Q&A: Suzy Goodrick | Intimate Wedding Photographer

First, introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your business:

Hi there! I’m Suzy, a wedding photographer based in Phoenix, Az. I was born in Helsinki, Finland and raised all over the United States. I’ve always had an affinity for traveling and seeing the world differently, thanks to my rad parents.

I take the occasional road trip with my husband, try new coffee shops, and shoot wild and intimate weddings. My husband, Mike, and I were married in an intimate garden in San Francisco with our best friends by our side. Or, as we like to call it, the best party we’ve ever been to.

This coming summer, I’ll be celebrating my 3rd anniversary of being a full time wedding photographer. My couples are crazy adventurous and create one-of-a-kind weddings. They chase their dreams and celebrate the small things in life.

When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Throughout high school and college, the idea of working a traditional 9-5 never felt quite right. I had big dreams of traveling and exploring the world, but wasn’t sure what that would look like. I was raised to be independent, ambitious, and strive for the deeper, important things in life. As I began to dream about being a photographer, it felt natural to hustle and work hard for something that I could be proud of.

When did you take the leap?

My husband and I moved from Phoenix to San Francisco in 2013, where we spent our first year of marriage exploring our way through SF. Previous to this, I photographed weddings, seniors, and families for friends as a hobby but the thought of being a “professional” was far too intimidating.
In 2014, my husband and I moved back to Phoenix and this created an opportunity to kickstart a career. I decided if I didn’t take the leap and go for it, it would never happen and one day I’d regret it. This summer it’ll be 3 years since taking that leap and it’s been one of the most fulfilling decisions I’ve ever made. It isn’t easy, there are many difficult days, but it’s incredibly rewarding.

What is a lesson you’ve learned that you want to share to others that are just starting out?

One lesson I’ve learned to overcome and continue overcoming on a monthly, weekly, and sometimes daily basis is comparison. Comparison has been my biggest struggle in business and I’m not sure it’s something that can be escaped.

It’s SO easy to look at others and compare what we do and don’t have in comparison to them, both in our businesses and personal lives. Social media makes things infinitely harder. But I do believe we can overcome it.

My biggest advice is to carefully curate who and what you look at on social media, who influences/inspires you, and stay true to who you are. Find a tribe of like-minded entrepreneurs and creatives who believe in you and can help you stay the course.

What sources do you find your greatest inspiration?

The best inspiration for me are found offline and in the real world. Spending quality time with close friends outdoors is by far my favorite, hiking mountains or even on a local coffee shop patio. Traveling and reading also fills my heart. Find what you love outside of your business and do that often.

I also try to follow creatives on social media that aren’t in my field and who are very different from me. Creatives who push the boundaries and do things differently. Whatever you’re looking at is what your work will emulate, so try to switch up your feed. 😉

What is your favorite part about working for yourself?

Working for yourself is a great responsibility, but it also comes with great freedom. I truly love creating my own schedule and working during my “best hours”, I’m not a morning person. 😉 I love being able to meet my friends for coffee during the day and still getting a full days work in. It’s all a balance.

How do you deal with the isolation associate with working for yourself?

As an introvert, I really enjoy working at home in a quiet environment; but I understand not all creatives/entrepreneurs are introverts. I believe in discovering the “ideal” work week and what that looks like. For some, working in a co-op space or coffee shop is best, while for others the quietness and comfortability of a home is sacred. Maybe it’s a combo of the two. Trial and error are a great way to discover what’s best for you.

I also believe in having a strong community of other creatives. I’ve attended my local Tuesday’s Together meetup for 2 years and recently have begun co-leading it as well. This community has been crucial to feeling supported and connected in such an isolating industry. I love that I can connect with photographers as well as florists, planners, graphic designers, and other creatives.

Let’s talk failure. It often comes along with the ride of being your own boss. Were there any recent “failures” you’ve had to deal with? How did you overcome it and turn it into a learning experience?

Last year I second shot a wedding with a photographer and we had a miscommunication in our camera and flash settings. Several of the images I photographed of the ceremony didn’t turn out and it was my mistake for not clarifying. This was definitely a hit to my pride and I felt like a huge failure for what felt like a rookie mistake. When the photographer (who happened to also be a close friend) let me know about the mistake, I apologized and let her know I took full responsibility. Thankfully, she was understanding and our friendship didn’t suffer. As a result, I over communicate with my second photographer and make sure we’re on the same page. It was definitely a learning experience and now, I’m grateful for it.

Age vs Experience. How have you dealt with this debate, and what is your viewpoint or encouragement for those trying to leap that hurdle?

My opinion in the age versus experience topic is that you’re never too young to begin pursuing your dreams. At whatever age or lifestage you find yourself, I believe you can learn from those around you.

My encouragement would be to find other creatives in your age/life stage who have gone ahead of you and paved the way; reach out and be mentored by them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and humble yourself.

What is your primary support system for your business? (Ex. family, friends, partner.)

I feel very fortunate that my friends and family have been incredibly supportive in my business ventures. Since day 1, my husband has been my biggest fan and has sacrificed greatly so that I can pursue my dreams. My parents encouraged me from a young age to pursue my dreams and they’ve been highly supportive as well. Along the way, I’ve found a tribe of women who uplift and encourage one another and I couldn’t do this without them.

How do you stay sane with the pressure that comes with doing what you do, and the wedding industry?

There is definitely a lot of pressure in photographing a wedding. It could be easy to be caught up in the anxiety of all that could go wrong. But I believe the amazing result of photographing a wedding and getting to know so many couples out weighs the anxiety of the pressure. It’s 1000 times worth it.

I believe we can only do our best, provide our best,and the rest will fall into place. Do the research, make sure your equipment, hard drives, and all the technical stuff is taken care of and focus on the creativity and connecting to your couples. Because that magic makes it worth it.

Any other things that you would like to share with the readers?

Being an entrepreneur/creative isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone. I’ve seen incredible creatives who have pushed hard, succeeded at their craft, and somewhere along the journey decided it wasn’t for them. And I have MAD respect for that. I believe there is no failure in this business. There is no failure in trying and deciding it isn’t for you.

For those who are in the midst of the hustle and aren’t sure it’s for them, it’s ok to stop. But my honest advice is to hustle a little harder, a little longer, cause you may be just one day away from that mountain top moment. You never know. 😉


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