INterview With Susan Tuttle

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Do you guys remember Flickr? Once what feels like a lifetime ago I saw some of Susan’s amazing photos. Really, this was before I was a ‘photographer’ myself. I was delving into the world of images- soaking in the magic I saw. Susan’s Images did this for me, filled me with magic! Now many years later I feel it’s come full circle as I saw her again on Facebook making magic with Alena Hennessy which you can read about at the end but I had that flash of remembering, like a flood I saw her photographs, I knew then I wanted to have her here with us and I am so glad she is!

Susan Tuttle: Susan is a digital SLR and mobile photographer who lives in the woods of Maine and is inspired daily by her natural surroundings. She has written four books — her most recent, Art of Everyday Photography: Move Toward Manual and Make Creative Photos (August 2014), Photo Craft: Creative Mixed-Media and Digital Approaches to Transforming Your Photographs (2012, co-authored with Christy Hydeck), Digital Expressions: Creating Digital Art with Adobe Photoshop Elements (2010), and Exhibition 36: Mixed-Media Demonstrations and Explorations (2008). Her photography has been exhibited internationally in London, New York City, Prague, and Paris. Susan is also a frequent contributor to Stampington & Company publications and other North Light Books, does freelance work for companies like Manfrotto and Autodesk Pixlr, and is currently the Technical Advisor for Somerset Digital Studio magazine. Susan shares, “It is my hope that by sharing I can help others to connect with their artistic selves. It is my belief that if more and more people across the planet create things, there will be more happiness, greater peace and less destructive behavior. It is harder to destroy when you are in touch with your creative spirit.”

View more of Susan’s work and find out about online workshops she currently offers at susantuttlephotography.com. Wait come back your gonna wanna click on that link! ;)

 

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What way of being is calling you? Who are you becoming? or How do you rise up in your fullness?

This is actually quite an intense question for me to answer at this time, as I am going through a process of healing right now which presents its emotional challenges. So, here goes the nitty gritty…

I’m always trying to stay on my path. I can feel it when I’m on it and when I fall off. When I’m on it, things feel aligned, smooth, right in my heart –- not always easy, but right. When I’m off it, things tend to go wrong and I feel disjunct and in conflict with my intuition. Either that, or I allow myself to go numb, which is never a good option (I’ve learned not to do that). We always have choices and our actions are what ultimately keep us on the path or throw us off course. I’m trying to evolve as a person every day by staying the path. That involves listening to my intuition, making good choices, being responsible, doing something good for the world through my work, caring for others around me, caring for me and my body, living in an open and mindful way, and enjoying life and having fun! It’s important for me to try to do all of these things when things are really good, when they’re pretty good, and also when they’re hard (so, all the time, no matter what state I’m in). I feel privileged to be spending my life with my soulmate, raising two amazing children together who crack my heart wide open. LOVE! Although I’m an independent gal, they make this life journey so much more right.

Life is not always easy, as I said, and right now I’m living through a bit of a rough patch. I am learning how to find the ‘comfortable’ within the discomfort as I move through a time of healing. I’m learning how to focus on what is important. It is possible to hold both pain and happiness at the same time. There will always be lessons to be learned, things we need to work on, and challenges to face, which ultimately can make us better and stronger if we let them and choose well. And while experiencing these challenges as well as the good days, we are meant to find (choose) happiness, contentment and joy through our relationships, by enjoying nature, through the gifts of our senses, with art, music, cooking, whatever it is that allows us to be creative. Finding the specialness in the ordinary. Slowing down. Taking time to live. Really live. There is much beauty in the world. We need to find it, connect with it, relish it and make more of it!

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How has your experience as an photographer/artist changed you? How can or does this experience help others?

The experience of being a photographer has changed me in numerous ways, but most importantly it has enabled me to sharpen my eye and really take the time to see; to notice fine details in the world, linger on them, take in their essences. My favorite details to capture are aspects of flora in nature as well as facial expressions, in particular that flash of soul you can sometimes see sparkle behind a person’s eyes. Capturing that is pure gold.

As I photograph my surroundings year after year and post them to my blog, I become more in touch with the seasons, cycles and nuances here in the Maine woods. It helps me to feel more grounded, more in sync and one with the natural world I live in and am a part of. I see new, precious life in spring, brilliance and thriving flora in summer with a last hurrah in early fall, then decay and death in the late fall, and rest in the winter. Then the cycle starts again, anew. Observing and recording these moments each year helps me to embrace and understand my own life’s rhythm, process and meaning.

In terms of helping others I’m a teacher in spirit, so it’s only natural for me to want to share what I’ve learned (and continue to learn) about photography as well as post-editing skills that can be used to enhance one’s work.

Sharing about my life on my blog through images, words, poetry and life experiences, both the good stuff and challenges, can strike a chord with a reader. You never know when something you say can be just what someone else needs to hear. I recently have been sharing about my healing journey and have received some special emails from people, telling me it resonates with them, that they don’t feel so alone, and that it makes them want to choose healing and happiness. That in turn helps me on my own journey.

What does your soul need to feel alive? Describe a time when your soul felt alive?

I try to surround myself daily with life-giving experiences, and they don’t need to be extravagant to make my soul feel alive. I need art, music, poetry, good books, people, connections, gardening, delicious food, star-lit skies, good movies, the smell of fresh cut grass in summer, dancing… of course there’s more, but I gave you a pretty good taste.:-)

Any time I’m engaged in one of these experiences, giving them my focus and full attention, allowing myself to get lost in them, I feel alive inside.

What is pulling you forward? What is your motivation?

I love what I do. Work that does not feel like work. It’s taken a lot of effort, perseverance and time to get to a place where I can work for myself as a creative entrepreneur, authoring art and photography books, doing freelance work and teaching online. I have such a passion for these things and feel grateful to be able to engage in them every day, sharing what I’ve learned with others. All along I’ve enjoyed the journey and look forward to what’s to come. Money is not the motivation, although it is nice and of course necessary in the way our society is set up. The motivation is the passion I feel for what I do and a desire to keep on learning and growing.

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What does being BRAVE look like these days? What does it feel like?

BRAVE looks like showing up and being yourself. Following your heart. Standing up for what you believe in, even if it’s not popular. Standing up for someone else who can’t or isn’t ready to. Exercising patience. Embracing change, especially when it’s out of your control. Trusting that strength and goodness can come out of a challenge. Believing in love. Believing in miracles. Being okay with not knowing. Stretching outside your comfort zone.

Being brave is not always a comfortable place to be, but it creates an authentic life, keeps you on your path, and pushes you to grow and evolve into your best self.

Tell me about what you crave? What are you saying a big Holy YES to these days?

Chocolate. I’m saying yes to Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate bar with caramel and black sea salt! You’ve just got to try it. It… is… THE… BEST! It’s especially fun to nibble on while sipping a glass of Cocoban red wine (also from Trader Joe’s). Maybe not the answer you expected, but that’s what came to me when I read this question.

Of course, all in moderation. Most of what I put into my body is super healthy – mostly plant-based foods with the occasional meat and fish – tons of fruit, grains, legumes, nuts, lean proteins, not too many carbs and virtually no dairy, avoidance of processed or refined junk (of course I allow treats now and then!), and lots of herbal and chaga tea (which has amazing anti-inflammatory properties).

Because I have to ask whom are your heroes? What did they teach you?

People teach me daily, not just my heroes. As I’ve gotten older (I’m 43), I’ve become more of an observer and a listener, and less of a talker. That way I can learn more. Not only do I learn from the positive, exemplary behaviors of folks, but also from negative Nellies. They show me what not to do.

A few heroes do stand out in my mind though – some I know personally and others are figures (especially women) from history who have changed the courses of our lives for the better.

For this question, I’ll focus on one very special individual who made a difference in my life when I was a teen, and who I still have the privilege of having in my life. Mr. B., my high school Earth Science teacher, is my hero. This man taught me to care deeply – about the environment and making life-sustaining choices and fighting for a healthy and clean planet. But more than that, he cared (cares) about people and taught us to do the same. Mr. B was a positive male figure in my life at a time when I didn’t have many. He believed in me and made me feel smart, he drew out the self-confidence I had lost, he made me think about what was important to me and what I valued, and he made me want to be brave and stand up for things I believed in, putting my voice and truth out there. Mr. B. made me feel like I was special and that I had the potential to do meaningful and valuable things with my life. The most uplifting teacher I ever had!

And I must add that political activist Kamala Lopez is my current favorite hero! You should watch this trailer Equal means Equal. 

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How will you honor the ordinary moments today? What are your favorite ordinary moments?

By practicing mindfulness. Being in the moment. Slowing down. Taking notice. Savoring the smiles and hugs and kind words. Tasting. Looking. Lingering. Finding the meditation in the “mundane.” Allowing myself to be imperfect and loving myself anyway.

Some favorite ordinary moments and things: cuddling with my family, watching the stars, my fuzzy ochre-colored blanket, sipping hot herbal tea, the smell of rain when it first hits the ground, taking pictures and playing with them in Photoshop, my husband’s text messages, candlelight, the smell of baking bread, playing flute, turning out the lights at night and enjoying the dark, running into someone I care about, making someone smile, hugs, watching our cat Ruby nap in the sun, listening to music, reading Kinfolk or a good book, browsing through beautiful images on Pinterest, listening to church bells, watching the morning sun reflected like diamonds on the river, stretching, driving down my dirt road, watching my perennial gardens come back in the warmer weather, receiving small gifts or letters from my favorite people.

What would you like everyone to know?

It’s going to be okay.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild precious life?

Live it the best I know how, live it with passion, live it fully, bravely, authentically, responsibly, recklessly, boldly, quietly, taking chances and risks, having no regrets (rather, learning from those experiences), feeling all my feelings, being me, being truthful, traveling, creating, wondering, exploring, trying new things, leaping, dancing, celebrating, laughing, acting silly, not taking myself too seriously, making it to 100 baby!

 

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Susan Tuttle and Alena Hennessy are holding registration for their latest online workshop, Radiant heART :: Come Alive in Joy with Photo and Paint.

Spring is in the air! Life is beginning to stir, new growth is getting ready to burst forth!

Can you feel it resonating within you? Would you like to come alive in JOY?

In this unique offering, let Alena and Susan gently guide you to that place through their expertise in painting and photography.

Radiant heART is for everyone! Early bird special ends on April 5th, they would love for you to join them! Find out more Here.