April 01, 2012 —
Sue Bryce has been a Portrait Photographer for 22 years specializing in contemporary glamour. Born in New Zealand, Sue currently lives in Sydney, Australia, and won the title Australian Portrait Photographer of the year 2011. “I have spent my life in the photographic industry, have seen unimaginable changes in the last 22 years and have sustained an income from portraiture for over half my life. I am not a rich wife or trust fund baby. I have no tertiary education in business or marketing but I built a portrait business from zero to $20,000 per week as a single woman with my bare hands.
I started my business in my country garage with $3,000 that I borrowed from my parents. That is why my story is both inspiring and remarkable. Above all, it’s achievable.” In February, Sue won six WPPI awards (and it was her first time ever entering)—1st place in Album Competition, Videography Category, for the video “My Father”; Grand Award and 1st place in the 16 x 20 Competition, Premiere Category for the print “Mother”; 1st place in Portrait , Children, for “Fairytale”; and 2nd and 3rd place in Portrait, Glamour/Boudoir, for “Release” and “Princess.”
I was 18 when I started and I found my niche early. It would either be photography, hair and makeup or fashion, and photography allows me to do all of them together.
What was your first big break or career-turning shoot?
In my early 20s, I started working for a studio as a retouch artist. One day my boss didn’t turn up for a shoot, so I did it myself. I didn’t tell my boss until I had sold it, and [the client] purchased $1,500 worth [of photos?] (in 1993). When I showed him, he was floored and let me shoot from that day on.
How would you describe your style of shooting?
Beauty/fashion inspired contemporary portrait.
What have been some of the highlights for you of being at WPPI in the past?
Vegas; the atmosphere, the camaraderie, the amazing friendships you make. The access to education and products at the tradeshow is awesome. It’s an exhilarating event.
If you could offer only one piece of advice to a photographer just starting out in your genre, what would it be?
Work for an established studio, hopefully one you admire. Don’t just learn the art of photography, learn about the business and the industry.
What equipment products can you not live without?
I have the best accessories; my Hoodman hood and crane for video, Wacom tablet for editing and Think Tank Airport Airstream on wheels.
Any tales from the frontlines you care to share?
Don’t let your clients drink alcohol at portrait shoots, learned this lesson early. When I was a young photographer, I let a client drink a bottle of champagne for Dutch courage—big mistake.
If you couldn’t be a photographer anymore, what would you do instead?
Anything to do with filmmaking.
What are you hoping attendees get from your seminars at WPPI?
People seem to be bewildered by marketing and promotion. I want to show how easy it is and how you can bring all of your creativity into it. How to not only indentify your target but attract and connect to them.
What do you do for fun?
I have a retro bike that I ride through beautiful Sydney. Also, I can never get enough of movies—they stimulate so much creativity.