Bio: Brooke Shaden was born in March of 1987 in Lancaster, PA, USA. She grew up near the “Amish Country” until attending Temple University. Brooke was photographically born in December 2008 after graduating from Temple with bachelor degrees in film and English. She began creating self-portraits for ease and to have full control over the images, and has since grown into a self-portrait fine art photographer. Self-portraiture for her is not autobiographical in nature. Instead, she places herself within environments she wishes to explore, where secrets are exposed, impossibilities are tested, and life is questioned in eras beyond our own.
I would describe my style of photography as…
Fine art, because I work from a personal place instead of for clients…Dark yet whimsical, because I dwell in disturbing moments but find beauty from them…Surreal, because I see the world distinctly differently from our reality…Otherworldly, because I’ve always wanted to create the world I wish we lived in.
What’s your most memorable shot or shoot, be it challenging to capture or interesting subject?
The most memorable has been a self-portrait shoot in Iceland. I arrived to the glacier lagoon just after midnight as the eternally dusk sun hung in the air. It was blue outside everywhere and the light was dim but it felt like the perfect time to photograph the blue icebergs that floated there. I pulled on some fisherman’s waders and put a blue dress over top of them and waded into the water, foot leaking, to create a self-portrait standing waist deep in the lagoon. It was one of the more surreal, beautiful moments I have had in my photo career, and one of the coldest!
What image are you most proud of from your photography portfolio?
There are two that are important because both are very personal, so for the same reason they touch me deeply. One features stuffing coming out of my back, a very intimate portrait. The other features me laying on the ground in a room with no windows or doors, the room covered in eggshells made from plaster. Both deal with the theme of fragility, something that I have long struggled with and that I find fulfilling to explore. Those are always my favorite images, when my personal fears or anxieties can mix with the worlds I love to create.
My dream gig would be…
Being asked to show in a beautiful museum! Outside of my career though, my dream is to teach the power of self-expression through art to underprivileged communities.
My favorite piece of gear is…
My Sony a7ii, because it is lightweight, mirrorless, and I can keep it in my small purse for easier/quicker entrance (and particularly exit) from my shooting locations.
My favorite piece of Tether Tools gear is…
Being able to tether to a tablet! I get very nervous when photographing clients so being able to see what is coming up and to share that easily with them is relieving. It also comes in very handy for self-portraits!
What’s on your photography gear shopping list?
I don’t know that I have one! I shoot very minimally and rarely look at gear. If I had to choose something, I think I’d like to try shooting medium format film.
The best advice I can offer a fellow photographer would be…
Find your message – the piece of soul you want your viewers to walk away with when they look at what you do – and harness that. Know it inside and out. Believe in your message, and believe your voice is worth creating. It may not sound important right away, but it is one of the only things (and I believe most important) that sets one artist apart from another. Anyone can figure out technique, but no one else in the universe can replicate your vision, voice and passion.
Brooke recently was on The RGG EDU Podcast to discuss her life as one of the leaders in fine art photography and her approach to every shoot. Listen below and download the entire Season 2 of The RGG EDU Podcast at rggedupodcast.com.
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