Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Photographer Interview: Susan Keller of Short on Words

You probably know Susan Keller.susan 7

And if you know her, you definitely love her pictures.

How could anyone NOT love her pictures.susan 1

They are art.

The first time I saw them I was speechless.

And trust me, that is rare.susan 15

I was so happy when she agreed to this interview.susan 5

Sit back and enjoy your journey into Susan’s world.susan 29

How long have you been at home with the boys? Was it a hard adjustment to make?   susan 12            Since the beginning - so almost 14 years!  And YES!!!!  I can still vividly remember the change from being an efficient, organized working woman with a tidy house & car ... susan 13to a non-efficient, unorganized woman with a messy house & car, whose formerly calm/controlled/planned schedule was now dictated by an incredibly fussy, gassy, spit-uppy, non-sleeping unpredictable newborn/baby/toddler... susan 8 Awww, those were the days!  Oh, and now?  Things are not quite so chaotic, and I'm totally used to my messy home.  [grin]susan 2

When did you first start shooting? susan 4

Tell us your story.  susan 3

Gosh, when I was a teen?  My Canon Sureshot went everywhere with me, including to Germany my sophomore year of college.  I did a [half] Year in Europe and brought back 22 rolls of film with me.  It was too pricey to develop them in Germany, so I waited months til I returned home to finally see my images.  The waiting was agony, and that was before the onset of digital instant gratification!susan 11

In 2005, out of the blue, my husband bought me a new Canon Rebel dslr just before we left on a roadtrip to visit his family.  I *was* surprised, and more than a little bit appalled & concerned, because we totally couldn't afford a luxury like that at that time [money was super tight].  But I wasn't appalled or concerned enough that I returned the shiny new camera!  ;-)  susan 17The rest is history ...
Sometimes I wonder if it wasn't my husband's top-secret plot to make me uber-enthusiastic about various outdoor adventures he wanted to go on.  Methinks he probably feared that without such an incentive I'd be much more inclined to want to stay home, curled up on the couch with a good book.  [he's a genius, my husband.  a sneaky brilliant genius]        susan 24     Do you ever want a little girl?susan 26

I did.  Before I ever knew what I was having, I wanted my firstborn to be a girl.susan 18

But I've since become pretty comfy with the whole boy factor in our family.  Now I couldn't imagine messing with girl hair and having dolls & barbies & dress-up stuff intermingling with our plethora of Legos, Hotwheels, and K'nex.  susan 6
What do you love about shooting on the beach?

Any dangers to that? susan 25

What I love *IS* the biggest danger:  The Sand.  Sand is a gorgeous natural reflector and a beautiful backdrop for pictures.  But sand can mean death for your camera (if it gets into any part).  susan 21
Where do you get your inspiration?  

ooooh, all over the place:  I Heart Faces, Flickr, magazines, blogging Photogs, art galleries,  ...susan 23

+ specifically ...

Anna Kuperberg - a top notch photographer served up with sides of quirky-ness and creativity.  She flawlessly, brilliantly "frames" (composes) her images.susan 22

Jon Canlas - a film shooter who captures (seemingly effortlessly) beautiful, natural, organic-y flow-y portraits and candids.susan 19

Nate & Jaclyn Kaiser (The Image is Found) - this duo is a crazy bomb of creativity exploding every. single. time.  'Nuff said.susie 5

Tara Whitney - The Photographer's Photographer.  Her work is raw, honest, fun, and centered on capturing real relationship.susie 7

Red Leaf Studio - their use of stunning landscapes as "negative space backdrops" takes my breath away.susie 3

and, my dear friend, Leslie Patopoff, whose lovely work very first inspired me to look thru my lens differently ...

Which one of your boys likes to model for you?susan 10

hehe, good one, Becky.  Ummm, N.O.N.E. of my boys like to model for me.   But, they're all sometimes willing to accomodate me when I request a "stand-in" so I can try something.

Oh, and they are all pretty enthusiastic participants each year for their "birthday pictures."  For that, they pick something that they love from that year (ie.  2 years ago my then 9yo had consumed ALL the Harry Potter books, so his pictures included all those).susan 14

But, hmmm, willing models, in general?  No.   Maybe I should re-think having a little girl ...
What is your favorite sort of session to shoot?susan 27

It's a toss-up.  Newborns are a pretty special experience of wonderfulness.  To hold, and breath in, and photograph a wonderful brand-new itty-bitty living person - it's a joy, for sure.susan 28

But families?  And their connection?  Oooh, I do so love capturing that, too.  susie 6
What states have you lived in?

Is California your favorite?  susan 16

California.  And not knowing anything different, California.  ;-)       susan 7   

I was born in NorCal, went to college in SoCal (in Malibu!! oh yeah, it was tough.  smirk.), moved back to NorCal after graduating, and 8 years ago moved to SoCal.susan 11

As beautiful as CA is, my husband and I both dream of one day living on Kauai. susan 3
How often do your parents come to visit?susan 8

We are super blessed to get to see our families regularly.  My parents live in SoCal part-time.  And my husband's parents come down at least once a year, and we go up to WA once or twice a year (it's this trip that spurs on so many of our various roadtrip outings).
Do they love your picture projects?

susan 10

My parents totally appreciate that I take pictures,

so they don't have to.  ;-)susan 2

My in-laws' are enthusiastic, talented photographers themselves who are rarely without their cameras, so they're usually hip to capturing pics of our time together, also. susan 9
Tell me about the yearbook.

Ugh.  I love it.  And I hate it.  I love it, because, well ... it's all about photographically capturing the essence and events of my 10yo son's very precious school.  I hate it, because, well ... it takes a ton of time and the learning curve has been immense, and I've made mistakes along the way that have demanded more TIME to fix.  This will be my third year creating the Yearbook.  susan 9I'm hoping & praying & crossing my fingers that the past 2 years' mistakes will have taught me well and that I'll breeze thru this year's production.  Lightroom (for organization & processing of pictures) + Lumapix (for page design) + Docucopies (for inexpensive printing) have been my heroes for this annual project. susan 6
How many pictures do you take in a week?

Hmmm.  It varies.  Feast or famine.  From none (when I'm drowning in pics yet to be processed) to hundreds. susan 4
What was your favorite subject at school?

Oh, this will be a shock to you:  Yearbook.  ;-)susan

Oh, and I also really enjoyed English - not the writing (no, never that!), but the discussion of good books (loved that).

susan 5

Any other vital info to share?

Yeah.  A word of encouragement to everyone wanting to be a better photographer:  You can be.

I'm totally technologically challenged.  I have no "formal" photography schooling.susie 4

But I learned. 

With lots of practice.  susie

And lots of hand-holding from the Internet photography community at large.

If I can learn; anyone can.

susie 2 Susan loves lightroom.

She is kind and good and will answer questions if you have any.

She is an encourager.

Go and visit her.

Just be prepared to be amazed.

Susan’s blog: Short on Words


Naomi said...

Great interview--awesome photos!

Lori said...

Talk about amazing! Wow! I would give just about anything to have such a talent in anything. :) I thoroughly enjoyed this post. XXX

Marla said...

Great interview. I will be heading over to her blog now. :)

Marla @

Norah said...

I loved the interview . I can't wait to go check out her site!

Kellee said...

wow, this is really lovely. Thanks for exposing me to someone new and lovely. :)

Dot O said...

Her photos are phenomenal and her words inspirational. She's giving me some encouragement. I love how she collages, I love the everyday expressions/moments she has captured.

Thanks for sharing the interview, Becky. Now I need to go check out her site!!

Tracy P. said...

Ahh, Susan! She has the gift of hospitality. Perfect for a phototographer. I would be in total awe of her, but she is so down to earth and makes you feel so at home that you forget that you are dealing with an extraordinary talent. I've learned more from her than all my other sources of inspiration put together.

Laura D said...

Love the interview and Susan's collages..they are so beautiful!

Anita Johnson said...

So glad you featured her work here...I like to pretend I am in the backseat of their car when they take vacations...her photos make it feel like i have really been there! Great questions too!

Terri said...

Great interview! What amazing photographs!

Sarah said...

Such a great interview!! I love her blog, and Sundays are my favorite day to visit her blog to see what beautiful images she has paired with wonderful passages of Scripture. She is SO talented.

Buckeroomama said...

I love her work!! Her genuine niceness really comes through in the interview... you did it again, Becky --super interview!

Maggie May said...

Great interview and fantastic pictures!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

photowannabe said...

Oh the picture of those little toes made me all mushy inside.
Delightful interview thats full of encouraging words to a novice and techno challanged Me.

Marilyn said...

Nice interview. Great pictures. I will check out Short on Words.
I know you are dreading Monday. Kaishon had a good year last year and I bet things just get better and better for him. It is hard on a Mom when they start back but such is life. We woudln't want it any other way really. You take care and enjoy these last few days of summer vacation.

Dina @ 4 Lettre Words said...

Now I want french toast!!

Great interview, B.

gretchen said...

Great Interview. I feel the same way about having all girls now as she does about having all boys...I wouldn't know what to do with legos and knex.

Beautiful pics!!!

Elizabeth said...



Maddy said...

How awesome is she!!! Love her work and I love her use of the fish-eye!!! I definitely hav to get my hands on one of those :) I love her storyboards and I especially love the family shot broken down in three images!! Love that idea!!

Brooke said...

i LOVE her nature work.

Skeller said...

yikes, I feel like I'm showing up late to my own party?!?! all these kind comments are making me tear up.

Becky - THANK YOU!! Not only for your always encouraging words, and for your very thoughtful questions, but also for all the love and time and energy that you obviously pour into all your interviews. I feel like I've just walked down memory lane as I've scrolled thu all these images you've culled. Thank you for this gift. :-)

lifebythecreek said...

Wow, wow.... I am blown away by all of the landscape and sky/cloud pics! The face pics are awesome, but the nature captures are my favorite to take and therefore my favorite to SEE when they're done really, really well. Which they are by Susan. Great interview, Becky... where do you keep finding these amazingly talented photographers? And Susan, you make beautiful art... who needs all of the techical "training" when you just get it? You're a natural....

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

Ohhhh Emmmm Geeee Becky. This is so awesome!! How lucky are you to get this interview. Susans pictures are breathtaking!! Thanks so much for sharing!

Heasleye said...

Love Susan! Great interview, Becky! How awesome to see so much beauty in one post!

Mighty M said...

I was making a mental note of all my favorite pictures but it got too long to write them down - what a wonderful artist. The collages are spectacular, and I adore the ocean so those pictures touch my heart in particular. Great interview!!

Alysha (Supermom) said...

Oh how I love Susan!!! She was one o the first phot blogs I ever came across and I have learned ohhhh soooo much from reading her blog these past few years. Such a brilliant person and I am so blessed to live by her. Hoping to one day do a nature walk with her (it is kind of a dream)! Susan Rocks! :)

- dls - said...

I so love her photography - especially the consider the lilies project. =)

She is amazing!!

Busy Bee Suz said...

Amazing and inspiring!!!

Sarah said...

Love that gal! But Becky, not a single Susan SP???? I think you need to add one. ;)

Lindsey said...

Wow- I'm in awe of those pictures (and a little jealous- ha). Totally amazing!

Leon Koh said...

I am back to your blog for a read.. amazing pictures... just love your passion you have for life

have a great day my friend..

Leon Koh
Your reader
my blog :

blueviolet said...

That is real talent! I love the one of the snow the best!

the Lola Letters said...

Wow! Those images are STUNNING! These interviews could not be more interesting or entertaining. Eye candy all the way around!

Tammy said...

Beautiful pics and post! :)

Aspiemom said...

Thanks for visiting my blog today. How did you find me?

I wasn't acqainted with Susan Keller until your blog and I have to admit her pictures are just AMAZING! Just beautiful! Great interview, by the way.

Foursons said...

I'm still stuck on the fact that your husband bought you a DSLR as a complete surprise and the only reason was you were going on a trip. Give him a hug from me just for that fact. Tell him it is for his beautiful act of kindness 5 years ago. :)

And I'm so glad to hear that you can get used to the messy house. *sigh* I don't think I'm anywhere near that yet although I am glad I'm stepping over army guys and not Barbie shoes.

Your photography is amazing. I love the editing you do and am now even more convinced I need Lightroom. How far away is Christmas?

Your Harry Potter shot is my very, very favorite. I do believe you won an IheartFaces contest for that entry. Am I right?

I'm inspired. I think it's time to quit my day job and take up photography full time. Too bad the income for an inexperienced, doesn't know how to use her camera, doesn't have much talent but has a lot of heart photographer is so bad.

stephanie garcia said...

Thank you for sharing! :)

Trudy said...

Wow, you're not kidding Becky...she IS amazing and it really is art. A great interview and so inspirational. I'm heading over to Susan's blog now because I have a few questions.

I just love these interviews you do!

God's blessings to you!

She Writes said...

Gosh, she has some FABULOUS shots here!

Dana-from chaos to Grace said...

WOW! I love these interviews!! I love how she is self-taught as well! It gives me hope for my own journey!

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I love her work. This interview was wonderful.

Farmgirl Paints said... glad you stopped by. I love your blog. I've been here for awhile...discovering who you are. I love that you said your fat. Honesty wins me over every time. Don't know if it's true or not...couldn't find a picture, but I'll take your word for it;) Hope you have a great weekend.

amy said...

what a beautiful blog with such beautiful images. thank you for stopping bye my blog and leaving me such a sweet message.

God's Favorite Shoes! said...

These pics are breathtaking! I wish someone would just randomly buy me an expensive camera...but I'd be forced take whole differsent set of pictures. he he he

Great interview!

gibknitty said...

wonderful interview, and the photos are amazing!

C said...


Thanks for visiting my blog. :)

These photos are stunning! I will definitely check out her site.

And then, going through an older post, I really love your photos as well! Now I'll definitely be following your blog (partly for the photos- partly because your "About Me" section made me smile!)

Candra Georgi said...

amazing photos. i love boys. i want to take mine to those sand dunes now.


Debbie said...

How is it possible that someone can be that talented? Thanks for this.

Stacey said...

Truly stunning works of art! I love the colors, the eyes, the bubbles, the baby feet, all of it. How I would love to find a photographer in our area who could capture our family in such a way.

Jason, as himself said...

Wow, wow, wow, wow, and wow!

H.K. said...

I love her pictures! They're very soothing and inspirational, I wish I could frame them!

Ann Imig said...

The photos are gorgeous, and I love how you put this interview together.

Great questions.

Rosina Waszaj said...

Amazing interview, Becky! Great choice of photographer!

Susan--I've always been a fan...and had the privilege to work with you a few months ago--can I tell you I'm still amazed that you shoot JPEG?? Love, love, LOVE all your wide shots..I just love the broad perspective. On top of everything are an amazing person!! :)

Yuliya said...

This was beautiful thank you! and as a bonus I lost track of the kuperblog (which I LOVE) and now I have found it again, thank you! And how very nice of you to visit me...I will be back :)

Joanna said...

Love the Q&A, and the stunning photos that go with it.

Colleen: said...

Wow, I can see why they left you speechless, they are simply stunning works of art.

Veronica Lee said...

OMG! The pics are breathtaking. I love, love, love them. Awesome interview too.

Have a blessed Sunday!

Wanda said...

Wow, can mere words even describe this kind of beauty??

I stand speechless! I stand in awe.

Thanks so much for sharing.

cassandra-m said...

First...THANK YOU for stopping by my blog & leaving some love about my furkid. Your comment was too SWEET & I knew I instantly LIKED YOU...A LOT! So great to connect with you! And secondly...great interview!

Nessa said...

Beautiful images.

Marjorie said...

great interview, like that you keep it "real" with your questions. also love that you include a picture with each question!

StarTraci said...

Great interview of a wonderful photographer by another.

Lovely, lovely, lovely.


He & Me + 3 said...

Amazing talent. I love the bubble pictures. So very cool. She is AWESOME. I need to learn.

Mrs4444 said...

Wow. You weren't kidding! She's brilliant. Some day, maybe I'll buy a better camera, some lessons, and a trip around the world to indulge my photographic pipedreams... :) In the meantime, I'll take yours :)

Angie - The Arthur Clan said...

I ♥ ♥ ♥ Susan so much...what an inspiration she has been to so, so many people. :)

jennykate77 said...

Wow. Truly beautiful. Every photo. I love her eye for pictures. I'm jealous of all of her beach pictures...and that she lives in SoCal. I want to say something cool like that...saying that you live in NE Oklahoma just doesn't have the same ring to it.♥

Josh, Steph, The Boys and Maddie said...

her work is so inspiring. I love all the templates and the flow of creativity. i have so much more to learn... so inspiring