyone has the tools to create their personal story. πŸŒ™

Please, create authentically. Create your story. You never know how much that can touch someone. Even if no one likes this image, you know that I created it with the deepest passion, and that means more than if someone likes it or not. Passion is contagious.
I have one final trip [to Argentina] in one week. After that, I'm finished with travel for the year. To be quite honest, I'm exhausted. And filled. And overwhelmed. And joyful. This image is so representative of a beautiful transition I am about to embark on, where quiet shedding of the past becomes paramount for growth. πŸŒ™ 
I'm awakening to a new reality that I'm building for myself. I'm spending December rewriting my novel, finalizing concepts for my new series, and taking care. This is a rebirth/renewal/milestone for me. πŸŒ™

The ways I have grown this year are incredibly numerous. I've recognized what does not serve me. I've found my voice in standing up for myself. I've become stubborn in my relentless maintenance of peace. πŸŒ™ 
If that sounds very me-centric, it is. No apologies. Because when we commit to our own growth and bliss, we lead by example. We inspire others to do the same. And that, I believe, is how we lift each other. πŸŒ™ 
This image will always remind me of what I must let go of to make room for what is to come. I'm ready for it.
Tonight is the night that I have the true honor of receiving an award for my humanitarian work. I can't help but look at these images from my first trip to India 5 years ago and count blessings on each step taken since then. I remember feeling like I wasn't worthy of giving back - who am I, anyway? Until I realized that I can do nothing or I can try something, and I'm always on the side of trying. πŸŒ™ 
Over these 5 years I've taught self expression workshops to survivors of human trafficking in India and Thailand and started The Light Space, a school serving the same community. We have programs in India and Thailand, and with a little more planning, we'll expand to Greece to serve Syrian refugees. πŸŒ™ 
Change is not possible if we choose inaction. In my life, I salute Laura Price and Amy Parrish for being partners and leaders in these efforts, Kolkata Sanved for championing us, those who have donated and supported us, and so many more. πŸŒ™ 
Thank you Imaging Alliance for this award ❀
I've been on the road since the beginning of September and my time traveling is coming to an end with two final events that I feel really passionate about. One is a *totally free* photo walk this Sunday in NYC from 3-6pm hosted by Sony. We'll create fairy tales on the streets of NYC! I'd love for you to join us: πŸŒ™

The other event is something I'm a bit shy to talk about, but... I'm really proud to say that The Light Space is receiving an award from the Imaging Alliance. On Monday, November 6th I'll be accepting an award for the philanthropic work that my heart belongs to and giving a brief speech about what I do in India and Thailand. Tickets are only $25 to attend and that money goes to charity. I would so love to meet new people there and give lots of hugs! Link in bio!
​Opportunity. A word I have thought about countless times this week. A word that carries a lot of weight especially when uttered by different people. I feel so fortunate at the opportunities I am offered at times. For example, last week I was interviewed by Forbes - what a honor, an opportunity, a gift. Life achievement unlocked. Thank you @surface for that opportunity (link in bio). πŸŒ™

The reason opportunity has been on my mind is the way we chase it without always thinking about why. ​Being at a photo conference this week, I've had a lot of micro meetings with a huge variety of people. Each one of them tells me that if I listen to what they want me to do, I will gain so much opportunity. They aren't wrong - they are offering to help my business. But what about the core meaning of opportunity? πŸŒ™

The word 'unity' is in 'opportunity' and that is important to point out. Opportunity should bring unity between your desires and your future, making them one and the same. When your desires are not in alignment with where your future is going, is that truly the opportunity you want to explore? Part of my goal is to live life in the most joyful way possible, and chasing the right opportunities allows my life to inspire others to live their best life. If I chase each opportunity that doesn't serve my joy, then who does that ultimately serve? πŸŒ™

It is not ungrateful to seek different opportunities than what is being offered. This week I have found my voice in telling others that I know what serves me, and I will not be pushed into someone else's ideal opportunity just so that my work can benefit them. Remember that you are always welcome to turn down one route to go for another, even if it is less ideal or difficult. Never let someone try to convince you that they know better than you. Chase the opportunities that serve you. If you aren't sure, chase them all until you do know. After all, clarity comes from experience. <3
Can we just get a collective sigh about how overwhelming life can be at times? I've only spent a few days at home in the last month and started to really feel the physical effects of that yesterday. But at the same time, in the midst of the travel, there is so much joy to be found. Yesterday someone asked me how I'm so energetic and I replied, "I'm powered by joy". I couldn't tell if they thought I was nuts or not, but wow, it is SO true. πŸŒ™ 
My Creative Live class started airing three days ago. The rest is pre-recorded now (myself and the students and crew couldn't film for 20+ days) and I am truly joyous about it. I am emotionally overflowing with joy at this piece of work now being put out to everyone. It really has been a massive part of my life for the last 8 months. I hope you are enjoying watching for free, or if you purchase it, that you enjoy it for a long time to come. (link in bio!) πŸŒ™

I switched gears on Tuesday and flew overnight to NYC where I helped launch the new Sony A7R III camera by taking part in a panel, doing interviews and more. Today (and the next few days) I speak at Photo Plus Expo at the Sony booth. What a crazy honor that I never take for granted. πŸŒ™ 
My life is full right now. I look forward to some down time in December to hole up and write and create, but for now...I'm going to power myself with JOY and live every moment so fully that I hope it bursts apart and infects everyone around me. Or at least, I'll try my best. πŸŒ™

I shot this image for Sony with the new A7R III <3
When you're a kid you have dreams, but it's rare that you fully understand why you want what you do. I grew up wanting to be a teacher. I had no idea what it meant, how it worked or the kind of lifestyle that would entail. I just loved writing and I loved being bossy and I figured those things would go well together so I would become an English teacher. I felt that way up until college, when I decided to study English literature. πŸŒ™ 
But then photography came into my life, and I began to understand my process so intimately I felt I could teach it, and so I did. I never expected to become this kind of educator, but then again, I don’t know if I ever truly expected anything. I was just a kid with a dream. Education has become more important to me, both taking it in and giving it out. To find success, we must all be on a level playing field. Privilege and other factors put some ahead of others, and despite my wishing it wasn’t so, it sure is. I want to use any privilege I have – access to education, the ability to afford it – to pass that on to others. πŸŒ™

This is why I agreed to do one more class at Creative Live. Because education should be available to everyone. Because everyone deserves at least that. πŸŒ™

Tomorrow I begin teaching my mega-length class β€œFine Art Photography: The Complete Guide”. It is everything I have to give. Everything – related to fine art, business, creating and more. And it is free to watch live. For 20 days…free to watch. I want you to soak it in. I want you to benefit from it. I want you to soar through new creativity because of it. I want you to make money because of the advice in it. I want you to succeed far more than I ever will. πŸŒ™

It brings me to tears to think about the honor of teaching this class. To think about my big-dreaming self when I was little, and to tell her, β€œLook, look at what you can do. You will help people.” That is all I ever wanted. I want you to know that this class is for you, and I am here for you, in the most genuine way possible. πŸŒ™

Please enjoy this 20-day @creativelive class. Follow along and challenge yourself beyond what you thought was possible. Because trust me, it is possible. Link in bio ❀
I went out into the forest, posed my friend, and started photographing her in multiple pieces: her arm, her torso, each book separately, the forest in many parts, etc. I ended up with 30+ images to stitch together, my first attempt at creating a huge canvas so that I could one day print the image large. That never happened and I forgot about my original goal of seeing that image giant one day. πŸ“–

A few weeks ago Microsoft contacted me, which was a huge honor unto itself, and asked if I would allow my work to be represented by them and @surface at Adobe Max. I sent my files along and two days ago I finally walked into the event space. And there it was, the photo I had created five years ago, 12 feet tall. Just how it was always meant to be. And I tried to keep my tears in as the gratitude flowed through me. πŸ“–

I've been here at Adobe Max for a few days giving editing demonstrations at the Microsoft booth. I got to watch the keynote speakers and see the sheer amount of creativity in every single thing being shown/created/imagined here, and I am inspired to do more. This is what a good show does - it inspires your imagination to expand. It inspires you to Want to be more, do more, and exist at a higher level. πŸ“–

I'm ready to be a new artist. I'm ready to expand so far that I leave myself behind. I'm ready for it ALL. Thank you Microsoft for bringing me to Adobe Max, to each of you who has come for hugs - Gratitude overflowing. πŸ“–

You can join me today at 12:30 and 2:30 for more editing demonstrations before I road trip home this evening. <3
I remember when I made each of these images I was interested in showing characters who were being pulled down or pulled apart but who remain defiant, strong nonetheless. Art has this amazing way of changing people - perspectives, understanding, stories. Even though I made these images, and one could argue that the story I initially thought of should be the only one there, I see something new now. Events in the world, my own struggle to find connection, a desperate need for togetherness - these all come together to form new experiences, and thus new ways of interfacing with this work. πŸŒ™

I don't create from a dark place, I just find darkness fascinating. Not because of melancholy, hatred, angst or turmoil but because the opposite is always there lurking, waiting to take over. Where there is darkness there will also come light, where there is an enemy along will come a friend. Without both, neither has meaning. We define the good and the bad against one another. πŸŒ™ 
As I look at these images, I recognize their darkness. I recognize that they are not comfortable to look at for some. I see their shadows. But equally, and more today, I see their light. I see hands holding together instead of pulling apart. I see someone being held up instead of pulled down. I see what I want to see, based on my experience, and that is enough. What we bring to art, what we bring to our lives, is the culmination of our experience and, importantly, a choice. We choose how to see the world, and what role we play in it. πŸŒ™

As for my role, right now, I'm creating...and I can only hope that the things we make in our lives help someone else, in some way.
How often do you try something that you've never done before? I have often found myself doing the things that have become natural and easy over and over. It feels so good to be good at something. It is addictive. It makes you feel capable. I have often struggled with feeling inadequate in the face of new tasks. But in the last couple of years I've been growing bolder in the face of newness. I want to learn, I want to be terrible at something, I want to find my footing and be a better artist. πŸŒ™ 
A couple of weeks ago I got to shoot medium format film for the first time. I had no idea what I was doing and felt embarrassed at trying, but my friend @amyparrish was patient with me and taught me, and, emboldened, we hiked out to a muddy river bank and created. She helped hold the camera steady, refocus when we jostled along too much, and showed me how to work the camera as I made self-portraits. Link in bio has all of the images from my outing, edited and unedited. πŸŒ™ 
What will you try to learn next? πŸŒ™
Any film shooters out there? I'd love to hear your tips/suggestions! 
Shot on a Yashica Mat 124 G <3
My series "Fourth Wall" is having another solo debut at the JoAnne Artman Gallery, this time in Laguna Beach, CA. I'll be at the opening on Thursday, October 5th and the show will run Oct 1 - Nov 15 (full details below) - Please join me for a really lovely evening! πŸŒ™

Creating this first image of my Fourth Wall series genuinely gave me permission to create in a different way. I broke the ties that held me back from experimentation. I tried so many new things, created with layers upon layers that I used to ignore. Looking at this image gives me courage to create another series that I'll begin work on this winter, much more abstract and provocative than ever. Certain moments cement themselves as cornerstones of your life, and this image will remain a proud moment of creative bravery in mine. πŸŒ™ "Fourth Wall"
Opening: October 5, 2017
JoAnne Artman Gallery
326 N. Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach CA
Runs: Oct 1 - Nov 15, 2017
Awards for series: ND Awards 2016, International Photography Awards 2016, Fine Art Photography Awards 2017, PX3 2017, RF Awards 2017