Fine art photographer Brooke Shaden always wanted to teach people how to tell stories. In this ColorTALK, she shares insight into her progression from creating dark, desaturated works of art to using more bold colors.
Brooke Shaden ColorTALK: Color Workflow
When I started photography, color was something that I didn’t think much about. I would very often created very desaturated images, never black & white, but very much sort of just a dull yellow tone. I did that because I was so fascinated by the idea of death that is seemed like a natural thing to do. And then when I started progressing in my work, I realized pretty quickly that creating such desaturated, dark works of art didn’t convey the sense of beauty that I wanted.
So I started introducing more color into my work in a very specific way were I would choose one color to represent a certain emotion and then really play that color up in my work.
So now, compared to 6 years ago when I started, my work very much has very bold colors in it and really just something that allows the viewer to interpret their own message.
I’m really focused in more of conceptual fine art photography, focusing on big concepts and them reducing them into a single photograph or a small series.
Inspiration for me really comes from, I would say, a lot from nature, from really simple things that we see every day, maybe it’s a hairbrush that I see, or just something really, really normal. I love to see every day things and then turn them into something bigger, a higher concept. Storytelling is the heart and soul of what I do.
I started teaching about 4 years ago I think. When I was little, I always thought that I would be an English teacher so I grew up wanting to teach people in some way. When I started photography, it occurred to me that I could just teach photography instead of being an English teacher like I always thought. But really the reason why I wanted to teach English was to teach people how to tell stories. So I started to teach small workshops here and there that was really focused on storytelling and that sort of evolved into a retreat experience and even that has transitioned into doing more charity work. Now I take that same concept of building a community and storytelling to underprivileged groups, notably in Indian, where I go to teach survivors of human trafficking.
3 years ago now I started working with an organization called Blossomy. So she brought me over one year, the women who runs Blossomy and said, will you teach photography. And so I did. It was very much focused on self-portraiture and basically just telling these women that I was teaching that you have a voice that’s important for other people to hear and not just because of your past but because you’re a human being and we all have something to learn from one another.
So we spent the class, about 4 days or so, we built costumes together and wrote out stories and then photographed those stories. So I have been going back ever since to teach that workshop and now start a school over there as well.
If I could share anything it would simply be that everybody has a voice that needs to be heard. It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that nobody cares what we have to say. But the truth is that if you decide to put it out there and you figure out a way that feels true to you then somebody will be grateful that they heard that or saw that or felt that message.
The more that we understand our worth, the more that other people will appreciate that as well.
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