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Meet NY Photographer, Susan Blackburn

SENIOR YEAR MAGAZINE: "HI Susan! Tell us a little bit about your business."

SUSAN: "I am a full time Wedding and Portrait Photographer located in the Saratoga area of New York. I went to SUNY Purchase for Fine Art, transferred to FIT, and worked in the Fashion Industry after graduation. I did not love the Fashion Industry and landed in Commercial Real Estate Development in Manhattan for a few years. After I got married, had a baby and moved Upstate, I was looking for a flexible part time job and found an opportunity with a Photography studio in Albany--the rest is history...."

SUSAN: "I started my business over 20 years ago after working for different studios in my area for ten years. I work out of my home and my "living room" is a combination sales/consult area and studio with lights.It also has a great window for natural light. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a "real"commercial space, but honestly this works very well for me and keeps my overhead very low. We sell albums, wall art, image boxes, and other items. I am a big believer in offering tangible products in addition to digital files."

SUSAN: "I am so grateful that before I was a Photographer I worked for the CFO of a major Real Estate company in New York. My boss was a CPA and taught me so much about business accounting and bookkeeping -- thank you, Michael Katz. He taught me the value of understanding your bottom line and reading balance sheets. Knowing my numbers at all times has been critical to staying in business.also have an amazing Mentor, Richard, who talks me out of many hare brained ideas. Finally, classes through PPA and other mentors has really made a huge difference in staying ahead of the competition.

If you are unsure of where to start, take some of Beverly's business classes--they are some of the best out there!"

SENIOR YEAR MAGAZINE: What Do You Think Is One Of The Biggest Issues For Photographers right now?"

SUSAN: "I feel one of the most important and challenging issues for the Photography Industry right now is owner operators understanding that while what they do is Art, it is also a Business. As such, we need to run our businesses profitably to stay viable. Too many times I see people devaluing what they do and just giving their products and services away for next to nothing. What we do is important and valuable!

Just ask anyone who has lost a loved one--"What is the first thing you did when you lost this person?" I guarantee they looked for photos every time. In fact, I would argue that the value of what we do increases exponentially over time."

SENIOR YEAR MAGAZINE: "Thinking back on your business, what are some things you have been afraid of but have conquered and how did you conquer them?"

SUSAN: "I started out shooting film. Converting to digital was a huge, frightening thing for me. The learning curve was enormous because I was never a tech person. But I pulled my big kid pants on and got through it."

SENIOR YEAR MAGAZINE: What is one of the biggest obstacle you have overcome in your business?"

SUSAN: "The biggest challenge for me over the years is to stay out of my own head and to stop comparing myself to everyone out there. It is easy to look at what others are doing and coming up short."

SENIOR YEAR MAGAZINE - "This is a great point and is very challenging for many photographers. You have to keep your eyes on your own paper."

SENIOR YEAR MAGAZINE: "Think about new photographers.....What TIPS or recommendations would you make to photographers in our group?"

SUSAN: "Inspiration from others, yes. Copying others, never! You need to just be you. Take time to look at art other than Photography. And practice, practice, practice. Then practice more. Because there aren't shortcuts."

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