Suzannah received her first camera when she was 15 years old; her parents bought her a 35mm Mamiya for her birthday. Although her mother thought it would be just a toy, her daddy had faith that she would really use it and learn something from it. Well, her daddy was right and once she got it in her hands she couldn’t let it go!
Her parents were teachers and folklorists, and they would often travel the roads of central and south central Alabama, going to cemeteries to collect epitaphs. Believe it or not, Suzannah learned a lot about lighting and shadows from photographing tombstones in the cemeteries they visited. About 25 years later, her parents’ final folklore book was published, Gone Home, a collection of Southern gravestone art. This was the first of many projects Suzannah collaborated on with her parents, including a field study of historic churches in central and west Alabama.
Along with traveling on folklore trips with her parents, she began working on the Tallassee High School newspaper, The Talla-Hi News, and also freelanced for The Tallassee Tribune when Jack and Jo Venable owned it.
With a scholarship to the University of Alabama in hand, she headed to Tuscaloosa to study journalism. She worked for a short while for the student newspaper, The Crimson White, and also edited the newspaper for the University’s Wesley Foundation.
Her background in folklore kept calling to her, however, and she left the College of Communication for New College, a division of the University envisioned by Dr. David Matthews, a division whereby students could set their own paths to the future. Suzannah combined American Studies with photography and studied, among other things, rock and country music, the Southern novel, Southern women in literature, the American novel, and the civil rights struggle in the South. Her senior project was a photographic study of Southern women, exhibited at the University when she graduated.
It’s been a wonderful experience since then, and she progressed from that tiny, narrow building that didn’t even have a bathroom to a much larger building around the block, to her own studio on James Street.
From 35mm to medium format cameras and now to the digital world, she has seen many changes in photography. But one thing remains constant—she strives to do the best work she can for her clients.
“I’ve had and continue to have the best job in the world. I get to go to great parties and amazing weddings, I get to go to football games and pep rallies, to city events and class and family reunions, and I’ve even photographed a few funerals, which are such sad but sweet times to be with a family. Some of my “babies” are grown up now, and I’m so fortunate to be able to photograph their babies. I have so many stories to tell, and I look forward to telling some new ones.”Suzannah is a member of Professional Photographers of America, is active in the community, particularly working with the other downtown Tallassee business owners, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Tallassee Housing Authority. She and her husband, Darrell, are members of First United Methodist Church, and he currently serves as a city councilman for Ward 4. A member of the 908th Air Force Reserve at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, where he also works full-time, he is often seen carrying equipment for Suzannah and helping her.