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Capture Inspiration Photo Retreat Contest

Ever since having some really intimate and amazing experiences this year with other creatives where we could truly bond over a period of time and learn from each other, I wanted to replicate that situation in workshop form. I decided to start teaching photo retreats, where roughly 10 individuals could spend 2 1/2 days living together in a house, learning constantly, and connecting.

Beyond that, I want to give back to people who need weekends like this the most. I want to give back to those who support me so much. I am grateful for you, immensely.

That brings me to this contest! Here’s how it works:

WHO: Anyone in the continental United States who is 18 years or older can submit a video, up to 2 minutes long, stating how this retreat would help you personally and in your art. 

WHEN: January 3-5 (travel dates Jan 2-5)

WHERE: Los Angeles, CA

WHAT: Capture Inspiration Photo Retreat: 2 1/2 days of learning practical tools to find inspiration, gaining new perspectives on your own photography, learning image compositing, editing, and shooting, along with the ins and outs of storytelling. We will take risks, support each other, and be present in the moment to enjoy our time together. 

HOW: If you are chosen, your airfare, travel to and from the retreat, workshop attendance fee, and meals during the workshop will be covered. You will be traveling January 2, 2014 to Los Angeles International Airport and leaving from the same airport on January 5, 2014. 

Please EMAIL a LINK to your video (you can upload it anywhere [youtube, vimeo, instagram, etc]) to Deadline is Oct. 20th.

The “Capture Inspiration” Retreat contest is all about lifting others up when they are in need and giving back when it is possible…and not just this contest, but the whole retreat and those who sign up…it is amazing what 3 days can make you think and feel…and what it can inspire.

To be eligible you must be 18 years or older and living in the continental United States. I hate to limit the participation, but funds can be a bit tight when planning a cross country trip. No worries though, I’m already planning a European retreat and am hoping to get a sponsor on board for a similar contest next summer. If you are in Canada and can get to a US city, we can fly you from there, so please feel free to submit!

A word about our sponsor, SongFreedom. I texted my friend Matt over there a quick little message about getting them on board and the mission of this contest. I received a text back almost instantly that said “Done.” That tells you something about the generosity of SongFreedom. I won’t partner with just anyone. I like to surround myself with people of integrity and kindness, and they have it tenfold. They make songs available to license for videos. I use songs from them in all of my behind the scenes videos.

Some testimonials from my last Capture Inspiration Retreat held in Chicago, IL:

“Anyone who has the opportunity to attend a Brooke Shaden workshop go for it, don’t think twice. In my case it is one of the best investments I had make. Brooke Shaden is more than an amazing artist she is a wonderful teacher, she makes complicated stuff so simple to understand and learn, Brooke is this kind of person who has no secrets because everything she knows she shares it, anything you ask be sure she will answer it, no kidding. Plus Brooke has this thing, well I don’t know how to explain it, but it just feel good to be around her.”

Mariely Martinez, Berwyn Illinois

“I walked up to the door feeling nervous and telling myself to be brave. I knocked on the door and Brooke answered, I extended my hand out and instead she gave me a hug. That was the beginning of a memorable, inspirational and stress-free weekend. I am someone that is often riddled with anxiety and fear, however at the retreat I felt that I was in a safe zone. Brooke is super sweet and she is also passionate and a strong confident woman that is not afraid to walk her own path. Brooke was easy going yet enforced us to be decisive, which is exactly what I needed.

A couple hours into the first day we had our first exercise, we had to create an image …blind-folded. We had to tell Brooke exactly how we wanted the image, what dress the model should wear, what props, etc. I was blind-folded and Brooke asked me, “landscape or portrait”? I replied, “oh I do not care. ” Brooke replied, “yes you do care, landscape or portrait.” Then after I chose landscape Brooke asked me, “what color dress”? I replied, “it does not matter.” Brooke replied, “yes it does matter, which dress”?

Why didn’t I care? Why wasn’t I decisive about what I wanted? After all, this was MY image, right?

I came to the retreat broken, flame was blown out a long time ago. I was looking for something, someone to make me love photography again. Guess who is up at midnight editing from a self-portrait today? “This girl”, who is slowly falling in love with photography again.

This retreat was exactly what I needed, it was relaxing, inspirational and I feel excited again to pick up the camera again. Brooke is an open book, she loves to teach and it shows. What I learned from this retreat is to not be afraid what other people think of my images. To produce art that I love…period. To be confident, hold my head high, not be afraid to take chances and to look for inspiration everywhere.

Thanks Brooke.”

Amber Iverson

“Just last month, I was lucky enough to share a house with 12 inspiring and talented photographers. It was an epic experience that could not have been possible without the amazing leadership of Brooke Shaden. She had the vision and the passion to lead one of the most creatively impactful weekends I have ever had. 

12 photographers, one house and one honest, creative and passionate teacher.
The result was, 12 new friendships, and a weekend that never stopped feeding my creativity. 
It was perfectly organized and scheduled, with models and locations set up. It was structured enough to keep us on task and get work done, and flexible enough to mold to our own needs for an individual shoot.
Brooke, always available and constructive, smiling and pleasant, did not stop for a second. She was focused in pushing our limits and help us find our voice. A true professional and endlessly inspiring. Not a single minute of those 2.5 days was ever wasted. She shared her entire process willfully and selflessly. Helped each one of us individually, respecting and supporitve of our own individual style. It was more than I expected, and I learned more than I have in a long time. Technically, as well as about myself and what moves me as a visual artist. 
I came out of it, more inspired, more open and more willing to push my limits as an artist. The key is to never stop evolving and to continue to grow creatively. I will always be thankful to Brooke Shaden for opening a part of my creative process that I had not yet explored.”
Maite Benito Agahnia
“When I signed up for your retreat, I had hoped that I would find a more in depth look into your process and into your thinking, and I had hoped that this would help me to focus down on some pieces of my own process that I had been massaging into more complete thoughts.  I was not disappointed by any means.  Your clarity and open, honest nature engaged and excited me, and your gentle questioning and leadership pushed me to work toward my artistic heights during the retreat and beyond.

What I didn’t expect from the retreat were the mingled feelings of regret and fulfillment that I experienced when I left.  The group of powerful and brilliant women at the retreat was truly astounding.  While I don’t know that you cultivated all of us in any purposeful way, I do feel that it was your presence and your leadership that allowed us to mesh together in the ways that we did, and to find something of each of ourselves in one another.  Ten different female personalities can be quite a handful, but you never skipped a beat, introducing each of us to sides of ourselves and to facets of our work, that blended us in such a way as to create a sisterhood; almost from the first hello.

Brooke, my darling little muse, you have a gift.  And to say that I am grateful for having met you along the road creativity is an understatement.  I believe in fateful events and in purposeful meetings, and I am humbled to have been able to share in ours.  May there be many, many more to come.”

Vanessa Powell

“Serendipity played a big role in my finding Brooke’s Chicago retreat. When things work out like that you just have to believe you are meant to be somewhere for some reason. The reason was obvious from the moment my friend dropped me off at the house. Brooke and Olivia made me feel so welcome from the moment I crossed the threshold. And then the other attendees were just magical, I learnt from all of them and we have now got a group that is continuing to encourage and develop our artistic endeavors.

Brooke had carefully planned the entire weekend, we covered a lot of ground and information but it also felt like there was plenty of downtime and time to interact with others. The information was so well organized and presented clearly with time then to practice what we were talking about. I loved the first exercise of blindfold shooting – brilliant!! It drove in the concept and thought process from the get go.

The models were wonderful, so accommodating and so willing to do anything for anyone. Brooke’s wonderful pure energy had kept manifesting itself and we had no group hijacker, it was a wonderful weekend of collaboration, learning, exploring and making new friends. I learnt so much, I left so inspired and I have found myself so excited about my art in a new way that I am smiling all day every day. It felt like there was no competition during the workshop,everyone followed Brooke’s sweet energy and encouraged and helped each other. Its scary to step into a new artistic role and to show that to others, but with this retreat I felt no fear only excitement and pure support from all.

Thank you Brooke for facilitating such a great weekend of learning and renewal.”

Crackle Bingham

“I recently attended Brooke Shaden’s retreat in Chicago and to say it was life changing is a truly an understatement. I am usually very skeptical of workshops in general. It only takes one to leave a poor taste in your mouth but Brooke’s workshops always leave me feeling refreshed and inspired. Brooke is the only photographer I choose to continually learn from. I first met Brooke when she came to Toronto last year. I learned so much from her in one day. She stripped everything down. No question was off limits. And so reasonably priced. So when Brooke released details for the Chicago retreat, I knew I had to go despite being in Toronto. Spending a full 2.5 days in a beautiful home with Brooke and a group of creative people from all levels of experience really spoke to me. Brooke and her assistant KD went above and beyond to ensure that everyone’s needs were met. Having access to Olivia to model for us whenever we felt creative was also a huge bonus. It wasn’t just the opportunity to learn again from Brooke, it was to do it in an intimate setting

Brooke a sweet and genuine person who truly cares about your journey. You’ll learn a lot about your craft and fine art photography, but you’ll also walk away learning about yourself while in the company of others who have similar interests and goals. Her retreats are unlike anything out there right now in the market for photographers. Brooke’s retreats are designed primarily for learning but it also forced me to think outside of my comfort zone. I felt safe exploring ideas and brainstorming the things that were kicking around in my mind. Brooke helped me bring that to life. Brooke explained her process but in a way that everyone could understand. We were able to watch her shoot while shooting ourselves. We watched her edit, which is always such an interesting part of the day for me and we also talked about the business side of photography, such as pricing, printing, and how to exhibit in galleries. She was happy to critique our portfolios and gave us time to edit an image to present to the group before we left. I was amazed at the growth everyone showed in just a couple days of learning. Brooke left nothing out. She opened up her heart to us and for that, my group will have a special bond forever. Only Brooke can inspire a group full of women to be up for 600am to shoot self portraits in a swamp. Only Brooke. She is that good.

If you can attend one of Brooke’s retreats, you will not be sorry. She picks gorgeous locations and models (we had several, Brooke included). The food and our accommodations we had were amazing; we really couldn’t ask for more. It definitely exceeded my expectations yet again as I am now back at home living and breathing the techniques and words Brooke instilled in us during our time together in Chicago. I cannot thank Brooke enough for her generosity, time, love, and dedication to her craft. You will never meet a more committed artist than Brooke. That alone, for me, is priceless.”

Robyn Russell

Crackle Bingham

{ 28 } Comments

  1. Tara Eveland | October 13, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    I literally have tears and Im choking up as I read this. I followed from your facebook and I expected that you would be picking best PHOTO, and instead I watched your video and I did start crying. Because you aren’t wanting the best photographer, you are looking for the artist that wants inspiration, someone like me that has too much of ‘life’ come in between my artistic vision. I am the person you are looking for, I just feel it in my heart. I am going to make my video today, as soon as I get out of my pajamas, I dont want to waste any time before telling you why I am the person you are looking for. Thank you so much for this opportunity. JUST the CHANCE makes me cry! Thank you so much Brooke!

  2. Jessica Edler | October 13, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    wow. this would be unreal/amazing/add lots of positive adjectives here. I will be making a video and submitting, i don’t think there is anything better to kick off the new year with.

  3. Héctor Carbuccia | October 13, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Hi Brooke, I live in Dominican Republic (an Island near cuba), it’s still the american continent but not the US, can I still participate? thanks.

  4. Brooke Shaden | October 13, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Hi Hector! Unfortunately we can only fly people from an airport within the continental US…but hopefully someday it will work out. I’d love to meet you!

  5. Sam Breach | October 13, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Hi Brooke

    Thanks for creating this opportunity. I have a question about the video. Will it remain private – or will it become public? I only ask because speaking from the heart can be personal and vulnerable and maybe a little different from making a clip that would be seen publicly. I hope if I don’t win, I might be able to come anyway, the timing would be perfect for me.


  6. Ramona | October 13, 2013 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Too bad it doesn’t include Canada… I could fly out from Bellingham WA…

  7. Brooke Shaden | October 13, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Ramona, if you can get to a US city we will happily include your submission for consideration :)

  8. Brooke Shaden | October 13, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Hi Sam! The video can be public or private, just make sure that I have a way of viewing it. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to feel like they have to put themselves out there to the world. I think there are ways to upload to various sites and send a private link <3

  9. Sam Breach | October 13, 2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Thanks Brooke!

  10. Heather | October 13, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    All I can think is – ‘WOW, how wonderful!!’ Much like Tara in the first comment, I finished reading this blog post with tears in my eyes. I sooo wanted to be able to attend the Chicago retreat and just wasn’t financially or physically able at that.

    You are going to be inundated with entries, I’m sure! Although that will make the chances of me winning slim to none, my heart is so happy someone who might otherwise be unable to do this will have such an incredible opportunity. Your generosity and willingness to be inspire and be supportive of other artists is such an inspiration.
    You are amazing, Brooke, and I hope one day I have the chance to tell you to your face. :)

  11. Heather | October 13, 2013 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    lol! I typed that so fast that is it chock full of grammatical errors. Hope you’re still able to make sense of my garble. :)

  12. Hollie Girvan | October 13, 2013 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    I cant wait to make my video, this would be an amazing opportunity, I am so inspired by your imagination and work and would love to learn from you!

  13. Gray | October 14, 2013 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    This would be a wonderful experience. Looking forward to the contests where a video is not the only acceptable form of entry submission. Here’s hoping. :-)

  14. Rebecca Duncan | October 14, 2013 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    I am so exited about this contest! I think its amazing that your giving someone a chance to come all the way to LA ! I am a small town girl I live in SC and Ive never flown before. I have my own photography business and I do Family,senior,newborn etc. Photography is my passion and I dream of creating inspiring pieces of art I am just not sure how to go about it. I have watched countless videos on the subject as well as creative live classes. I find your work so amazing and I am inspired by seeing the different concepts you use in your art. I would love the chance to come to LA and learn from the best and get my creative juices flowing. I know that it would help my business as well as my spirit if I could just learn how to make visually stunning pictures for myself and for my clients !

  15. Cynthia Kannan | October 14, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    As a beginner student of photography, attending Brooke’s Capture Inspiration Retreat was very intimidating! I questioned myself the night before wondering how I would be able to keep up tormented by countless fears. That all vanished the moment a smiling Brooke opened the door to welcome me to what would be our “home” for the next 2 1/2 days. The group of ladies that were there, their energy, their inspiration, their stamina was so contagious and their stories, and the stories we made together will live in my heart forever. Brooke Shaden is worth her weight in gold and the way she generously shares herself with others make this experience something you don’t want to miss!

  16. Samantha Pugsley | October 14, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity. Now if I can only get past my anxiety and make a video :/

  17. Annabelle Denmark | October 15, 2013 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    On Sunday morning I was driving downtown for a family shoot and I was daydreaming (I know it’s wrong but I am also very careful). I was daydreaming about having a shoot in Los Angeles. I stop my car, check my phone for messages and I see your post about a retreat in Los Angeles! There are many reason why I need this retreat, and I know many of us do and it will be hard for you to choose just one person. I am going to make that video today, I know nothing about videotaping myself, I am really uncomfortable doing it but I’m just going to dive. I know you are kind and won’t laugh….but I have to say it still, please don’t laugh :)

  18. Alan | October 15, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink


    Does this mean all of the spots are going to be awarded through the contest or is this one spot and the rest will be paid?

    Like Gray above, we don’t do video, no other way of entering?

  19. Brooke Shaden | October 15, 2013 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Hi Alan!

    One space will be given away and the rest will be available for regular signup in a couple of days or so :) As for the video, that is currently the only way, but please feel free to send a writeup and it will be considered. And if you can get your hands on some video – even just a webcam in your computer, that would be great :)

    Sending inspiration!

  20. Alicia Raft | October 17, 2013 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    I sent a video but I’m already feeling insecure about opening up! I feel better watching your video and seeing how vulnerable you always make yourself for us. Deep breaths! We can do this people! I’m going to promote this on my pages so others can do the same. I feel like everyone needs someone to help at some point.We all have a story to tell, right?

  21. kathryn | October 20, 2013 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Eeeep! I just saw this…I don’t have much time but I think a dewey morning, sleepy-eyed video might be a good representation of me anyway. Thank you for the opportunity.

  22. Sam Breach | October 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I have been getting an error on youtube so I hope you don’t mind – uploaded it to G+ instead, where it worked. I sent to your email and plussed you in the private shared post (I hope you don’t mind) because since your contest email address was not gmail, I don’t think it would let you view the video without a google log in. By having plussed you – you will hopefully have permission to view with your google login you use for g+. Hopefully what I did worked for you and didn’t inconvenience you. I was trying to upload for over an hour to you tube and it just wouldn’t work for me, sorry about that.

  23. alli | October 21, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe I just saw this…always a day late and a dollar short. Good luck to everyone who entered. I can’t wait to see what results…♥♥♥

  24. Jill | October 21, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Oh my,…. the anticipation….. I can’t stand it.

  25. Tara Eveland | October 21, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    ahhh the suspense! I keep checking lol Its killing me too Jill :) hang in there Im sure she has hundreds to pour through!

  26. Melissa | October 22, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    I look forward to the day that I get to meet you and learn from you. I’m really hoping it will be this Jan. The suspense has butterflies a flitting in my belly. :)

  27. funda inceer | November 21, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Hi Brooke, when and where would be your next European workshop or retreat? Thanks.

  28. Carrie | December 27, 2015 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    I just saw this and my head nearly hit the ceiling…but then saw it was from 2013. Are you planning on doing any more scholarships for these…ever? Please consider it. It doesn’t even have to be overseas or anything famcy. I’d be happy, no ecstatic, to just come and learn from you in your own local environment. Well, if these ever reappear, I will make you a video, write you a song, anything possible to be considered. The words seem so insubstantial compared to the desperation I feel to Master my Craft…I have never wanted to learn anything more in my life. And if you ask my family, they will tell you that I am constantly watching your videos or reading your book or talking about you or sharing your images with Shaden Virgins. I adore your work and you seem to have such a lovely spirit. I have been feeling isolated and stuck – photography was my therapy for that but now I can’t find my way back to it. I want to prove to my children that no matter the age or the obstacles, we must always continue to get after that dream, even if sometimes you need to ask for help. Oh, Brooke, I hope you don’t think of me as some weird stalker…I am just desperate for help and you are my photography idol- who better to ask? Thank you for even taking the time to read a freak out message from a 37 year old wife and mom of four. Your kindness is unmatched.

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