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RISE: Beautiful Girl, You Can Do Hard Things

“When you don’t know what to do, get still. Get very still until you do know what to do.”-Oprah Winfrey


It has been exactly one month since the last time I had the courage to create another blog post. I decided it was time to be vulnerable, to stop worrying about what my viewers think, to let go of opinions and validations, and again begin to create. When I write it can be nerve racking. There are a few  places in my life where once I go there I am free. The first space is my photography. Second, is when I write. I had an amazing English teacher in college who effortlessly encouraged me to write. Her name is Kathleen DeVore. We would read short stories about culture, and laugh while being thoroughly entertained by the ever so witty, Margaret Cho which I had the chance to meet and photograph this summer at one of her shows. (Funny how things manifest.) My teacher knew how to get life out of us and taught me how to put it on paper. I will never forget our sessions of reading our vulnerabilities out loud, sharing what we had written based off of the stories we read. When it was my turn, the class that I grew to love was beautifully silent, and by the time I was done spilling my life lessons, they were moved out of their comfort zones and wiping the tears form their eyes. My teacher had taught me that I could find the empathy that resides in someone’s soul and force it out of them through my experience and deliver it through my words. Kathleen told me to publish my work, honored and a little in disbelief, this is when I fell in love with expressing myself through empathetic emotion.

I am an artist, born into this world to create. From photography, to writing, from cooking to styling, I thrive when I am able to shape and mold an idea and to make someone feel emotion when they encounter my work. Creating takes bravery. It takes the ability to feel safe enough to escape from reality and embrace the unknown, trusting that I will become what I feel and create my vision based off of the limits of my own imagination.

A month ago I told my friend Jose Ruiz, who also mentors me on the fabulous life of marketing, that I was blocked. I had tapped out of the blogging world, I have spilled my soul onto my website for all to read, and I needed a break. Jose, being the calm and collected type of guy that he is said, “Okay, take a break.” This coming from the guy who gets all of my notifications sent to his phone so he can keep tabs on what I put on the internet. He is invaluable in the fact that he supports me, he listens and he trusts my energy to create when I need to and to take a break when I need to. I can hear my wife Kesha saying to me, “People need time to recharge Brooke, it’s okay.”  All I can think is that when I am not creating, I am not being, which is totally hypocritical to everything I preach about being present in life. Someone in Brazil has visited my website fifty-five times, my photos and blogs have been viewed from admirers in Australia, Ecuador, Chile, and Moscow, and those are just a few. My business is growing in ways that I imagined, and with each accomplishment and opportunity I am ecstatic, but I had so much pressure on me to create, that I forgot to just be. Once I let go of all of that, I began to photograph the most incredible moments, I was able to see things I had never seen, and my imagination is now able to create freely, without limitation.

I still wake up every morning, thankful for every opportunity to photograph a new client, a new horse, thankful to travel to new places, and to learn new editing techniques. I am grateful for being put here as an artist, pressure and all. I am never content, always challenged and have gratitude for being grounded and present in all of it.

The moral of the story, as they say, is that it is alright to own your creativity, it is humbling yet draining at times to share yourself in this way with so many different people. I learn from being still. You have to learn the discomfort of being still in order to create, in order to imagine, in order to grow. 


To see more of my work please visit:



CONFESSION: Top 10 Things I Am Obsessed with Photographing

“We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.”— Ralph Hattersley

1. Babies

Cute, adorable, little bundles of snuggles and no sleep. Photographing babies can be pretty time consuming. Lots of time is spent creating a space for them that is warm and comfortable, and waiting for that perfect moment. For me it is right in between being asleep and awake. Little cuties.


2. Horses

If you have been following me on Facebook and my blog, you know that since I was a little girl I have been obsessed with horses. I am so grateful to combine my passion for photography and horses. It always gets me out of town and on a little adventure. Horses offer an escape from the world of business and lists. For me, photographing horses is so much like photographing people. They always let me know that they see me with my camera, and they give me lots of personality and emotion.


3. Big Hair

Yes, yes, yes. My daughters Elina and Naomi have a lot of hair just like their mamma. When parents ask me tips on getting their kids ready for the photo shoot I always ask them about their hair. I recommend that hair is as natural as possible. Hair has a personality all of its own and I really like to capture that in my photos. I have always taught my girls to embrace their hair and I want other kids to see just how beautiful their hair is.


4. Water

I tell my wife all the time that we are going to have a house on the ocean, and I will be able to walk out of my studio and smell the ocean while sticking my feet in the sand. Until then, I will continue to find all of the coolest places in Minnesota to incorporate water into my photos. Some of my seniors this year were brave enough to jump into fountains! I was a bit of an encourager.


5. Kids at Weddings

Of course the happy couple is the main focus, but honestly, kids at weddings are usually running around and being themselves at weddings. Adults are relaxing after the ceremony, and the kids are excited to have freedom! A little cake, (or a lot) and they are ready to go!


6. Emotion 

Emotion is always the focus of my work, it is about how my work makes you feel when you see it. I work with Kai a lot, I know her personality and it is easy to capture that with my camera and instinct. Emotion can't be forced and I am in love with the concept of letting people be themselves and letting that be the story. 


7. The Minneapolis Skyline

Maybe a little cliché, but I am a sucker for a beautiful view of downtown Minneapolis. The combination of nature with architecture is a little Gotham City meets master gardener, and I love it!


8. B&W

If I want pure, raw emotion, I go black and white. For my work, it is hands down the cleanest and most conveying way for me to express emotion to my client base. I take away color, saturation, and use contrasting shades of black and white to tell a story. I have always loved black and white and a have challenged myself to do more of it.


9. Dogs

Yep, I am obsessed with dogs too. I have been volunteering with my daughter Naomi at Safe Hands Rescue and it is so fulfilling to hear that my photos help get dogs adopted. Our family has two dogs that we adopted, Fat Boy and Duke. Both dogs are Miniature Pinschers and both very naughty. I may have to stick them on a blog post soon. If you are looking for a dog, or just interested in looking you can check out Safe Hands website


10. The Minnesota Lynx

There, I admitted it. I like to go before games and photograph the players warming up, and occasionally run into them at different gatherings. The Lynx have had a profound effect on girls and women’s basketball. Photographing them and posting photos of them is an incredible thing for people to see. I remember taking my son Khalil to see Lindsay Whalen and Janel McCarville play for the Gophers when he was little and he said he didn’t know girls could play basketball. This sport has since became a huge part of our family. My wife is a head varsity basketball coach at a high school here in Minnesota, and we love going to Lynx games. Basketball gives young women an outlet, a goal, and something to look forward to.



To see more of my work please visit:



EDITING: Photography Editing Tips For Beginners -1st Class

"Photography is not about cameras, gadgets and gizmos. Photography is about photographers. A camera didn't make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel."  -Peter Adams


Editing, the thing that can capture my attention sometimes for 12-14 hours a day. We have a sincere love/hate relationship, and like my photography skills, it gets better with time. I want to share a little bit about editing with you and get you started towards your own rocky relationship with the wonderful world of digital photography editing.

1. Shooting in RAW.

RAW is exactly that, a raw image file that captures more information than a jpg file which many of you are used to shooting in. There is a setting on your dslr camera to change this to RAW. Do it now. Smileyface. This is the most valuable thing you can do for your photos right now. When you shoot in a jpg format, you are allowing the camera to decide how your photo will look. When you shoot in RAW the camera is gathering all of the information from the camera sensor when you click the shutter and it gives you the ability to edit your photos for correct exposure, white balance, and a wealth of other things that you will not be able to do when you shoot jpg. A RAW image is like a film negative, it is the negative of your digital image. If you are not sure what format you are shooting in, ask yourself, when you upload your photos to your computer, and look at the image file number, is there a jpg on the end of the file? Read your camera manual (the best advice EVER) to see how you can change your settings to RAW. Keep in mind that when you do this you may have to switch to a larger memory card and your computer memory will fill up quicker because you will be working with larger files in RAW. The other benefit to shooting in RAW is that printing large images without shooting in RAW can be a huge mistake. If you want high quality enlargements, shoot in RAW. It will give you the capability to change the file size to where you need it to be for the size of the print you are making. If you are looking to upgrade your photography skills and get more clarity in your photos, begin shooting in RAW and immediately you will see a difference in your photos.

2. Memory.

Please, please, please, back up your work. You may be thinking, jeesh Brooke, what does this have to do with editing? It is imperative that you back up your work. Some photographers use external drives, others use clouds that store their files. There is a program called DropBox that you can access on the internet from anywhere and I often use it to send clients their files. You have to decide what works best for you. The process I use is to upload all of my RAW images to my computer, I immediately back them up onto two different external hard drives, and then I begin editing. When I have a project complete I again back up my images to the external hard drives. If you are reading this blog, then you are serious enough about photography that you love what you do even if it is a hobby and you cherish your photos. So back them up!

3. Editing Software.

There are hundreds of different editing software available. In my opinion, one is not better than the other, they all serve a purpose in some way. For those of you that want to try editing for the first time, there are free programs that you can try and are actually a lot of fun. There is Picasa, where you can also store your files. This can be a great tool if you want to easily access your files and are not using more than one software program to edit. The more popular software programs that are more advanced than Picasa include Photoshop CC, Lightroom, Elements, and another more advanced one is Capture One. Again, they all have different tools and they all have a trial that you can download to see if you like the program. My advice would be to download the trial and really spend time with it to see if you like it.

4. Editing.

Ok, down to the nitty gritty. Editing is a very vast subject. Simple editing would include, uploading your images to a program and doing minor color, exposure and white balance correction. Many of you have expressed interest in editing tips. I will continue to get more extensive with you through future blog posts, but this blog is a great way to get you started. You can see by the three photos here that editing your photos can go a long way. The first photo is the RAW image. I shot this on a windy summer day in Minnesota. There was an over cast and I did not use a reflector or a flash. You just never know how a horse will respond to equipment and I knew that I would edit these with more of a matte finish than vibrant and colorful. The second photo I edited using Photoshop Lightroom. I love, love, love this program right now. Although I usually begin editing my photos with it, there are some tools that I need that are easier for me to do in Photoshop Elements. The third photo is the final edit and I finished it in Photoshop Elements. Lots of work? Yes. This is part of what your clients are paying for. As you start to play with your new editing software, you will find a rhythm, a way of editing that you really like. Be creative and take risks here. You are an artist and it is your vision. My cousin takes beautiful landscape photos from everywhere she travels and I am so excited to see the outcome of her creativity through editing. Photoshop Elements has a beginner tool that will allow you to easily change your photo to black and white, remove blemishes, play with contrast, among other tools. This is a great way to learn the program and switch over to the expert tool once in awhile as your comfort level increases. My advice for editing is to play with a program, download the trial, play with a couple photos and I will teach you a few tools in the near future. Stay tuned!

To see more of my work please visit:

LEARNING: Photography Tips for Beginners

"You know, you do need mentors, but in the end, you really just need to believe in yourself."

-Diana Ross

When you pick up your camera and it transforms the way you see your world, when you are able to see angles differently and smiling eyes draw you in, and you see something unique that no one else has before stopped to admire, that is a sign of a photographer. You have been given a gift. It takes courage to develop a passion, it takes time, practice, risks, and goals. I can’t say one is more important than the other, but I want to express how valuable all of these tips are in achieving your dream of being a photographer.

1.  Set goals. 

This is something that I do often. I use the pretty little yellow post-it notes and I write my goals all over them. I have ones that are for daily goals, and others are goals that I have set for myself describing where I want to be with my business. There is no such thing as a small or big goal to me. I believe that once you set your intention you have already began working towards it. The reason that I don’t believe that one goal is bigger than another is because it is all leading towards the same thing, developing you. Whether your goal is to learn the settings on a new camera or to open your own studio, these are amazing steps you are taking with the intention of being a photographer, and it is all relative. Also, it is so important to be grateful for your accomplishments. Every time I can cross off a goal on my little post-it note because I achieved it, I celebrate. Every time you set a goal, take a moment and imagine that you have already reached it. Imagining your goal is the quickest way of bringing it into your reality. Set goals, write them down, look at them often and imagine you are already celebrating your achievements.

2.  Be open to a receiving a mentor. 

I have different mentors for different things. You have to decide what you need a mentor for and absolutely be open to one working with you. There is a good chance that you may not even know what you need to be mentored in. Photography is sort of like a mosaic containing many different stories and aspects, yet they are all one thing. Along with your goals, decide what you would like to know more about, and accept help when it is offered. I cherish my mentors. They are supportive and have an endless supply of brainstorming power that they share with me whenever we meet. I meet with them often and I open myself to learning. This is your craft, your passion, let others contribute to it and value their time. They want you to succeed as much as you do. They will give you feedback and ideas that you may really need to hear. Let them help you get to where you want to be.

3. Practice. 

Practice. Practice. Practice. Your skill level will not grow if you are not submersing yourself in your work. You may work a full-time job, have kids, and other responsibilities. I get totally it. Make a decision to bring your camera with you for a day at least once a week. On a daily basis I take note of hundreds of things that I want to take a photo of, and I usually do it. If I am not with a client shooting I make time to practice in other ways. Maybe you are used to shooting with natural light and you want to learn studio lighting. There is a good possibility that you forget how beautiful the snow can be in Minnesota. Learn to shoot something new and jeesh, bring your camera with you!

4. Take Risks.

At every photo shoot I have done, I take a risk. I go to locations where people are not supposed shoot, I move things that I probably should not, and my clients laugh at me a lot while security guards ask me to move to a new location. I take risks. I am not in any way saying that it is okay to break rules or to disrespect space and locations, but I push limits a little bit to get my shot. I am mindful of who I am shooting with and safety is a priority. Being creative is important, and so is achieving a vision that I have for a photograph. Taking risks also means shooting at new locations and being vulnerable with your camera. Great shots often come with great risk. Be playful, have fun, and challenge yourself.

5. Look for trends in your work.

There are most likely things that you are drawn to photographing more than others. On another level, there is a style that you have that is all your own. Maybe you have identified it, but maybe not. For myself, I love to create portraits and relate it to nature and architecture. I tend to shoot by water too. My style is unique and I don’t tend to fall into current photography styles and use trendy presets. I am learning and developing my own style and I am mastering it. Whether you are into nature, landscapes, birds, portraits, events, you actually do have a style and people get to know it very quickly. Look through your photos, pay attention to what catches your eye. Develop those ideas that you have for your work remember to be unique. Your vision is all your own, be exclusive and rare, it will get you a long way and fulfill you in a way that achieving someone else’s vision will not.

6. Print and display your work. 

Yes, I am guilty of not doing this as often as I should. There is something about printing your work that gives it life and I have started to do this more often. My wife and I have a favorite tree that we pass on the way to our home. I stopped to photograph it one night and I got it printed as a metal print and gave it to my wife as a gift. She loves trees and they are very symbolic to her. We spend thousands and thousands of hours shooting and editing and posting on social media, but we often forget the last step of printing, which can bring a new level of confidence to our work. I have also found that it is valuable to print my work so I can see how my photos look off of a computer. I can see little things that I may want to change such as a color, a blemish or tones I may want to play with. It is a disservice to yourself and your work to not print it. Have fun with all of the different options that printing offers and enjoy your work!

7. Believe in yourself.  

No matter what has happened in your life, regardless of where you are at in your life this very moment, you have to believe in yourself if you want to be a photographer. For many, it is a very unconventional field to be in. At times you may feel like it is a bit of a hustle, and there can be a lot of unknowns. The one thing that can keep you on the right track is believing in yourself and your work. When you believe in yourself you will attract the right people and opportunities to you. The first few years of photography for most is such a growing time especially skill wise. You will see yourself learning very rapidly and an abundance of opportunities will come your way when you believe wholeheartedly in your passion. Dreams become a reality when you remove doubt from your mind and vocabulary. Tell yourself daily that you got this. Remind yourself that you are worthy of great clients, you are a skilled photographer and that will carry you throughout your career. It can take a lot out of someone to have a passion where you are constantly growing and managing a lot on your own, but that’s part of being a photographer and it is part of the fun. Believe in yourself, you have to be your biggest fan.

8. Try new things.

Whether it is getting a new camera, or finding an amazing print distributor, take a risk and try something new. There is a unique website that will do all of the research for you when it comes to investing your time and money into something new. This is what they have to say about finding a new camera for a new photographer: 


For professionals, finding the best DSLR camera comes down to personal preference and skill. But for budding photographers, the best should be easy to use, provide useful features like a long battery life, and help you learn the ins and outs of photography. To figure this out, the team at (a company that creates unbiased reviews) consulted professional photographers, read photography sites, and then tested four highly regarded cameras to find out which DSLR offers the best user experience.

Best for Beginners
Nikon D3400
A built-in guide will help beginners learn the basics of advanced photography, and its lightweight design and variety of lenses makes it a great camera to practice and grow with. Plus, it’s relatively affordable at only $650.
Others to Consider
Canon EOS Rebel T6i
A microphone port and adjustable display screen makes this camera a great option for shooting video. But in terms of technical specs, it won’t perform as well as the Nikon or be as easy to use. It’s also an investment at $750.
Pentax K-S2
A surprisingly solid camera with technical specs that outperform their top pick. It’s also slightly cheaper at $600. However, it has a much steeper learning curve and won’t be the best fit for beginners with little experience.

To see more of their research and methodology, check it out here:


Have fun and explore! 

To see more of my work please visit:


WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY: When Love Takes A Hold of My Camera


"The soul never thinks without a picture." -Aristotle


“We were blessed to have engaged Brooke to capture the magic of our June wedding. Kathy and I lamented that we were so centered on one another that we missed so much…the joy and happy tears of our families, the adorable little boys carrying ring boxes and sticking out their tongues, the festive mood of our reception, and how our look of love for one another is evident in our smiles. Getting Brooke’s lovely photos enabled us to relive it again and again, and see so much we missed in the moment. Her sensitivity, creativity and humanity are manifest in every one of her pictures. What a wonderful talent she has!”

 –Dana Badgerow President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota


There is something about weddings that makes my job so worthwhile. Maybe it is all of the preparation that is done months advance, allowing me to capture a stunning bride, or a spontaneous and gentle tear falling from her wife's eye. It may be that there is so much loving energy in the air that it entangles me and wraps around my camera, and I am able to capture the day in its essence. Kathy and Dana are an amazing couple, they are giving, they cherish each other, and after many years of being together they were able to marry the love of their lives, and I cried for most of the wedding.

Tears fall at weddings, I am so guilty of it. There was a point during the ceremony where a slideshow was presented and it was pictures of Kathy and Dana, beautifully showing us how they have grown together as a couple. I focused my camera on their family and it was a sea of tissue and red faces, their family was overwhelmed with love and admiration for the two love birds.

As a wedding photographer it is my job to get to know the couple long before the wedding. I book engagement sessions with couples to study their love languages and pick out the flirty quirks they share while in each other’s presence. It is my style to capture their relationship while allowing them to forget that I am even there. Kathy and Dana were easy to get to know. What I felt on their wedding day was admiration for each other, passion for their relationship, and one thing that I don’t always see and feel at weddings was that they were present in the moment. Dana looks at Kathy with love and it is obvious that the feeling is mutual. Lucky me to be there to capture it all.

Dana was kind enough to write a review about me and how I made her feel about the experience she had with me. It is invaluable to get to know your clients, to allow their personalities to tell their story, and to capture all of the little, yet priceless moments of their special day. At the end of their ceremony I remember Dana literally jumping up and down. Years of waiting for this day all came full circle for her and it was one of the most blissful moments that I have seen shared between a couple.

When my wedding clients view their photos for the first time I do it with them. I live for their reactions. It is priceless and fulfilling. I have an ability to bring people back to a treasured moment, and they are fulfilled with that same emotion that they felt in the photo. For both of us it is like opening a perfectly wrapped gift, ribbon included.


To hire me and to see more of my work please visit: