Brooke Shaden’s Hunt for Transient Beauty

Post Author: Sarahana

As the world around her wavers between dark and light, death and life, Los Angeles based photographer Brooke Shaden runs around with a camera to capture moments of fleeting beauty. More photos can be found on

What else do you do besides photography?

Photography is my career and passion: I love every second of it! The business aspect of it and actual shooting take up nearly all my time.

What does beauty mean to you?

We would not know beauty unless we knew its opposite, as is the case with all our likes and dislikes. So I like to juxtapose something pleasant with something disturbing. Because beauty is found in the in-between moments, when the world seems mysterious. I also think fragility is beautiful, like when you realize you’re so little compared to the world.

What movies and books come closest to representing your point of view?

Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities” is a seemingly simple book where various fictional cities come to life, but in what lies beneath is a mimicry of our own world. I try to do that as well: create new worlds that’s a reference to our own, and put in a story and symbolism into each element.

What music are you listening to these days?

I’m pretty selective about what I listen to: lately, a lot of CocoRosie, Sigur Ros, Aphex Twin, Regina Spektor, Jay Brannan.

Where do you live and how does that affect your work?

I live in Los Angeles, and I’m so grateful to have mountains all around. I used to live in Pennsylvania where the cold was dominant, but now I shoot outdoors all year round. I get to jump into creeks in the “winter” time, which is is about 40-60 degrees.

In what kinds of situations were most of these photographs taken?

A lot of these images are from a bit earlier on, which were mostly taken in my tiny studio apartments in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. But I’ve become braver about finding locations and taking risks, so the newer ones you see here were taken in places like an old western town, a warehouse I discovered on a walk, and so on. All these images use diffused, natural lighting, and I try to give them a little magic!

What does realism mean to you as a photographer?

It’s the type of photography that I’m not really drawn to, because I like to see photographs that don’t resemble my everyday life, I want it to be about escaping into uncharted territory.

How often do you photograph?

A few times a week: sometimes twice, sometimes four times. I often plan shots at locations that take a while to get to. For example, there’s a river I frequent. I used to shoot everyday, but then I realized, I was able to do that because my location was extremely simple and I was becoming repetitive. So now I take pride in making the frame more complicated in the amount of thoughts and time spent.

Beauty is found in the in-between moments.