Agent provocateur Robert Mapplethorpe's work of gender and sexuality has…
This is the second blog post in a series from our newest guide Selling Fine Art Photography. Download it here.
At only 26 years old, Brooke Shaden is a fine art photographer with a distinct approach to her self-portrait photography. When asked about her unique style, which is heavy with symbolism, Brooke says, “My style explores the beauty found in all darkness. It is whimsical and surreal and often centers around fairy tales. I work in nature and use feminine forms in my work. Most of all, I create stories and aim to create a world in my images that is unique and makes us think.”
Brooke began her career in fine art photography back in December 2008 after graduating from Temple University in Pennsylvania. “At that time, I found myself disenchanted with the filmmaking process,” Brooke said. “It took so long to create a single film that I already had 100 more ideas. So I picked up my still camera when I graduated college and haven’t looked back!”
Brooke began selling photography a few years later in February 2010. She found success starting locally where she lived in Los Angeles. “Sales really began to pick up after I did my due diligence to contact all types of galleries in my area at the time,” she says. “I built up my CV that first year and tried to get as many shows as I could, which finally lead to a few different galleries taking a chance on representing me.”
When asked what her biggest challenge was when start- ing out as a fine art photographer, she said it was her lack of knowledge. “I would go into meetings and not understand the questions being asked—basic things like how my prints are created or editioned or sized. It’s important to have a good hold on this part of the business before diving in because the knowledge can work to your advantage.”
Today, Brooke has a number of reputable sponsors who help spread awareness about her work including Adobe, White House Custom Colour and Think Tank Photo. To establish these relationships, Brooke said that many of the connections formed through her involvement speaking at smaller events where they had a presence. “I spoke from the heart about my work and these companies liked what I had to say,” she says.
With regards to getting sponsors on board, Brooke adds, “Sometimes I pitch companies cold asking if they would like to be one of my sponsors. I always keep in mind that the worst thing anyone can say is no.” She believes any sponsor she works with reflects directly on her business, so she makes sure not to take on a relationship unless she feels strongly about the people behind the product.
To increase awareness about her fine art photography today, Brooke takes to social media—specifically Facebook—to connect with fans and share her work and upcoming events. To date, she has a whopping 244,000 followers on her Facebook page, Brooke Shaden Photography.
When asked how she built such a large Facebook following, Brooke says it all comes down to passion. “I have a philosophy that if I put what I do out there with passion, someone else will feel that passion, too,” she says. “Even on Facebook, you need to be sincere and put your best foot forward. Understand your unique voice, because everyone has one, and present it. Whether you have one follower or one million, the best thing to do is to train yourself to be grateful for each individual supporter and never let your ego interfere.”
So what’s next for Brooke? For one, she’s hoping to start a photography school in Kolkata, India for survivors of human trafficking, and is using the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to fundraise money and support. Check out her campaign here. She’s also working more with her new blog, Promoting Passion to create weekly videos.
What’s Brooke’s biggest advice to fine art photographers hoping to reach more potential clients and increase their sales? “Understand what makes you unique, what story you have to tell, and then refine your skills to try and communicate that message in the clearest way possible. The moment you understand who you are, others will start to follow and support you. Find your confidence and present it to others humbly. Everyone wants to work with good people.”
For more tips from fine art pros, download the Selling Fine Art Photography today!
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