Indie Artists Week #5 - Brooke Rosales (PHOTOGRAPHER)

  It's Day 5 of Indie Artists Week and I have yet another kind of artist to feature today - meet photographer Brooke Rosales! Brooke is a good friend of mine who has worked with me and before me as a counselor and wrangler at my summer camp. Brooke is a bright, bubbly person with lots of talent, skill, and charm. Not only is she a fantastic artist in multiple mediums, but a great person to spend a summer alongside. Honestly, she is a huge inspiration to me in so many ways, I can't sing her praises enough!

  Here is a little bit about Brooke:

Brooke is a freelance photographer currently based on the west coast of Canada. Holding a Bachelor of design from the Alberta College of Art and Design, she specializes in landscape, documentary, and lifestyle photography. Brooke loves capturing quiet moments and is fascinated by the connection between people and the spaces they inhabit. With a passion for people and a love of different cultures, climates, and creatives she’s always looking forward to the next adventure!

You can find Brooke on...

Her website
Her Facebook
Her Instagram (#1)
Her Instagram (#2)

  I really looked forward to interviewing her, and she gave some fantastic answers into life as a photographer and independent artist. Check it out below!

Q: When did you first start photography and when did you first start taking it seriously as a career?

A: I started taking photos as a hobby in junior high. My dad got a digital camera and it fascinated me. It didn’t take long before my parents got me my own little point and shoot so that Dad actually had a chance to use his own camera!

Q: What do you consider your epiphany moment, where you decided this was what you wanted to do?

A: I started considering photography as a possible career when I was in grade 11. That year my school introduced a photo course and I did quite well. We had a career counsellor come to the school one day and when she heard I was thinking about becoming a photographer she scoffed and told us that there was no possible way to have a successful career as a photographer. Right then the part of me that is thrilled by a challenge decided that I was going to prove her wrong. My career test said I should be a heavy equipment operator and I started looking at art schools.

Q: Do you have a process when it comes to taking your shots? How do you usually begin a shoot?

A: It totally depends on what I’m shooting. For more styled shoots (fashion, product, food) I start with a mood board that helps solidify my idea and acts as a reference for stylists, makeup artists, models, etc.
For project based work (documentary, fine art) I journal. I start by reading scholarly articles on the subject and then research work done by other artists regarding the same or similar subject. I analyze which parts of their work I found successful and which less so. That’s normally as much as I do for documentary projects as you can’t plan much when you want to communicate the genuine atmosphere of a place. For more structured fine art work I add an extra step of developing a mood board. I keep all the articles, other people’s work and mood boards together in that project’s journal so that I can continue referencing it throughout the project. The journals also work well for those “what was that guy’s name again?” moments.
Other than that, while I shoot I’m mindful of how many horizontal vs. vertical images I’m getting, ensuring I have different compositions that will work well together, and maintaining a uniformity in the atmosphere of the photos so that I have good options for layouts and such.

Q: What kind of camera(s), lenses, editing software, etc, do you use? Tell us about your equipment and why you’ve chosen it.

A: I just upgraded to a Canon 5D Mkiii this year. I shoot mainly with a 50mm prime lens (that I got for $60 on kijiji, it doesn’t have to cost a lot to work!) as I feel it makes me consider my composition more carefully and the compression of the 50mm works well for both portraits and landscapes. I also shoot polaroids with my SX-70 whose name is Peter. The unpredictability of them is good for perfectionists like me. Plus, I am starting to shoot more 35mm colour film on an old Praktica MTL 5 that I mainly use with a Carl Zeiss (fancy) 50mm lens. I haven’t decided which film is my soulmate yet but currently the Fujicolour 400H is my front runner because both it’s warm and cool tones are beautiful and it’s a little more subtle than most films.
As for software, I live and breathe Adobe, as most photographers do. I edit in Photoshop and I use Bridge to organize my files and cull shoots. InDesign is a favorite for creating layouts with my photos and whatever other artsy bits I want to throw in.

Q: What would you say is the key to the success you’ve seen in your growth as a photographer over the years?

A: I think it’s important in any creative field to:
Inform yourself by studying others’ work.
Create things you enjoy, don’t just make stuff you think other people will like.
Allow your previous work that you now despise to teach you.
Just make stuff, it doesn’t have to be perfect and not everyone will like it but you can’t let that stop you.

Q: I know you do a lot of portraiture as well as some weddings and landscapes. What is your favorite things to shoot and why?

A: Documentary/landscape is by far my favourite. Attempting to capture the essence of a place, people, or time is so intriguing for me. It’s a challenge but at the same time I find it almost meditative, very calming. You have to learn what’s at the heart of whatever you’re photographing and sort of photograph around it in order to describe it. That probably sounds very artsy, strange, and abstract but it’s an abstract thing that I’m trying to capture. You have to fill in the gaps around it until the space in the middle describes the thing. The ultimate beating around the bush! Except if the bush was invisible because then you’d have to beat around it to know if it was a hedge or a little shrub or a crazy topiary. Ok, that might be the worst example ever, but like I said, it’s an abstract idea!

Q: What is one thing (or several!) you would like to see change about how the creative community is treated when it comes to working as an artist, especially an independent one?

A: I would LOVE IT if people regarded creativity as a “real” career. Just today someone told me “...but you don’t REALLY work five days a week.” They’re right, I work six, often seven days a week but it’s hard for people to understand that. I think this stems from the fact that the work of creative people is incredibly undervalued and people don’t understand how it contributes to society. As a Christian, I think creativity plays a vital role in society. In his book Every Good Endeavor Tim Keller describes creativity as us “...continuing God’s work of forming, filling, and subduing. Whenever we bring order out of chaos, whenever we draw out creative potential, whenever we elaborate and ‘unfold’ creation beyond where it was when we found it, we are following God’s pattern of creative cultural development.” Acts 3:21 says that God will restore everything. The gospel isn’t only about redeeming our spiritual selves but all of creation, to the point where there is, as the Bible describes, a new heaven and a new earth. The restorative quality of creativity is a part of that redemptive process and is one way we emulate Christ and bring Him glory on earth.

Q: Do you have any degrees/certificates in your artistic field? Or are you pursuing any?

A: I have a Bachelor of Design with a major in Photography from the Alberta College of Art and Design.

Q: How did you go about perfecting your artistic skills? Were you self-taught?

A: I am always perfecting my artistic skills because they’ll never be perfect! I went to university but I do hope, as cheesy as it sounds, to never stop learning. I am always studying the work of others, and trying to learn new techniques.

Q: You have lived in quite a few different locations in your life. Tell us about them. Which one have you enjoyed living in the most? Which did you find most inspiring? Which really feels like home to you?

A: Cornwall has my heart. I love the weather, pace of life, history, food, and landscape and it does hold sentimental value as well. I gained a lot of direction in my creative and spiritual lives while I was there and I’m still learning from my time there. I find each place I live informs my creativity in a different way and I love it! It might sound cliche, but I really find wherever I am at the moment feels like home. Making anywhere feel like home is quite fun for me and I think it’s important to feel at home in order to be able to fully experience a place.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring young photographers? What is the best advice you’ve received?

A: The best advice I’ve ever received was from one of my drawing professors in my first year of university. I hated drawing. I’m not especially talented when it come to proportions or perspective and that’s what the class was focused on. I kept getting very frustrated with my work not meeting my standards and my prof pulled me aside one day. When I told him what was agitating me he told me, “In order for your hand to develop, your eye has to develop.”
Being able to see flaws in our own work is an important step in progressing our skills. But, progress rather than perfection is the end goal. We can’t expect ourselves to be perfect, we don’t live in a perfect world!

Q: What is your favorite and least favorite part of photography?

A: I love the honesty of photography. That might seem like a contradiction in this golden age of photoshop but there isn’t another medium that allows you to capture things so exactly. Unfortunately, the world is so oversaturated with images that people don’t value photography very much.

Q: Who is someone who inspires your photography career?

A: I have quite a collection of artists that inspire me. Finding time to spend with other people’s work is a big part of my creative process. Someone whose career and work inspire me is Joe Greer. I actually initially encountered his work on Instagram (@ioegreer).

Q: Where do you see/want to see your photography career in five years?

A: It would be fun to earn a Master’s degree, do packaging design, design product, shoot large scale projects, there is just so much to do in the world! I am really open to whatever has come my way by then, I just hope to be in a place where I get to be creative in a way that helps others.

Q: Aside from photography, what are some of your other hobbies/talents?

A: There’s quite a few so I’m just going to list them…
Illustration, watercolour painting, swing dancing (well most dancing), hiking, running, biking, horseback riding, tenor banjo, knitting, sewing, leatherwork, bookbinding, embroidery, learning Japanese and Spanish, flower pressing (yes that’s a hobby), calligraphy, general crafting, thrift store hunting, jewelry design, reading, gardening, baking.
That’s at least most of them.

Q: What is one (or a couple!) shot you consider your best work? Why? Would you mind sharing it/them?

A: This always changes, normally the photo I use as the landing page for my website is one of my current favourites. Currently I’m really enjoying the work I did in the Philippines. My landing page at the moment is a favourite from the Philippines, I like serenity of the photo and the intricate details that seem rather abstract from further away. I also love the colours and how limited the colour palette is.

Q: How have you managed your time to effectively create while still being able to do other things you love/hold a job/go to school/travel/etc?

A: Despite being a free spirit at heart I have learned the value of a schedule. When I assist other creatives the hours tend to be a standard 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. I schedule time to workout, learn Japanese/Spanish/banjo, and do house work around that workweek structure. The work I do day to day changes and I do have to be flexible but that basic structure gives a bit of a routine. I work on my own projects in evenings and on Saturdays and I’ve found that breaking my work into smaller, more manageable pieces helps me work quickly without feeling overwhelmed.
Also, taking Sunday off is key in order to keep my work from feeling too much like a chore. Having a day without deadlines or to do lists helps me go into the week feeling refreshed and inspired. This is also when I enjoy a lot of my hobbies, flexing my creativity in a zero pressure environment. It’s kind of my creative palette cleanser.

Q: What is something you would like to see change in the creative community?

A: It would be great to see the creative community be less hostile towards Christians. I think creativity is a big part of Christianity and vice versa. The creative community prides itself on its inclusivity of different genders, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. I wish it showed the same attitude toward different spiritual beliefs since spirituality and creativity are inextricably connected.

Q: Do you ever have times of self-doubt and worry that you find hard to get through concerning your creative career? Do you mind sharing about them?

A: EVERYDAY. I am a perfectionist. Perfectionism isn’t just the cute answer you give when an interviewer asks you what your greatest fault is, it’s debilitating for a creative because it keeps you from making and sharing work. I have to remind myself all the time that perfection isn’t something I can achieve and rather I have to try to harness my perfectionist tendencies to improve my work. It’s actually given me a big appreciation for more raw and organic qualities in art.

Q: Where/how do you gather the most inspiration for photography?

A: I’m inspired by many different artists, illustrators, graphic designers, photographers, painters, etc. One of my favourite things to do is spend a day at an art gallery or library. Conveniently, in Vancouver, the art gallery and library are rather close together with a bubble tea place in between. Instagram is also a great resource if you make sure you’re getting more out of it than you’re putting in.

Q: What is your biggest dream relating to your creative career?

A: The dream would be flying around the world spending weeks at a time with groups of different people, trying to capture the essence of their lives in photos. So, you know, nothing crazy! *sarcasm*

Q: How would you describe your photography style?

A: Quiet. Minimal. We are surrounded by heaps of ‘in your face’ imagery as everyone vies for attention spans that are getting shorter and shorter. Quiet images that allow us to pause in the maelstrom tend to hold our attention longer. At least that’s what I’m going for. In the end I think how others describe my work is more important as that indicates how effectively it’s communicating.

Q: What do you feel has been a defining moment in your career so far?

A: That’s tough. Everywhere I’ve been and everyone I’ve met inevitably influences my career. If I had to pick one thing it would have to be living in Cornwall. It gave me a way broader understanding of the world and also taught me a lot about my own process.

Q: What do you feel is the hardest part of being an independent artist?

A: Paperwork. I don’t enjoy how much time I have to spend sending invoices, chasing unpaid invoices, emailing prospective clients, sorting receipts, doing taxes, etc.

Q: And what is the most rewarding?

A: When people “get it”. When they mention they saw your work and tell you that it made them think.

Q: Finally, where do you see your career heading in the near future? Any big changes or excitement ahead that you’re looking forward to?

A: I’m going to Mexico in November! I’m excited because I’ve never been there before and I get to go with two friends that have been part of my creative journey since the beginning! (Joanna being one of them) Other than that I feel like I’m in the calm before the storm right now. It is frustrating that I’m not working on the “end all, be all” project but I’m learning so much and really enjoying what I’m doing. I’m trying to practice patience, soak up as much knowledge as I can, and take this time to hone my skills.

  Thank you for your time and insight, Brooke! And thank YOU for reading. Please check out Brooke's website and her instagram accounts for some truly beautiful photography that will visually delight you.

  It's the first day of November today and that means NANOWRIMO! Who's started their projects? Are you ready for the month of crazy? How have you enjoyed these interviews? Let me know below!


  1. These interviews give fascinating glimpses into the different creative processes of some talented people in different creative fields - I love that :)

    Brooke, your photographs are amazing! <3


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