Meet the Artist

This week I want to introduce you guys to one of my favorite photographers. She is not only a photographer, but a fine artist, a film major, and an author. The first time I saw one of her images, I was absolutely in awe; I was inspired and intrigued. Her work always tells an interesting story. It’s beautiful, mysterious, gritty, & captivating to boot. And I’m not the only one to take notice. At 25 yrs. old, one of her images was selected by Ron Howard in 2011 for inspiration for a short film (see below). She's been featured by many galleries and among many editorials.

Running from the Wind.

Her name is Brooke Shaden and I wouldn't be shocked if you have heard of her. She was born in 1987, raised in Pennsylvania, & started photography in L.A. after graduating college. She is energetic, shy, and not at all what you would imagine; she is quite contrasting to her photography. She is delightful, bright, clever, & always brimming with positivity. She’s easy to follow and, most of all, humble. However, her work has an edge. It’s pretty but definitely balanced with strong feelings & dark undertones. It’s surreal, strong, creative, and original. She is the queen of artistic self portraits, but often doesn’t feature her face.

Image from a cool interview from The Reading List with Phil Treasus. Credit:

I quickly learned her name. She produces the kind of work sticks with you, - or at least it did me. I caught a free online workshop, (or pieces of it), via Creative Live a couple of years ago. Fortunately, they have lots of sales. Months later, they had a big sale on her fine art photography workshops & I didn’t hesitate to scoop one up. As far as teaching goes, Brooke is an excellent educator. She’s laid back and down to earth. I started following her on Instagram and Facebook. She shares a lot on social media about her images & her thoughts, including details, behind the scenes, how to’s, and some of the why’s.

When she gets ready to shoot, she totes a backpack of bare essentials into the woods, across fences, into abandoned houses, or anywhere that she finds interesting, and gets to work. She accounts for all of the details: light, elements, room or space size, angles, costuming, and props. She keeps it simple, because she’s often on her own, but that doesn’t mean her efforts aren’t laborious. Keeping her equipment minimal assures her load doesn’t bog her down on her excursions. After she takes her shots, she packs up and hits Photoshop to edit. Much of her work involves compositing, which means she adds elements from different images together, but a single image really doesn’t receive any heavy treatment but is a seamless, well refined method.

"Hollow Bones", "Moth", & "Catharsis" Brooke Shaden

The above set is straight from her Facebook page. I remember watching her explain how she created the middle image. I think it’s so cool to see someone step out of the box. She's very crafty & clever, and never thinks twice about showing the world who she is or exposing her feelings. Maybe her work stands out because so many people hide behind social media; they share only the positive moments and hide the perceived negative. I find her work so honest, raw, & sincere. 

The above image & the following quote are also from her Facebook page.

To come into our power. What an amazing mantra to keep in mind. We are all powerful beyond measure, I believe that truly. We are all pent up energy that wants to ring out loudly like thunder. I have heard so many people saying this year that they want to help but can't, that they want to feel powerful or like they make a difference but they simply don't. I get it, so much. I understand what it feels like to feel powerless. To have so little, to not know what to give, to not know what helps. The truth is, though, that every good intentioned deed helps. Every little bit helps. All we need to do is come into our power, understand our worth, know in our cells that we are unique and that uniqueness can change the world. So here I am exploding...or, my dark version of coming into my power.”

When I see this picture, I can feel it. Being consumed. Being weighted down with a darkness and just rolling with it. It’s not the kind of thing you talk about openly, but everyone has been there. We're all in this emotional human experience together and we all feel good and bad things. Sometimes art says so much more than words, and to me, that’s when it’s effective. It’s successful. I just love her and I hope you do too!

If you’d like to see more of her work, or learn more about her, here are some useful links:

To return to my website, just click on this link: Eye Candy by Karmen

Other sources used:

3 CBS Philly. Photo by Temple University Graduate Captures the Eye of Hollywood's Ron Howard.
Abrahms, Mark. 2012.

The Reading List. Brooke Shaden: Fear is the Mind Killer. Teagus, Phil.


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