Inspiration in Photography | Book Review

Channelling Your Inner “Weirdo”

Growing up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Brooke Shaden has made her mark in the photographic industry. A fine-art photographer, Brooke channels her inspiration from the world, and in turn provides the world with inspiration.

‘Inspiration In Photography: Train your mind to make great art a habit’ is the first book to be written and composed by Brooke, which covers everything from the practises of photography, finding inspiration, creating a series, using costumes, locations and experimenting with props. 

Emulating Brooke’s photography, the square book features one of her most celebrated images of breaking the fourth wall. But it is what is inside that will take your breath away.

Rather than being an instructional step-by-step photography book or portfolio, albeit still informative, it is more about channelling inspiration from everywhere and learning ways you can do so. 

Brooke writes to educate the reader about finding inspiration in everything; something that many people may have trouble with. Because Brooke often experiments with juxtaposition, the theme of rebirth, and challenging ideas, her thoughts on inspiration and creativity are expressed freely and fluently. This is especially evident in the subheadings ‘Everyone Is Creative’ and ‘Inspiration Is Everywhere’, where Brooke talks about the challenges of embarking on creative endeavours and how to overcome them. 

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.” – Brooke Shaden

It is evident that Brooke Shaden is a dream wanderer, searching for inspiration in everything around her. With Brooke commenting on her images that she has created in the past, it gives the reader a little insight into how the image was constructed inside her mind. This allows the reader to see and attain knowledge about how the construction of images is so particularly important to keep the flow of creativity constant.  

© 2013 Brooke Shaden. All Rights Reserved. ‘The Protector of Magic’
© 2013 Brooke Shaden. All Rights Reserved. ‘The Protector of Magic’

‘Creativity Can Be Learned’ is an interesting sub-heading, as a lot of people often dismiss creativity as being something that is inherited, not attained. Brooke completely blasts that notion out the window and states openly that creativity is nothing more than problem solving…

“To come up against a problem during a project – be it an obstacle or a desire – and then figure out a way to resolve the issue; that is being creative.” – Brooke Shaden

‘Embracing Your Inner Weirdo’ was certainly one of the most enjoyable sub-headings to ever read, and it paved the way for an enjoyable chapter. Embracing something about our personality can draw us out of our comfort zones and land us in a head space of continuous learning. Brooke’s notion of ‘Embracing your inner weirdo’ is about trusting your ideas, however bizarre they may be. Challenging your ideas is what Brooke often associates with creative exercises, such as the few she has implemented towards the end of the book. This section will allow you to think more openly about your project, and look at the world a little differently.

As Brooke Shaden has developed her own style, which is certainly evident across her photographs in ‘Inspiration In Photography’, so too will you as a photographer. 

Brooke speaks with wisdom and with conviction; it is as if you are reading something written by a very trusted and knowledgeable teacher. Rather than speaking on a higher level, ‘Inspiration In Photography’ speaks to you on the same playing field, which is why the book is so easy to relate to and learn from. Whether you are lacking inspiration and want to find out ways to search for it, or want to read a book that has effort and dedication channelled into it, I highly recommend purchasing ‘Inspiration In Photography’. 

© 2013 Brooke Shaden. All Rights Reserved. ‘Falling Apart’
© 2013 Brooke Shaden. All Rights Reserved. ‘Falling Apart’

The book not only covers inspiration but also the various aspects about creating intrinsic imagery. Brooke talks about how to use colours symbolically, how to create characters within your images and just how important costumes can be. This 192 page saga will have you scrambling for bits of paper to write your ideas on. It will encourage you to seek inspiration from a chair, from a lantern and from a tissue box. It will make you realise that life is a series of moments, places and people. When photographing a subject you are the storyteller, you are the hand on the canvas and the eye of the camera. 

Inspiration is everywhere and knowledge is within Brooke.

Review: Hard work will always pay off and Brooke Shaden has certainly created a masterpiece that will serve any photographer looking for inspiraiton in life, each other and in tissue boxes.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Purchase: Focal Press or Amazon. 

An excerpt from our interview with Brooke Shaden. Read the  rest of the interview here: http://wp.me/p3cqEq-3s

You seem to focus on contrasting themes such as life vs death and reality vs dreams just to name a few, how do these themes help you in constructing a concept for a photograph?

Themes allow me to feel grounded and is often a starting point for creating a photograph. I have themes that I always go back to, like you mentioned, that I can always pull inspiration from. If I have a place to start, like a broad topic, I can put my own spin on it to make it specific and personal to me.

Works such as ‘The Drift’, ‘Retention’, ‘Half Sister’ and ‘Spin Cycle’ are slightly different from some of the works that you create now, how do you think you’ve changed in working style over the past 4 years?

Absolutely, and I love that you picked up on those in particular. When I started photography I certainly thought a lot about meanings behind my work, but I perhaps demonstrated them in more obvious ways. If I wanted to portray someone feeling torn, I might literally split their body in half. Now, I would be more tempted to do something less obvious and more mysterious in nature. My work is still conceptually dark but not as aesthetically dark. I think I have found a better balance between beauty and darkness. I am also working on adding more set design to my images to create fuller frame.

© 2013 Brooke Shaden. All Rights Reserved. ‘Life Behind Glass’
© 2013 Brooke Shaden. All Rights Reserved. ‘Life Behind Glass’