Interview transcript

Alison Lee:Ok everyone. Listen up. All of you people who love photography and want to learn more. I have Susan Tuttle on the line with me today who came out with a new book PhotoCraft: Creative Mix Media and Digital Approaches to Transforming your Photographs. She cowrote that with Christy Hydeck. And I am excited to talk to Susan today to pick her brain for some of the crazy new stuff that’s out there for our digital photography fun. So, Susan thanks so much for coming on today.

Susan Tuttle: Thank you for having me. It’s always a pleasure to be with you.

Alison:So much fun. Now I know we were blabbing just before this interview about what’s going on with photography today. What’s sort of your overview? Like, you know. Where is it at for you let’s say it at this point? Because there is so much going on. Where do you focus on let’s just say that?

Susan: Well I have two loves. I like or I love my DSLR, my Digital SLR Camera and my iPhone equally but for different reasons. because I think they both have their pluses and their minuses. One piece of information that I was very interested by, if you look at the uploading data on Flickr, most of the photos that are being uploaded these days are coming from a mobile device. So yes. So that’s surpassing the point and shoot. So, I’m predicting it’s going to replace the point and shoot. I still think you are going to have DSLR cameras out there because as I look at that, I don’t know if you can every achieve the same quality with an iPhone or a mobile phone that you could with a DSLR just because you have the interchangeable lens, you have huge megapixels. There is just more you can do with controlling your aperture. But gosh I love my iPhone. I can have that thing with me in the back of my pocket, whip it out, take a photo. I can manipulate, I shouldn’t say I but anyone who uses their phone can manipulate it. The grocery store if they got a few minutes waiting for the school bus, whatever it is. And it makes it just so available to everyone. And with the social networks that are out there like Instagram, IM, you can immediately upload your photos and share them. And artists are using mobile phones as tools as well. And I myself explore self-portraiture and some nature shots that are kind of ethereal and vintage looking, and I upload them to my Instagram account.

Alison:That’s your go to place, Instagram?

Susan: That’s my go to for that, yeah. It’s a little bit different and edgier than what you would see on my blog which tends to be more my DSLR stuff

Alison: Now are you a Tumblr person too?

Susan: I do Tumblr. You know what I’m really addicted to is Pinterest.

Alison: You know I go through different addictions. I was Pinterest now I’m Tumblr.

Susan: Your Tumblr. Do you have the Tumblr app?

Alison:I do. But here’s the thing. I don’t like the app. You know we get, what can I say? It’s just funny what we get addicted. I got addicted to Tumblr because I love creating this theme and of course you can got purchase themes and change your look of just beautiful images to just look through. It’s lovely right?

Susan: It’s so inspiring.

Alison:I know.

Susan: And it just changes the outlook of your day or it might give you a simple idea for a project. It just makes life special.

Alison:I know. Now what’s your thing about Pinterest now? What’s got you hooked?

Susan: Well if I think about the things that I pin, I pin a lot of photography stuff. I pin a lot of food. My husband and I both like to cook in a kind of artful way where you are sipping your wine and enjoying making it. A foodie, I guess you can call us foodies. I like that DIY stuff and home interior.

Alison: Do you go cruising around at night like sitting with a motorbike.

Susan: Oh yes. And now I am getting to the point where it’s like I pin a lot of stuff and then people are interested and it’s like, it’s fun. It’s addictive on many levels

Alison: But I think it’s a good addiction. I don’t think it’s a terrible addiction.

Susan: No. Have you heard? There are certain, I forget what location it is. I don’t know if it’s at a hospital, but they are offering addiction services and one is for being addicted to social media. I’m not kidding.


Alison: I totally believe it because you can live in there just like those games, the alternative universe world you can live it. So, you have to put you know a 12-step program in place for your social media. But what do you feel about on a more serious note? Because people don’t get credited. I mean I put things up on Tumblr, there is no credit for the photo left anymore. It’s just something I love.

Susan: It’s a big problem. I’m on forums where people are constantly discussing this like the rights that Facebook has. Take your image and use it. It’s true. And I think there is a culture out there that people aren’t even aware that images are copyrighted, and you can’t go and do that. I mean look what happened to Sarah Palin a couple days ago. New York Times is suing her because she used one of their photos. Did she not know? I mean that just makes me wonder if this is just part of our culture where people think they can do that. I don’t know.

Alison:Yes. People are not aware of Copyright Infringement. I have done things to as well. You know you’re sharing on Tumblr, Pinterest and other tings and they are not credited. So, it’s sort of just the way it is there.

Susan: I’m doing it to then on Pinterest. If something wasn’t credited, I pin it. So yes, I’m part of the problem too. You’re right

Alison:I would rather when I know where its linking to, add the link because it’s frustrating when I go to any of those places and can’t find the source to see more about it. But it’s a whole new world that way. Now where the line really gets drawn that I found, is that you can’t resell. Everything there so far is free. It’s when you exchange money, and someone else’s image is being used that it becomes really infringement of something that way.

Susan: But it feels strange. And I’ve had my image. Two or three times I have come across one of my images that someone used on their blog and it wasn’t credited, and she did a post about coffee. And I said “That’s my photo! That’s my hand that’s touching the coffee cup!” And they get insulted. I wrote a very nice email and asked her to take it down.

Alison:Oh, you did. OK.

Susan: Yeah. But it’s not always well received.

Alison:Yes. It’s trying to find a way to do that. I’d rather just, yeah. You just have to decide, do you want someone to remove it or credit it or how you want it to be used? But it is part of it. It is part of it. It’s just like when people open up brick and mortar. Stealing is part of your bottom line so copyright, people using your photograph in today’s world is part of the business. It just is. It’s hard to not get emotional but it just is. What are you going to do there? But let’s get back to the fun though of photography. So, do you shoot every day?

Susan: I do. I either shoot every day or manipulate every day and I’ve been doing this now for 10 years and I have not tired of it yet. And I still feel like I’m learning and growing, and it still feels like Christmas morning to me. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it honestly.

Alison:I know it is. It’s very exciting. Tell everyone your books.

Susan: So, starting from the first one?

Alison:Yeah. Do your first one because you have a whole bunch out there.

Susan: The first one was Exhibition 36. So that’s more of a mixed media book and that one was sort of a virtual art exhibit and there’s 36 different artists, myself included who are sharing a project with you and talking about their work. So that one was really enjoyable. So, I got to me a lot of different artist and present a lot of different people’s work. And hopefully there was something for everybody in that one. The second one is digital expressions and that focuses on digital art and using photoshop to do various projects. And each project is stepped out with screenshots, very clear so you can replicate the projects in there. And then Photocraft which is what we are talking about today with Christy.

Alison:Which is great fun.

Susan: You can manipulate your photos. On Christy’s end she takes them and manipulates them with mixed media materials after they have come out of the printer. Mien takes place in photoshop, so mostly photoshop activities.

Alison:Right. Gosh I used to love doing, gosh what do we call it? You would paint your own emotion on the surface right and then make a huge, I don’t even know if you can buy that film anymore. Can you buy like codalith film really big and make [inaudible]?

Susan: I think so. I think it’s rare, but I do think you can.

Alison:So much fun to play outside with making your images that way. I enjoy anyone who wants to play with mixed media. play around with Photocraft, take a lot at Susan and Christy’s new book. And you can find the link on the Craftcast site. Because there are lots of projects to play with and get addicted to. And then you can just take one technique and start playing with it and do endless things with it. Which is always fun to go do.

Susan: And you never know where it will lead.

Alison:I know, that’s the good and the bad. That’s the two-o clock in the morning you’ve taken a link as far as it can go. Sometimes I say to my son, “Well that’s it. I finished the internet last night. Time to start at the beginning” [Laughter] Finished it all. Nothing else to look at. But tomorrow there’s more. You just wake up and start again. It’s always fun. Now how many hours do you spend? Do you become a junkie on your computer at this point?

Susan: Well right now I’m working my fourth book so I’m pretty much working relentlessly. Over the summer I had my kids home with me, so my priority was with them and my family and going camping and having a good time. So, I did work but it’s not as concentrated as it is now. So, I have the next couple of months to finish up the manuscript.

Alison:Do you like working on a book?

Susan: I do. I love it. Right now, because I wasn’t able to kind of spread out my work evenly, it’s kind of concentrated now and maybe a little bit more than I would like to have. I love it and I know that after I’m finish writing the manuscript, I’m going to feel like “OK. I’m a little lost now. What do I do now?” And I know I’m going to get a little depressed for a couple days but then I’ll just move on. I usually go from one project to the next. So, my next project is to work on another online class, maybe doing mobile photography. But I think I need to force myself to take a break. I’m not very good at that. But I think I need to.

Alison:Yeah good luck with that. Good luck with that.

Susan: I think I’m talking to a person who totally understands where I’m coming from right?

Alison:Yeah. Like a break [inaudible]. Go out for the afternoon and I don’t know [crosstalk]. Exactly.

Susan: Off to the next thing.

Alison:Yeah. That’s sort of one of those, not one of those things. Well yeah. That’s fun. Your baby gets born and then you have to move on to the next project. There’s a little bit of lost and you have to figure out where you are going to create next.

Susan: Yes. And I keep wondering if there’s something that will come out of that book, like more of a focus of teaching photography with some photoshop where in the past, it’s been really digging into photoshop with a little bit of the photography stuff. But we’ll see. And I’ve developed a following and an audience that takes my classes so I don’t know how they would feel about more photography or let’s do an iPhone class, do you know what I mean? Have to see, to kind of test the waters and see.

Alison:Well where do you get your inspiration? Because people who make content, you are creating out of sort of empty space. So, you have to be filled up and excited. So where do you get your inspiration to get recharged?

Susan: Sara: Well I think it happens naturally because I do live in the woods, in Maine. So, there is just so much natural beauty around. So just that. If we are talking about my iPhone work, all I have to do is go to the thrift shop and find a used tutu and I’m good to go.

Alison:Oh, I wish we could play together [inaudible]. That just got my attention.


Susan: I have a makeshift studio that I can put up easily and take down easily. It’s in our bedroom and it consist of a clothesline that we can attach and then I have various sheets that I hang up there whether they be white or black. And my husband will sometimes assist me if I don’t feel like using the tripod. So, I’ll position myself and he’ll take various shots. But what I found is that my eight-year-old daughter is an amazing photographer. She has an amazing eye, and she loves to be my assistant. So, she comes in and stands up on this little bench and she is directing me. She’s like “Mommy, move your arm this way.” And she comes over and she adjust the dress. She thinks the fold is not quite right. She’s like “Put your head this way mommy.” And she gives me these little directions and then she gets up and takes these photos and she blows me away!

Alison:Don’t you love it?

Susan: She’s almost eight, she’s seven going on eight.

Alison:It’s not a surprise considering you are her mom. but don’t you just love it? And it will just get more because my son is much older.

Susan: She is an artist.

Alison:And I see when he’ll tell me, I’ll go to his apartment. now he grew up in New York City and I worked in advertising. So, it had a certain design look where we lived and things you know it was all styled and [makes noises]. So, I go to his apartment in LA and it looks just like it. And he is saying yeah, you know. Friend comes over and he’s like I can’t believe you live this way. And it’s like well I grew up with a mom in New York City who did advertising and styling. It’s sort of, I can’t help it. So just wait. Your daughter will have the same thing. She is going to blow you away. It’s so much fun to watch what they do.

Susan: That is funky. And she loves to be my subject.

Alison:She does? Oh Great.

Susan: She’s all over my blog. I mean she’ll look at the camera and she knows somehow. She’ll look at it in this soulful way and some of it is posed. She goes in this mode and I am just left baffled. Like how do you know? You are looking right into lens.

Alison:She’s an old soul.

Susan: You’re like looking right into my soul. Like what are you doing girl?

Alison:Yeah. It’s so great.

Susan: Both my kids are amazing.

What people are saying

  • Your classes are just amazing and I have learned sooo much from Cindy Pope’s classes on the Silhouette machines. She breaks it down so any beginner can learn. I didn’t take my Curio out of the box for a year until I watched her class. Now I’m addicted

    Beth B
  • Thank you for the informational class last night, and for the notes, it looks like a great product to work with. Best Wishes,

  • You are a truly generous soul to share so much with the community. I am constantly impressed by the extra effort you put into everything you do. A true inspiration. 

    Bridget D.