This week Rock the Shot welcomes Sue Bryce! Voted Australian Portrait Photographer of the Year 2011, Sue is an amazingly talented photographer, and a brilliant business woman!! We are so excited to have Sue share her work with us today and hope you enjoy getting to know her better!
Where did your inspiration for photography begin?
My Mother was a professional retoucher and she was my inspiration. I worked in the art room at a lab for 4 years as a retouch artist. When I saw my first glamour shoot come through I said to myself “I want to do that!” I got my first start in shooting portraits in a studio at the age of 22.
How would you describe your photography style?
Contemporary Portrait. Modern Glamour or Fashion Inspired Portraits
Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?
I have no formal education in business, marketing, sales or even photography for that matter. I had a huge drive and incredible passion doing something that I loved. All lessons were learned along the way, sometimes the hard way. The point is learn and keep evolving.
Are you a Canon or Nikon lady? And what is your favorite lens?
I’m a Canon lady and my favourite lens is the 35mm 1.4. I’ve always had a 24 – 105mm too it’s the most versatile close quarters lens for what I do.
Do you use natural light or studio lights?
Absolutely a natural light photographer! Natural light seems to scare people but I think not as much as flash does. I am so narrow minded when it comes to flash, when I see models shot with flash I say FASHION when I see everyday women shot with flash I say BAD GLAMOUR yuck yuck. Natural light for me is the essence of what I do. I have sheets of Polystyrene they are the best reflectors in the world and the bounce the most beautiful light then I always have about 4 metres of chiffon in my camera bag its light and easy to carry and you can pin it anywhere to soften hard light.
How did you come to specialize in “Glamour Photography”?
What I loved about the photographic industry in 199O’s was ‘Glamour’ so I worked hard and got a job with New Zealand’s leading Glamour studio. As a young woman who was a girly girl, I thought the whole glamour genre was just fabulous, but just as I began shooting my first studio portraits, “Glamour“ soon became a dirty word.
In 1990 Family portraits were becoming the new big thing and weddings were commanding sales in excess of $5000. Then it changed and we weren’t allowed to say Glamour anymore. The studio was evolving at an incredible rate but I was young and didn’t want to shoot babies, families or weddings. I convinced my boss at the time to keep the makeup artist and although for 6 years I continued on shooting family portraits and babies, I also kept a small glamour side of the business alive. It was what I loved more than anything and important for me to maintain my passion whilst trying hard to move away from the glamour stigma that was dogging us. Like everything if you wait long enough it comes back into fashion.
How important is pricing when starting a new business?
Pricing is VERY important because you don’t want to come in too low and undercut the market but you also have to find your feet. It’s one of the biggest things people struggle with I would recommend finding a mentor or someone who has a lot of years of experience in the industry to help you with this.
How do you sell value to your customer when the price tag may be higher then they expect?
Price is only an issue in the absence of value.
I’ve been lucky enough to experience walking into GUCCI on the Champs Elysees in Paris and spending 3000 French francs on a Handbag and I realised in that moment I am a luxury item. I cost more than a GUCCI handbag. So I set out to create the Gucci experience. In the end it’s all about SERVICE.
The longer I take to pre consult and educate my client and the more I LISTEN to what they truly want, the more they spend. The longer I take to shoot and connect, the more they like me. The faster I turn around a quality product, the referrals skyrocket. My shoot quality has to be exceptional. The less shoots I do per week at a higher quality, doubles my average. Not to mention taking the time with every client is a wonderful experience for me.
What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?
Service is everything!
If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?
I can’t pick one: To balance the creativity of being a photographer with Business acumen and goals. Or personal development. Believing you are good enough to sell your work and stop comparing yourself to others and of course, service to lift the quality of our industry.
What do you love most about being a photographer?
I think I have the coolest job in the world. I stop time for people and I show them how truly beautiful they are.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
World Domination….Leader of The Global Glamour Revolution!
On a more serious note, I hope to be still growing, still shooting and evolving more illustrative, creative work.
About Sue: My name is Sue Bryce and I have been a Portrait Photographer for 22 years. I am not a trust fund baby or a rich wife (yet!) I built a business that went from zero to $20,000 per week in turn over in my country garage. I have no formal education in business, marketing, sales or even photography for that matter. I started shooting at the height of the 90’s Glamour trend. I have seen many fads and styles come and go including my own entire genre Glamour when this happened I developed my own style and worked hard to forge a new path into contemporary portrait. I have a huge drive and incredible passion doing something that I love.