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Do What You Love

Intro by Skip Cohen

I love this post from Suzette Allen’s archives because it took me back to my film days. While marketing and business in photography became my first love, I’ll match my passion with a camera in my hands with anybody.

However, it’s that foundation in the film that’s so valuable to me today. It was the days of waiting for my prints, learning from my mistakes and the jubilation of getting things right that kept me focused and excited about the craft. There was no chimping – no way to know if you got the shot or not, unless you were shooting in the studio, and just maybe shot a Polaroid proof first. Even that was limited and only confirmed exposure, lighting and composition.

There’s a second point Suzette made here and it’s really the focus of her post – it’s about doing what you love. There’s a wonderful quote claimed by a long list of different people, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life!”

Well, Suzette is one of the hardest working artists any of us know, and the happiest. That smile on her face is all thanks to her finding a career path thirty-six years ago she not only loved but has shared with us year after year.

By Suzette Allen

I bought an Olympus OM1-N in December 1982 when I was 18! An all-manual camera. I knew NOTHING about photography but bought it for my husband for Christmas. Thinking ahead, I figured I better learn how to use it before he opened it on Christmas eve so we could take some pictures with it right away.

So, the week before Christmas 1982, I did my personal crash course in how to use a manual camera. From that day on, it became my love…although I did have to share the camera with him! A week later, I took a job at a local one-hour lab, Foto Quick, on Jan 1, 1983. I got free film processing for a year as an employee and learned a TON from all the film I processed and the images I saw, good and bad. A few weeks later, I signed up for a photography and darkroom class at the local community college and was bit by the Photo Bug in a big way.

Addicted. Obsessed. It has been my true love language for the rest of my life since then! I have always said it is my passion and that “I will do photography until the day I die”. All true. [hmmm…telling you that story just makes me happy!]

It’s not surprising that all these years later I’m still doing photography and teaching it and passionately pursuing it. And fortunately, I’m not afraid of technology, because wow, it is so different now! [but I still love the smell of fixer…. ] Now I love Photoshop as my digital darkroom and I’ve turned to moving pictures– videos that tell better stories with more passion and engagement.

It’s an ongoing love affair with life, capturing its beauty and precious moments. I love interacting with my world through the eyes of my lens more than any other way. And I love remembering and creating and reliving the best parts of life through my prints.