Blue Ocean Life Nation Interview Series: Marcela Suter

Marcela Suter is a Colorado Elopement Photographer. She helps couples design the elopement day of their dreams, by kicking obligations to the curb, and crafting a unique, intimate experience. Marcela aims to create honest moments of intimacy and laughter so that her couples’ images are filled with raw emotion rather than stiff and awkward poses. She is all about the real love stuff - the playful laughter, the booty grabs, the tender embrace, the vulnerability, the soulful moments, and the sweet nothings that define your love.

Marcela Suter Blue Ocean Life interview

What is your professional background? How did you end up with this career?

I grew up in Florida and received my undergraduate degrees in photojournalism and political science. During my undergrad years, I worked with a wedding photography team. I loved using my journalism background to tell the story of the couple’s love through film but often felt like this got lost in the hustle and production of the day.

I became drawn to the idea of a more intentional and purposeful wedding day when I planned my own wedding. My own wedding experience inspired me to start my business. My husband and I knew we didn’t want our wedding day to feel like a big production and we wanted to focus on our love and connection. We opted for the radical idea of eloping. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t your average Vegas/Elvis impersonator elopement, this was a day curated to what made us feel alive and brought us joy. Being adventurous at heart, we decided to climb a mountain at 3 am and share our handwritten vow on a mountain ridge as the sun rose. This experience starked an excitement and energy in me to help others kick obligation to the curb and have an intimate and unique wedding day experience. 

How did you begin your remote work journey? Where do you see yourself in the next year? What tips do you have for others who are working remotely?

When I started my business, I tried to save money by doing everything myself. I wanted to learn every skill because I thought it would make me self-reliant and unstoppable. Instead, I felt lost AF. I read so many marketing books, listened to countless hours of podcasts, joined every Facebook group there was, and incorporated all of the advice they shared but I still felt like I'm grasping at straws. At the end of the day, I realized there wasn’t any ‘me’ in my business. I had ingested and regurgitated so much of everyone else that I lost sight of myself. I finally decided to invest in myself and reach out to the experts. I had a 1-on-1 with an established photographer in my area and was given a lot of great starting points. From there, I joined multiple workshops that introduced me to all the technical aspects of starting my photography business (applying for a sales license, writing engaging copy on my website, purchasing the best gear, pricing my packages…) I built up my portfolio with styled shoots and took courses to learn how to create connection during shoots and capture raw emotions. I also hired a few coaches who helped me find my why, fine tune my SEO, level up my marketing, and increase my sales.

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Next year, my business will be expanding into more areas than just photography. I am writing a book that will be published at the end of summer and will also offer consultations for couples who want to elope but need more guidance during the process.

Working remotely definitely comes with its pros and cons. Biggest pro - staying in my comfy sweats all day. Biggest con - feeling isolated. I've made a point to join more meetups (some virtually and others in person) to expand my network and meet more people in my industry. It's nice to be able to connect with others who are going through similar issues. It's nice to know that I'm not just struggling with these things on my own and it's even better when someone can offer up some advice!

What is your self-care routine and how do you find time to integrate it into your daily life?

I try to begin everyday with gratitude, followed by 30 mins of goal/intention setting. This helps me to get focused and excited about my daily tasks. I also have an alarm that goes off about 2-3 hours after working. I have a tendency to work, work, work, work and before I know it, it's time for bed. This gets me out of my office, and gives my mind some time to unwind.

Putting yourself first is important to your overall wellness. Given this, what are your best holistic wellness tips?

This has been a tough lesson for me to learn. When you work from home and there is no one to tell you it's time to clock out, and there is no physical division between work and home, it can be hard to put yourself first. I would take calls late at night and even on weekends. I'd skip meals to finish tasks. I'd dedicate more time to my job than my husband and pups. I had to actively make a point to step away from work. Once the office lights are turned off and the door is closed, I physically won't enter my office again until the morning. I also set restrictions on the scheduler that limited the times when people could make appointments with me. I also created a daily task list. This helps me to prioritize tasks rather than trying to get everything done all at once.

What was the toughest challenge you faced during your career?

The toughest challenge I faced in my career was fighting perfectionism. I love learning new skills but struggle to implement them until I’ve perfected them. I spent the first year of my business in a state of analysis paralysis and didn’t want to share my work until it was absolutely right. Whenever I’m in these moments, I remind myself of these two things: done is better than perfect and there’s also no such thing as perfect!

How did you get through that period? What advice for people dealing with similar difficulties?

Whenever I’m in these moments, I remind myself of these two things: done is better than perfect and there’s also no such thing as perfect! I recently came across a wonderful quote and reread it when I'm being hard on myself.

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"Artists are not like athletes. We cannot win gold. We cannot 'beat' other creatives. We cannot come first. Sport is objective. Our craft is subjective. Creating to 'be the best' is a waste of energy. Instead, create to connect to the people who need you. Because they're out there. Create in your own way because there is no right way. Take the pressure off and focus on your unique brand of magic."

Mental health and feeling good are crucial to maximizing performance. How do you prioritize your mental health?

Imposter syndrome and constantly comparing myself to other amazing artists and thinking, 'wow they're so good' or 'they're really got this figured out' can be such an easy thing to do in the photography industry. I repeat that quote to myself and remind myself of the things I'm good at and why I love doing what I do. It helps bring the focus back to my couples and my service, rather than my art and products.

If you could have lunch with one person in the world, who would it be and why?

Bill Bryson. The way he weaves history, information, and humor in his travel stories inspires me. It reminds me to not always take everything so seriously and to find the humor in life even when it’s hard.

If you could inspire a movement, what would it be and why? 

Connection. Every element of my client experiences focuses on helping my couples connect deeply. Not only do I work hard to help my couples design the elopement day of their dreams but I also help my couples deeply connect during their wedding day. It’s easy to feel awkward and uncomfortable in front of the camera and that’s the last thing I want my couples to feel on their wedding day. I help them slow down, express their love, dream of their future and create a deeper connection than they've felt before.

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