This is the full version of the creativeLIVE "Moving On" blog post found HERE...
Hi everyone it’s Susan and I wanted to write this post to tell everyone about me and my life at creativeLIVE. I’ve chatted with many of you, you’ve seen me on screen but most of you do not know much about me. I wanted to share how I got involved with creativeLIVE, how it’s changed my life and about the opportunities it has created for me.
I’ve always been adventurous, a risk taker. For me a life worth living involves a lot of risk. I’ve never been one to play it safe and the chances I’ve taken have reaped so many rewards and it goes without saying, a few disasters too.
I grew up in Alaska, a surreal place. A place of such extremes can sometimes be risky just living there. Risk has defined my life. This risk is actually better known as leaving your comfort zone. I will never forget my first experience leaving my comfort zone, I was 16. I joined a foreign exchange program and went to St. Lucia for one year. I left the comfort of my house, my parents, my brother and my friends to open myself up to what I had never experienced before, the uncertain.
I realized during this year that I was my own person. That I could do what I wanted to do. That I could be who I wanted and that nobody else was responsible for me, but me. My happiness, my adventures, my path, my choices, they are all me and only I could make them what they are.
Life is full of opportunities. We many times think we have no choices, no ability, no chance, but this is simply not true. You are responsible for being who you want to be, and for chances to appear you must look for them. In 2007, I had a chance to travel the world. I was facing another comfort zone situation. Do I stay and be comfortable, or do I go and do and risk it all? So, I left my corporate job for an around the world adventure. I was gone for a year and a half. I learned a lot about myself, met amazing people and realized that I had a passion for photography. When I returned home I was back at square one. No job, no place to live, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I would rather live than have! I knew I had to get a job, and I knew that it had to be in photography, but how? I had no formal photography education and was overwhelmed not only by the cost of new gear but also by the cost of photography courses and workshops.
One day a good friend of mine took me to Art Wolfe’s studio in Seattle. Art is a well-known photographer and I remember feeling a sense of awe looking at his work. I spotted some flyers on a table in his studio offering a beginners course and a 3-day photography workshop. I can’t remember how much it was, but I knew I couldn’t afford the cost of them. I took the flyers home anyway and stuck them on my wall. I remember thinking to myself that I was going to pursue my passion one way or the other and would do whatever it takes to figure out a way.
It was only a few weeks after visiting Art Wolfe’s studio that I heard about creativeLIVE. It was through my partner in crime, Kenna Klosterman. Kenna and I became extremely close friends after travelling the world together. We realized throughout our travels that photography was definitely in our future.
Kenna read a tweet from our local camera store about a free online photography class, Rosanne Olson – Lighting A-Z. The school just happened to be located in Seattle and although it was online, we could participate in person if we were local to the area. Kenna and I signed up right away and started our first class in January of 2010.
I remember that first class so well! I was brand new. I had owned a DSLR for a week. I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew what I wanted. Hearing about free photography courses was definitely a light of hope for me. It was my chance, not being able to afford other workshops, to start my learning process.
Kenna and I started attending the courses frequently and after four months of attending 2-3 times a week, Craig Swanson, the founder, asked us if we’d be interested in chat hosting some of the courses. We were so excited, of course we said yes. We were learning so much! When creativeLIVE started giving workshops in addition to weekly courses, Kenna and I were front and center soaking up all the knowledge we could.
In the last two years I have taken close to 40 classes and workshops, met some of the best photographers in the world and worked for the coolest company I could ever imagine. The people at creativeLIVE have become a family to me. I am so grateful to everyone who makes creativeLIVE possible. I want to thank you all! I want to thank the creativeLIVE team, the teachers, the students, the people in the chatrooms and social media and the people around the world watching who make the entire thing possible. It has honestly been one of the best opportunities of my life. I will forever be grateful to everyone and I will never forget that.
Life is about risk, about seeking opportunities, making hard choices and leaving your comfort zone. It’s this time again for me. I’ve been offered a chance to travel the world again, but this time as a photographer and host of a new show called Unknown Photographer, and I took it!
One of our sponsor companies called BlackRapid, best known for their camera straps started a project called BlackRapidTV.com. It’s a website dedicated to producing shows by and for photographers. Unknown Photographer is the first show to be featured on BlackRapidTV. We’ve already completed the first season where we traveled the Pacific Northwest in an RV looking for great American stories told through the eyes of a photographer.
The first season which begins airing soon on BlackRapidTv.com was such a success that we have already started planning for season two. For season two I will be traveling around the entire world for one year discovering unknown photographers and sharing their photographic techniques, their tips and their culture. Think of it like an Anthony Bourdain meets photography type of show!
Looking back on my life, it’s funny to see all the times I have been standing at a crossroads with different paths laid out in front of me. When you stand and look down each path you’re filled with a sense of wonder and excitement mixed with fear and worry. Am I making the right choice? What will happen if I make the wrong decision? The one thing I know for sure is that without risk there is no reward!
I am incredibly sad to be far away from my creativeLIVE family. I am extremely excited about what the future has in store for me. As I travel I will be writing posts to keep everyone up to date about my adventures. I’ll definitely be in touch with everyone at creativeLIVE and I hope to keep in touch with all of you.
Just remember, creativeLIVE was my opportunity and it can be yours as well. Learn, appreciate and know that opportunities are plentiful when you look for them!
Signing off for now, I leave you in the hands of my best friend, Kenna Klosterman.