We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Suarez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, how do you think about risk?
Before opening my photography studio, I worked full-time as a receptionist for almost three years. At the time, I was frustrated that I could not move forward in the company and there was no room for growth. I had dreamed about taking my photography business full-time after years of having a part-time business. However, I had no prior business experience, my husband and I had just bought our first home, and I was not confident in myself.
In 2017, my older brother passed away unexpectedly at 26 years old. I was 23 years old. It showed me that life is short, and if we have dreams, it’s worth taking a risk to go after them. After his passing, I made a one year goal to quit my full-time job and open my photography studio. I won a ticket to a confidence workshop in LA with my dream photography mentor named Sue Bryce. I took a leap of faith, hopped on a plane, and went to the workshop. It solidified my vision and forced me to take the biggest risk of all: to believe in myself and give myself permission to fail.
In May 2018, I signed a lease on my first studio space and quit my full-time job. We sold our house in June to offset my initial pay-cut. Since then, it has been a dream come true working with clients everyday and capturing their beauty through my lens. None of this would have been possible without taking a risk and going after my dreams. I think it is important to take calculated risks in our life to go after our dreams and make them become a reality.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
If you would like to pursue photography full-time, there are not typically jobs you can go out and apply for. If you would like to be a photographer, it means starting your own business. You are responsible for marketing, sales, building your own website, managing social media, creating a brand, customer service, order fulfillment, and becoming a master of your craft. That means learning lighting, posing, wardrobe styling, connection, editing, painting backdrops, sourcing props, running a studio, locating the best products, having a backup system for files, and more.
Being an entrepreneur is not easy, but it is worth it. As an entrepreneur, you have to have grit, resilience, and not be afraid to fail. You have to be willing to learn as you go, take constructive criticism, and realize there is always room for growth. There are days where things don’t go as planned, but the passion for what you do reminds you of why you love it so much.
I own Stephanie Suarez Boudoir, a luxury photography studio in downtown West Palm Beach, FL. “Boudoir” comes from a French term meaning “a woman’s private dressing room.” In this genre of photography, I am capturing women in a vulnerable and intimate way. The majority of my client’s don’t love to be in photos and are trusting me to take photos they will love. During the process, I get to know my clients really well and plan customized photoshoots just for them. It is an all-day pampering experience with professional hair and makeup, wardrobe styling from our couture closet, fully-guided posing for all body types, an array of sets, catered lunch, and a premier gallery reveal to see all their beautiful photos. All clients can choose whether they would love a folio box with matted prints, a timeless album, or statement wall art to adorn their home.
More than anything, my favorite thing about photoshoots is how clients feel afterwards. Boudoir photoshoots help women to feel empowered, confident, and beautiful in their own skin. This is my favorite part about being a photographer, and why I am so proud and passionate about my art.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Some of the best places to visit in West Palm Beach are the Flagler Museum, the Palm Beach Clock Tower, Lion Country Safari, and Worth Avenue. Many of the best restaurants are located in downtown West Palm Beach. Some favorites are Don Ramon’s for amazing Cuban food and Loic Bakery Cafe Bar for coffee. For outdoor activities, Riverbend Park in Jupiter offers a variety of things to do such as hiking, biking, kayaking, and wildlife seeing.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The biggest influence in the beginning of my photography career was the world-renowned portrait photographer Sue Bryce. From 2015-2018, I would spend at least 4 hours a day devouring the content on her education platform. I would study posing, lighting, marketing, design, retouching, sales, and more. In November 2017, it was a very dark period of my life. My brother had passed away 4 months before and I was still trying to make sense of life without him. I didn’t have any sense of direction and was going through the motions: wake up, go to work, come home, eat, go to sleep. Repeat the same thing the next day.
I applied to win a free ticket to her Confidence Workshop at her studio in LA. I lived in Florida on the other side of the country. I applied half-heartedly and didn’t actually expect to win. I got the email while I was at my full-time job that I won and I thought it was a prank. I read it a few times, then went to the parking lot and called my husband crying in disbelief. I was ready to quit my job on the spot if I wasn’t granted vacation time. I purchased a plane ticket, the hotel, and car rental the same day. My best friend Sarah came with me.
At the workshop, it was surreal meeting Sue in person. I had been watching her in education videos for years, and here she was standing before me. On day 3 of the workshop, I asked her when people knew they were ready to take a leap of faith and quit their job to pursue their business full-time. I was looking for permission from someone I looked up to during the darkest period in my life, and she gave it to me. She let me know there was light at the end of the tunnel. I will forever be grateful to her for that.
Other: I have a private VIP Facebook Group called Embrace Your Beauty. It is made to be an uplifting space with positive quotes, fun games, girl talk, and monthly giveaways. The link to join is https://www.facebook.com/groups/stephaniesuarezboudoir
Hair and Makeup Artist: Vanessa Williams with Lipstick Madison