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Sue Bryce Sums Up Why Portraiture Matters in One Sentence

by Hanna Brooks Olsen
photo & video

sue bryce why photography matters

In photography, it’s easy to get caught up in the competitive elements. Who in your area has more followers? Who’s commanding the highest rates? Whose social media marketing is better, more effective, more attractive? Who’s booking the most clients?

But during Photo Week 2014, master portrait photographer Sue Bryce put it all into perspective. With her campaign, #ExistInPhotos, she’s urging fellow photographers to recognize the true value of the medium, rather than quibbling about the details.

“You’re not making a Facebook following, you’re not making yourself into the next big thing,” she explained, “What you’re trying to do is get paid to create timeless, incredible images that people will cherish for the rest of their lives.”

As Jeremy Cowart points out, photography has the power to incite huge social change. But on a personal level, it also has the power to change one life at a time. Photography — and being photographed — is more than just taking pictures or making a living; it’s leaving a legacy.

“I went through a period of my life where I wouldn’t be photographed because I hated myself so much,” Sue confessed, “so I understood the power of not being able to see myself. I understood the power of not thinking I was good enough to have a photograph of my life.”

In a world where many individuals shy away from having their photograph taken due to low self-esteem, Sue explains, it’s up to photographers to lead by example and remind both their subjects and themselves, that they deserve to be seen.

“As a portrait nation, as a photography nation, the global message needs to be that you need to have beautiful photographs. You are good enough to be in a family portrait.You are good enough to be photographed with your kids. You are good enough to exist in photographs. You must celebrate your life. I don’t care how fat you think you are, I don’t care how old you think you are. My job, as a portrait photographer, is to take the most beautiful photograph you have ever seen of yourself, so that you can cherish this for the rest of your life.”

That message, says Sue, is also a powerful business tool, because it helps clients contextualize the cost and worth of amazing portrait photography.

“Yes, it might cost a few hundred dollars, but trust me. What we’ll create for you today is far greater than anything you could ever buy,” she explained.

You can watch Sue’s complete talk about how to create marketing that’s shareable — and who photography and portraiture matter — here.

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Hanna Brooks Olsen

Hanna Brooks Olsen is a writer and editor for CreativeLive, longtime reporter, and the co-founder of Seattlish. Follow her on Twitter at @mshannabrooks or go to her website for more stuff.