We had the good fortune of connecting with Shannon Brooke and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shannon, how do you think about risk?
Taking risks has been the only way I could move forward and up in my life and career. I took the risk of paying to go to art school, and even though I will be paying for it for the rest of my life, I have no regrets. My education got me on the right track, it got me on a schedule, and it prepared me for the business of being a photographer. This doesn’t work for everyone, but school worked for me. I need structure, and hands on education with practice. I have always taken the risk to not lower my standards for clients, and to not take work unless I am getting paid. I have had celebrities ask to shoot with me, but without a budget, I can’t move forward with that task. It’s a matter of respect, and everything costs money. I won’t come to shoot unless I can bring my all to the art. I need a budget for equipment, assistance, and travel. That’s just how it works!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I photograph women. I love to uplift and empower them, and it’s a process that holds near and dear to my heart. When I was a 5 year old kid I got in a car accident that altered my face and knocked out my teeth that resulted in several plastic surgeries and years of dental and orthodontic work. I also grew up in South Orange County, California where I was bullied for the way I looked. Scarface, etc. You know, mean kids. I never felt I fit in. I wasn’t the pretty girl, and I wasn’t the smart girl. It wasn’t until I found art, specifically taking photographs, where I felt I had purpose in this life. I took photos of my girlfriends and they just loved feeling pretty in front of my camera and that in return was therapy for what I went through. I guess what makes me different and sets me apart is this story. I don’t take photos to be the best, or to be popular, or to impress anyone. I take photos because it’s not only my passion but it saves me. Being a photographer is my superpower, and I need it to mentally survive. I guess that brings me to how I got to where I am professionally now. I have been shooting for over 20 years now, and I have to keep what I do fresh. I have to keep up with some trends (but make it my own) and always try new techniques. It’s important to me to stay inspired and really study popular culture. This has kept me staying relevant I would say!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Sacramento, California. I have a studio here in downtown, and I have chosen to live here in Sac. It’s the first place I have lived where I really feel like it’s home here. It’s a city, but no too big…not overwhelming. I can walk everywhere and there is so much to do! When my friends come to visit I love to take them to my favorite bars, of course. That would include Shady Lady, Jungle Bird, and B-Side. For an amazing meal I always recommend Kru Japanese Restaurant, and what once was Empress. Empress was a beautiful art deco restaurant underneath the historic Crest Theater. I miss it so much! I love live music so I would recommend Holy Diver for amazing pizza and a good metal show, and I love going to Ace of Spades for live music too. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate this shout out to Danielle June, aka Madame Pomp. She came into my life as a hair stylist and wardrobe stylist, but her involvement in my work just elevated everything. Danielle educated me on the history of burlesque and vintage brands. I know so much about vintage clothing and fashion now, and she just knows how to bring the retro vibes without making anything look cheesy. I really owe it to her for making my work an entire staircase better than where it was before I met her.
Models: Masuimi Max, Allie Sepulveda, Demerie Leigh, Gia Genevieve, Natasha Marcelina, Nadia Briez, Jessabelle Thunder, and Lola Pop