How A Vintage Shop Photography Shoot helped lead me to the answers…

You know, I did not envision this life for myself, but boy am I a fan!

If you had asked me a few years ago if I would ever be in charge of a vintage shop photography session, I’m not sure what I would have told you! Most likely, you would have gotten a response similar to “Gee, idk, maybe living in Pittsburgh? Maybe i’ll have a dog? Maybe working for some advertising company that might suck my soul dry?” But I decided to take the time to see where each day led me.

Part 1: Graduating College and Keeping My Goals in Mind

After graduating in 2012 from Edinboro University with my BFA in Applied Media Arts, Concentration in Graphic Design, I moved to Erie, PA and got a Social Design internship at the Erie Art Museum. My intent was to pursue a MASD (Masters of Arts in Social Design) at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art). MICA’s campus was beautiful, the professors (including the famous graphic designer and author Ellen Lupton ) were inspiring, but after speaking to them they encouraged me to take some time and get real-life, hands-on, nitty-gritty experience under my belt. Undergraduate (seen here) was a fairy-tale land compared to the grind of “Real Life.”

Part 2: A Local Photography Internship Opportunity Arises

So I got down and dirty. Photography had always been a passion of mine and I wanted to see if perhaps that’s where my future was to be. After my internship at the art museum, I found another internship with a local photography studio. The owner taught me the ins and outs of photography as well as the business side of things. I realized a lot more goes into running a studio than just knowing how to point and shoot and determine whether, Gee– this looks great! I discovered that my natural organizational and decluttering skills were very useful in the workplace. My flare for problem solving, organizing overwhelming data and tasks, and creating a peaceful environment shone during my time there.

Part 3: Making The Necessary Funds To Keep Those Passions Alive

During my internships, I realized I had to face the facts and get a legit, money-making job. I worked at The Gap and when that closed was transferred over to Old Navy. I picked up a second part-time job working at Charming Charlie’s, a woman’s accessory store, where I currently still work (and love!) These retail jobs taught me important skills about working with others and customer service. I had always loved fashion, and getting to use my eye for detail and art degree to help put together flattering outfits for customers was my favorite part of the job. I learned the importance of making other people feel like “Shiny things” (as so eloquently described by the great, the hilarious, Jenna Marbles.)

Part 4: Working at a Local Vintage Shop & Boutique

I continued to do freelance graphic design and photography jobs, including a website design for a local Vintage Clothing Boutique. While working with her as a client, the shop’s owner saw my potential and love for vintage clothes and hired me to manage her shop 3 days a week. I worked there for 8 months and loved the independence I had; Opening and closing a business, being in charge of the cleaning, organizing, and creation of artful displays, posting 4 times a day on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc! I learned a ridiculous amount about business and marketing on social media. Every customer who entered the shop became an opportunity for me to learn more about my community and whatever subjects that happened to interest them! Each customer had a story to tell, had an event they were going to that revealed a bit about their lives. All these shoppers loved vintage clothes for their unique details and history. I was excited to show them new additions to the shop! “Have you seen this dress we just got in from the 1920’s?”, “Check out this disco jumpsuit!” I loved asking them how they heard about the shop. Many told me they saw the website I designed and I was always eager to hear what they thought of it.

Part 5: My Big Vintage Shop Photography Break!

While at the shop, the owner gave me the opportunity to do a Fashion Photoshoot using the vintage clothes and accessories sold there. My very first vintage shop photography session?? I’m down! I developed the concept for the shoot and directed four models, putting them at ease in front of the camera. The models had their hair styled by Sorriso Hair Salon and makeup professionally done by Megan Reinbold, the office manager and makeup artist at the photo studio (and a good friend of mine!). This collaboration was a great success and I enjoyed working creatively with other business women!

One of the photos taken during the Spring 2015 Vintage Photoshoot

One of the photos taken during the Spring 2015 Vintage Photoshoot

Unfortunately, the vintage shop was not making enough money and the owner could no longer pay me to work there. It was sad no longer working with such interesting, one-of-a-kind fashion, but I took being let go as a sign to truly follow my calling. The Spring Fashion shoot really secured the idea that- YES– I needed to be doing more vintage shop photography!

Part 6: Back to the Portrait Photography Studio To Learn More Skills

I contacted my mentor.  Her studio, which I used to have to drive 30 minutes to get to, had changed location and she was now right up the road from my apartment! Fate? I stopped in just to catch up with my mentor and was instantly thrown back into the old days, helping her set up the studio for a shoot! It felt so invigorating to be back in the saddle. She is a wealth of information and very eager to share that wealth with others. I had to be surrounded by that environment again, furthering my education and experience with someone I get along with so well. I found that my organizational skills came back into play! No longer an intern, and now with the confidence I had gained from my experience in sales and management, I am able to add more to this (already awesome) team! I help organize and delegate tasks to the studio’s interns, helping the studio run more smoothly and allowing my mentor more time to focus on her clients and work.

The experiences and opportunities I had leading up to this point have been invaluable. I knew it was time to establish my own business, because I had finally realized my full potential. My mentor helped teach me the process and I spread my wings and flew!

Part 7: Welcome to Susie Hosterman Design and Photography!

Welcome to the official Susie Hosterman Design and Photography!

Now, I’m not done yet of course! There’s only one way to go from here, and that’s up! I was recently introduced to Carla Fleming, a Certified High Performance Coach who has studied under famous productivity guru, Brendon Burchard. She saw my organizational skills while I worked at the photography studio and realized she was also in the need of a second pair of hands to help her with her business. I’m happy to announce that I am that second pair of hands! I find that I absolutely love helping other business women succeed. Sharing our experiences, collaborating, and encouraging each other in our own pursuits is a highly necessary facet to achieving the Most Productive Year Ever! I signed up for Carla’s Summer Intensive Mastermind class to help me on my endeavor. I highly encourage others to get involved as well! Carla is very inspiring, uplifting, and her demeanor patient and kind. I am blessed, as a proud new owner of my own business, to work alongside other strong businesswomen such as Carla and Jenn!

This “Real Life“, though not This as I thought it might be, is definitely, actually, certainly THIS!

I have never been more pumped in my life!


– Susie


P.S. To view the rest of the Spring Fashion photoshoot photos, visit my Fashion Photography Portfolio here.