Reflecting On My Year of Risks, Dreaming Up Reinvention in 2014

Image courtesy  Brooke Shaden.
Image courtesy Brooke Shaden.

This article is part of creativeLIVE’s 12 Days of Giving series. To catch a free rebroadcast of Brooke’s Fine Art Portraits course, click here.

Question: What is the difference between someone who is creative and someone who is not?

Answer: A creative person admits that they are creative, and a non-creative person has not yet discovered that they are.

Everyone is creative. Everyone has the potential to be something bigger, better, brighter and more fulfilling. The best way to grow is to admit that you are creative, and then try to do more.

If you are a creative, you understand the pull of it. Being creative, or actively pushing yourself to do something that works your imagination, is like breathing fresh air. If you never had it you don’t miss it, but once you taste it, you want more and more.

This is the foundation that my career is built on: I recognize that I am creative, and so my goal is to be exponentially more creative. I want to grow and learn. I want to experience and savor and enjoy all of the things that life has to offer in the most creative way possible. And so I have built not only my career, but my life, on seeing everything creatively.

And that means pushing myself constantly.

This past year I have pushed myself personally more than ever before. To be a better person. To give more to others. To care less about myself. To care more about myself, in other ways. To challenge myself and grow. It didn’t always work, but I sure tried.

It all started with a simple notion. Not everyone would be nice to me. Not everyone needs to be. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t try to be. And you know what that means? I’m happy. Happier than I’ve ever been. Happy knowing that change is just a moment away. Happy knowing that if I want to be a different person, I can be, and that change can change others as well.

So, why do I bother talking about all this hippie, kindness, love stuff when I’m a photographer and I should be talking about apertures? Because believe it or not, that comes second to everything else. I believe, more than anything, that if we focus on ourselves personally, on growing into the best people we can be, then our art will follow. If I am happy, I am inspired. If I am kind, I receive kindness back. If I am sincere, I meet other sincere people.

Life is a ripple effect, and moving into this new year I want to make absolutely certain that the ripples I put out into the world change the world for the better.

That notion extends into art.

The more meaning I put into what I do, the more meaning others can glean from it. The more people see, the more discussion can be engaged in, and the more people understand one another. Your art is one of your greatest tools in connecting with others and changing lives for the better.

Image courtesy  Brooke Shaden.
Image courtesy Brooke Shaden.

Think about the power that you have when you pick up a camera. Think about how much of a difference you can make when putting your voice into the collective art soul of the world. The possibilities go on forever, and that motivates me like nothing else can.

This new year I have so many dreams. I dream of inspiration, both being inspired and inspiring others. I dream of being able to help people who need help, and doing so through art.

“Dreams” is my replacement word for “resolutions”, which I find to be a little bit tainted by everyone who gives up chocolate and then 4 weeks later munches on a candy bar. Dreams, though, cannot be taken so lightly. They are the things that push us forward, that propel us through life with purpose. Everybody dreams, and I see no reason why 2014 can’t be the year when those dreams become reality. After all, a dream is so appealing because it represents what we want but do not have; and what we have is so often in our control.

I took risks in 2013. I did things that I never thought I would do. I traveled to India to teach photography to survivors of human trafficking. And, because of that short trip, I am headed back not only to teach another creativeLIVE class, 100 Ways to Master Your Craft, but I am also opening a school of photography so that those same people who go through the shelter homes have a place to study when they are released, and a dream to dream as they grow up.

This year, I did things personally that scared me. I got my very first house. I dealt with health scares. I moved to a town where I knew absolutely no one in a 7-hour radius. And I feel better for it.

And in my photography, I tried things that were strange but helped me grow…like using a light. Like, one that flashes. A flash. Yes. That.

Image courtesy  Brooke Shaden.
Image courtesy Brooke Shaden.

Always try new things. Always grow into the person you want to be, and never stop. Always reinvent perfection for yourself. If you do, inspiration will follow wherever you go.

Here are my dreams for 2014…

Start a weekly video blog.
I’ve got 52 subjects all planned out, but if you have any requests please let me know and I’ll add to the list. Every Monday I’ll be releasing a new video (internet permitting…I’ve got some great trips to India planned and internet will be iffy). You should see my calendar for the new year. I have every week marked with the day I’ll be making the video and the release date. Video craziness over here.

Every goal for the new year must be rooted in purpose, at least for me. And this video blog that I want to do feels like a really good balance of 2 things: my attempts to inspire, and to connect. I love doing both. I love hearing stories from others about their pasts, or triumphs, or goals/dreams/hopes…and it is my hope that this video blog will put forth a more interactive medium.

Gain two new gallery representations.
What I love most about being a photographer is being able to create what I dream up and then show that to people who appreciate it in some way, even if they don’t like it. Having exhibitions is a practical way to make money while also being able to connect with people in a very intimate way. As an artist, I dream of creating an image that someone connects to, and gaining a couple more galleries to represent my works is a great way to open that conversation up to a wider audience.

Image courtesy  Brooke Shaden.
Image courtesy Brooke Shaden.

Host at least 4 photo retreats this year.
They are, without a doubt, some of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. Without. A. Doubt. So many lifetime connections and I am grateful for each moment.

Travel less.
One day, I woke up and realized that I was away more than I was at home…and I love home beyond words. I need to travel less for my health and so I can enjoy the things that I chose to surround myself with more. I love meeting new people and having new experiences, but my health is telling me to cool it. I have a jam-packed first 6 months of the year, traveling at least a couple times a month out of state or country, but after that, I’m making a concerted effort to get on fewer airplanes.

Write another book.
My heart is planted firmly in messages of inspiration. I hope to write another book, or put together a portfolio book, this year.

Begin working on a documentary.
It is my dream to extend this video craze of mine into a documentary about how healing the creative process can be.

What are your dreams?

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Brooke Shaden is a fine art photographer and motivational speaker. She is hosting her first Promoting Passion Convention in October which is geared toward creatives who want to write a better story for themselves.