Vancouver photographer Suzanne Rushton is bringing the breathtaking beauty of the outdoors, indoors, through her photography prints. As businesses move towards a cost-effective solution to “green their offices” by installing large format nature photographs on their walls, Suzanne’s work offers the perfect pieces to adorn said walls. The trend, called biophilia, suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. Biophilia, also called BET, is the direction that Suzanne is encouraging clients in Canada and worldwide to venture towards.
1. For the people who might not know you, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Suzanne Rushton and I am primarily a Vancouver based photographer specializing in real estate, corporate events, and landscape/travel photography. I also founded Vancouver Photowalks, a local tour company that teaches people photography during walking tours around the city.
2. How did you develop an interest in photography?
I’ve always loved photography. I remember as a child wanting to be a National Geographic photographer! I have albums and albums of photos I took before digital took over. My mother is very artistic so perhaps it’s genetic.
3. How did you start your career as a photographer?
While I’ve always loved photography, I didn’t consider it as a career until 2009 when a partner bought me a DSLR camera. I have to credit him for the final push to making it a career. In 2010 we shot a wedding together and the couple referred us to another couple, so we decided to build a website and make it a business. I then started taking courses, taking more photos, and dabbling in additional types of photography. I admit it was a rather reactive beginning, but I’m happy to report a lot has changed since then. I think one of the best moves I made, in the beginning, was offering a Groupon- type deal which served as a paid internship and provided me with heaps of contacts and experience.
4. What has been the most rewarding project you have ever done?
There have been a few, but the most recent is a project I did for a financial institution in Vancouver. They wanted to green their office space and decided to print large scale art prints on several of their walls. They also wanted to encourage employees to take the stairs by installing nature prints, mainly of pathways, in the stairwells. I was honored to be offered the task of going to see and hike to several local nature spots for the purpose of placing these images on the walls. It was the pinnacle of all the things I love to do, hike, photograph, and live my purpose to help make the world a more beautiful place. It is now an extreme pleasure to see my work larger than life on their walls.
5. Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing, and career path?
Skills and taste evolve over time, and I’ve gone through many phases. I have been inspired by some very talented artists. I was captivated by Katya Nova, while I was in the wedding photography phase. Her images were, and still are, so bright and crisp. Filled with movement and emotion. I took a workshop with her to learn her style and
approach. I am also inspired by architectural photographers and landscape photographers. This may sound silly but I love looking at real estate and architectural magazines and to get inspired for the real estate and architectural work I do. My landscape inspiration is abundant. I currently love Josh Cripps and Jim Patterson, with whom I have taken several workshops.
6. What do you love taking pictures of the most?
Landscapes large and small are at the top of the list, but a close second would be textures and patterns.
7. What is your ideal shooting location?
It would depend on what I was shooting. For home, business or event, I don’t have much choice in the location. If it were portraits, then in an outdoor spot in the shade would be my top pick. I love textures and patterns (and landscapes!) as noted above, so if the person is looking for something outside the box then I love to shoot at a barn, in a forest, or near a reflective window.
8. What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?
Never stop learning! Take workshops or hire a photographer privately. There is so much to be learned from each person that it’s very worthwhile to continue taking workshops. Even when they explain something you already know but in a new way, it adds so much value.
9. How do you balance your love for photography with the business side of it?
I’m fortunate because I really love business. I really love the interplay between technical, artistic and relational skills that are required. I love that when I send out a newsletter I get more work afterward. I love working on the website and designing it. I love that I get to decide how I run my business, and I love that I am in control of how much money I make. Sure there are challenges, for example, I used to accept all the work offered to me, because I don’t have a fixed income. Following that strategy, I ended up working 7 days/week and exhausted. Now, I find balance by identifying exactly the type of work I want to do and only doing that (for the most part). This allows me more free time to develop my skills, and expand creatively in other directions, which ultimately enhances my business and mind.
10. What equipment do you prefer to use?
I use Nikon cameras. I currently have two D750’s and a range of lenses.
11. How do you educate yourself to improve your craft?
I take workshops! When I find a photographer I love, I read about them, I look at their volume of work and follow their evolution of creativity. I watch youtube videos for things like Photoshop if I have to do something I’ve never done before. I ask another photographer in my community. I do a lot of online studying, but occasionally I’ll be on a shoot and think, oh wouldn’t it be great if I did XYZ? Then I try it. Then I try it again later. Self-studying.
12. What makes the good picture stand out from the average?
I get asked this a lot. Good pictures are good because the subject is captivating, the lighting is gorgeous, and the composition is amazing. Average photos usually have one or two of these elements missing.
13. What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
I wish I had known that I didn’t need to join every single social media channel that exists. I ended up with accounts all over the place and not maintaining any of them. I have since deleted many of my online presences and it keeps things much cleaner.
14. What do you have in mind for the future?
My plans are to continue traveling and photographing new and exciting places, spaces and people. I love teaching photography and am interested in creating a youtube channel with quick photography tips for people.
Thank you so much to Suzanne for this lovely interview! You can find more about her and her work on: