Story by Cindy Reid photos by Paul Nurnberg
The photographer. The person who is there, yet not there. Unobtrusive, quiet, but yet persistent. The person who preserves, captures and presents you with all the glorious images from your big day, from your wedding or special event. The maker of the tangible memories, the photographs that you and your family will cherish for generations. The photographer Susan DeLoach is Beaufort’s memory maker.
You may have seen Susan clicking away at the Beaufort International Film Festival, or you may have seen her work in this magazine, Beaufort Lifestyle. She is Past President of the Photography Club of Beaufort, Past President of Beaufort Art Association and has been a volunteer for Friends of Caroline Hospice, Dragon Boat Beaufort and Hope Haven. She often contributes donations of her photography work to local charity silent auctions such as Bikers Against Bullies, YMCA Boots and Bling and the Junior League. In the background, working away, she has been a presence at many local events and parties.
A little back ground- where are you from and how long have you lived in Beaufort?
I was born and raised right here in Beaufort. As a child, I lived in an area of Burton that was mostly farm land. Most summers there were tomato or cucumber fields lining the dirt road in front of my home and both served as my playground. I spent most days outside riding my bike, mini bike or walking barefoot down that dirt road picking blackberries or visiting friends. We knew all our neighbors, never locked our doors and knew to be home when the sun set. It was the most carefree time of my life, as it should be for any child.
What is your educational background (college, technical school, school of hard knocks)?
I graduated high school from Berkeley High in Moncks Corner, SC, attended Trident Technical Collage for a couple of semesters and then returned to Beaufort. I then attended USC – Beaufort and received my Bachelor of Science in Business Management through a program allowing Beaufort students to complete their four year program in association with USCB- Aiken. My degree was issued through USCB – Aiken but I attended all of my classes in Beaufort.
What led you to your current business?
I have always loved art but I can’t draw a straight line, so photography became my artistic expression. After the birth of my oldest child, my husband bought me a camera and I became a “Soccer Mom,” photographing my kids and everyone else’s who would let me. I even began to volunteer at the fire department and take photos on scene. Soon I realized that I loved what I was doing and I should pursue it as a career. I continued to study and decided I would open my own photography business. My grandparents were entrepreneurs and I had already owned a couple of businesses, so I hit the ground running in 2003.
Did you have a mentor or person who helped you at first?
Yes, I went to my first digital photography workshop in Charleston, a workshop hosted by a photography magazine, and met John Chandler. He is a professional photographer in Richlands, North Carolina, who had recently retired from the military and we became fast friends. He taught me so much about photography and we are still friends today.
There are many others who continue to help me grow as a photographer but it all began with John.
What do you find rewarding in your field?
One of the most rewarding parts of being a photographer is being able to give the gift of memories. Generally on any wedding day or other special event, the people who hire me have so much going on that there is not enough time to actually take a moment to take it all in as it is happening. I can give them that time back after the event. They can look at the images of the day, some of which they would have not seen anyway and relive the day. I love to hear from my clients after they have received their images and be told they were crying all over again. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing the memories I captured for them in the form of photos evoked a happy emotion from that day.
What do you find challenging in your field?
Staying current is a huge challenge, technology is constantly changing in the field of photography. In the digital age of photography, I fear the loss of digital images. It is so important to print photos, to be able to hold them in your hand and give them to someone is so important. I remember as a little girl, sitting on the floor at my grandparent’s house looking through shoebox after shoebox of photographs, so please print your images. Put them in albums, frames or even in a shoebox so someday one of your family members will find them and relive those memories.
What is a good day at work for you?
Having a shoot is a good day for me. Whether it is a family, a couple, a wedding or other event, I love to capture moments. I also love when I see my clients and they share with me what their favorite images are that I captured for them. I have been a photographer long enough now that I have had the privilege of photographing several special events for my clients and when I receive those calls and am included in their “big” days – those are great days!
What is one thing people may not know about your field?
There is no substitute for experience, I work at my craft every day. Owning a good camera doesn’t guarantee good photos. You need to take thousand of photographs to begin to consistently capture the images as you see them, with your artistic expression. Learning to work with light takes experience, learning to position people in the best way takes practice. It is truly a life long journey to be the best you can be. In addition to capturing the images, learning to deal with whatever gets thrown at you during a wedding or photo shoot takes experience, there is simply no substitute.
What would you like to tell a potential client?
Photography is my passion. I am so fortunate to be allowed to share my passion with each and every one of my clients. I hope that I will have the privilege of capturing just one moment in your lifetime that will stay with you all of your days, and then continue to bring joy to those who love you.