Editors Note: Long red hair and a dusting of freckles to match. Brooke Elizabeth, the australian face behind a portfolio of intensely raw, hazy images, mostly exploring the female self. Waterfall, full moon or ocean – her entwining of femininity and nature bring a connection and softness to her work, and give an intense freedom to her photographs. Hand the girl a camera, and the magic happens.
How long have you been behind a camera?
I’ve been shooting on and off since I was 13 or 14, so about 12 years. It’s always a hobby of mine – I never leave my house without my camera. But professionally, I’ve been building a career for about 3 years.
What does a typical day shooting with you look like?
Is there a ‘typical’ day? Not really, I don’t think. It’s always different. To be honest, a lot of the time I just “wing it”. More often than not those shoots turn out to be the best. One day I could be doing a fashion editorial shoot and another day a spontaneous nudie shoot!
Like – one time, I met these two incredible, down to Earth, kind-hearted men – Luke & Oliver [above and below]. This shoot wasn’t planned at all, but it turned out to be my favourite yet. It’s raw, beautiful and one that’s pretty close to my heart, as it just so happened to be around the time of the Marriage Equality postal vote in Australia.
“It breaks my heart that there is still a debate on same sex marriage. Love has no gender. Love is love. Same-sex marriage is not a privilege, it’s EQUAL RIGHTS. Why wouldn’t you want someone to be happy? I just don’t understand it. And sure, everyone is entitled to their opinions but what I won’t stand for is discrimination, bullying or hate. I want my LGBTQ friends to have the same rights I do.
LOVE is my religion. LOVE is the answer. I’m not great with words, so I’m doing what I do best, expressing my feelings through my photos.” [words taken directly from Brooke’s website]
But on a shoot, I always play some music, try to have some fun and make the models’ feel comfortable. That’s one thing I’ve been told a lot – how comfortable models feel around me. I’m not sure exactly what I do to create that mood, but it’s always a nice feeling to be told that.
How do your natural surroundings inspire your work?
My location definitely comes through in my work. I try and incorporate as much nature into my photos as humanly possible, and I’m almost always shooting outside. Particularly on the Sunshine Coast, there’s so many amazing locations, from beach to hinterland to waterfalls … we have it all. I honestly have to pinch myself sometimes, how lucky am I to live in a place like this?
Our Mother Earth is so beautifully raw and untouched and I try to incorporate that feeling into my photos, and with the women I work with.
Most of your work is shot with women. Why?
Yeah, more often I shoot with women. I don’t limit myself by only shooting with women, but I find I generally feel more connected to a female model, and there’s something so beautiful and unique to each woman I shoot with.
In this industry, there’s so much photoshop, so many “beauty standards”, and it’s all so fake. Really, I think, I just want to do more to help women love the skin they’re in. Through my work, I try to demonstrate aspects of femininity; self love, vulnerability, radiance, and beauty – natural and soft, yet powerful.
What do you look for when finding girls to work with?
Uniqueness. It really depends on the job, but I am drawn to someone who is not afraid to be a little different.
Can you tell me a bit about your ‘full moon goddess series’?
It’s probably one of my favourite things I’ve created. The idea was drifting around my head for a long time … I’ve always been obsessed with the moon, and I just feel this beautiful energy and connection around the moon in a way I can’t fully explain. So one day… I just decided to do it – created a facebook event, sent a message out on instagram … just to see how much interest there was. Frankly, it was overwhelming how many people wanted to be a part of it.
The very first one … the atmosphere was amazing. I couldn’t control my smile the whole shoot. So many women together, supporting each other … it was such a beautiful energy. There were a few – at least half – of the girls who were hesitant and nervous, girls who hadn’t done anything like this before. But their nervous energy just dissapeared within 10 minutes. They weren’t alone, and everyone was really supportive of each other.
The energy of the shoot was super powerful. I just felt so happy and had this overwhelming sense of gratitude for all of these women embracing their vulnerability.
It turned out so well I decided to do one every month as the full moon rose (or, as close to every month as possible!). I’ve done seven in total; sometimes they’re big groups, sometimes small groups, and even occasionally just one person.
It’s been so rewarding… I’ve had so many messages from women thanking me for doing this, telling me it’s helped them with their confidence, their self acceptance, their insecurities. It’s helped me, too – I (just like everyone else) have body image issues from time to time, and watching these different, beautiful individuals learning to embrace and love themselves is so special. The shoots just sort of evolved into this powerful event.
I just want to show that everyone is beautiful and belongs. No matter, colour, size, background. Anything. I just want to make people feel good.
When women come together, they create magic.