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 now resides in Los Angeles, CA, USA with her husband and two cats.
She began creating self-portraits for ease and to have full control over the images, and has since grown into a self-portrait artist. Self portraiture for her is not autobiographical in nature. Instead, she attempts to place herself within worlds she wishes we could live in, where secrets float out in the open, where the impossible becomes possible.
Brooke works to create new worlds within her photographic frame. By using painterly techniques as well as the square format, traditional photographic properties are replaced by otherworldly elements. Brooke's photography questions the definition of what it means to be alive.
Interview with Brooke Shaden:
AAP: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer?
"I graduated from college with degrees in film and English, and I have always wanted to tell stories. The stories I was telling weren't fulfilling my personal creative process, mostly because I like to create one concept and move on rather quickly. Photography allowed me to tell many stories, nearly one a day, and create at a more fast-paced level. Once I started shooting, I knew I wanted to do photography full time about 5 months in."
AAP: Where did you study photography?
"I am self-taught in photography but did study filmmaking before that at Temple University."
AAP: How long have you been a photographer?
"I have been doing photography for 4 1/2 years now."
AAP: Do you remember your first shot? What was it?
"Absolutely! My first picture was done on December 19, 2008 in my bedroom in Philadelphia. It was a self-portrait and a clone shot where I placed myself in the image twice."
AAP: What or who inspires you?
"I am inspired by paintings, by nature, fairytales, and darkness. I love finding beauty in darkness."
AAP: How could you describe your style?
"Dark, mysterious, timeless, whimsical, square format, painterly."
AAP: Do you have a favorite photograph or series?
"Dream Catcher and Changing Winds. These two images are that are shot in a sewer, and I am working on a new series in which I edit images taken in a dark and dirty space to make it beautiful."
AAP: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film?
"Canon 5D Mark II and a Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens."
AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images?
"I spend anywhere from 2 hours to 40 hours editing my pictures, and I do so because I love creating new worlds with my creative process."
AAP: Favorite(s) photographer(s)?
"Gregory Crewdson, Jamie Baldrige."
AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer?
"Figure out what you love to shoot, and then shoot it. Try not to think about what other people want you to do. Be passionate, inspired, and always believe that you are worth those feelings."