Brooke’s Artistic Evolution and Timeline
So this is my timeline of what my career has been like for the past decade. Plus and the moments that were actually pivotal because, like I said, a timeline really only works when you can look back at it and you can sort of adjust and say what worked and what didn't work. And my hope in showing this to you is that you will find some inspiration in the things that worked for me by being able to do some similar things in your career if it's applicable. I hope that you will find inspiration in the moments that maybe don't seem as important but actually change the course of my career. And I'm also going to be talking about financial milestones, I want to say as a disclaimer, I really debated about putting this in because money is a weird conversation. It's a difficult thing to talk about, but I think that the more we can talk about it openly and discuss the different ways that income could be created. Then hopefully the more you will feel empowered to make those adjustments in your life, t...
o bring in more wealth into your timeline. So we're gonna have a couple of honest conversations about that. So here we have my timeline. This is, um, 2009 when I started So you can see every important thing that happened year by year. And I thought that would be fun to look at in January 2009. Technically, it was the end of 2000 and eight. But, you know, I wanted to keep it like, really, really clear. So we'll just beginning of 2009. Last days of 2000 and eight, I started photography, and I started on Flicker. So I just put work on Flicker and I was just making stuff and putting it online, and that's it. I had no intention outside of that. That's where I began. Um, didn't care if I was a professional, didn't care if anybody looked at it, just started doing it. And then by April 2009 I decided that I would officially rather be a photographer instead of a filmmaker, which was a very difficult decision to come to, because I had just spent a lot of money on college as we dio and I was only a few months out of college, and I was like, I wanna change everything about my life And I thought everyone's gonna be so mad that I just did all this work until I realized. But I did the work. They didn't do the work. So who cares if I change my mind? You're allowed to change your mind. Just like let me say that again. You are allowed to change your mind. It's okay to change your mind. You can decide that you want to do something and then realize you don't and go in a different direction. It's okay. It will work out eventually. Most likely. So I decided in April 2000 and nine that I did not want to be a filmmaker and I was going to be a photographer. The next month was a really pivotal point for me because I was working as a receptionist in this really big office building, and this guy, um, came to me and he was like, Would you do head shots for me? I heard you're a photographer and, you know, to a lot of people, photographer means you could do anything with a camera, and I thought to myself, Well, I don't know how to make money from photography. Sure. So I did these headshots and you might laugh at me because I all I knew about this guy was that he wrote a motorcycle. So I picked out this location and we went shooting. And I was like, you you love writing motorcycles, right? He's like, Yeah, and I said, Okay, put your helmet on and I Onley delivered him headshots with a helmet on and you couldn't even see his face. This is a true story, and it was embarrassing and he paid me $200 and it was very nice. And he was like, Thank you and we didn't really talk again after that. And I realized that probably my career would not be in headshots, Thank goodness, because it's not my thing. So the next month after that was when I first became encouraged to apply to galleries. It was a woman named Michelle who is has always been amazing supporter of mine. She she worked with me and she was like, Brooke, there's so many worse people in galleries. Why don't you just do that? I was like, Oh, I could just do that like it didn't occur to me that I could just do it then I think that's what doesn't occur to most people is you can just do it like just just go ahead just whatever you want, just go do it. And, yeah, there are obstacles to just doing it. As Nike says, I hate using Nike slogan, but you can't help it. Sometimes there are obstacles because maybe you don't have the money or the resource is or know the right people. Maybe you're not in the right location. Whatever it may be, there are obstacles. But if there is an obstacle that is blocking your ability to do the thing that you want to dio, ask yourself, How can I do a revised version of that thing now? Instead of waiting for when things were perfect? What does that revised version look like? So I started to send emails to galleries, tons and tons and tons of galleries. I made so many mistakes, I was turned down. I was mostly didn't hear anything back from people. And then it was in August of 2009 that I got my first show and I met with this gallery kind of a gallery. I think it was like a living room of someone's house. I don't really know, to be honest, but I went to their house and they looked at my work and they said, We love this one image. We don't really like all your other images. So if you could make a whole Siri's based on this image will give you a show. And this is why a Siri's is so important. Galleries air looking for Siri's largely not all the time, but a lot of times they're looking for that level of cohesion in your work where if you can show a Siri's, it's more likely to sell better because it's more likely to sell in higher numbers because the images match and it gives a sense of professionalism like this person was able to create, ah, bunch of images that go together. So moving on February 2010 I actually had that show. So August 2009 was the meeting. I had the show in February 2010. I made absolutely no sales. It was embarrassing, and I also quit my job because I thought I was going to make a lot of sales, which you might think I'm impulsive. I'm actually not really not an impulsive person, but I definitely misjudged how much money was in the print selling game to start. So I quit my job. It was a really study, full time job that I was on salary and it was amazing. It was the first time I had stability. I was 22 years old. I was like, Thought I was making it, you know? And I just left it because every single morning when I got up for work, I thought I was going to throw up. I was sick to my stomach. I dreaded it. I was so bad at my job. I got yelled at all the time and I knew that it wasn't right. I knew that I couldn't keep doing that job. So I stopped and I had money saved, and I used that money for that year. But in April 2010 I decided I was going to book a many shows, as I could once that first show ended and I had no money to show for it, and I was in the hole a few $1000 because of the prince. I decided I had to get to work. So I started submitting toe every gallery that I could every contest, every show. I did as much as I could. And that was a wonderful decision that I made. I paid for a lot of those shows. It's not like people were saying, Hey, um, you know, you really you should come to our gallery. We think you're amazing and we think you're gonna make tons of sales. No, it was me being like, Can I pay you $100 to put my work up on your wall for a few days? And that's what I did. I had a lot of shows. It was a good year for that. Um, I also decided that year in August that I was going to host my first workshop because teaching is a massive part of my passion. I have always had a passion for it. Then if you had asked like little 10 year old me, what are you going to do when you grow up? I would have said I wanna be an English teacher and I've always wanted to be an English teacher. I never lost that passion I have two degrees from college. One is in filmmaking, and the other one is an English literature so that I could one day be an English teacher. I haven't used it yet, but maybe one day. So that is my passion. I started to teach in August 2010. Um, in October 2010 I met with my first gallery representation. That was a really big deal, because I learned that I could have ah, million different exhibitions. But if somebody wasn't representing my work, it's unlikely. I'm really going to make good money from that. So I met with my first gallery that was going to represent me. Um, the next year in February 2011 I had my first show with my represented gallery, which led to another gallery contacting me to represent me after that in April and then in October of that year, I was asked to speak at my first convention, which started me on the path for motivational speaking, which is another part of what I dio outside of photography. So those first few years were really important for me because they were all the foundations that I laid for what I wanted to be doing when I started deciding I'm gonna be a photographer. I didn't just say I'm going to be a photographer. I said, I'm going to be a photographer. I'm going to be a writer and I'm going to be a teacher on. I want to demystify this for you because if you think that people are out there making tons and tons and tons of money from selling Prince, that is rarely the case. Rarely. And I wanna be very clear about that, because often being an artist is having multi disciplines that you could make money from, and I wanna be very clear about that. Okay, So 2012 is a very big year for me. A lot of very important things happened, and this is the point in my career where I felt steady, I felt like I had a good thing going. I felt really confident about my business, and I want to share what happened in 2012. So the first thing in January was I was part of a show at the Annenberg Space for Photography, which, sadly just closed. But it's a photography museum. Um, they had a lot of really innovative shows, and it was a show called Digital Dark Room. And I got to be a part of the show with two of my photo heroes, Jerry Will Zeman and Maggie Taylor. And they did a documentary about us at the same time. So what culminated here was that I was part of a really big exhibition in a museum. I had a documentary made about my process, and at the same time, I was the youngest person in that show, and the benefit of that was that I got a lot of press for it, So that show was really important for me. And if you're thinking well, good for you, you got a great show. I don't have that look for it, you know, like put yourself in positions where you're meeting with people who run those shows who curate those shows. Go get portfolio reviews from people who do those shows and see how they can give you advice to get into those shows. So I did the same thing like I just happened to meet somebody who works at the Annenberg Space for Photography. Eventually I got into that show and It was a really big moment in my career because of all the press that it gave me. So then, in February 2012 actually published my second book. Um, because I wanted to be a writer. So I made a book in or 10. I released it on blurb. It was like a very little, like kind of magazine e book. We just still available because I'm, like, you know, why Take it down and I still sell it. But then I put out my second book with a publisher. This time instead of self publishing. That was another big milestone in my career that actually led to growth because I had a publisher behind me, which lends some credibility to my name. So then, after that attack, the end of that year, um, was the first time that my business grossed over $100,000. So I'm not trying to say like, I keep a lot of money because, you know, there are tons of expenses, taxes, etcetera. But it was the first time my business brought in that much money, and it was a really big deal. Some other things that happened that year to allow that milestone to be hit. Um, I started traveling for workshops, which was a really big deal. I started traveling internationally. I think that year I went thio Germany, Scotland, England, um, the Netherlands and I started to just reach out to people in different places and recognize that your business doesn't have to be local if you're a fine art photographer. And a lot of people almost weekly email me saying, But I live in a small town. I can't have a career is a fine art photographer. Well, I've never sold a piece of my work where I live, so hopefully that's encouraging that you could go anywhere with it. If you can ship it, you can do it. So make sure you keep that in mind. Um, the other big thing that happened in 2012 was that I want a contest called Project Imagination, and it was run by Ron Howard and he and his daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard made a film based on one of my images. This was a really big deal because it was a lot of press, for example, with the Today show, and it was lucky that I won that contest. I have applied to so many contest that I have not one at all that I have never placed in as well happen to most people. Right? But I still try. I put my name out there, I put my submission in and it worked out that time. So if you're not actively submitting to galleries to contest to exhibitions thing, you're missing out on a lot of opportunities because most of my opportunities have come from submitting to things and just trying. So keep that in mind. In January 2013 I hosted my first philanthropic workshop, which started a whole other aspect of what I dio, um, working with groups that could benefit from storytelling education. In May 2013 I taught my first creative live class and that waas very wonderful for me in terms of getting in front of a new audience and being able to show what I know about photography and my little craft. In September 2013 I did a keynote speech and it was, uh, broadcast to 80,000 people, which ended up being amazing for being able to get my name out there and in front of more people. And then you might say, But how did you get that? Like, how did that happen? What happened? Because I spoke it a little tiny conference in 2011. And then somebody heard me there and hired me for another conference in another. It's all about starting small and putting yourself out there and bigger and bigger ways as you go. So don't think that anything just happened. Like I just found success because it just landed in my lap. I just I did little tiny things to get to a bigger spot. Um, in October 2013 I hosted my first creative retreat, and what I want you to recognize about this timeline is that I am trying new things, and a big element of making progress in your timeline is risk. It's understanding where you want to go and being willing to say yes, I will put the risk in for that. I remember I tried to host a retreat in Italy and nobody signed up, and I lost $7000 because I already had the location booked. And that's just what happens sometimes is sometimes it doesn't work out. Sometimes nobody's gonna show up. Sometimes everyone's going to say no, and sometimes somebody will say yes, and that's what you need to move forward. So don't feel discouraged looking at somebody else's timeline because we cannot compare the two. They're completely different. I might look back at this timeline and think, Wow, I never achieved that one big thing that I want to achieve which I'm going to show you at the end The thing that I still haven't achieved and I could see that as a massive failure, But I don't because your timeline does not have to be linear. Even though we're looking at this from dates 2009 to present, that's not how it has to be. You don't have to look at it like that, Okay, so then in December 2013 was the first time that my business grossed over $250,000 and did so every year since then. And that was a really important milestone because it meant financial freedom in terms of having enough passive income and enough income streams to feel confident that I could support my family as pretty much the sole supporter of my family. So thes air important milestones for me. And you might think, Wow, I need way more than that, or Wow, I could never achieve that. It doesn't matter what you're thinking about money. What matters is set a goal for yourself and be honest about how much money you need to make. And like I said, this is just how much my business brought in Not how much I kept, though I wish so, um, moving on from that February 2014 2nd creativelive class, I got to teach. I was able to hire my first assistant that year. Andi. Also at the end of I bought my first house, so I found freedom in that as well. And it's important to note that in your artistic journey, it's important to think about the external influences in your life. Are you living in a place that inspires you or not or the people around you inspiring to you or not? I found that I was living in a place that didn't inspire me and that the people around me didn't inspire me. So I moved. I left everything behind and I moved away and I put myself in a better situation because I finally could, and that won't always be the case. You won't always be able to make those big changes. And goodness knows I will find myself in positions where I can't make those changes and other times where I can. In the years since then, I have found myself in that position. So take that into consideration that it's important. Thio talk about wealth in your timeline so that you can really realize how much that factors into your growth as an artist. Um, November 2014 My third Creativelive Glass, March 2015. I founded the Light Space, which is a photography school for survivors of human trafficking and those vulnerable to it. It was a really important in my personal growth. Um, I was finally represented by my goal of five galleries, which meant that I was making substantial print sales enough to supplement my income. September 2015. I hosted my first convention talk about risk. Um, I decided I wanted to move on from workshops toe one big convention, and if that convention had failed, I would have lost $30,000 because of the risk that it took to do that and it was a very calculated risk, and I didn't know if I should do it or how it would go. But I did it and I lost a lot of money on it. Let's just say that sometimes these things happen. But did I quit? No, I said, I'm gonna do this better next year and the next year and the next year and sometimes it fails, and sometimes it succeeds, but you have to just try. February 2016. Um, I rented my first studio and I reached a million followers on Facebook, and that was a really big milestone for me. Um, at that time and I will be the first to say that followers don't matter. But what can matter is how you can leverage the people who do support you. How can you give to them and expect something in return? How can you give a resource, be a resource, give a gift and then say, now I need something back? And I think that that's what's missing from the conversation of artistic development is that it's okay to say what you need to ask for what you need as long as you're also giving back to that community. January 2017 I had my first solo exhibition in New York City. It was a very big deal for me. And for anyone who is pursuing a fine art career, that could be a really big milestone. March 2017 I became a Sony artisan of imagery, which was a really big deal for me as well. Being represented by a major camera company, Um, can impart validate your photography, but shouldn't. So let me put that out there. Um, in May 2017 I opened my charity school in Thailand. September 2017. I taught my fourth creativelive class. There's a lot of content. Guys, Um, October 2017 I was hired by Microsoft, um, to do a couple of jobs for them, and that felt really good and important. Um, and then November 2017 I won a really big award for my photography, which was from my very first intentional Siri's that I created. And that's why I was inspired to make this class, because a Siri's could do so many good things for you. And that was a really pivotal moment for me in realizing that, um, March 2018 I started that school that I mentioned in Greece. Um, September 2018 I became a mentor for Sony Alfa Female, which was, like, kind of a really cool moment. Um, and then after that, I won an award for the light space, which is my school. So those those were all really nice things that happened that year. The next year, 2019 I went on tour for my promoting Passion convention, and I was able to travel to 10 cities and reach a lot more people that way, which was very, um, validating to see how many people could come together over the course of a month that I traveled. Um, I Also this is like the best thing on this whole time line, which is that I received the Distinguished Alumni Award from my high school that year, and I This is a big caveat, but that year was really important because I grew up in high school thinking I was really stupid, and I was told that and I couldn't pass tests. I was really, really just I just didn't get it. And I tried so hard and I spent years just thinking I must be so stupid because everyone else can get better grades than me and I study more than anyone else. And I took that narrative with me into my timeline into my career, and I would tell people all the time I'm really dumb, like, don't ask me questions. I'm really stupid. And I would always make a joke out of it, because isn't that what we do with the things that were sensitive about? We make a joke out of them, and I remember this one really important moment where I was on stage and I said that I'm stupid and I got off stage and my friend Katrina Eiseman. She was standing there and she said so strictly to me. She scared me. She said, Um, you should never, ever tell an audience something about yourself that's negative, because they're going to believe whatever you say. That was a very important moment for me, Um, in breaking that narrative that I had always told myself So winning that Distinguished Alumni Award was a really important moment for me and always thinking that I was stupid and realizing that I'm not. I'm just a very different kind of smart, which is great um, so kind of going through that year. I did some really neat album art that year, and that felt really important because I found a really good groove for working with other people, which, as I mentioned, I hate doing. Um, And at the end of 2019 I became a mother for the first time, Um, a foster mother. So that was a really important shift in how I view my art, how I view my life, how I prioritize my life and balance it, which hopefully we'll get to talk about later. So this year, when it comes to 2020 I hosted my first group mentoring program. Um, that was important in my artistic development, for sure, in terms of as we all did, just with co vid pivoting and figuring out how to do things differently. So I hosted an online mentoring group. It was amazing. Um, in July 2020 I I finished the outline for my novel. You're like, What are you talking about? Well, I wanna be a writer. That's my biggest dream in my whole life is to be a writer. So I finally finished the outline for my novel. Um in September of 2020 I sold my first mixed media piece. Ah, huge milestone in my career was selling that mixed media piece because that's where I want to go. And it was validation that I could go there. And then, um, in November 2020 I'll be releasing my first coffee table book. That brings us to where we are right now as faras, how I'm talking to you, because you might be seeing this later. But as far as 2020 goes, so what's coming up? I am releasing an inspiration deck of cards. That's something that I haven't done yet. I've always wanted to dio I'm going thio. I have ah museum show coming up, which I'm really excited for for my new Siri's. But what I really want to happen in the future is more museum shows, more representing galleries, more motivational speaking. I wanna finish my novel. Finally, it's been five years, Um, and I want to sell more prints, and it's so important that we know where we wanna go. What's coming up? How can I get there? How can I keep this timeline going