With 17 weddings booked (so far) in 2017 plus countless engagement, senior and family photo sessions, you'd think Susie, a natural light photographer, has been racking up the referrals for years. Susie, a sorority sister of mine, started her photography business, Susie Marie Photography, just a couple of years ago right before graduating from Otterbein University in the spring of 2014.
During college at all of our photograph-worthy events (let's be real, what wasn't deemed a photograph-worthy moment for us sorority girls?), Susie, always with her camera in hand, was the go-to-gal for a guaranteed, prime-quality photo. It was no surprise -but impressive nonetheless- to see her turn her passion and gift into a successful business. Susie's "authentic, natural and fresh" style is no doubt up there with, or surpassing, the best of 'em.
..& oh ya, she also offers branding services and consultations. I'll let her take it from here. Enjoy!
The Reference Club: What do you do and when did you start?
Susie Chappelear: I am a full time wedding and portrait photographer located in Columbus. Ohio. I started my business in April 2014 just a week before I graduated from Otterbein University!
TRC: What was your career path? How did you go from being an aspiring photographer to actually doing it full time, for a living?
SC: I went to college to study business and marketing, not photography. However, I always was that girl with the camera in her bag, ready to take photos of anyone or anything. I never really imagined that this would be my full time job! During my senior year in college, I started a blog for fun. This is when classmates and friends started to take my work seriously and wanted me to photograph for them. I feel like everything happened overnight- from photographing my first wedding just weeks after starting my business to 50 weddings over the past 2 1/2 years.
TRC: I can definitely vouch for the "friends started to take my work seriously"...pretty sure I still use a headshot you took four years ago as my email photo! What technology/software/camera gear do you use to keep focused on what you do best, as you photograph?
SC: I love my giant iMac to edit! Editing software I use is Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. I have three full frame cameras that I take to weddings, as well as a variety of various lenses. My favorite lens for weddings is my 70-200mm 2.8 and my favorite lens for portraits is the 50mm 1.4. I am a Nikon user all the way!
TRC: What’s the most memorable compliment you’ve ever received for your work? What made it so memorable?
SC: Anytime a bride calls me crying after she viewed her wedding gallery is honestly the best compliment ever. My goal is to present my clients with images that will be cherished for a lifetime!
TRC: What’s the best and worst part about working from home?
SC: Best- Sleeping in, making your own schedule, editing in your pajamas and being able to take breaks. I also have the cutest co-workers, Moe and Noah my cats! ;)
Worst- Working from home most definitely gets lonely, which means I talk to my cats way too much haha! The pros outweigh the cons and as long as I make an effort to get out for a coffee break, or meet up with friends then it ends up being alright!
TRC: You had me at sleeping in and cats. Where do you see yourself and/or your photography business in 10 years?
SC: I hope to be doing exactly what I am doing now. I absolutely love photographing weddings and documenting important milestones for my clients. This job is my passion and I hope in 10 years that I still feel the very same way.
TRC: Whose work (photographer or artist) has influenced you the most?
TRC: What advice do you have for people interested in pursuing a career in the arts?
SC: You MUST have a drive and passion. If you do not give your whole heart into your art, it is going to be a struggle to stay successful. Dream big and take chances because in the end, it will be worth it!
TRC: What is your favorite way to network?
SC: The Rising Tide Society is AMAZING! Seriously, if you are a creative in any part of the world, look this up! There are local meet-ups every second Tuesday of the month and because of this fantastic group, I now have lifelong photography friends and great relationships with so many local vendors. It’s all about community over competition!
TRC: "Community over competition"-That should be Columbus's tagline. Is there one thing you know now or that you’ve learned that you wish you knew when you first started your business?
SC: The biggest thing that I have learned over the past few years in business is trying not to be so hard on myself. Owning your own business is difficult work and mistakes are going to happen along the way. You learn from them, try to fix them and move on! At the end of the day, I have clients who adore my work and are happy with their experience with Susie Marie Photography. That is what really matters!