This is an advertisement for a talk Brooke was giving while she was in Dubai!

This is an advertisement for a talk Brooke was giving while she was in Dubai!

I’m so pleased my friend B discovered this opportunity at Gulf Photo Plus for last weekend. We were fortunate to take a photography course from Artist Brooke Shaden, a photographer who creates ethereal, fantasy-inspired imagery. (Her artwork is seriously worth checking out. Check her out on Twitter or look at her blog or her artist site). Brooke’s artwork deserves a whole blog post unto itself for its ingenuity and her self-starter spirit. Brooke is originally from Pennsylvania, USA according to her website. She now is based out of California where she takes photographs and leads workshops.

One reason I’m so impressed with Brooke is that she actually studied film and hated a camera when she first started to play with it. Yet, despite her discomfort and dislike she kept at it and discovered a means to communicate her ideas. She taught herself photography, photo-compositing and how to run her own business. That is certainly some of the Dubai spirit I have seen living in this town! I’m so glad she made it here to share that American self-starter spirit in Dubai.

Our workshop consisted of assorted activities, all of which taught us how to make our own imagery using Brooke’s strategies and techniques. She opened the first day with warm ups and brainstorming activities. We learned how she is a huge planner when it comes to taking her photographs and that sketches and idea development happen well before going out for the photo shoot. She explained some practical ways she develops ideas for her work, which we practiced ourselves. And she explained a lot of this in the context of her work and artistic development; it was pretty great to have the time to look through some of her portfolio.

From here we got into specific strategies to develop and execute our own photographs. Brooke explained the preparation and tools she takes with her on a photo shoot and then we were off! We were bused to a villa in the middle of construction with a pair of models to work with to realize our images. Brooke set up some shots and we modeled her for practice. After that it was our turn to set up our own staged images. We spent the rest of the day in the space taking turns.

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Day 2 was especially fun and the slideshow shows you some before and after photos of an image still in development. We started the day in a pool! Brooke is sponsored by Ikelite Underwater Systems and she has their diving housing for her Canon (funny, but I’m really pleased she is a Canon girl, and a prime lens girl too!) and we were set up to take photographs of models in a pool. All of us jumped in and took turns again with the models taking shots with Brooke’s camera. It was so much fun! It was my favorite part of the experience. I have a basic under water camera and I hope to try it out in the Maldives and see if I can apply some of the ideas I have using it. After we dried off we return to Knowledge Village to our conference room. Brooke shared how she has developed her business to live off of her work and gave us specific resources and tips for things like image licensing, printing, and working with galleries. She finished out the day giving us the basic steps she takes to composite her images and finish them off.

Throughout my experience Brooke exhibited enthusiasm, kindness, and courtesy to all participants. It was so refreshing to be in a workshop led by someone so open to sharing! I hope Brooke has the opportunity to return to Dubai again to share with others. If she teaches a different course I’m certainly there! Regardless, she has a new fan in me.

BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: How do you share your creativity? What is one step you could take today to move towards that sharing experience?