Interview with Susan Stripling
everybody Welcome Susan Stripling. Susan, how are you doing? Doing really good. Um, I miss you guys out in Seattle, but wedding season is getting started here, so it's gonna be a big year. Awesome. Yeah, we miss you too. It's been fantastic. Tell us a little bit about your creative composition course from food a week. Sure. The creative composition course basically takes one wedding from start to finish from the getting ready all the way through a ceremony family, formals, bridegroom together and reception and just shows you how you can stay fresh and state unique and maybe see something a little bit different every single time you go out to a wedding. So instead of just showing kind of the best of the best of all of my images, I just took one wedding and we go from beginning to end with it. That is so awesome. Because we do. We frequently see the highlights. We see, like one image from this one in one image from that one. But understanding the wedding as a whole package is a really di...
fferent way to see it. And I really enjoyed your your course. So I'm excited for people to be able to see it, but something that I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about because it just happened a little bit ago and was a huge event was our 30 days of wedding photography with Susan Stripling. How was that experience for you, law? No, it was I mean, it was amazing. It did two things, really. It let me teach every single thing that I have always wanted to teach day by day in piece by piece, and really spend a lot of time with every segment. And it also personally forced me to go back to the very beginning of my career and all the work I've done and all the business and marketing decisions that I've made and reevaluate all the changes that I've made, decisions that I've made along the way. And it just really helped, you know, it helped a lot of other photographers, but it also helped myself re solidify what I'm doing now and how I want to continue moving forward. So it is. What do we figure out? It was something like 47 hours worth of wedding photography education. And, you know, there's not a whole lot of other educational opportunities out there that will give you the same thing. So I I like to think that it's pretty unique. Yeah, it is, because again, we we frequently see like, ah, chunk here or a trunk there. And this was seeing that whole package, which is so valuable to people, because it is something that eyes hard to find. It's not out there in many places that I know of where you can actually follow along with a professional working wedding photographer from the start to the finish. So what's like your favorite memory of that course? What was that? What was a moment that stands out for you? Honestly, for me? Actually, the moment that most stood out for me was pulling out my pricing calculator and not only having to take that calculator and lay it out and teach everyone of all the components and all of the things that go into pricing for profitability. But again, it made me refocus on all of my numbers, which I try to do really regularly. But at the start of the wedding season, it was especially helpful seeing how much money I needed to bring in this year, seeing that I was still price for profitability, knowing that 2014 was gonna be a good year, and then it also let me make some budgetary decisions on here that I wanted to buy and investments that I wanted to make for the year. So I feel like doing all of that was a big moment for me because it helped me make some decisions that maybe I wouldn't have this year if I hadn't looked at my numbers as hard as I did and continue to. That's so funny because our co founder, Craig Swanson, is always saying that he thinks the best creativelive events are the ones where the instructor takes is much away from it, as the audience does. And it sounds like this actually gave you a chance to really re evaluate your own work as you like. What am I? Am I going to teach this? Well, am I doing that? And am I doing it right? And that's really cool. Being able to actually see have that effect as well. I love that. That's nice. I think it's also very helpful for us. Is photographic instructors to not stand up here and pretend that we have the answers to everything all the time and that we make right decisions all the time is very honest with the decisions that I've made that haven't been great. Or maybe not. You know, it's financially productive is I wanted them to be. And you know, learning from my own words is, you know, I think that that's a very helpful thing for people to know that even the instructors that are getting up there and teaching you are still continuing to take their own fight, to take their own advice and just try to better themselves in all arenas. Yeah, because if you're not constantly evaluating as things change, then you're using information that's old and you're following something. Ah, situation that's may not necessarily apply. And that's I think, a concept that is is universal, not just in the in the business side, not just in the pricing but in your craft. In your creative composition. Are you still doing something that was stylistically appropriate 10 years ago but is not what people are expecting now? I mean, it's it's that that question of constant self analysis that will really drive you to a successful business. So I absolutely agree with you. Love that. Okay, so let's talk a little bit about what you've got going on right now. What is new and big in the world of Susan Stripling? Well, um I spent a lot of time during 30 days talking about mistakes that I made and sort of things that I said I would never, ever do again. And one of the And I hate to use the word mistake because I think that we learned from everything that we've done. But I said that one of the moves that I made that wasn't a very good one was when I opened a studio back in. And it was 2006 that it wasn't a good move for me at the time and that I really never saw myself opening a studio again. I'm actually opening a studio. No, I had a really wonderful opportunity to share a studio space with a really good friend of mine. So it's enabling me to not make the mistakes that I made before the financial overhead is split between two people instead of one. And I know very clearly in concrete Lee what I want to shoot in the space. So I'm not just going into it saying, Well, I'll shoot. You know, whatever people hire me to shoot, I have a strong business plan. This time. I have an idea of where this is going on and never say never. You know, I can sit here all day long and say, I'm never, ever, ever going to do this. But when an opportunity presents itself to serve my clients in a new way, I ran the numbers. I looked at all of the specs and decided to just jump and go for it. So we get into our space officially in May and of a wedding season is started and just looking some clients and keeping keeping happy. That's really what this year is about. That's fantastic. I love that. Congratulations on the new space. I love that again. You're taking your own advice of constantly reevaluating and figuring out, um, profitability. Like, does it make sense numerically for me to be in this studio space Yes or no? Trying it out. I love it. Okay, So a couple questions we've been asking everyone that we have on, so I love to hear your thoughts on this. First of all, what are some of the questions you teach? A lot? What are some of the questions that you hear a lot from other wedding photographers? A lot of wedding photographers actually want to go back to the basics and talk about what's in your bag. Everybody is really interested in the gear that you're bringing to a wedding, that the things that you're using to make the images that you are, I just bought a new a Nikon D for S, which is my newest tool, which is super exciting, Um, kind of the best camera I've ever owned. So they're doing that also, it's like, practical. It's beautiful. Um, and a lot of times at the other questions I get asked most often is, Where do I get inspiration? And I get inspiration everywhere from TV, from movies from my husband, whose extraordinary photographer fashion magazines just being out in the world is inspiring to me. So those are those are definitely the two that I get asked the most I love it. And then one other question that I'm sure you get asked a lot. Also, what is something that you wish you had known when you first started out your wedding business. Yeah. Two things, actually, first and foremost that this isn't a hobby, that this is a business and going into it and thinking I'll just take some really pretty pictures at weddings and people will give me money for it, and that's a great idea, and that's why we all get into it. But I wish I started it more as a business from the beginning and less as more like a creative hobby. I think a lot of people miss out on the business aspects until they've been in business for a couple of years and have to go back and kind of scramble. Um, the other thing that I wish I done is not cared so much about what other photographers were doing or what they thought about what I was doing. But to put my head down and keep on going, it's really important to stay on top of what the trends are. Just so you know what everyone's doing around you but staring at other photographers work and comparing yourself to what they're doing and oh my gosh, maybe I'm not as good as they are, I don't know. It'll make you crazy, so just don't do it. I love that. I mean, that's something that I think we all struggle with as artists is that is that question of self worth and is my work worth charging for? And I love the idea of actually treating your business as a business. I mean, that's that's key. It's funny when people ask me what my recommendation of like which courses should I watch on creativelive 90% of time, we check out the business courses, check out the courses that talk about how to run your photography business as a suspect. As a successful business like it's, you have to master the craft, no question. But that will only allow you to take good pictures. It won't allow you to make photography your life absolutely, and I mean creative. Why that so many classes not even in the photography realm, but just about business and about marketing and about social media, And it doesn't have to say how to run your wedding photography business. For it to be a good business class, it's, I wish I take in many more business classes that had nothing to do with photography. Before I ever got started, I kind of had to learn in the field. And if there's anything that I could do or teachers say or advise, that makes it easier for somebody else, Hopefully I can help. Yeah, well, I think that you have helped quite a lot. Both with your photo week courses and with your 30 days and your other courses. So thank you again for joining us for taking time out of your day to say hi. Ah, we miss you as well. So it was good to chat with you briefly soon? Absolutely. All right. Thanks again, Susan.