I was depressed and feeling lost as a political science student in my 4th year (out of 5 years). This was back in 2012. I was procrastinating when I should have been studying for an exam. I stumbled onto a fantastical image that blew me away and it felt like time instantly stopped. I searched for the artist's name. It was Brooke Shaden. I googled her and spent 2 and a half hours looking at her images.
I couldn't stop looking at her work. I had a realization right then and there, that holy shit - someone has made a career out of this. A viable career, out of her incredible, inner creativity. I don't know why, but it never registered before that regular people can do this. It was for the lucky and esteemed few, in my head. The Arts, for me, was never something that was encouraged career-wise. I needed to be independent, I was told. In order for independence, I needed a good, steady, reliable job. The Arts is not reliable, you see?
I can't describe the feeling I got when I looked at Brooke's work, other than an inner voice that said something like "hello, good morning dear girl, I'm so happy to let you know that you are finally awake!" The THIS felt like a dream that woke from a 100 year old slumber. A dream I recognized as mine but never realized until that moment.
I was holding three jobs while studying full-time. I didn't care. I devoted every waking moment I had to teaching myself photography. Suddenly, my unhappiness slipped away despite the frustrating circumstances I was in.
I feel indebted to Brooke. She is a special woman who is cherished by so, so many people - myself included. She is not only the reason behind the radical shift in my world but she is a continuous source of inspiration and compassion. If you haven't seen her work, you should google her right now. Seriously, you're in for a treat.
I won a print by her a couple of months ago. It feels serendipitous as it's one of her early images, one of the first ones I saw of hers. It's now going to hang in my office space as a constant reminder to follow my curiosities and my passion because that's the only way I want to live my life.
Thank you Brooke. I love you.