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TPS 2020: Five quick questions with pro photographer Brooke Shaden

TPS 2020 5 Qs Brooke Shaden listing image
Conceptual fine art photographer Brooke Shaden talks on The Photography Show's Super Stage on 17 March (Image credit: Brooke Shaden)

Brooke Shaden is a conceptual fine art photographer whose passion is storytelling –and as one of the headliners at The Photography Show, taking place 14-17 March in Birmingham, UK, she will be telling the story of that storytelling. 

She is known for photographing herself and becoming the characters of dreams inspired by a childhood of intense imagination and fear – being both creator and actor, Brooke controls her darkness and confronts those fears. 

Brooke started her photographic journey in 2008, relishing the opportunity to create in solitude and take on character roles herself. Her works are themed, often gravitating toward death and rebirth or beauty and decay. 

While Brooke's images come from a personal place of exploration, the goal in creating them is not only to satisfy herself; her greatest wish is to show others a part of themselves. Art is a mirror for the creator and the observer. 

Closing the line-up of Super Stage speakers, on Tuesday 17 March at 3.30pm, Brooke will share how she led the charge into inclusive art – her award-winning photos are rich in storytelling and weave dark, whimsical and beautiful tales.

Tickets for the Super Stage speakers are available now for £12 each. The talks will be held in the Toute Suite, just outside the event's main hall. And if you're wondering what else is on, here's everything you need to know about The Photography Show

In the meantime, find out more about Brooke and her work as she answers five quick questions ahead of her Super Stage appearance… 

'Quiet the Night', by Brooke Shaden  (Image credit: Brooke Shaden)

Five quick questions with Brooke Shaden 

1. How did you discover that photography was the format for you to manifest your creativity and tell stories?  

I started out as a filmmaker, but quickly discovered that film required many people on set to make a single vision come to life. I wanted full control over my stories, so I turned to photography as a way to work entirely by myself.  

2. Why is photography, and art in general, so important? 

Art is one of the only things throughout history that endures. It frames how we see the world and our cultures, and helps people navigate a world that largely suppresses the emotions we all have. Art is story, and story is how we preserve and understand this particular moment in our lives or in history. 

Conceptual fine art photographer Brooke Shaden, a Super Stage speaker at The Photography Show 2020

3. Do you have a similar process that you work through to produce your images? 

I always conceptualize first. My process begins with a theme, and I work from that singular theme to figure out all secondary elements, including wardrobe, location, colors, composition etc. 

I draw a sketch and write a couple of paragraphs about the meaning behind the image. Once I the conceptualization is finished, I move on to shooting, which usually occurs by myself (as I am a self-portrait artist). It takes about 5-15 minutes on average. I work minimally, so it's just me, my tripod, and my camera! 

Finally I move on to editing, which always begins with the compositing. After the images are stitched together, I work on changing the lighting and color dynamics of the image, and end it with a texture. 

Editing can take anywhere from 2-5 hours on average for a single image, but depending on the complexity, can range up to 50 hours.

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'Crystalline' by Brooke Shaden  (Image credit: Brooke Shaden)

4. Do you have a particular experience from one of your shoots that has become a favourite personal memory?

In 2015 I travelled to Iceland and knew I wanted to create a self-portrait. At midnight I arrived at a glacier lagoon and jumped in the water for a self-portrait in a beautiful blue satin dress. I was absolutely frozen, but it was a memory I will never forget. 

5. What do you think you would be doing if you weren't a photographer? 

I would be a writer, and I currently do that in my spare time. I'm working on a young adult fantasy novel. 

'Spirit' by Super Stage speaker Brooke Shaden  (Image credit: Brooke Shaden)

Booking details 

Catch Brooke Shaden on the Super Stage on Tuesday 17 March at 3.30pm. Tickets cost £12. 

There are over 200 exhibitors and over 300 free talks and demonstrations at The Photography Show, and sister event The Video Show. 

Tickets for the main show are available now, and you can get 20% off standard adult tickets if you buy them before 11 March – just use the code DCWTPS20 when checking out. 

Don't miss the other Super Stage speakers 

Chase Jarvis
Award-winning photographer and entrepreneur

One of the most influential photographers of the past 20 years, Chase’s expansive portfolio ranges from shooting advertising campaigns for mega-brands including Apple, Nike, and Red Bull,  working with athletes including Serena Williams and Tony Hawk, and collaborating with global icons including Richard Branson and Lady Gaga. 

Read 5 Quick Questions with Chase Jarvis 

Saturday 14 March 2019, 1.15pm 

Susan Meiselas
Documentary photographer and photojournalist  

Perhaps best known for covering the insurrection in Nicaragua and human rights issues in Latin America in the late 1970s and 1980s, Susan has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1980 and has produced an extensive body of work. Find out more about it during her 'A Life Through Photography' talk on the Super Stage. 

Read '5 Quick Questions with Susan Meiselas'. 

 Saturday 14 March 2019, 3.30pm

Ross Halfin
Music and landscapes photographer  

Anyone into their classic rock might want to hold onto their hats. Music photographer Ross Halfin has captured bands such as Aerosmith, Kiss, Metallica and The Hollywood Vampires – and now he's going to be taking to the Super Stage to discuss his craft, 'Four Stages of Rock: A Conversation with Ross Halfin'. 

Monday 16 March 2019, 1.15pm

David Yarrow
Award-winning photographer and conservationist 

Having started out as a press photographer covering sports events, Yarrow is now best known for his valuable work in wildlife conservation – sales of his prints have raised over £2.2 million for conservation NGOs, children's education in Africa and medical charities around the world. 

Monday 16 March 2019, 3.15pm 

Juno Calypso
Fine art photographer 

Juno's latest project, titled 'What To Do With A Million Years', saw her shoot a series in a Las Vegas bunker-mansion. She'll be discussing how and why she creates her photos, how she accesses the bizarre locations she uses, and the enduring allure of 'exposing herself'. She will also discuss her meticulously crafted self-portraits that feature her fictional alter-ego 'Joyce'. 

Read 5 Quick Questions with Juno Calypso 

Tuesday 17 March 2019, 1.15pm

Read more about TPS 2020

The Photography Show 2020: everything you need to know
Download your free 32-page Photography Show 2020 preview
Line-ups for Photo Live & The Studio stages at TPS 2020 
10 great travel photography tips from a professional photographer