Today we’d like to introduce you to Susan Bennet.
Hi Susan, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My path to owning my own photography business has been a circular one. After high school, I spent two years at art school studying photography.
Eventually, not seeing a clear career path in photography, I changed majors and finished my undergrad in sociology, which I parlayed into a marketing career, working for various corporate, educational and non-profit organizations for about twenty years. Five years ago, after realizing that the work I was doing was actually killing my soul, I left the job I was in and opened my photo studio soon after.
My approach to the work I do and the art I create is rooted in all my past experiences—the way I think about our culture and society, the power of the image to influence people’s perceptions, and the way I want to interact with the world and spend my time here.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Opening your own business is not for the faint-hearted. There are so many things to handle outside of the main focus of the business. Licenses, permits and leases, taxes, website design, social media, advertising, copyright and contracts—it’s like you have to be fifty experts at once. That’s completely separate from the work I have to do to master my craft and ensure that I am providing my clients with excellent service and products that help them grow their own careers and businesses.
New things will come up and I have to give myself a crash course in whatever new facet of the business I need to learn, and that’s tiring. So as a business owner you’re not able to just focus on the thing you love to do, which brought you to that particular line of work. Having a strong background in business and management was really an asset – if I were fresh out of college, I think I’d have been overwhelmed.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am a professional headshot and creative portrait photographer. I work with businesses and individuals to create strong imagery that helps them define and build their corporate or personal brand.
I also specialize in working with people who really, really hate to have their picture taken and have studied lighting and posing extensively to help me get flattering images of anyone.
What sets me apart from other photographers is that I really, really care how my clients feel about their final images. I think everyone deserves to have great photos of themselves to send out into the world as their representative—that’s what a headshot is for, really. The most gratifying thing for me is when I show clients their images during the session and they say, “Wait, that’s me?”
We all have so many cell phone photos of ourselves, but we don’t often work with someone who takes the time to really pose and light an image that’s designed to make us look and feel our best. I love doing that for people. I care just as much as my clients do about how they look in photos, and I think that shows in the final images I create.
Alright, so to wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
In my spare time, I work on creative projects with a more sociological aspect – work that allows me to explore a social issue or collaborate with creatives in other fields. In 2018 I was thrilled to receive a St. Louis A-List award for a project I did called “Light for Shadows” in which I worked with local women musicians to create images that reflected the issues they were currently exploring in their music.
Last year during COVID lockdown, I had to shutter my photography business temporarily, and I spent that time creating a series called “Self-Portraits from Lockdown” which I am thinking of turning into either a gallery show or a book with essays about my thoughts when I was making that particular image, and what was going on in the world at that time.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: https://oohstloustudios.com/
- Instagram: @oohstlou
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oohstloustudios
- Twitter: https://www.instagram.com/oohstlou/
All images ©Susan Bennet/Ooh St. Lou Studios