This week I have the pleasure of bringing you an interview with portrait photographer Sue Bryce. She has established a successful business around portrait sessions for women. She produces amazing work, as you’ll be able to see, and has a strong business sense. I came to contact with her through an online workshop, and had to include her in this series.
How did you get started in photography?
I started at 18 working for a pro lab as a retoucher and then an 80’s glamour studio and began shooting at 22. I have spent the last 20 years modernizing a more contemporary natural light style and in 2003, opened my own studio.
Does one need to have formal training?
I do not have any formal training. I am completely self-taught. Workshops were not available back then. Now it seems there is a workshop for everything and, of course, just about anything can be found online. But nothing replaces trial and error and experience of course.
What were the main obstacles you faced along your career?
Learning to evolve. I started off with a Hasselblad medium format camera and then learned that digital is the future. I used to retouch with a paintbrush and then learned Photoshop on a computer. Evolution is the way of the future. More changes can be expected in our industry, so we must learn to accept that change. Evolve or die is my mentality, and I get excited about new technology, not fearful.
What are the ingredients for success as a photographer?
A habitually positive mindset, stop minding what others in your industry are doing and start minding your ‘own business’. Learn from a master who successfully earns an income. Learn to make money before you start a business, or get a job in the industry to learn. There comes a time when you must stop thinking and start doing. Action takes the fear out of what you’re doing.
Where do you find inspiration?
I am inspired by driven hardworking people that have the Healthy Wealthy positive mentality to life and business; people who are actively creating their own futures like many of my amazing friends.
What photographers (if any) do you consider a reference in your field?
I know so many brilliant photographers. The ones I admire the most are the people that do what they love, offer great service and encourage others in the industry. Egos are huge in this industry. I’m not trying to be the worlds’ best Photographer, I have a great business and brand and I love what I do. That is success to me.
Do you post produce your images? Are there limits?
Yes. As a professional retoucher I must admit it is the hardest thing to let go of. I’m constantly seeing Photographers wasting days on Photoshop when they should outsource. I have just hired a new retoucher this year.
You photograph mostly women. Is this an artistic or a business choice?
Women are my business. I do photograph men, but I advertise to women because they are the ones booking the session. Common sense, no other reason. Take a look around at the beauty industry. Who is it they are marketing too?
What advice would you give to someone making a start in photography?
Learn form a master shooter that is successfully earning an income. Mind your own BUSINESS Stay positive minded. Learn marketing and business, and learn to value your work so that you are rewarded your worth. Offer outstanding service. “Do NOT compare yourself to others. You will become vain and bitter for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself” (my favorite quote)
Sue Bryce is the Australian Portrait Photographer of the year for 2011 and 2012. She built a portrait business from zero to $25,000 per week as a single woman in her home garage. Forget the 90′s Glamour trend, because Sue is reinventing the category.