The art of photography is a concept that almost anyone can appreciate, but only a few truly understand and master. Brooke Shaden, an aspiring fine arts photographer, has been on her own journey to developing photographic mastery since she graduated from Temple University in 2008. Born in the historic city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Shaden grew up near an area known as Amish Country, as her website explains.
Now located in the beautiful Southwest, Shaden continues to pursue her love of photography in a number of unique ways. In an interview with SF Globe, Shaden explains that she always had a knack for expressing creativity and experimented with various art forms before landing on photography.
“I picked up my camera at the start of 2009 and have been creating ever since then. It was, for me, a new art form to try out while using an artistic voice I think I’ve always had. I love expressing darkness and making it beautiful, and had tried to do so through writing and then filmmaking previously. I was absolutely thrilled to be able to shoot still images faster and with more control to get my ideas out in a more genuine way,” Shaden told SF Globe.
The inspiration behind Shaden’s shift into photography came from a close friend of hers named Kelly who suggested that they both start taking and exchanging self-portraits because they hadn’t seen each other in so long.
“For a while we would send each other the results from different states, and eventually I posted them on Flickr where I began an obsession that is still going strong.”
Shaden’s “obsession” has led her to take on many photography endeavors, all of which aim to showcase her dark yet whimsical style. Such elements are illustrated in the video below, where Shaden provides a behind-the-scenes look at her photo shoot “Frozen in Water.”
Shot at a local park in Los Angeles, “Frozen in Water” relies on its natural surroundings to portray the eerie beauty that Shaden had in mind when envisioning the photo shoot.
“I have always loved shooting in water, and I feel a strong connection with the stillness of water, the reflections and what all of that can mean metaphorically and poetically. I did a self-portrait in a puddle in the forest, and loved the way it looked as though I was trapped in the water, yet graceful at the same time. That spurred on more images to complete a small series,” Shaden told SF Globe.
In the behind-the-scenes footage, Shaden is seen instructing the models on how best to position their bodies for each shot. To capture the right angle for every photo, Shaden had to bring her camera level to the ground as the models held their positions at the water’s surface. These methods, in addition to Shaden’s ability to refocus on the models, allowed her to depict the water as perfectly undisturbed and the models as seamlessly frozen in the creek.
Shaden told SF Globe that every photo shoot requires an estimated two to five hours of editing; however, the natural elements used in “Frozen in Water” made the editing process quicker than others.
Photography, being the endless frontier of possibility that it is, gives artists the chance to find their own path with every click of the camera. One glimpse at Shaden’s gallery provides snapshots that seem akin to a dark yet captivating fairy tale. Her style seems to invite people into a space of shadows, mystery and grace.
Perhaps the artist says it best when she concludes, “I want someone to embrace the darker side of the world – something that we all see, whether we want to or not – and to find the beauty in that.”