Working with Shannon Brooke

Luxurious, self-indulgent, and a bit of glamour was to be the start of my February. I had the honor of booking a shoot with Shannon Brooke; a photographer I’ve followed on IG and someone I’ve been wanting to work with, but a little too intimidated to reach out.

A bit of backstory: I actually had reached out to her before, when she announced on IG on having some time available to book. I was having a bit of wine one night, and it gave me a bit of courage to send an email expressing interest. When she got back to me to ask about any ideas or themes I had, my nerves got the better of me and I never replied (I know, it’s a total faux pas, but I panicked).

This time, though, I reached out again when she was available to book, and I was faced again with the same questions as before. Only this time I persevered and started to work up a correspondence to brainstorm together.

I had this nebulous idea that I wanted to fulfill, and together we came up with a concept. I wanted this shoot to be special, and something incredibly meaningful to me. 

The location we decided on was LA; which was great since I had been meaning to do a proper visit to spend time with my friends. 

I wanted to treat myself and decided to something a little more upscale than what I typically do for my visits to Southern California. This time, I would skip Orange County entirely and spend almost all of my time in LA. It’s been years and years since I used to live ’round those parts, so it felt a bit like going home.

I booked The Prospect Hotel in Hollywood for the duration of my stay. It seemed to be everything I wanted; some place that was low-key and quiet. It was relatively close to the studio I had booked for the shoot, a more of a boutique experience, with a touch of Hollywood Regency to top it all off. I would be traveling solo, and I’d be staying for a week, so it was important to me to find something comfortable and relaxing.

A sanctuary made for celebrating the the finer points of slowed down, glamour living, like the days of Old Hollywood.

Condé Nast Traveler

My daily breakfast consisted of fresh baked pastries and coffee that I would have in the lobby. I took advantage of their room service; a charcuterie board all to myself and champagne that was given to me when I first arrived. Also cookies, because why not?

Much love and many thanks to Anthony, who kindly picked me up and schlepped me practically everywhere (and also took this photo!)

I absolutely loved my hotel room, the décor was impeccable! Moreover, I was not expecting it to be so large; I greatly appreciated the extra space. My room was located on the bottom floor; convenient and easy to drag my suitcase(s) to and from the studio. It had a large window that overlooked the shared garden space in the middle of the hotel and a cushy sofa right below for your own private view. I never had any noise issues during my stay there as well, a definite plus.

I didn’t have much time to unpack when I first got there, since I was to meet with some friends for dinner. My head barely hit the pillow before I KTFO’ed for the night.

shoot day

I woke up reasonably early to allow myself ample time to eat breakfast and to get myself ready for the shoot. I wanted to take my time in putting on my makeup before heading to the location. Helps in calming my nerves and to focus my mind for the day ahead.

The eye shadow gods decided to look down kindly on me, and I thought I did a bang up job on the look I was going for.

I didn’t bother styling my hair; I brought a few of my styled wigs for the shoot. Because of me doing my hair and makeup, I really wanted to be as efficient as I could. It’s great to be self-reliant in situations such as these. I didn’t have to plan and spend extra on an MUA and hairstylist and the risk of not liking the result. Maybe someday I’ll have the opportunity, and it would be nice to sit back in the chair and let others do the work.

When I got to the studio, Shannon was already there and planning out the areas she wanted to use.  Right away, she introduced herself and gave me a rough timeline of our shoot. I found her to be kind and warm; I had told her about my inexperience in shooting with others and how difficult it can be for me, and she was very understanding. I found it easy and enjoyable to work with her; she gave good, clear directions, would tell me the kind of shot she was going for, which helped me greatly in figuring out what to do. Furthermore, I loved the encouraging feedback and the excitement she’d get when she got the shot. Even when we got to the boudoir part of the shoot, I was never made uncomfortable and again her direction helped in easing my nerves so much. There was never a time I felt objectified or embarrassed, and overall, it was such a positive experience.

Before we knew it, our session was over. We quickly packed up, straightened the borrowed studio, and said our goodbyes. If I ever have the opportunity, I would love to work with her again.

With the shoot now out of the way, I spend the rest of my trip socializing and visiting. I overstuffed myself at the restaurants I visited, did a bit of shopping on my own, spent quality time with the meaningful people in my life, and even had some downtime near the end which I sorely needed.

I bought myself a new pair of sunglasses and a Lady Dior phone holder that I’ve taken to use as my crafting bag, along with another scarf because bunnies.

The phone holder is perfect for my on-the-go crafting when I am out. It’s just the right size to hold a pair of scissors, a printed portion of my cross stitch pattern, a highlighter, a needle case, and embroidery threads. Yes, I know it’s extra but I love it.

I had lunch at Ladurée and the lady serving me was insistent in having me take my leftovers, despite telling her that I was only visiting and didn’t have room for it.

I was starting to slow down near the end of my trip. Everything seemed to be starting to catch up to me, and I was becoming increasingly homesick. The last day or two I spent relaxing in my room and watching movies on the laptop I had brought with me. On one of my excursions, I went and treated myself to a massage at a spa. On another occasion, I spent the day visiting Anthony and went into total hermit mode. It was so therapeutic. I had packed one of my cross stitch projects with me, and it was wonderful to sit there in companionable silence near the beach. 

If I were to do something similar again, I would either shorten my stay if I were to travel solo, or plan with Mel and we could spend time together.

Looking back, I am glad that I went. The shoot felt like a success. Spending some quality time with friends was something I felt that I sorely needed. Being able to travel and visit is something that I am grateful for. I took this trip in lieu of traveling abroad and made the most of it.