Today we’d like to introduce you to Susan Taylor.
Susan, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Since I was a small girl, I was always interested in photography. Unable to think of much else, I realized as a young adult, it was my passion. My first camera, a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye which my father gave me when I was 10, sits on a shelf in my office to this day. As a single mom with two small children, it seemed daunting to leave the security of a steady paycheck to pursue my passion, which was always on my mind. Finally, in 1999 I decided to slowly transition out of the 8-5 job…. It was time to make the leap from amateur photographer to Pro. I started taking master photography classes conducted by Professional Photographers of America on natural lighting, studio lighting, posing and composition. In 2000, I was commissioned to photograph the local elementary school class photos. It was then that I fully realized this was my calling, and I was off to the races!
In 2001 I joined the Professional Photographers of San Diego where I was able to network and land work as a second shooter for some of the top wedding photographers in San Diego. Expanding my networking web, I was able to secure work shooting real estate agents/business headshots, as well as events and family portraits. As my work and experience has evolved, I’ve honed my skills to focus mostly on weddings, events and family portraits. I’ve always enjoyed people and feel a connection with my clients through my work, which is likely why I never really had an interest in wildlife or landscape photography. Some of the events and celebrities of note I’ve photographed include Larry King, Paul Williams, Leonard Stone (of Willy Wonka fame) and KC and the Sunshine Band to name a few.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The first setback I experienced when jumping into photography full time was 2008…. The recession. Just as I was enjoying a rapidly increasing clientele base and business was booming…. 2008 happened. It was almost as if someone turned a switch off. As people transitioned to tight budgets, luxuries like family photos, updated headshots, and even weddings were on the chopping block. It has been a slow recovery but still has not returned to pre-2008 levels. There was another obstacle looming on the horizon that few people saw coming….
Paradoxically, technology has been the greatest boon to photography, but at the same time it has presented significant challenges. When I started out, digital photography hadn’t become a thing yet and film was the only option. You had rolls of 24 or 36 exposure film canisters and every single shot mattered. This meant you had to know your stuff to get the money shot. Years of experience, several master classes and some innate talent were required to become a true artist. When digital photography started to take hold, it was amazing to be able to touch up and manipulate images easily on a computer without spending countless hours in a dark room waiting to see if you actually had something exceptional. As digital storage capacity increased, we were no longer limited by the quantity of images. So now, we could shoot as many images as we wanted and there were many, many great shots. Exposures and sharpness and colors could easily be corrected in Photoshop…. Technology is GREAT!
Then came the iPhone. This is where the true art of what a professional photographer does gets somewhat lost in the abyss of unlimited photographs and videos that have become the norm for the modern generation. The quality has become increasingly better on smart devices for screen viewing, however it still isn’t quite there yet for high-quality printing. Additionally, point and shoot cameras have become better and cheaper, increasing the field of “budding” photographers even more. It seems just about anyone with a smartphone these days is a “photographer”. After all, if you are able to take 800 photos, you’re bound to get a “good”one! The challenge now is to rise above the fray and have key differentiators that still appeal to the client that wants a true artist, the highest image quality with fun and interesting shooting locations.
My advice to someone starting out in photography would be to find your niche. You need differentiation. Additionally, take as many classes as you can to hone your skill. I continue to take classes on an on-going basis to stay current with ever-changing styles and techniques.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Susan Magre Photography – what should we know?
I love people. I enjoy getting to know my clients, learning their likes and dislikes and to understand their vision for their session. This helps me choose from my arsenal of unique locations around San Diego. From an urban, edgy vibe, to rural country settings and helps people to relax and feel more natural and comfortable with me. Through many years of shooting around the county, I’ve collected some very special spots to meet just about everyone’s taste. Recently a client wanted her children photographed in a “farm-like” environment. No problem! I happen to have pet goats and chickens at my house and was eager to include them in a shoot!
We’re interested to hear your thoughts on female leadership – in particular, what do you feel are the biggest barriers or obstacles?
Fortunately, in my area of photography, women are typically preferred over men. The reason is likely that women are better for human subjects because they generally have more patience, are more relate-able to both sexes and are more comfortable around children and chaos!
- Website: www.susanmagre.com
- Phone: 858-353-5500
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: susanmagre
- Facebook: susan magre photography
All photos ©Susan Magre Photography