Brooke Shaden: Inspiration in Photography

inspiration_in_photography_focal_pressAs a photographer, it’s possible to train your mind to see inspiration in any situation, "Inspiration in Photography" will show you how. By introducing you into her creative process, Brooke Shaden—one of the most recognized names in modern art photography—reveals techniques and exercises that you can undertake in order to be inspired by your environment, everyday, everywhere.

In addition to the exercises, you’ll learn how to compose, plan and shoot colorful, atmospheric, fairy-tale photography, so you can adapt Shaden’s techniques and apply them to your own photographic style. Indeed, all artistic photographers seek to achieve their own style, but it’s not always easy to see how to get there. "Inspiration in Photography" provides the perfect balance of insight and instruction to help you find inspiration whenever you need it, and capitalize on it every time.

At a young age, Brooke initially was convinced she was going to be a writer, but by the time she graduated from college, she was equipped with a filmmaking and English degree, hoping to be a cinematographer.  She says that not until she picked up a DSLR did she know she wanted to be a professional photographer, a career Brooke has taken to incredibly.  With a personal philosophy that inspiration should come from within, she states "if we rely too much on outside sources of inspiration such as work of other photographers, it is not uncommon for our work to come to resemble too much the inspiration we are drawing from."

Running_from_the_Wind_16 Running From the Wind © Brooke Shaden

Brooke had to discover what methods worked best when inspiration wasn’t necessarily flowing in, and began developing exercises that allowed that inspiration to explode.  Shaden reiterates that everyone is creative, and despite what some people may say, you don’t have to be born with the "it" factor.  Like anything that is worth exploring, creativity needs to be examined and nurtured.  Brooke perfectly states for those of us that may feel insignificant in our creativity, "just because someone does not naturally feel inspired to create avant-garde masterpieces every day does not mean that he or she lacks creativity.  It means that he or she is creative in a different way."

8178857372_e50292e6ac_z The Tide that Takes Us © Brooke Shaden

Everyone is creative, but not everyone has inspiration.  Find what inspires you, and if you have no idea what that is, explore the things in your life that you love and try to see it as a creative endeavor.  Creativity can be learned!  "Anything can be fuel for inspiration.  Take a hike, ride your bike or sit down and watch your favorite movie, because you will be doing what you enjoy, but you might also discover inspiration and you can apply that to your work." Brooke explains techniques to do this in a few easy steps once we understand that inspiration is everywhere:

  • Discover meaning in everything.  Find inspiration in an everyday object. Examine it, evaluate it and try to see it in a new way.
  • Find your passion. Focus on one thing that makes you truly happy.  Much like Brooke at the beginning of her career, she wasn't passionate about photography.  She had to discover what she was passionate about and photographed that; eventually, photography did become her passion.  A great brainstorming technique is asking yourself, "If today was your last day of life, what would you do." Maybe that is your passion.
  • Define your style.  Use keywords to simplify what you are trying to reiterate.   Use a single idea and give it 4 keywords to develop.  Photograph your work only that would display your keywords, because if you shoot something else, other people will see your work a certain way that you may not.  Stay true to those keywords so other people see your work that way.

4739016876_1aca211c7f_z Dream State © Brooke Shaden

Brooke describes her work in these ten keywords: dark, mysterious, timeless, whimsical, surreal, fairy-tale, creepy, texture, square format, haunting.  Though each image is symbolically and conceptually different, the photographs are consistent in mood and genre.

Finding_the_road_37 Finding the Road to Neverland © Brooke Shaden

8250881766_25ddbed4cf_z The Storm Above the Clouds © Brooke Shaden

Regardless how simple your passions are, develop them, examine them. In "Falling Apart" Brooke created an incredibly captivating image, but the inspiration behind the photograph is very simple. Brooke make an image solely on her love of the color red, and water.  Two very simple things that she enjoys that translated into an enthralling image that connects to people in different ways.

5772491646_a793d713cb_z Falling Apart © Brooke Shaden

"Somewhere something incredible is waiting to be known." (Carl Sagan)  If you can imagine something, you can make it your reality.  Never get discouraged if you find yourself hitting a creativity wall, simply change the way you are thinking and learn from it.  And remember, if you could create anything without limitations, what would it be?  Never limit yourself, because inspiration is everywhere.

5958136018_4f2ec79d68_z The World Above © Brooke Shaden

Learn more about Brooke: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Flickr

Purchase Inspiration in Photography here!

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