We had the good fortune of connecting with Tamara Susa and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Tamara, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Oh this is a really hard one for adventure photographers. Everything I do, whether it is running, biking, or traveling, I always take photos which equals work. In my profession, you have to be willing to let your life become work. There’s a saying “do what you love and you will never work a day in your life”. I like to rephrase that as “do what you love and you will work all the time” 🙂

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started my career as a photographer and videographer in Chicago’s nightclubs. I’ve always considered music a big part of my life, but as somebody not talented to play any instruments, I figured my contribution to the industry would be capturing it through my lens. The passion for documenting scenes that evoke emotion easily transferred to the mountains, once I moved to Colorado, and nowadays I shoot the stoke on a powder day, crazy mountain bikers, beautiful sunrises and anything and everything that is a part of mountain lifestyle. I have now lived in Aspen/Snowmass for 10 years, and if there’s anything my career has taught me, it is to protect the nature we enjoy being in so much. Due to climate change, playing and working in the natural elements has significantly changed over the years. My goal, through my photography, is not only to show people how beautiful Colorado is, but also remind them of the urgency of protecting this place we all love.

As far as what helped me succeed in my career, it was definitely bringing my camera everywhere I go, and shooting even when it wasn’t for money. I have a lot of people reach out to me all the time asking how they could land the same gigs as I have, but they’ve never taken any photos on a powder day with their friends and they have nothing to show in their portfolio. A lot of the jobs that I have nowadays are because I was taking photos of activities in the mountains for fun anyways, and then someone picked up on it and started paying me for it. I also believe that taking risks is necessary in order to succeed in any career, as keeping it safe also rarely means progress. Moving to USA from Serbia and starting a new life was the biggest risk I ever took. The second one was moving to Aspen from Chicago and leaving behind my career as a music photographer, knowing that I would have to start from scratch. It has been a beautiful journey ever since. I have worked in many different countries around the world, pushed myself to learn something new with every gig, and even took on jobs I wasn’t skilled enough for, just to gain different experiences. All of that has only made me a better photographer overall.

This year has been a busy one, from working X Games for ESPN, producing tourism videos for Aspen Chamber, to chasing talented athletes down the slopes and focusing more on selling prints. I have a couple of adventure films in the works that I am so excited to show to the world. I am also preparing a photo exhibition at the Red Brick Center for the Arts, that will be opening in December.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Welcome to the week of never ending adventure! Let’s say it’s summer time, so we’d start our day with a quick breakfast at Fuel in Snowmass, and then we’d hit up the Bike Park. Aspen and Snowmass area is Colorado’s first Gold Level biking center, so trails are endless for those that have the energy. Lunch break at Stew Pot and back to biking! On day two we’d go for a drive up Independence pass, hitting must see spots such as the Grottos, and hike to Lost Man lake for some gorgeous high alpine scenery. Day three maybe we’d hike up the Ute trail to the top of Aspen mountain for those that are into miserably steep trails. The reward is that you get to take the gondola down. For the lunch in town, Big Wrap is a must (Pesto wrapture all day every day for me). Hopefully there’s a good show at Belly Up, so we can grab a chicken sandwich from the White House beforehand and then dance the night away at Aspen’s best music venue. The rest of the week we’d mellow out the activities with some paddleboarding, and enjoy the free Thursday night concert in Snowmass followed by drinks at Ranger Station.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I wouldn’t be where I am now without my friends who are willing to wake up in the middle of the night to hike a mountain with me so I can get sunrise photos. Most of my work would be incomplete without all the athletes in my photographs, so my shoutout goes out to all of them!

Website: www.tamarasusa.com

Instagram: @tamarasusaphoto

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tamara-susa/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tamarasusaphoto

Other: https://vimeo.com/btxproductions

Image Credits
Profile photo: Luke Tornare All other photographs: Tamara Susa

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.