Friday, July 19, 2013

Confessions of a Sue Bryce Addict

So, I owe a lot to Sue Bryce. She's the photographer that inspired me to get involved in this genre of photography that celebrates women, beauty & self-esteem. For my first year, I did everything she said; I read her posts religiously and emulated her style with focused (a.k.a. obsessive workaholic) dedication. When I worked at creativeLIVE I was delighted to encounter Sue regularly in the cL studio & bars of Seattle. I was so excited to be in her presence and learn from her in person. When I quit working at creativeLIVE, I finally had time to really grow my own portrait studio and I put all of Sue's business techniques into practice. They worked like a charm.

But despite all of this glorious inspiration, there was a black seed festering in my belly. Words like jealousy, self-criticism, pride, selfishness & greed come to mind. I was so annoyed when people would use 'Sue Bryce' as a verb. I was so annoyed that I was constantly being compared to her by other people ... "Oh, so you're just like Sue Bryce?" In the beginning this was a huge compliment but then it became a ball & chain. How could I ever blossom into an original artist while Sue's name was hanging over my studio? I felt like she owned this genre of photography. She owned the word 'glamour.' She had invisible copyright on making women beautiful. 

This is the most embarrassing picture of my life (I can't believe I'm actually posting this - cringe) This is a photo of me sitting next to Sue in a bar. Kenna snapped a picture of me freaking out when Sue wasn't looking. It was the first time I'd met her in person. I felt like a glamour cockroach beside her. Plus, I was having a terrible hair/clothing/face day/week/year. Ugh. Never meet your heros my friends. It's not pretty ;P

I was so focused on trying to be just like Sue Bryce (a name that had become associated in my mind with success, glamour & perfection) that I was starting to step on my own toes. I was jealous because Sue Bryce was better at being Sue Bryce than I was. She was always one-uping me...I would be so proud of my photos and then I'd look at her website and realize just how much better she was than me, so much more advanced. And then I felt stupid because I'm a newbie and she's been running the race for 23 years... of course she's got her act together...but still, I was frustrated.

I realized the only remedy would be amputation. 1) Step away from creativeLIVE (I don't watch it anymore at all). 2) Step away from Sue Bryce. I unfollowed her on Facebook, Twitter, blogs & life. I no longer look at any of her images, workshops or posts. I have absolutely no idea what she is doing apart from the little rumors that trickle through the grape vine. I even stopped calling myself a 'glamour photographer' because of the associations and now I'm proudly wearing the very literal badge of 'women's portrait photographer.' So far, because of this divorce, life feels better again. I don't feel like a copy-cat anymore. There will always be similarities between my work & Sue's work because we're in the same photography genre, but I'm exploring on my own now, finding new inspiration, trying out my own ideas & having jealousy-free fun.

My good friend Cheryl Ford has a saying... "You do you." 
Stop worrying about other people & what they're doing. Stop trying to be like other people.
Focus on you, what you're doing, what you enjoy, what makes you happy, what your strengths are, what makes you shine and succeed. 

Forever and always I'll be grateful to Sue Bryce for her inspiration and mountains of help when I was getting started but from here on out, I'm flying solo.