On the heels of a pharmaceutical shoot in Vancouver and a Veranda feature in London, we got a chance to speak with world traveler Sue Parkhill about what inspires her, how she got involved in photography, and her best piece of advice!
AK&Co.: What drew you to photography? Did you know that's what you wanted to do right away?
SP: You know, I never thought I would become a photographer. I come from a very small town and all I knew for sure was that I didn’t want any of the jobs there. Who even knew such a brilliant job existed? Everyone I knew worked to get money to pay the bills and no one contemplated such utopian ideals at “job satisfaction”.
I landed a job in the office at Nadav Kander - I had a Nikon 35mm camera and now had access to a darkroom! I used to print till very late, listening to Radio 4 and generally enjoying the solitude and darkness. It was pure joy, still is, although I print less frequently now. Then fate stepped in. Nadav had a bit of a run on assistants, 3 or 4 leaving for one reason or another and I thought, why not me? I’d worked in the office long enough to realize that I’d rather be in the Bahamas on a Bacardi shoot than in the office. Nadav was skeptical, but I read every manual for every camera and piece of equipment he owned, cleaned the studio and sorted out the CD collection. I still think it's the best job I ever had.
AK&Co.: Did you jump right into a career from there?
SP: I went to the Royal College of Art to do my Masters after. I just wanted the time and space to do my work. The people I met there are still my “photography family.”
AK&Co.: You have such a unique voice within your work. What inspires you?
SP: I enjoy the restraints of a brief, the idea, the finite amount of time, the team. Even the most challenging day (at the top of a cherry picker in the pouring rain and wind) is still a good day. I love the story, the adventure, how you made it all work in the end.
AK&Co.: Do you have a "dream" assignment?
SP: On a dream assignment the images would look like my personal pictures. This does happen, but not all the time - sometimes it’s just not appropriate.
AK&Co.: Do you have any great loves or hobbies outside of photography?
SP: Travel, travel, travel - any opportunity to do a road trip and I’m there.
AK&Co.: That makes sense, given your Roadtrip series! A personal favorite of mine, by the way.
AK&Co.: Is there any advice you'd give to an aspiring photographer?
SP: If I could give any advice it would be to immerse yourself in your own work, but still be curious and supportive of what others are doing. Find your people, the ones that get you. This applies to contemporaries but also to people giving you work. There will be people who just don’t get or like your work, that’s fine, just find the ones that do. Be loyal to people, do a good job and you’ll get that loyalty in return.
You can find more of Sue's work here!