The second you step into Cleveland-based photographer Suzanne Price’s studio, you get an overwhelming feeling of wonder, and you just know that this is where the magic is made. Suzuran, a name that refers to the Japanese term for Lily of the Valley, (and also sounds like an amalgamation of Suzanne + Dan, the two lovebirds that run the joint) is not only a photography studio, its an experience.
The breadth of her work increases by the minute, and I can’t help but admire Suzanne’s signature style throughout each genre. Whether she’s exploring another country, documenting a road trip, shooting a fashion pictorial, or collaborating with her husband on a wedding, her photos feel ethereal and soft, but at the same time, incredibly poignant. You can’t help but wonder about the secrets and surprises each subject is holding. Every photo is like a scene in a very good dream that you feel like you need to know the meaning of immediately.
Describe the path you took to get to what you’re doing now: Well, I have a BFA in photography and after graduating I really wanted to start my own photography business, but I didn’t yet have the confidence. So I went to back to school and earned a degree in Art Education. I was really passionate about it, and moved to Japan to teach Art and English to preschool, an experience that completely changed my life. It was in Japan that I truly developed my photographic voice and honed my craft. I moved back to Cleveland from Japan just as the market was crashing, and it was really tough to find a teaching job, let alone any other job, so I decided to embrace my destiny and start making photos full time.
How would you describe your aesthetic? It’s emotive, moody, narrative, and empathetic, if that makes sense!
Which photographers and artists inspire you? While I respect the work of many photographers who primarily shoot weddings, I don’t draw much inspiration from wedding photography itself. I love film – especially the catalog of Francois Truffaut, The Sprit of the Beehive by Victor Erice, and anime film Pricess Kaguya by Isao Takahata.
Do you aspire to create work on a level of a particular artist, or do you have other personal goals that you base the arc of your work on? I try as much as possible to photograph moments that can be imagined as film stills; you can daydream about what may have happened before and after. Photographer wise, I love the work of Shomei Tomatsu, Deborah Turbeville, and many, many more.
What’s the most challenging thing about owning your own business? The most challenging aspect of owning my own business is the BUSINESS end of things! Taxes, accounting, tons of email, etc. I’m a pretty right brained person, and rigid mathy tasks don’t come naturally to me. I don’t have many regrets in life, but it would have been nice to at least minor in business. I think that understanding that framework can give you a leg up if you are a creative. I asked for a lot of advice and in a few cases reinvented the wheel.
What’s the most rewarding thing? The most rewarding thing is interacting with a huge variety of humans and bringing them joy! I’m naturally introverted and can be PAINFULLY shy in groups. My camera has always been a safety net/buffer in social situations; it helps me to interact on a level that wouldn’t normally be possible. I’m incredibly thankful for that.
There are so many choices when it comes to wedding photographers, why do you think people are drawn to Suzuran? I think it’s because we’re a kind pair who aren’t afraid to be a little quirky in our creativity. We aren’t afraid of a little imperfection – in fact, a little blur here and a silly face there in perfect spontaneity can often tell a story much better than a staged, stiff portrait. We really value natural moments and strive to help our clients stay present. There is so much beauty in that honesty.
I want to thank Suzanne for this interview and her brilliant work. I recommend following her on Instagram – it’s one of my favorite feeds.