SuzieQ // Photographer, Director & DJ
You recently launched a new business with a beautiful studio, tell us about it:
My amazing friend and fellow boss b*tch, Kate Ellwanger and I recently launched our studio, A/V Club, in downtown Los Angeles. AVclub.la is a creative space for artists and audiovisual production. We do photo and film shoots, produce music, hold workshops, and provide a creative space for artists to work.
I run my photography and filmmaking business, Suzanne Strong Vision + Sound out of our studio. Kate produces music and teaches Ableton (music production software) and it's also the HQ of Unspeakable Records—Kate’s all-female record label—on which I am represented as a DJ.
How do you balance photography, filmmaking and being a kickass DJ? Do you have a favorite of the three? Music and photography have always been my two passions. It’s all I know! Filmmaking came up later as a natural extension of photography. My visual and audio work compliment each other, for instance I meet a ton of musicians that I end up shooting.
I can’t say I have a favorite of the three. They all bring me so much joy in different ways! I just know that I’m super fortunate to be able to do work that I love.
What are the challenges and rewards of being a #girlBOSS?
The rewards: I love working for myself and with a variety of clients. Every job is unique, challenging, and satisfying. I love being in charge of my day and my career path, it’s incredibly empowering.
The challenges: the hustle is real! There’s no room for slacking. I always have something that I should be doing from shooting, working on music, pre or post production for jobs, marketing, promoting, networking, accounting, looking for new gigs, etc.
What is your creative process like?
For a photoshoot, I meet with my clients to figure out their wants and needs. Next, I do look and feel research and present ideas. Once we're shooting, I let my talents and creative flow take over to produce unique images.
The video creative process is similar but much more in-depth.
For DJing, I peruse the internet for new tracks, ask my producer friends for songs, listen to mixes, etc. I then practice my sets to hear how the tracks will go together. I think it’s important to create a journey while performing my mixes. Music should have highs, lows, rests, and breaths as well as mad drops!
How does your family cultural background play into who you are?
I’m mixed race: Lebanese, German, Irish, Osage, Spanish, English. Growing up was interesting. Sometimes, I had a hard time fitting in and relied on my creativity rather than looks. As I got older, I grew to love and honor my uniqueness. I’m very proud of who I am and grateful for my experiences.
I grew up in Seattle with parents from New Orleans, so my culture was very southern. We always had an inviting home where everyone was welcomed and fed. Our family is very close and we support each other through the celebrations and tribulations of life.
Who's the most badass woman you know? How does she influence and inspire you?
Hands down, the most badass woman I know is my mom. She is the epitome of grace and strength. She raised four girls, worked full-time, and is always there for her friends and family. She’s both kind and tough and on top of that, she’s beautiful! She is a true angel.
Describe your personal style:
Ohhhh! I think I’m equal parts feminine and badass. My favorite jewelry designer creates her pieces with skulls, snake vertebrae, crystals and hip hop inspired dookie chains. That’s probably me in a nutshell. I shop at vintage stores, flea markets and designer sample sales.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve is probably rude and mean people. I think it’s really important to think about the kind of “wake” you leave.
What is your favorite dirty word? “Poontang” is pretty fucking hilarious.
Ha! We've seen 1st hand what you eat on a shoot day, please elaborate for our readers:
When I shoot, I get so hungry. I eat non-stop. I snack on almonds, hummus, crackers, goat cheese and fruit. What I really love to eat are french fries, but those aren’t reserved just for shoot days. Those are kind of an every day food for me. Actually, they’re the best food in the world.
What is your most annoying habit? I probably talk about how hungry I am too much. Haha!
What are you listening to these days? Anderson .Paak, Taso Teklife, Kendrick Lamar, Monte Booker, Jimi Nixr & Beyonce Natch.
What apps can't you live without ?
Instagram, VSCO, Lyft, Snapchat, Omnifocus, Waze, Sonos, Spotify, Soundcloud,
How do you use social media personally & professionally?
I use Instagram in a more professional sense to promote and share a snapshot of my latest shoots and music gigs. I wasn’t that active on Facebook, but recently I have been back on posting photos from shoots and flyers for gigs for professional marketing. I also like to post my personal photos on Facebook. I love Snapchat for both professional and personal use. It’s fun and silly.
Tell us what the sideways '>' peace sign over the eyes means? Haha! I actually have no idea.
If you could travel anywhere right now, where would it be? Southern Spain
What has been your biggest challenge in life so far?
Learning to embrace the unknown, knowing that I’m being taken care of on a spiritual level. Basically, learning to have faith.
Tell us about the meaning of some of your tattoos:
One of my tattoos is my kids’ names—fairly self-explantory. I have a matching triple triangle tattoo with my son. On a whim, we decided to get matching tattoos and both were drawn to the geometry and simplicity. We found out it symbolizes change. I also recently got a geometric butterfly. That one is private ;)
What is your favorite zenzee shoe style? I thought I loved the skulls the best, but after shooting the line, I found that I love both hippy stripes as well.