Self expression

Brooke Golightly at her studio in the Arts & Humanities Council’s Hardesty Arts Center (AHHA). Some of her photographs, which are self-portraits, are shown behind her.

Many visual artists, from the classical masters to award-winning contemporary photographers, often use models in their work. But professional photographer Brooke Golightly works both behind and in front of her lens, and says she takes cues from the likes of Frida Kahlo, Cindy Sherman, Vincent Van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci

You create some interesting, emotional photos. Describe how they come about. The inspiration for my photos comes from many different places. Some are definitely autobiographical, but some come from what I see close friends go through. And then I think many of them come from the things that all of us go through constantly in life. They are absolutely tied to an emotional place in my own heart, that’s for sure. 

I think it’s interesting to see how other people decipher the photos for themselves. Often I can’t imagine why someone will find dark connotations in a photo I’ve done because it’s coming from an entirely different place for me.

What exactly do you try to convey or express through your images? All kinds of various things come to mind. I’m not exactly always being literal; you have to keep that in mind. There’s a photo I did a few years ago that appears as though a woman is hanging in a tree ... yet it looks like she’s casually got scissors hanging from a finger. When I created that picture, I wanted to show that we often have choices in life where we have the tools to change a situation that is harmful to us, but we don’t for whatever reason. I think that’s something a lot of people can relate to — I just may choose to say it a different way. 

How do you choose your models? Actually, I’m a self-portrait artist, although I photograph myself in a way that creates ambiguity. I use a tripod and a remote to get the shots I want, and I will usually create a sort of character, in a way, using wigs and often vintage clothing to get the right feel I want for a picture. It’s not a new idea, obviously. Many artists through the ages have used self-portraiture as a form of artistic expression.

Where locally can your work be seen? I just closed a joint show at TAC gallery that I did with a photographer friend, Western Doughty. Other than that, I just plan to enter some juried shows this year locally and follow up on some suggestions about galleries out of town. Additionally, I am a studio artist at the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa Hardesty Arts Center (AHHA; 101 E. Archer St.), so anyone could make an appointment to stop in and come up. Also, my work can be found online at


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