Today we’d like to introduce you to Sue Ball.
Sue, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Sure. My first real experience with a camera was in front of one, as an actress. I had no idea when I was acting that I’d eventually love being behind the lens. The first photo I took that represented any kind of self-expression was on a cheap cellphone I’d gotten back in 2009 while I was living in NYC. I was on a walk, saw a graffiti cupcake on a metal door, thought to myself, “Hey wait, that’s me,” pulled out the phone and snapped a picture. It was a self-portrait, but when I uploaded it to Facebook, I didn’t mention that part, all I knew was that I had just weirdly connected with a cupcake and that somehow this made it more than spray paint on a door. Folks liked the picture, and I quickly realized that if I felt something and took a picture because I felt it, it might be art.
As an actress, I was always waiting for an opportunity to express myself. With photography, I never had to wait, and for several years I walked the streets of NYC, Portland (Oregon), and Los Angeles shooting people and places and things, but mostly people, and it never got old. I love the Dorothy Lange quote, “A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” I started seeing stories and beauty and drama everywhere, and eventually, I bought a camera. And then I bought another camera and took a class. At a certain point, I was taking film and photography classes at LACC and really it was there that I started to create scenes and images by myself rather than just shooting story-driven street stuff.
I started to develop creative relationships with folks and we’d choose locations and clothes or just grab an idea and really just play. It was around that time that my acting background and my love of cinema and some directing I’d done started to kick in, and a sort of style naturally began to emerge. I still took street shots but, I started directing and narrating, and mining for emotion and story as opposed to lucking upon it. I began to develop a body of work, and I started getting inquiries from some art magazines and a local lifestyle magazine and I got published. I’ve also had photography featured on varying websites and art platforms including a really awesome site called Girl Gaze that showcases some remarkable photography by female photographers.
Because I shoot in the style that I do, the folks I’ve collaborated with the most have been artists. The experience of just freely creating work together that we love is very cool and exciting in and of itself, but because these folks are artists, they’ve used several of my shots on their websites and social media, and for their posters and at their art openings etc…for the sake of self-promotion. I love being of service to other artists in this way.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I wouldn’t necessarily call it easy, but for the great most part I’d have to say that the path here has in fact been pretty smooth. I wasn’t certain of where I wanted my work to go for a long time, and so I was never fighting to get anywhere. I just wanted to express myself and to create work with a pulse. Photography came to me a little later in life and it is a very pure experience for me and I imagine I will remain protective of that.
If I’ve had struggles, they’ve been technical struggles. I can’t remember where I heard it, but someone once said that the only obstacle between them and a great picture is the camera. I get that. The technical aspects of photography do not come naturally to me, and I have to work at that all the time. I take workshops and classes, and I continue to grow through trial and error. This said, I always get my shot, and I sometimes wonder if I’d get the same shot if I were a technical wiz, and the answer might possibly be no. Don’t get me wrong, I am amazed by (and have a lot of respect for) a beautifully technically executed photo, but ultimately it’s the heartbeat of the shot that reads. Some of the most inspiring photography I’ve seen is technically very basic. For example, I love the look and feel of Polaroid photography.
Please tell us more about your work. What do you do? What do you specialize in? What sets you apart from competition?
What I primarily offer is cinematic portraiture and promotional photography. I really enjoy creating images that look like they could’ve been lifted from a film. I like photos that can function as their own short pieces. My favorite films are character-driven ones that are built around feelings that have a natural tracking that creates “story.” I have done some filmmaking, and my photography really comes from my love of all things movie. The promotional aspect of what I do is directly linked to the fact that a lot of my photography is naturally ideal for posters, flyers, social media, album covers (which I have not done but am dying to do), websites, business cards, postcards, etc…My work is also good for any artist or band just looking to lay claim to a unique aspect of themselves. Even just one image can open minds with re: to who an artist is, what they’ve got to offer, and how people view them. It can be very empowering for an artist to display an image of themselves. It’s a statement. I am most proud of the fact that I get to be a part of this.
What sets Golden Locket and what I do apart from other photographers is the time I spent in front of the camera myself. I know the vulnerability of that, and I understand that the best work involves real trust. Also, my street work has taught me that it is often the shot between shots that ends up being “the shot.” I know what to look for and how to capture that.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Great question! A few come to mind, but I’ll tell you a fun seasonal one.
It was Halloween, I was in eighth grade, and I lived in a small town in Mississippi. We had a big Halloween band carnival and being in the band, I was in the carnival. It was the perfect fall night and I was the fortune teller. I was wearing a big scarf around my head with giant hoop earrings, some kind of crazy skirt, and lipstick. For reasons I still don’t understand (that solidified in me the idea that life could sometimes be fair and fantastic) they gave me my own little trailer in which to tell these fortunes. I was tearing through them one at a time, (talking spooky and making up futures) when my crush walked in. I felt like the stars had fully aligned and I couldn’t believe my luck. He sat down, nothing but a pull-out table and a flickering red citronella candle between us, and I told him his fortune, and it was that he liked me. He didn’t dispute it. In fact, he told me that I was good at my job.
Thanks so much for featuring me! This has been a great exercise, and I have absolutely loved answering these questions.
- Website: golden-locket.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/goldenlocketsue
- Other: goldenlocketsue.tumblr.com/