By Brooke Shaden
When I picked up a camera for the first time it was not to experiment with photography. In fact, I didn't even like photography. Instead it was to very strategically turn my dreams into reality. The first time I picked up a camera I never doubted that I would be able to create my own dream worlds using this tool. To me, this was a fact and that fact has propelled me into creating my own unique worlds.
As most people do, I start with an empty frame in a camera. The possibilities of what I could fill that frame with are endless. I choose not to point my camera at the world around me and click, hoping to get something magical. Instead, I fill the frame with my imagination. I will not take a picture unless the scene in front of my camera is as surreal and whimsical, or dark and mysterious, as what I see in my dreams. My pictures are staged, very much the same way that a painter chooses his subject, composition, color palette and other aesthetic choices before picking up a paint brush. I make these decisions before a camera lands in my hands, often only taking about five pictures per photo shoot. Every detail is pre-conceived before a piece of equipment ever enters the picture. However, every detail could hardly be conceived of in the world of photography without technology. I am a girl of the digital age.
In my image "Running from Wind," I was able to carefully construct the details of the picture. The girls run in front of the camera, both looking back, insinuating that something is chasing them. Every detail speaks to a timeless scene, a world that is unique from our own yet still touches on reality, and a mood that is not of this world. All of this is possible because of the digital age. That picture was created on a very early, foggy morning, just me, a camera, tripod, and my friend. It was created in a day but conceived of for much longer. My dreams are my reality; I know them very intimately. The joy of living in a digital world is that dreams no longer have to be kept inside. They can be turned into new worlds; they can be our reality.
The journey from the moment I picked up my first camera to my current life has been one of rebirth. The technical pieces that I taught myself along the way are irrelevant compared to the way I have changed how I think. No longer do I imagine the world I want to live in, I live in it every day. To part with my camera now would be like saying goodbye to a piece of myself. The two have become woven together and intertwined, and there is no future for me without photography.
Brooke Shaden's photographs seem like little films, complete with character, tension and a lush visual sense that might easily be called cinematography. One of her exhibited photographs was recently selected by director Ron Howard as one of eight photos used to inspire a short film. See her work in Digital Darkroom which runs from December 17, 2011 - May 28, 2012.