Even Sue Bryce Has ‘I Hate My Job’ Days

Sue Bryce in action. Photo by Mike Folden.
Sue Bryce in action. Photo by Mike Folden.

Here’s an important reminder from one of our favorite motivational figures: Even those who teach have something to learn.

Master photographer and CreativeLive instructor Sue Bryce (and her pug, Cookie) recently joined our host Russ Andes on video chat to talk about how to make it through those self-doubt days — and how it’s never too late to learn a new skill from someone you admire.

“It’s not easy,” says Sue, who adds she frequently gets into a dark mental state that can be hard to shake. “Sometimes I just feel like… just a girl who can’t do this on her own. And I go through the ‘I hate my job’ stage. And I might have a bad client or a bad experience that I’ve somehow created in my studio and I just want to give up.”

How does Sue, who is basically the Oprah of the photo industry, push through the hard times and get to the other (glowing, glamorous) side?

“There’s just got to be something that gets you up every day and makes you want to reconnect with your business,” Sue says. Whether it’s remembering why you love photography in the first place, or learning a new skill that you’ve always thought was too hard, taking responsibility for the state of your business — and your life — is the only way to rise above it.

“If you want to deal with anything, you’ve got to deal with yourself first,” says Sue, “it’s not anybody else’s fault. It’s not happening to you.”

Sue herself is soon tackling a new skill, in the classic Sue Bryce way — she’ll be bearing her soul while learning live, in front of a global audience. “I don’t use any form of studio lighting, and I need to learn,” she reveals candidly.

To help her learn studio lighting, Sue called portrait photographer Felix Kunze, from whom, she says, she spent several days learning different lighting setups and techniques. She enjoyed Felix’s teaching style so much that she thought others might, too — so, in May, they’ll be teaching a course together on CreativeLive.

“I’m going to shoot my style of glamour and natural light and teach a little bit more about that…and he’s going to replicate each of my shots in studio lighting and teach me.”

The course, Sue says, if a different approach — one that she hopes will be more illuminating (pardon the pun) than more “high-brow” workshops.

“The problem with lighting workshops is that I don’t understand them!” she says. “I don’t get it, I don’t enjoy it, and I’m just really stubborn. I said to Felix, ‘If you’re going to teach me, you have to teach me how to do it. So I’m going to be standing there asking you dumb questions.'”

Constant learning and seeking guidance is, says Sue, one of the best ways to stay inspired, and one of the things she wishes she’d known when she was first starting out.

“I wish I’d have had more education and guidance in the first five years. I mean, if CreativeLive had existed 20 years ago, it would have changed my world.”

Check out more from Sue Bryce, including her vast collection of courses, over on her instructor page

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Hanna Brooks Olsen is a writer and editor for CreativeLive, longtime reporter, and the co-founder of Seattlish. Follow her on Twitter at @mshannabrooks or go to her website for more stuff.