I started painting and drawing at the age of 7. It helped pass the time growing up in Buffalo, NY during the long, cold winters. In high school, I painted photos of dead rock stars and sailboats on the sea. My love affair with the intense beauty and progressive nature of the left coast began when I spent the year off in between high school and college in San Francisco. I visited places where those dead rock stars hung out and saw a lot of sailboats on the bay. College seemed like a good idea though. I ended up accepting a hefty scholarship to Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY and left the West to start in the fall of 1983. In the midst of an Art Direction major, my toes got dipped in a black and white photography elective sophomore year and the skill of framing, pointing, and shooting to achieve a finished piece of art became far more appealing than fussing over a painting. Photography appealed to my slightly impatient nature 😉 During the Pratt experience, I also embarked upon my first international trip, taking a summer photography course in Israel in 1985. It blew my mind and changed my whole perspective on life and art. In 1987, I graduated on the President’s list from Pratt with degree in Art Direction and a Thesis in Photography.
My next life marker was in the form of a job as the color slide/chrome duplicator for the prestigious Magnum Photos, NYC. Although having already caught the wanderlust bug, and rubbing elbows with some of the world’s most esteemed photojournalists, the life of constant travel, often to dangerous places in the world, was not appealing to me. After 2 years working in NYC and soaking up all that megalopolis had to offer to this artist, I decided it was time for more mellow, greener pastures, and some negative ions. Nature had always been my balm and NYC was just too chaotic for me to stay permanently. It was in the search for more serene environs that I was hired at the Maine Photographic Workshops (currently, the Maine Media Center) as the Black and White lab manager in the summer of 1988.
Two years later, after working summers at MPW, tending bar and waiting tables in winters, alongside traveling to Europe, (mainly my homeland Croatia) as well as around the Eastern seaboard of the US, I very accidentally stumbled upon the Center for Creative Imaging in Camden, Maine. It was there that I would begin to learn the rapidly emerging world of digitizing images, the basics of Photoshop and the Macintosh computer platform. What a streak of luck for a person who knew she loved photography, but couldn’t really figure out how to make a living doing what she loved. After a 4 month internship and a brain filled with new technology, it was time to go back to the city that stole my heart, San Francisco.
It was in my beloved city in 1992, that I began a long career as a photographer, digital artist, educator and tutor, 18 years to be exact, working for many advertising greats and teaching at numerous SF schools and occasionally at the world renown Santa Fe Workshops. In 1998, I took my first trip in a friend’s VW Westfalia and fell in LOVE! The trip from San Francisco to Santa Fe through the stunning Southwestern US, opened up a whole new world of travel to me. Imagine cracking the sliding side door open and falling asleep to a full moon and beautiful breeze in Monument Valley? In 2000, I purchased my first of two “Westies” I would own. The world of “van life” had begun. I became a part time computer slave and a full time wanderer 😉 Unlike the new millennial craze of “#vanlifers” I’ve long been traveling down that road – 20 years and two Westfalias to be exact!
As the cost of living in the Bay Area escalated and traffic worsened, I decided to leave the West coast in 2011 to explore and spend some time with mother nature in the Westfalia. My home bases have since been in my 1986 VW Westfalia, “Nesty”, and currently my 1985 Westy, “Kara,” Western NY, Key West, Florida, Palm Beach, Florida, and Greenville, South Carolina.
As of the beginning of 2020, my sweet pooch Mona and I are ready to set out to go home to the West. It’s where my heart and soul live in unison and connected to the earth and sea. Until we find our next nesting spot, I’ll be documenting life on our beautiful planet one mile and one frame at a time.
Send an email or give a call to connect 🙂 ~Namasté ~ Sue and Mona Lou
I am available for editorial assignments, head shots, portraits of family and pets, as well as high school portraits. Private tutoring is one of my fortés as well. If you are interested in hiring me for any of the above, please use my contact info below. I still really enjoy talking on the phone so feel free to pick it up and talk to me about how my skills might fit your needs 🙂
mobile: 510-910-2001 email: firstname.lastname@example.org