Susan Stripling

As a top notch wedding photographer, Susan Stripling is one to keep your eye one. Named one of the top 10 wedding shooters in the country by American Photo Magazine, it is easy to see why her schedule is so packed. Pairing excellent composition with perfect timing, Susan captures the best and most meaningful moments of each wedding she photographs.

Susan uses Zenfolio for client proofing and loves the easy download interface for her clients, saving her tons of time. She also uses Zenfolio to showcase full weddings which helps her to book new clients. Her account also gives her peace of mind as a convenient back-up storage solution.

Where were you born and raised? Where have you settled?

I was born in Savannah, Georgia and mostly grew up outside of Atlanta. After college I moved to New York briefly and then to Tallahassee, Florida where I started my business in late 2001. I’ve been in Brooklyn, New York since 2008 and split my time equally between here and the Philadelphia area.

How has Zenfolio helped your business?

I honestly don’t know how I could run my business without Zenfolio. I use it not only to host my clients’ galleries but to show prospective clients full bodies of wedding work when they’re thinking about hiring me. I use Zenfolio as a way for my clients to download their high-resolution files, saving me money on DVD’s and drives and FedEx shipments and making the delivery instantaneous for them. I also use Zenfolio as an online backup for my images — I feel safe knowing that the high resolution files are online and protected.

Tell us about your work flow, what editing program do you use?

After each wedding I download to my Mac and back up to my G-Technology G-Drives. I use PhotoMechanic to cull my images and then back them up to my File Transporter — which is what my post-processing company (Sidecar Post) uses to then download the images on their end. When I edit myself I use LightRoom for the actual editing and PhotoShop for any retouching that I might need. I also use Fundy Album Builder for my album designs and I LOVE it.

Do you have brand loyalty for Canon, Nikon or something completely different?

Nikon and nothing else. Nikon has helped me become the photographer that I am today and I am fiercely loyal.

What is the best part of being a professional photographer?

Which part? I am able to work from home, be here for my kids, and spend time with my husband. I have time to exercise, cook, and live my life because of how I’ve strictly regimented my workflow, outsourced the bulk of the time-consuming post-processing, and managed my day-to-day office work. I shoot about fifty weddings per year and that’s no small feat. I love being able to work with different people each week and get to know them and their families. I love being able to produce a legacy for them, their first family heirloom, the record of when their family officially begin. It’s a very humbling thing and an honor that I don’t take lightly.

Are your photography skills self-taught or were you classically trained?

100% self-taught. I have had great help along the way from my friends on internet forums and Facebook and my husband, Cliff Mautner, pushes me every day to be a better photographer and strive to keep improving my craft.

What advice would you give a new photographer just starting out?

Take this seriously. It’s not a hobby, it’s a job. Pay your taxes. Have insurance. Work with a lawyer to develop your contracts. Learn. Learn more. Keep learning. This is NOT easy and if you go into it thinking “Oh wow I can make money at this awesome hobby!” you’re one step towards total failure.

What was your first published work?

I can’t remember! Probably Inside Weddings magazine back in 2005 or 2006.

What inspires you as a photographer? Or who?

My husband. Not only is he the best person I know but he’s the best photographer that I know.

Is there a trade secret you care to share with us?

Yes — there ARE no trade secrets! There are no silver bullets. There is no quick path to success. Just work and more work and experience. I hated hearing this when I first started out and thought that there was some way to avoid putting in the time but there wasn’t.

What is the very first camera you ever owned?

My very first camera was a Canon Rebel. I remember very clearly the store that it came from and how badly I wanted it. I am so thankful for it because I had no idea at the time that it was setting me down a life-changing path.

Tell us something about yourself that we would never guess.

I love horror movies but I hate being scared. My husband mentioned this in his wedding vows as one of the weird things about me and it’s true. I’m scared of being scared but I keep going back for more!

What piece of equipment or doohickey do you have with you on every shoot?

Earplugs. Weddings get LOUD.

Do you have any final words of wisdom on being a first class shooter?

Yes. Don’t get discouraged. This can be a really frustrating career and the industry can get you down if you let it. Just keep your head down and work hard. Also know when to walk away — if you work 24/7 it will overwhelm you.

Susan Stripling

Wedding Photographer, Brooklyn, NY and Philadelphia, PA