Depth OF FielD
this month, self-portrait artist and Wppi speaker Brooke Shaden.
iNterVie W By taMara laCkey
Tamara Lackey: you have shared publicly that your imagination is
always on constant duty. Do you feel like you could do the work you
do if your always-on imagination wasn’t such an inherent part of
who you are? Do you believe anyone can become “a creative”?
Brooke Shaden: i do feel very blessed with an imagination that loves
to work (though sometimes, when i’m convinced a ghost is trying
to attack me, it’s not so convenient), but i don’t think that you need
to be born a certain way to exercise creativity. everyone is creative,
but it takes a certain perspective on creativity to see it sometimes.
Creativity doesn’t always look like surreal images or abstract
paintings. it can look like organization or problem-solving or running
an awesome business. When we reframe how creativity is defined, we
begin to open the possibility that anyone can be creative.
TL: probably related: what’s the longest you have gone without sleep in
order to work on a single image—and why?
BS: i am extremely passionate about creating, and i do it in most of my
waking hours, but i am also an extremely diligent and structured person,
so i need sleep. i am adamant about 7 hours! So to be honest, it is a rare
day that i stay up past 11 p.m. however, i’m more of a morning person,
getting up sometimes at 4 a.m. to work on something that excites me!
When you have that itch, it is best not to ignore it. Sometimes they go
away on their own, and then it is lost.
TL: at what point in your career did you feel like, “ah, i finally know what
i’m doing now. i really do”?
BS: i felt that way when i quit my desk job and became a photographer.
i felt that way when i had my first show in a museum. i felt that way when
i was producing consistent work last summer. and i was dead wrong
about all of those times i felt like i knew what i was doing. it is too easy
to confuse confidence with monotony and stagnation. every time i’m
too comfortable and i think everything is easy, i’m really at the end of
one phase and entering into a new chapter. i love to be unsettled. i love
to be knocked from my high horse to roll in the mud below. this is how i
keep surprising myself.
TL: you and i share something not-so-common in common. Why did
you decide to become vegan?
BS: i had a friend who was vegan and always ignored her and her
reasons because i wasn’t ready for a life change yet. But one day i felt
ready to do some research. i watched a documentary called Vegucated
and decided to do a vegetarian challenge. My husband actually told
me that if i wanted to do my part in not harming any animal i should go
full vegan; i did and i’ve never looked back. that was four years ago.
Cultivating compassion is the mission of my soul. it is the way i want
to live my life, and veganism is a lifestyle change. it is not just about
animals, it is a whole package of compassion for all things in your life.
TL: What thing in your life—work or personal—are you most looking
forward to right now?
BS: i want, so much, to connect with people through art. it is what i
dream about and where i’m moving both my personal life and career.
So i spend my time dreaming about when i can return to india to help
more at the school i started (the light Space). i dream of my next
convention (September 27-29 in Colorado Springs) so that i can give
lots of hugs and feel the love. and i’m excited to keep creating—works
that are so different from what i have done before—and to know that,
despite changing, my heart is in it all the same.
Tamara Lackey is a photographer, author, program host (of Adorama’s
reDefine show), Nikon USA Ambassador and WPPI speaker.
Brooke Shaden is a self-portrait fine-art photographer who works
to capture fantastic realities within her photographic frame through
painterly techniques and a square format. P H