We had the good fortune of connecting with Susana Toledo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Susana, how has your pespective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Ah, that work-life balance is daily work. It may become routine and robotic for a bit, but all in all being a business owner while trying to maintain a social/personal life is part of the work. When I first started making photos for other families, my twin sons were just babies and now, over a decade later, the balance has definitely shifted since then. Now, I have travel soccer almost every weekend – which happens to be when a lot of photoshoots are requested/scheduled – but, luckily the games aren’t all day and I work around that schedule and put all my effort into making sure I can still give my photoshoots the time they’re need. Same goes for any editing/office work vs. daily homework and practice. I tend to see-saw between work and personal life and, truly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love that I get to work by making pictures for my clients and I love being able to still be there for my family. Like I said, daily work, but it’s the best work.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
When I first started I felt I had no “style” to my work. I analyzed and just wouldn’t see it. Then, a few years ago, after some courses with Julia Kelleher (newborn and family photographer from OR), she critiqued my work and told me she could see my style “clearly”. She used the words, “rosy skin tones, bright/light, real, clean, cheerful” and at that moment I could see she was right. While I tend to go a little dark and moody with my personal images, I love seeing and providing my StarFamilies images that feel fresh and happy and will always brighten their spirits when they see them. I like to work with what’s personal to my clients and have it reflected in their own images. I don’t use props often, but when I do, it’s always a team effort with clients to incorporate personal items and/or achieve their vision. I’ve learned that “fake it ’til you make it” doesn’t work in photos. If my StarBabies and families aren’t happy, it’ll be evident in the images and no one wants those types of photos. So, I work hard in making sure we bring visions, ideas and moods to life and to the set. I may be the photographer, but these images will be theirs forever and I want these photos to feel as authentic and a beautiful time in their life, forever.
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?
We’d have to start with a cooking class at Roho Kitchen! Learn how to make a 3-course meal (plus a drink) and then eat it and be merry!! And the beach, is a must-do. Hollywood Beach’s boardwalk is perfect for both hanging by the shore and grabbing some eats. Speaking of “best friend”, we ( 7 soul sisters, are we! ) have been to Brickell a few times to grab dinner and listen to music.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My loudest shoutout will always be for both God and my husband, Armando Toledo. Even though now, he’s also a business owner and General Contractor of Toledo Construction, he was who started our portrait photography venture and has since then supported, inspired, pushed me to grow bigger and brighter every day. He has never doubted my potential and always challenges me to break out of those boundaries, because he believes and knows I can. My twins, mom and sister don’t fall far behind; always there to help and even assist during sessions when needed. Thankfully I’ve also had great friends in this entrepreneur world, such as Kirenia Garcia of McClain MUA based here in South Florida too. And lastly, the most amazing group of 26 Latina Photographers from, quite literally, all around USA, Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe. We met 3 years ago at a photography conference and it’s been 3 years of full-on inspiration and support.
Susana Toledo | Stars and Strobes Photography