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Before They Pass

My sister, photographed for my series "Before they Pass". She is, in so many ways, my opposite. But at the same time she completes me and understands me, and I now that I have my biggest ally in her. The picture: My sister is compassionate and sensitive, though she might not let on right away. She has always wanted to take care of people and animals, and has tried her best to do so. I decided to photograph her with an animal for that reason, and the bird seemed like a good choice. She wants to fly away. She wants to be free. So often my sister feels trapped by her surroundings, and I think being able to fly away would suit her well. She is antique, in that she doesn't seem like she should be part of this generation, and so I colored the image in that way. Stormy, brooding, free, and caring. That is my sister, who I love dearly.

My sister, photographed for my series “Before They Pass”. She is, in so many ways, my opposite. But at the same time she completes me and understands me, and I now that I have my biggest ally in her.
The picture: My sister is compassionate and sensitive, though she might not let on right away. She has always wanted to take care of people and animals, and has tried her best to do so. I decided to photograph her with an animal for that reason, and the bird seemed like a good choice. She wants to fly away. She wants to be free. So often my sister feels trapped by her surroundings, and I think being able to fly away would suit her well. She is antique, in that she doesn’t seem like she should be part of this generation, and so I colored the image in that way. Stormy, brooding, free, and caring. That is my sister, who I love dearly.

This is a very personal sentiment that I want to share, in the hope that the basic idea of it will inspire someone else. This past year has been a bit different for me, in that I’ve had some difficult ideas of my own that I’ve had to spend time thinking about and dealing with.

My mom (my friend and confidant and all-around role model) hasn’t been doing so well with her health, and I am reminded, all too often these days, how fragile a life can be. We had a big health scare and realized, or perhaps, admitted, that there is always a chance that she won’t live as long as we all hope. That, perhaps, none of us will. I write this with a heavy heart, but one that is lightened by the idea that resulted.

In dealing with this idea, and seeing my mom’s health diminish, I found myself going through photos of her on my computer, the one’s I had bothered to save in a folder on my desktop called “Family”. There were so few. Most didn’t capture who she really is. And that was when I realized one very important thing:

I don’t want to lose her and realize that I never got a great photograph of her.

I don’t want to lose anyone close to me and feel that way. And so I started a new photo series called “Before They Pass” in which I am photographing the people closest to me in ways that, I feel, represent who they are before they are no longer with me. I am doing this for myself and for them, to give a picture that everyone feels represents something about their life.

I am putting them in my photographic world in a way that creates a character out of their persona and life. In so many ways, we are all characters and can be spelled out in so many pixels, and I am taking that inspiration and running with it. We know those who we are closest to best, and so to have the creativity to turn someone into art, to immortalize them, is priceless. There’s no telling if my images will succeed at such a high level, but worst thing I could do is not try. The worst I can do is lose the opportunity altogether.

So far I have photographed my mom and my sister, and once my dad agrees (he’s putting up a good fight), I’ll add to the collection. I think I’ll be making a special trip home to do more shooting for this series. I thought about postponing the shoots until I had to be home for work…but then again, time moves so quickly, and you never know.

Always take time to honor those who are closest to you. Take a moment to capture a photograph or two and share it with them. Make sure that the people who should be remembered in your life are remembered. And remember to love, always.

 

{ 16 } Comments

  1. robin s | December 10, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    brooke you never fail to amaze me and leave me in awe of the thought behind the images. this series is soo touching and it hits home. i am so afraid of death to those that i hold the dearest to my heart. what a wonderful way to capture them. i am soo excited to see more!

  2. Sarah Allegra | December 10, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Beautiful, Brooke! I completely agree with your sentiments. Good for you for acting on those thoughts and fears, and not allowing them to come to pass! This will be a very special series for everyone :)

  3. Wendy | December 10, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this post. I just had a client/friend contact me who unexpectedly lost her father. I had taken pictures at her parents 50th wedding anniversary at the end of the summer. These were the last photos taken of their whole family together and she needed prints for the memorial service. You just never know when something like that will happen. I have neglected photographing my own family except for snapshots on special occasions, but will now make a point to get some good photos if everyone. I think I will approach in a photo journalistic and get everyone in their elements, which may mean a road trip from Oregon to Missouri. Thanks again!

  4. oscar | December 10, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Brooke, fantastic post! This is exact feeling is what got me into photography. It’s very important to enjoy every moment of our lives, the small moments are the ones that add up to form our memories. Thank you for always being so open and honest with you feelings, it’s refreshing!

  5. Natascha van Niekerk | December 10, 2013 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    so very true and beautifully personal Brooke, love this, thanx for courageously sharing with the world and inspiring us all!

  6. A | December 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    I think so often the thought of death is a taboo subject. People don’t want to think about it, they don’t want to experience that terror, understandably. I watched my father die when I was 6 and one of the biggest parts of my pain is I have hardly any images of him. One video of him refusing to get in the camera. My memories have been blocked and the only thing I have left is his last breaths and funeral. To have something else to remember and enjoy would be priceless. Priceless. I think that nothing will heal the pain, but I know that the images I have of my mother bring me so much serenity that I’m starting to think I could possibly survive the loss though thinking about it makes me shake with fear. I also have her handwriting, ‘I Love You’ tattooed on me. I think and hope that this series will bring you that same sense of comfort. I wish everyone would capture their loved ones spirit in something whether it’s a video montage or painting, etc. It’s truly one of the greatest feelings. Don’t wait, gift yourself this peace. I am sorry to be so personal, it’s out of my nature but this made me want to share.

  7. Brooke Shaden | December 10, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I appreciate it so much Alicia, I really do. And I am so sorry that you know the pain of this type of situation…and glad that you have found so much peace in your creative ways of healing. Sending you so much love and light :)

  8. Eva | December 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely lovely! I actually thought of my own family as I read your story about your relationship and sentiments regarding your sister and mother, and it’s so true! Artists who have close bonds to family, like you described, as I also have, must take into consideration the opportunities which can pass by us, which we may later regret. We often take them for granted until it is too late. Truly inspiring. I am making plans, as I type, to file follow suit. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Brooke Shaden | December 10, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Eva, thank you so much for writing this. It is just as I hoped by sharing this, that someone else would do the same <3

  10. Huy | December 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    You are so right, Brooke. What a great series to endeavour to create. Wishing you well with it, and may you have great moments in life with your loved ones.

  11. Adriana | December 10, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful post Brooke. I look forward to seeing your father’s picture. Is your mother’s already up? I’m saddened to hear of her health scare. I hope it was only a scare and that she lives for many more healthy years. Besides, taking hundreds of photos of my daughters each month I also film them. I almost document them too much, but life passes so quickly I want to grasp as much as I can. I have the opposite thought, maybe I should put down my camera more and enjoy the moment. Anyway, thank you for the thought provoking post.

  12. Jasmine | December 11, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    This is beautiful. I wish I had took photos of my mom before she passed. Now We only have a few to remember her by. :/

  13. Crystal | December 12, 2013 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    absolutely beautiful. I wish I would have bothered to take more pictures of my mom, and with my mom. I have no photos of her and I together…andnow I never will. :-(

  14. Gina Miller | December 13, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    This photo and your blog post really means a lot to me. I’ve seen more death in my family than I really care to. Too many important people in my life are gone and I miss them every day. A lot of the images that I am currently working on seem to fit the theme of all this in a way. You are capturing the before and I seem to be capturing the after. It is very important to remember that none of us are promised tomorrow and we should make the most of today! Your image came out beautiful and your sister should be proud of this. <3 hugs to you

  15. Eraser5 | December 16, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I think this is such a beautiful and genius concept. Your concept gave me pause. I found myself reflecting on my family and mortality. The photograph is stunning! I find your photography extremly inspiring. Thank you!

  16. Sabbir | January 12, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful composition. You are true inspiration. Hope your Mom will get better soon.

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