Friday we had the pleasure of learning all about fine art photographer, Brooke Shaden; from what keeps her inspired to her favorite cameras in Part 1 of the Artists to Know interview. Today it's all about her business, her self-sustaining school & studio in Kolkata, India and her personal life! Enjoy!
Brooke Shaden Photography
How do you hope to see your business evolve in the future?
I hope to expand my art into video work and I want to do more motivational speaking as well. Those are two areas I could definitely grow into. I hope to be creating more meaningful bodies of work and really pushing my message further into what I create. I also want to write more. I've been working on a novel for two years and it's about time I finished!
How did you get your work represented by multiple galleries? Did they pursue you or vise-versa?
It was a mix of both! I pursued many, many galleries in the beginning. I had 14 shows my first year that I sought out exclusively. A couple galleries contacted me, but it is still a mix of me reaching out or randomly being contacted by chance.
Many artists say they spend 50% of their time creating art and the other 50% marketing themselves. If you could break up your work day into percentages based off of how much time you spend marketing your business & shooting/editing – how would that look?
I'd say I spend 20% of my time marketing, 40% creating, and 40% dreaming. By dreaming I mean brainstorming ways to grow my business or my art, which I think is the most fun part of owning a business! I love dreaming up ways of starting a new project, or a new charity, etc.!
How did you come up with a profitable price point for your photography?
I got help! I asked my printer for advice and then I asked the first gallery that represented me what they thought they could sell my work for. That was a fantastic starting point because I had a number in my mind that I knew I needed to make, and I just had to make sure that was in line with the market.
What advice do you have for those who want to pursue a career in the arts? What do you wish you had known before you got started?
First and foremost, know your message. Know why you create. If you know WHY, others will be able to connect with your work as well. Create with intent. I find that to be so important. Also, be organized. I wish I had more sense when I started to document everything, have a contract for everything, and so on!
Your work has been published in so many places! How long were you working before you started getting such impressive recognition?
Aw thank you (I am totally blushing behind my computer)! I think that I started out in photography doing something a little different, definitely darker and creepier than other photographs I had been seeing, so I think that helped in gaining a little recognition. It really was a slow build, and I try never to think about these things, so I'm afraid I've got no good answer for you here!
What aspect of your business is the most profitable? Has it always been that way?
I have an equal split of selling prints, licensing images, and speaking at events. I structured my business from day 1 to reflect that business model and so far it has been holding up.
What aspect of your business is the most fulfilling?
To be quite honest, all of it is. I find fulfillment in all that I do and I would force myself to stop doing it if I didn't. I would rather take a job entirely unrelated to photography to supplement my income if it came down to creating images that didn't speak to my soul. I can't say that I always love sitting down to a lot of emails, or diving into a project that scares me, but fulfillment…I'm always seeking that.
What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever told you about your photography?
That it reflects the story they need to tell about themselves. There is nothing better than tapping into someone's unvoiced emotions.
What’s your advice on how to handle criticism?
Everyone is human, and everyone has bad days. Take it with as much kindness as you can. I always respond to criticism with a thank you and a smile, because you never know what the other person is going through or what their life experiences have been. Not to mention, none of us are the "best" because that is a myth, like perfection. People are entitled to their opinions.
What do you think is the hardest thing about being a photographer?
The doubt that comes with not knowing if your images will be understood.
Describe your work in Kolkata, India (what inspired this location, this idea/giving back, etc).
Happily! About four years ago a woman named Laura reached out to me from an organization called Blossomy. She asked if I would come over to Kolkata, where she works part of the year, to teach a photography workshop to survivors of human trafficking. I was thrilled, so I went over and taught self-portraiture to an organization called Kolkata Sanved. I did that for a couple of years and realized I needed to do more, so the idea of the school was born. The idea is to create a self-sustaining school and studio where those who have been affected by trafficking or abuse can learn a trade so that they don't end up out of the shelter system and back on the streets. I am most proud of this endeavor to be certain. I am now partnered with Blossomy as well as New Light India so that we can all three run the school there, called The Light Space.
You are an artist, a motivational speaker, a writer, and so many other amazing things including an inspiration to so many! How do you find work/home life balance?
You are seriously way too nice! I just try hard at those things if we're being honest. They are my passions. I was very lucky to have met my soulmate when I was 16. He is wildly passionate about things that he loves, and I am passionate about things that I love. And we are passionate about each other. So when it is time to work or create, we both dive in and shut all else out. When it is time to be together, we do the same. I find balance because I truly love all of the things in my life that need a home.
Thank you so much for reading and please be sure to check out Brooke's:
Click HERE for Part 1 of Brooke's Artists to Know Interview!
Liked Learning about Brooke? More Artists to Know:
Hi friends! Welcome to the blog! I'm Mandy and I'm an artist, blogger & founder of the "Artists to Know" interview series. Here you'll find photos of my latest art adventures, furniture makeover projects & advice from successful artists!
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