brooke shaden

brooke shaden Follow

Art photographer, speaker, author on a mission to share passion.

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I took this image on a beach in Australia last year after battling with my sister to please get out of bed and put on a dress and freeze for just 20 minutes while I attempted to create something. She didn't want to do it. I was not bending in my desperate need to make this picture. Finally we found our way to the beach, and after instructing her to lay in a puddle and climb a jagged rock, we finished our photo shoot with this image of us together. It ended up being one of the most connected and fulfilling moments we had on our two week trip together. πŸŒ™

This morning she called me, as she does sometimes, saying that she woke up feeling off and wanted me to cheer her up. We told each other jokes (well, she did far better than me - I can never remember a joke well enough to tell it) and we giggled in that way that only sisters can, and then I went back to work. I felt compelled to share this because my mission in life is to 1) create art that resonates in a deep way with others, letting them see a part of themselves that was perhaps previously dormant, and 2) to spread as much kindness and warmth into the world as possible, so that others can find their potential. Nothing, however, means more to me than those calls with my sister. πŸŒ™ 
I wanted so badly to create this image because of the experience of creating with her. Shouldn't our life's mission start with those we are closest to, uplifting and inspiring them above all else? I have personally struggled with that, as I tend to feel that those who are closest to me let my words and actions fall on deaf ears. But nonetheless we must try to work from the inside out and let our actions ripple through those we love, and then to those we don't yet know.
I made a vow earlier this year that I would stop packing so many events into my schedule. My dream is to be at home a lot more than I'm away and to write my days away, filling my novel with endlessly satisfying fairytale scenes and editing pictures that are dark and juicy. The only problem is that I plan my schedule about one year in advance, so here I find myself in the busiest time of my life thus far! πŸŒ™

And you know what? I LOVE it, while simultaneously looking forward to December when I get to be a hermit. Until then, I'm embracing every day. Between now and November I only have 8 days at home. BUT, listen to this freakishly amazing life...I just hosted my Promoting Passion Convention, next week I begin filming my new Creative Live class where I hope to give everyone everything they ever wanted regarding Fine Art (hefty dreams, but eh, a girl can try!). I get to visit Argentina for the first time, galavant around New York City, attend a gala that celebrates philanthropic work, go to a photo camp, and have a new solo exhibition. (You can see all of this here: πŸŒ™

Being busy should never be glorified. I won't lie and say that I'm not stressed. My blissful place is at home, quietly writing and reading and taking pictures. We do get busy. But in the midst of the chaos, in the moments when I feel my heart pounding or I cry because I'm certain I will let people down, I remember that life is for enjoying. I am going to find peace in the chaos and joy in the hardships. I am going to LOVE this life. πŸŒ™

PS - Want to join my Creative Live class? You can RSVP to watch from your home, or we start filming next week in the Seattle area if you want to be in the studio audience! Link in bio!
Change can be an addiction; I am in love with my future. πŸŒ™

I have come to believe that the greatest privilege is to watch ourselves shift through our lives, sometimes from joy, burden, sorrow, hope, fear or love. Sometimes from each of them at once, sometimes from something unexpected. What makes us move into a different space or occupy a thought that we never had before? πŸŒ™

Those shifts are so difficult, and sometimes we move with such rigidity that our fear of change stifles the beauty of the process. I am not who I once was, and for that I am grateful. I may not always be better, but I am different, and learning. πŸŒ™

When I think about the thoughts that escape me I am startled, recently, at how easily I watch them blow in the wind like leaves on their way to the next town, dying with brittle cracks as they go. Change can be an addiction; I am in love with my future. πŸŒ™

I watch myself as though from a different person's perspective. I create with a new vigor, I dream of images that don't look like anything I've made before. I embrace my darkness in a way I never did and I love it without regard to how it sits publicly. I am more free now than ever before, less trapped by insecurities, more willing to bend when the time calls for it. πŸŒ™

Yesterday I learned how to shoot medium format film. Today I will go on my first film shoot in the overgrown forest and see what comes of my new education. I am stretching without insecurity. I am growing from necessity. I am free of expectation.
I hosted 100+ individuals at my Promoting Passion Convention last week, and it has taken me this long to digest my thoughts and put into words the experience of it all. I need to share it with you so that you understand what makes my life meaningful. I need to share because PPC is me, it is my favorite people, it is my best life. Enjoy the video (all images are by Kim Winey, and holy wow, amazing) and I hope you find meaning in my words as well. πŸŒ™ 
Link in bio. πŸŒ™ "Here is my message to you, my friends who maybe I have never met: There is hope in connection, there is soul in art, there is beauty in sadness and there is life in each of us that means more than we know. I share these experiences with you because my life is dedicated to the promoting of passion so that we may all be uplifted by the example of those who pursue what they love.

Life is too short not to."​ #ppc2017
I have been doing a lot of soul-searching lately regarding the new series I am going to begin work on in December. I have spent hours testing my courage and redefining what my work might look like - and even more hours asking myself hard questions that show me where I stand on certain issues. πŸŒ™ 
It took all those hours of contemplation to have two revelations yesterday, which might seem simple to you, but I found to be profound and disruptive (in a very positive way) to my craft. πŸŒ™

I choose to let people into my world.
When I release my art, I truly release it. πŸŒ™

I choose to let you into my world because it is honest, and kind, and vulnerable. Take a look at who I am, beat me down with your words if you must, I won’t break. I release my art and I embrace what that means - to let it be something else for someone else, while letting it remain in my heart as it was meant to affect me. πŸŒ™

I hope you'll read this new blog post - it was an important one for me to get out. Link in bio. ❀
Most people can look at this image and see the irony - a mermaid-like creature trapped in the smallest amount of water possible, inside an empty swimming pool. But that is the literal visual, the one that tells the story of that character in that moment. What about what she represents? πŸŒ™

Each of us swimming in our own world so small we can hardly breathe. Some of us know nothing else, and we think our shallow breaths are normal. Others have seen through the glass and know there is more out there, but we don't know how to break free. And more still have tasted the wonders of another world and are working with great vigor to get back to that place. πŸŒ™

What is that place for you? What confines press against you as you struggle for more? What world do you imagine beyond what you see immediately? Is there hope in the waterless pool, comfort in the shallow tank, or dreams beyond what you can see? πŸŒ™ β€œThere’s an old adage: the sensation of drowning reminds you of everything you ever knew about swimming.” ― Frederick Weisel πŸŒ™

Model: @brittneypanda
Dress by @michellehebertofficial
If you had an idea that you knew would offend and upset some people, would you do it anyway? πŸŒ™

I've saved this post (link in bio) for three months because I wasn't sure that I was ready to share any part of the new creative journey I'm taking. But now that it has settled in me, become a part of me, it is time I start to share the unfolding of this new idea. πŸŒ™

I can't share my new series idea yet because it is still maturing in my imagination. But I will say that it is brewing within, and that I am practicing fearlessness in the face of creativity. I am practicing for when this series is ready to be free, so that I can bring it into the world with the greatest possible poetic energy. The place for fear in art is in the belly, digested, and then regurgitated as something braver and more fierce. πŸŒ™ 
I am practicing. πŸŒ™

So, my question to you is this: If you had an idea that you knew would offend and upset some people, would you do it anyway?
I like to imagine my dreams as wings, and every time I tell myself something negative about them, a hole appears where once it was solid. Every time I let someone diminish me, a tear in the fabric of my dream comes further undone. We sit on a ledge that overlooks the infinite potential of our world and we watch others flying smoothly where we couldn't bring ourselves to jump. πŸŒ™ 
What stops us from jumping? What keeps us putting holes in our wings when they were so beautiful at the start? In every decision, in every dream, we fear that we will fall to the ground. What we rarely consider is the reality of risk coupled with the reality of our potential. πŸŒ™ 
What if you were a Phoenix, born again after you died? What if you believed so much in your potential that wind grew steady under your wings? I have often wondered where confidence comes from, but I think I was going about the question in the wrong way, as though confidence were a product I could buy off a shelf. Maybe confidence is what comes from the opposite fear to what we find normal. What if, instead of fearing falling, we feared never flying? Confidence does not mean that you know you will succeed, but that failing is a better alternative to never trying. πŸŒ™ 
Patch your wings that you and others have ripped and do what you are afraid of today. Time is no guarantee, and the wind is ripe for soaring.
Everywhere I go I am confronted with people who are upset by circumstances within their control. The problem is that they think those things are out of their control. I've been to too many business dinners where my peers complain about the industry being unfair, that they should be doing better, that so-and-so doesn't like them, and the list goes on. I hear from people who haven't had their break yet thinking that they never will, simply because they haven't yet. I sit and I listen and I try very hard never to echo their sentiments back to them, because that only makes them ricochet harder. πŸŒ™ 
I am not perfect at this. I understand those people. I have been that person and will be again. I don't tell you this to condemn them, but to help all of us elevate our thoughts to a more positive and productive level. πŸŒ™ 
What if everyone practiced gratitude whenever they felt a complaint bubbling inside? Imagine if, while sitting at a dinner table, every person tried to only say positive words. That would make for a radically different experience in a lot of ways. The practice of negative speech is one of my top anxiety triggers. It is a big reason why I bow out of parties, events, dinners, etc. My emotions trigger wildly at negativity. πŸŒ™ 
The art we create is a catalyst for conversation. Your art may be dark or light, happy or sad, weird or streamlined, simple or complicated - the point is that it creates conversations. My art may have a dark tinge to it, and some people may not like that (good!), but the words I choose to present my images with don't have to be charged with negativity. I can be a force of light even in my twisted little world. πŸŒ™ 
Today my thought is simple: change your life by changing the words you use. You never know how that shift will help others become addicted to kindness.
I took this image when I was learning how to create. 
I took this image when I still had a full time job not doing what I want to do. 
I took this image at 5am when I had the spare time and edited it on my lunch break. 
I took this image after I "borrowed" the chair from my office building.
I took this image because passion willed me to do it. πŸŒ™

There are moments in our lives that define the rest of our lives. Those moments masquerade as everyday decisions - should I take that photo, or not? Should I bother creating, or not? Becoming accustomed to saying yes is the start. Understanding why you are compelled to say yes is the middle. Making the decision, with finality, to pursue a passion is the the end. πŸŒ™

We mistake this cycle for being stationary but it moves in a forward motion all the time if we allow it to repeat. We find something new to love, we pursue it. We find a new way to pursue what we love, and we don't stop. This is the growth of an artist; this is life worth living. Not for someone else, not in pursuit of someone else's dreams, but for our own selves that we may inspire others to be wholly themselves. πŸŒ™

Perhaps the biggest mistake we make is believing that the moments in our lives that define the rest of our lives come few and far between. They don't; they exist in every moment of everyday. Choose to ignore them, and indeed these moments will not change your life. Choose to act on your potential, and your potential is magnified. πŸŒ™

This image reminds me I am still learning how to create.
This image reminds me of my fire.
This image inspires me to get up at 5am and make something.
This image reminds me to create because passion wills me to.
"It is a matter of living and being alive" - from a poem by Kamand Kojouri. πŸŒ™ 
There are so many ways that we trap ourselves into a certain life - we glorify being busy instead of enjoying what we are left with when the busy-ness ends. We build ourselves up to be important when on the inside we are doubtful and in fear of our own future - why can't we share that? We pursue something because it looks better, not because it feels better. We trap ourselves into a life that doesn't fit, like a sweater you know was made for someone else. You want so badly for it to work out, but it never looked good on you in the first place. πŸŒ™

What we should celebrate more of are the people who are bravely living in their bliss instead of building a construct of happiness that tears down too easily at the mention of fraud. Celebrate the weird, ugly, misunderstood and sometimes even dull moments, the moments crafted out of pure love for life rather than what we think life should look like. πŸŒ™

But most importantly, do the things that intimidate you, dare to envision who you might grow into, and embody the person who would live boldly rather than the one who would hide behind a timid veil. There is no time to be that person; they are lost and broken and waiting to be made anew. Do not dwell there. πŸŒ™ -- Photographed for Sony for a lovely art display book they are making. Sony A7II with 50mm f/1.4 lens.
These are my 5 favorite things in life right now. What are yours? πŸŒ™

1. Harry Potter. I'm re-reading the Potter series because I'm studying plot. Many of you know I'm working on a novel - YA Fantasy. I have never been very good at learning, or that is the story I've always told myself. I tend to do things once and they are done, good or bad. After getting my book edited, I realized that I don't properly know how to write. Yes, I could wing it, but I don't want to coast through this. I want to learn how to write, I want to study, I want to be challenged, and I will get better. I will write a good book, not a mediocre one, not one that fell out of me and landed, unedited, onto paper. What better book to study? Ah, Harry Potter, you defined my adolescence! πŸŒ™

2. The work coming from my #contentcreationchallenge is WOW. I highly encourage you to check it out if you are looking for inspiration. πŸŒ™

3. In a few days I'm celebrating my 9 year wedding anniversary. We've been together since I was 16 (that's almost 14 years) and there hasn't been one day of doubt despite what all the "grown-ups" said. He is my inspiration to be exactly who I am, even if he doesn't always understand why I simply must leave the house wearing mismatched clothes and different socks. We're going camping to celebrate and I can't wait to unplug for a day or two. πŸŒ™

4. Experimentation. I was really inspired by my challenge in July, and now that I don't have a 24 hour time limit to finish my creations, I've got a few ideas to try that are more abstract and different from what I've done before. Can't wait to try them out and let them marinate in my mind and on my computer for a while! πŸŒ™

5. Chiang Rai. The first group of Thai students are graduating from The Light Space in a week! They have created some truly in-cred-ible work that I hope to share with you soon. Creative and deep - inspired.