Brooke Shaden is a conceptual fine art photographer that specializes in self-portraiture focusing on beauty, rebirth, death and decay. In her work, she explores the darkness and light in individuals, she has been awarded recognition for her cohesion as well as storytelling talents. Beyond self-portraiture, Brooke is a committed philanthropist who conducts self-expression workshops for victims who have been victims of trafficking in human beings. She also established the Light Space, a photography school for victims who have been trafficked in India in Thailand and India. Thailand.

For the Photographers without Borders (PWB) ongoing “Storytelling for Change” webinar series, Brooke joined PWB Founder Danielle Da Silva for a discussion on the power of the power of creativity.

Below are edited excerpts of the conversation and focus on Brooke’s unique style in photography. They also discuss her unique process and the inspiration behind it, making art in the midst of isolation the power of telling stories, and the best way to build an enterprise that is self-sustaining.

Danielle Da Silva: How do you approach storytelling? What are the qualities that make a story great? What are the best ways to discover the best stories?

Brooke Shaden: It’s the subject I am most passionate about. According to me, the most effective storytelling is the result of creating something that you feel strongly about on a personal basis and making it accessible to a broad audience. I’m sure a lot of artists have the opposite belief that If you’re truly an artist, you shouldn’t be creating for anyone else but you. I believe it’s the best to make art because you’re compelled to create. However, the majority of the reason I create art is sharing the work with others. I am looking for this connection. The most compelling stories are ones you feel inspired to write about because you need to create it. But you also have the opportunity to consider how it will impact others.

The way I accomplish that is through symbolism. I am able to find universal language that people from all over the globe can relate to and utilize to comprehend the story. In my pictures I strive to convey this feeling of universal symbolism in which the locations as well as the props, clothing, the things I’m using have some resonance for anyone from any kind of culture. Perhaps I’ll make use of the concept of a clock as a way to convey the time. I’m keeping it very basic so that my image isn’t too overwhelming, but it is enough to be able to appeal to the broadest of audiences.

Images by Brooke Shaden

Da Silva: In this world, everything has the potential for a reaction. What reaction do you want to achieve? What changes are you attempting to achieve?

Shaden My goal is to promote self-reflection. The greatest good that people can do comes when they confront themselves first. Then they can face the world later. We often make the exact opposite. People’s instinct is to socialize and put themselves out there, and to be a reaction to the world around them and return to their own.

If you’re experiencing a midlife crisis or things aren’t going as planned, I would like to encourage people to begin by connecting with themselves first. You’ll be able to really impact the world when you’ve made yourself available first and most importantly.

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