Generator Ep. 019 – Susan Stripling: Finding a Quiet Kind of Magic

In this episode, Maine photographer Matt Stagliano speaks with Susan Stripling - one of the most sought after wedding photographers in the world and the creator of the Wedding School, an online education platform. She has won countless awards, been in countless magazines, and represents some of the top brands in the business. She’s a Canon Explorer of Light, a keynote speaker, and has taught thousands of students the intricacies of wedding photography. In this conversation, we talk about many things including her selling the Wedding School, the importance of self care, using AI, the future of the wedding industry and of course, horror films. For more information about her work, please visit

Audio Version

Full Transcript of Generator Ep. 019 - "Finding a Quiet Kind of Magic"

Matt Stagliano 0:00
Welcome back to generator my friends. This is episode 19 And I’m calling it finding a quiet kind of magic because that’s how my guest describes her wedding photography. Susan stripling is a giant in the photography community, especially in wedding photography circles. You see Susan is one of the world’s most sought after wedding photographers, having won literally countless awards appeared in countless magazines and representing some of the top brands in the industry. She’s a Canon explorer of light, and has taught 1000s of students the intricacies of wedding photography, Susan and I met in 2019. And during COVID, we would keep each other sane by talking on the phone for hours. She even came up to visit here in Maine when she was on her way out to Acadia National Park last summer. She has an unreasonably deep love for horror films, as well as Broadway. And I’ve been after her to appear here on generator for a while now so that I could grill her on all of these things. In this conversation, we’re a little all over the place. We talk about her selling the wedding school, we talk about using AI the importance of self care, as well as her top horror pics. But of course, no conversation would be complete without getting her thoughts on the future of the wedding industry. These are the types of conversations that I love to have, because they’re random and real and natural. So sit back and get ready to listen to my friend and my guest, Susan stripling.

I saw your new website, it looks amazing. Isn’t it beautiful? It really is. Tell me about it. Tell me about the process like you’ve you’ve wanted to update it for a really, really long time. I know that you were you were going through a firm there were they are they Brooklyn based,

Susan Stripling 2:04
actually based in Las Vegas, which I did not know. Because it’s like, you know, website designers can live anywhere doesn’t matter. But after I started following them on Instagram, I was like, wait, they live in Vegas. They’re young, amazing, much cooler than I’ll ever be. And I loved my website. Like I had the same website on the same platform for forever. It was like killing it in SEO. But I was really limited with what I could do with the aesthetics. And after a while I just I needed a more. I hate the term high end, but a more high end. aesthetic. So the company I hired they’re called inkpot creative. And I hired them because my friend Justin hired them. And Justin’s personal Instagram handle is Justin hates most things. And so if Justin like them, I knew, right?

Like, I knew we were gonna be good. But they were also hyper organized, which I really liked. Because website projects can take like they can take forever, but they do a five week turnaround of a complete design of a website. And they set you up with their like notion back end so that everything is and how has a due date, you know exactly what they need from you on what days. And it just, I just followed the to do is one at a time I rewrote all of the copy on my website. It’s basically all I did for like five straight weeks. And it is gorgeous. And because I also hate most things, I figured we would get the very first draft now it’d be like it’s okay, like it’s close. But like there’s a lot of stuff that needs to be done to it. And the first draft was just, it’s basically what you see, like we tweaked a couple of tiny things. But they just understood what I wanted it to feel like and it I love it. Like I I still like I feel like an old because I’m still learning how to do the back end. I’m like, how do you put in a picture? So go back to the manual. And I feel like I’m sending like you like when you’re like programming your mom’s VCR back in the day. Right? Like, I feel like those are the types of emails I’m sending to them. Because their answers are like, well, it’s actually quite simple. Nothing dates you like trying to learn new technology.

Matt Stagliano 4:10
Oh God when I was in it, when I was in it years and years and years ago, we would send you know, the RTFM READ THE FUCKING manual to people. And I always kind of laughed about it, you know, because I’m smarter than everybody. And then those projects started happening. And I had my website redone probably got it was three years ago. So beginning of 2020. And I went through a very similar type of outfit. They were based in Europe. And the problem was, I knew more than they did. And I don’t say that with ego, but I’m going through this and they’re developing it on WordPress and I’ve been using WordPress forever. And I’m like, I don’t really think you should be doing it that way. But I’m going to trust you because I’m paying you and I’m gonna let you do your thing as the experts and just trust you

And at the end, it just wound up being me having to just write a check and saying, You know what? I’m going to finish this. I’m going to I’m just going to finish this all. I appreciate all the holes in my stomach because of this. Thank you. So it sounds like on my next go round, I’m going through through ink pot.

Susan Stripling 5:19
They were honestly like I, I cannot say enough good things about them on all different levels. And I apologize publicly for every email that I send them now, which is like, how do I make a font italic, and it’s just like, I can’t believe I’m now the person asking these questions. But you know what? It

Matt Stagliano 5:35
does look gorgeous. It does look good. I was going through today. And I just wanted to see it because I had forgotten that you had said you updated the website and went back and I was like, Oh, this is this is the new stuff. And it’s gorgeous. The best thing about it besides the pictures, obviously. And just reading about you in general. What amazed me was how personal you made it in conversational, right. So as I was reading it, I was reading it as if I were a bride or groom and I felt like I was having that conversation meaning I could hear your voice. It wasn’t chat GPT copy it wasn’t, you know, just real formulaic stuff. I’m going to take the best wedding pictures you’ve ever seen. Baba, baba, baba, bah, bah, bah. You infused it with so much of your personality, that the aesthetic shirt looks great. But reading it is a masterclass in relating to clients. Yeah, okay, good. I did. Yeah, it was really, really well done.

Susan Stripling 6:35
I mean, I think my boyfriend can attest, it’s literally all I did thought about talked about for like five straight weeks to the point where the copy could have all been word salad. I have no idea. I looked at it so much that it really was nice. It’s you know, your work evolves over the years, your your brand’s message evolves over the years, and sometimes it just needs a new home to live in. I look at it now. And I’m like, he that’s mine. It’s so pretty.

Matt Stagliano 7:01
It was so it was so great, because I’m looking at it. And I didn’t realize like, I know you’ve been shooting a long time. But as I started to read through the history and your background, which we don’t have to go through your whole background, I didn’t realize 2001 is when you started. I thought it was later than that. I thought it was after 2010 and you just crushed from you know, like for 10 years. But you’ve been shooting a lot longer than that 1000 Weddings Gucci Mane you shot.

Susan Stripling 7:35
And literally, the funniest part about that is I had absolutely no idea who he was no idea whatsoever, the wedding coordinator, like he’ll called. And I had been referred by the videographer for the wedding. And so she calls me and she’s like telling me the whole the whole deal about the wedding and where it is. And it tells celebrity and then what they want what they want in terms of contract and whatnot. And at some point, I was like, you have to tell me, like, I have to know who it is. Because I have to send the contract to a person, right? Like, even if we’re going through their lawyer or whatever. And she’s like, okay, it’s Gucci Mane, and I’m sitting at my computer and I was like, Who is Gucci Mane? I had no idea like, this is so out of my frame of, of pop culture knowledge. I was like, Is this Broadway? It is not. Um, so yeah, I was the I knew no one at that wedding at all. And like, my kids were texting me. And they’re like, these little Yachty at the wedding. And I was like, What is a little Yachty? I don’t even know, is this a person? Is it a thing? Like, I don’t? I don’t know. But it ended up being really fun. And he was like, super nice. His wife is super nice. And it was just it was just a wedding really do

Matt Stagliano 8:41
you find at and I’m assuming that wasn’t a budget. Let’s go to the VFW and rent the hall type of wedding, it was probably a little bit above that. Do you find that in the higher budget weddings, that they are easier? or harder to deal with? I know because you have like, I’m not a wedding photographer. Right. So I’m the last person to talk about weddings, right? Well, I’m gonna ask you really ignorant questions about wedding industry. So when you’re starting out, a lot of times, there are some brides villas and you’re trying to find your way, then you kind of hit your groove, maybe five, eight years in and you’re really humming along. And then you get to a point where you’re above that and you’re sought out for what you do. And you start getting into higher profile weddings. And what I’ve seen this with several of my friends, right, that’s how the career goes. Where you’re dealing with high budget weddings, do you find the coordinators? And I’m not gonna throw you under the bus here. But do you find the coordinators are easier to deal with on the bigger weddings or harder does the experience that you have is that commensurate with their experience? And do you find everybody just working as a cool team? Or is it just all over the place? And you just have to thread that needle through the day?

Susan Stripling 9:57
It’s all over the place? Like I sit down and I say ain’t like okay, well, the wedding’s that like have bigger budgets? Are the clients easier? Are they harder? Yes, no, some of my most difficult clients have been a lower packages like they’ve spent less than very expensive clients. But I haven’t really been able to draw a line between when my job gets easier, and when it doesn’t, I can say that there are a handful of coordinators that I work with that do bring lovely budget weddings. And they bring a good atmosphere to the table. So working with them is like, you know, you can just kind of like trust fall into the day, sure, it’s gonna work, like they’re gonna manage all the vendors and it’s going to be a cohesive team. But honestly, it just goes off the rails no matter what people try to do.

Matt Stagliano 10:48
Well, that’s really kind of what I was getting at has very little to do with the the amount that spent or what you’re hired for has very little to do with that. Yep, just in terms of experience level, I figured that if there are people with a little bit of expendable income, that they’d be hiring, you know, top tier folks all across the board. And I was just curious if you ever looked back and you got to this point where you were just kind of like, Yeah, I’m kind of working with the Hall of Justice here with, you know, the videographer and the officiant and the band, like we all kind of circle around each other. And it’s cool. Having really never been in that world, I’m sure it’s just, it’s a roll of the dice every time.

Susan Stripling 11:28
It’s funny, because where I’m at right now I’m trying to push myself to like the next tier of, of money making like the next tier of, of, I don’t want to say clientele, because it’s not judging the people I’m working with, but the next budget level in terms of packages, and every time I do that, like every time I make the next leap, I’m like, Okay, it’s gonna get easier, like the team, the day, it’s all just gonna get tighter. And it what I’ve learned, if anything, throughout all of this time is that I have no idea what’s going on. No one has any idea what’s going on, like, a perfectly planned day could go completely off the rails and a badly planned day could go beautifully, like there really is know, if any photographer has reached the point where they’re like I have made an all of my weddings are now very easy. I would love to know what they’ve done. Because it’s just part of why it’s fun, as you’d never really know what you’re gonna get into. And part of why I’m exhausted at the end of wedding season is because you never really know what you’re gonna get into. But it does get easier when there is a planner on the team that is, and by like an event planner, like someone who’s been with the clients from the beginning full service planner, who’s helped with the timeline, who’s helped coordinate vendors. Instead of someone who just kind of comes in for a month of Day of Week of planning, what I do find, if I’m going to find like the easiest wedding to do, it is going to be with someone who has full service, whole way through planning because part of what they do is they’re planning and coordinating is helping put together a team. And that’s putting together vendors who work super cohesively together, which just makes things easier. The last thing in the world I would ever want to do for a living is like month of Day of planning, because you’re running in, it’s like building a house nine tenths of the way and then having somebody come in and go, I just just finished it, right. You’re like you heard insane people like what is going on. But it’s that said, I’ve never had one go so far off the rails that it couldn’t be pulled back. So

Matt Stagliano 13:23
that’s the common theme that I hear from everybody that shoots weddings is they come home with that 1000 Yard Stare little bit of shell shock yet, but they’re like, I’ll still do it next week. I’ll do it next year. I’ll keep doing it. Right. And there’s this weird dynamic between the love hate relationship with shooting weddings, everybody knows it’s probably the most grueling, but it’s also gives you the most experience in every sort of condition ever. And I know that the wedding school is, you know, now under emerald. But was that the reason that you wanted to get into education was to start a school like that and eventually sell it off. Were you trying to just teach people what you knew? How did the wedding school come about? Amidst all of that?

Susan Stripling 14:07
Everything? Well, most people’s kind of speaking trajectory goes that you know, you stumble into somebody somewhere asked you to give a talk for something. Sure. And my very first talk that was not like to our local camera guild, I went to Jacksonville, Florida, and I talked to the camera club at the diner, it was called the tiny diny and I am not joking, I gave a presentation at the tiny diny on shooting destination weddings in Florida. And this was in like 2004 and then like you go from there to speaking at like, you know, slightly more regional and then maybe like a WPI a portrait masters like you kind of get asked to speak a little bit higher up and then you start and then people start asking like do you give workshops and I was like, Yeah, I can give workshops. That would be fun because there’s really only so much you can impart and like a 90 minute class an hour long class, you know, that sort of thing. So I started doing like small group workshops. And that was fun. But then Creative Live kind of came along. And they had me come teach for them. And I just loved everything about that teaching format. I thought it was, I thought it was fantastic because we could teach direct to camera, but we could also film me doing things. And I’m like, This is great, because now people can like if they need their off camera flash less than they can just roll back and watch it again. And then that kind of went on. And I was like, but all of this education that I’ve done is owned by another company, which again, is absolutely fine. My creative life years were I loved them so much like, such a special bubble of time, Craig Swanson, who was one of the owners and like founders of Creative Live, started getting into working with other educators. And he and I kind of conceived of the wedding School of like, well, what if what if instead of one off classes over here, I just put everything under here. And that’s when I started thinking like, I don’t know how long I want to educate at the pace that I’m educating right now. Because I was teaching a lot. And I was also shooting a lot. And I thought, well, if I could build something that our industry finds valuable and helpful, once that is a package, I could hopefully sell that package. And I know a lot of educators are like, Oh my god, I would never sell my education I would never sell out. Which is like the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. Because like all sell out all day, I have no problem selling out because I like money and would like to retire one day. And I built this beautiful thing. And I built it to the point that I wanted to build it. And then I didn’t want to build it anymore. I wanted to hand it off to somebody else. So I did

Matt Stagliano 16:32
coming from Cisco doing mergers and acquisitions for over a decade. That was the thing that I found with all of the different founders and the CEOs of the small companies is that very few I did 6060 some odd deals, I’d say 55 Of those, they were built to eventually sell. Now those executives were also of the mindset, hey, if it doesn’t, that’s okay, I still have my exit plan. I’m gonna put five or eight years into this and then see where it goes. Right? Are those guys were turning them over in two and three years. I love the fact that you had an end goal in sight. Right? That didn’t include that, that there was an exit plan that you’re like, I want to retire at some point. I originally built stone tree to do the same thing. The emotional attachment to it. I know you just said like, you know, you had always envisioned packaging this and selling it off. How did it feel? When you did? Did you feel a weight lifts? Did you scream? Did you cry? Did you laugh all the things? i

Susan Stripling 17:39
It’s funny, it took forever to sell it like it. Oh my gosh, Matt, this was like a, it took probably about 18 months to get the whole thing done. Because there there had been another potential buyer before that. And that didn’t work out. And then the sales started to happen through emerald, and then just takes forever, right? Like you’ve got legal and then they have their legal and then I have my legal and then you have a kid who’s talking to accountants, and then we’re going to have the same conversation again, just with different people. And it was my first real foray into corporate America that taught me that I don’t want to work in corporate America. I mean, it took a long time. I feel like that gave me like it gave me time to be done. So that when it was done, I was just like, Okay, we’re, we’re good. And I am very sentimental about a lot of things. But also very pragmatic at the same time that I did build something, I built it to sell it. It is a capsule of the education of all of my knowledge of those years and those times, but that’s over, like, and now I’m doing different things and I’m learning different things. And it’s it’s just, you know, sometimes doors really do need to go that’s horrible phrase about doors closed. But it’s true. I built this thing. I gave it a big hug. I sent it out into the world. And I just kept going, you know,

Matt Stagliano 19:02
I find that I’m certainly very nostalgic, and probably hold on to things a little bit longer than I should emotionally physically hold on to things longer than I should. It’s always curious to me when I switch the brain, and I go into the pragmatic mode. Yeah. And I look around and I can detach myself emotionally decision making is so much easier for me really, when I can just remove that emotion because what I’ve been doing lately is saying to myself, alright, if you were giving you advice, what would you say? Yes, you’re giving you advice, you’d say dropper, go here, sell that move, you know, get rid of this, whatever it might be. Yeah, it is very easy from the outside to look in and say Oh, it must be easy, right? Right there on paper. Just sign here. It’s done. Now when you finish that phase, that season of life, and you start to move forward creatively I’ve seen you explode over the past three years right since go Since we’ve really started talking 2019, there abouts, I’ve seen you explode creatively with prints from your walks in a cemetery. Right and flowers, and you’re, you’re speaking differently. And I’m seeing you teach a little bit differently. What are you doing? Are you just exploring having fun trying to figure it out? Or do you have another end goal in mind? Where are you at with that?

Susan Stripling 20:26
What’s funny is that I didn’t really realize what I was doing until I started reading this. So for the first time, I’ve invested in like my own education this year, so and then the education I’m doing there was like a list of like books that are related to read. And so one of them is like the, oh, God, I can’t remember what it’s called. It’s the Elizabeth Gilbert book about creativity, Big Magic. Think that’s what it’s something like that. And one of the things she talks about is just like, stop creating, with an end goal in mind, just make it Well, it’d be stupid, probably, who cares? You do it anyhow. And there was a big like, in 2020, like I was living in Brooklyn, it was a horrible place to live during a pandemic, we were like, shut up and have an apartment building it was was awful. And I just kind of thought, Who cares? Like, I’m just going to try doing this thing. And I’m going to try cooking, and I’m going to buy more house plants and I’m going to be weirder. And it. Who cares? Like, I had somebody in my life for a really long time. That was always like, it’d be super professional. Like, everything has to be professional. You can’t let people in, you know, like, fourth wall. But over time, I’m just like, Why? Why would I do that? It doesn’t matter. And if someone thinks I’m weird, and they don’t want to listen to me, that’s okay. And if someone thinks I’m too soft now and to Taylor Swift fan girl now or to whatever, whatever, that’s okay. I just kind of stopped caring and started trying everything. When my kids went to college, I just got more dogs. That’s a therapy session in itself. I’m only 45 and my kids don’t live at home anymore. So why not try stuff? Why not let people see your soft I also fell in love and I got all gross. Like, I am disgusting. Now, like, I’m squishy. It’s vile. It’s kind of like the effort. Why not?

Matt Stagliano 22:14
I’m going to disagree with you on all those points. However, I did see you like I saw you doing things that I never would have associated you with. I saw you painting. Yeah. And I you know, I saw you doing things getting into real estate development and interior design. Well, just building Yeah. renovating old building. I saw you just having fun. Yeah. And the interesting thing you said in there was about the, you know, the fourth wall and what people think of you, it’s been a really interesting thing to watch with the rise of Tik Tok with the rise of social media, I’d say over the past three years, three or four years, that this, this fourth wall has fallen apart, and the access to celebrity and yes, I will refer to you as a celebrity in this point. The access to celebrity has become so easy to interact, right? You used to have to write a letter. Well, Mr. Cary Grant, I really loved you, you know, and I would like to someday meet you. Now I can slide into your DMS and be like, Yo, what’s up? You want to talk wedding stuff? I think the access has made everybody rethink how we interact. Yeah, online. Yep. And I’m sure there’s someone listening right now going, Oh, the boomer gets it. He gets it. I think

Susan Stripling 23:34
great. Like I’m 45 Whatever you can make fun of me for being the boomer that gets it. I’m not going to act like I’m 22 I’m not

Matt Stagliano 23:42
gonna say it was like I need the boomer I get it. I finally understand social media now. And and I’m the same way like I am, you’re not going to catch me dance. You’re not going to catch me lip synching, but I will be open and vulnerable. And I will show you parts of my life that I probably feel a little bit weird and squishy sharing. But you know what? It’s me. Take it or leave it. We got a couple of hours on this planet. Let’s make the best of them.

Susan Stripling 24:07
Do you think my Instagram stories show too much of my cat? Or I talk about Taylor Swift too much. Don’t look at it

Matt Stagliano 24:14
like that. What’s your favorite type of stuff to create? Is it is it painting is it you know, breeding plants? Like what’s your favorite thing I can be creating right what

Susan Stripling 24:24
I’m doing right now. Like I’m I want to say I’m having like a midlife crisis but like after 2020 When you try all kinds of new things because we were all at home and we had nothing else to do. What do I want to try now? Because I’ve renovated my home. It’s gorgeous. I’ve got my dogs I found my partner like I don’t feel like I’m some of that felt a little bit like flailing. I don’t I don’t know what I want to do right now. So I’m trying to like sit in mind not knowing which is a horrible horrible thing to like, get an ADHD perfectionist, and tried to just like sit with where they are right now. But I don’t want to start new big projects. And I don’t, I just I want to learn how to be a little bit easier. So this may sound so ridiculous I’m on like a wellness journey right now apparently have like, I finally joined a really good gym and I’m working with a trainer and I’m working on what I’m eating. And like, one of the big things with the education that I’m doing now is they’re the teacher, I’m sort of working with she, she talks about all of the things you need do you need to do to keep a business going, and one of it is sustainability and vice de sustainability. She means your body and your well being. So like in the down season, I’m lifting weights and cooking beef stew, and apparently walking on a treadmill desk now, which is the thing I do not one, dude, it is oh my god, I don’t it’s such a simple thing. You just throw a treadmill under a desk and walk at an at a grandpa pace while you’re working. And then the next thing you know, you’ve been walking for two hours, and you’ve done like 10,000 steps, and you feel great. But my goal this winter is to take care of myself and to try to keep my brain open. And see what comes in. Part of me is like pick a hobby, ADHD, pick a hobby, do a thing. We should make jewelry. Let’s do pottery again, like, so I’m trying to go the opposite of that, and just learning how to be calm and enjoy just being calm and see where that goes. So

Matt Stagliano 26:41
yeah, you know, you had you had this quote on your website, and I’m gonna read it. It’s a quiet kind of magic, being able to pluck a fleeting moment from the grasp of security and place it on paper holding it for all time, I’m going to cut off the place that on paper holding it for all time. And it sounds like you’ve been trying to create this quiet kind of magic. You’re finding these fleeting moments, you’re taking them from obscurity and you’re nurturing these things in your own life in your building. And you’re creating. And without that end goal in mind putting it on paper. Yeah, you’re able to just let things be. Do you find that that has opened up new doors for you overall? Do you find yourself more calm? Do you find yourself yearning for what you had and want to be that busy again? Or are you just really relishing the present and just saying, You know what, I need to take care of me, this is what I’m doing at this point. The rest of the stuff will come when I’m ready for it. Honestly,

Susan Stripling 27:43
I’m just trying to be right now. Because I feel like so much of my life was was a mom within a year of graduating from college. Like I’ve have spent my whole life building things, raising things, whether it’s people or a business that I sold, or a business that I still run or a life in Brooklyn, and now having my kids out of the house has been an even bigger. What the hell does all of this even mean than I thought it would be? I like to know things I like data. I like facts. Like I like to build prove things. It’s funny that I didn’t have like my Who am I now crisis when my daughter might when my youngest went to college, it took like a year to really hit me. And I just have this frantic desire right now. It’d be like, I am a person who likes these things. Who does these things? Who lives this way? And I’m like, no, no, we’re not gonna, we’re not gonna do that. We’re not gonna like, put down hard facts, just so we have facts. Let’s just try to let it figure itself out organically by like, working on my business, like just just let’s just let things unfold. Which for me is like water torture, like it is so hard. I just want to know, I guess I’m in like the figuring it out season. Or there’s a whole lot of I don’t know, like, what is next? I don’t know. What am I going to do this winter? I don’t know. I can tell you I’m going to be working out a lot. And just so part of this, this bank keep talking about this big magic book, because it’s what I’ve been reading. She talks a lot about, like how ideas wander around until they find homes. And if like the idea comes to you and it knocks on your head and you’re not ready for it, it goes and like find somebody else who will lend more. And so my goal right now is to just keep all the doors open. And try to like, keep my brain open for ideas without forcing them. And I’m in the phase of that right now, which is very, very, very hard. Because I don’t know how to sit down and calm down in any way that hasn’t been dictated by a global pandemic.

Matt Stagliano 29:55
Carlos Santana had, I will butcher the quote But I’ll give you the gist of it. I heard an interview with Carlos Santana years ago. And he was talking along the same lines where he’s like, you know, someone had asked him, you know, how do you improvise? And how do you, you know, create the music that you create. And he’s like, the music is already out there. I just channeled it through me. And if I don’t, it’ll find somebody else and it’ll go through them. He’s like, I want to bring as much of it to the world as I can. And it sounds like you’ve found this luxurious freedom in allowing that to happen to your ADHD. Yeah, methodical brain. Yeah, I know that I struggle with it a lot. It’s got to feel simultaneously exciting and freeing and terrifying all at the same time. It

Susan Stripling 30:46
sucks. Yeah. But it’s like sitting down and doing this education, where it starts with like, some of it is very education, one on one where it’s like, figure out the why of your business. And these are things I did a long time ago. But I’m doing them again. And it just feels it feels like something in my life is slowly turning over, but I don’t know what it is. So I’m trying really hard to just trust the process. Sure. Which is, I mean, it’s terrible. It like sucks. I want to know what the process is, and when we’re gonna get there and what its gonna look like and I want to know right now, because you also have practical concerns like, will the process make me some money? Could the process bring me a few more wedding bookings for next year? Like, we got to pay the rent and like, it’s gotta pay the mortgage here often joke that it’s like a midlife crisis, but I don’t think it is. It feels more like a an unfolding into what’s next. But I am the least gently unfolding person, ever. So we’re, we’re just gonna, we’re gonna need it out. It’s gonna it’s gonna get there. So, and I am getting better at saying, I don’t know, when people are like, Well, what’s next for you? I’m like, I don’t know. And that has to feel good. Instead of like, who? Oh, my God, I don’t know, which is really scary. Would

Matt Stagliano 31:59
that that anxious, I don’t know is way different than the the wonderful expectation of the unknown, of saying, No, I know, I have no idea what’s coming in. That’s the exciting part. Like it’s going to be awesome no matter what it is. That’s, that’s a really nice place to get to. I know that. I think I was there once right now. Not necessarily there. But I think from what I see of you from afar, it looks like you’re exploring all these things. And it’s really, I mean, I saw you this this past summer, you’re in a van, you’re traveling around, waiting, you’re renovating a building, like you really do. You seem to have stepped back on a day to day basis from what you’re known for, in your form all these other bits. And that’s got to be just a really cool feeling. So what’s your go to, to kind of step back and recenter

Susan Stripling 32:55
on a day to day basis, like I have a nighttime routine. And I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s like the greatest thing in the entire world, which involves eating frozen green grapes in a bath, and then reading a book for as long as I can until I fall asleep. And that kind of like will go which party you making that face about the front? Oh, I’m

Matt Stagliano 33:15
just like, This sounds wonderful. Tell me more. I have a bathtub and grapes in books. Talk to me about this.

Susan Stripling 33:20
So you have to freeze green grapes, not red grapes, because otherwise, it’s weird. But I like to freeze green grapes and then put them in a bowl. And like I have one of those like bass caddies that sits on top of the bath and you Oh yeah. When we renovated Oh, I saw when I saw like your your place your bathroom was gorgeous. But the big deal like when I renovated this, I was like, I want my shower and I want my tub in the same room. I want them to be like it’s like a wet room so I could step from one to the other. It’s the best thing ever, I highly recommend 10 stars. I just run a really hot bath with a lot of Epsom salts put frozen green grapes in a bowl, I have these electric candles that I turn on and turn all the lights off. And I get in the bath with my book and I just read for forever and it it’s just like being in white noise like that’s the best way I can describe it. So it like sets me up for sleep. That said sometimes it just doesn’t do it and I I do get really twitchy if I’ve been in one place for too long. So I do like going places like the van is one of the best investments I’ve ever made. So like when Bill has his wedding in Florida, we’re not gonna fly to it, we’re gonna drive to it. And knowing that I have the ability to just be like, we’re just gonna take off for a couple days and go somewhere. Do we don’t have to find a hotel. We don’t have to, you know, figure any of this out. We can just get in the van and go figure it out. We get there. Pro tip you can sleep in a Cracker Barrel parking lot for free. No one cares. It’s a big Cracker Barrel thing you can car Camper Van Camp or take your RV to a Cracker Barrel parking lot. It has Dan parking because they know you’re coming in in the morning for paying cakes. So, yeah, as long as you go where there’s a Cracker Barrel, you can go anywhere. But it is I’m still getting used to like, I keep coming back to the whole kids being out of the house thing. I’m just still getting used to the idea of we can just pick up and go somewhere. And I don’t have to arrange like, well the girls need to be with their dad or like, okay, they’re here and then I’m going to a wedding. And then I’m doing this. It’s just a whole completely different, like mindset. So yeah, the van is like having a little traveling apartment. And we can go wherever we want. So next year, we’re planning on road tripping out to WPI. Again, taking a month just going out west again, and seeing where that takes us.

Matt Stagliano 35:44
I was thinking I love being on the road, right? I love just driving and being on the road. My former life just, I would rather drive than fly. Yeah, any day of the week. I don’t mind doing 1215 17 hours stretches at a time. I fall into the hypnosis of the road. Yeah, and I just I really enjoy it. I listen to music, I think I meditate. I listen to audiobooks, like whatever it is. People get caught up, you know, have a good time on the phone. Whatever it is, I just find that I’m at home, all that pressure off my chest and my shoulders just goes away. Because I’m out here. There’s nothing I can do. So I was actually thinking about if I go to W PPI this year, do I drive out? Take some time. Now we’re not your van is far newer by about two decades than my truck. So driving the 3000 miles and that might not be worth it. But doesn’t mean I can’t rent something. So you’ve got your apartment on the road. Tell me about the renovation. Now we haven’t talked about last time I talked to you about the renovation. I know we talked this summer. You said it was going really really well done. Yeah. When we first started talking about you are getting into it with your friends. You’re buying this building there is this angst and nervousness about what the actual am I doing? And

Susan Stripling 37:16
Nana’s decision like this was an absolutely bananas decision.

Matt Stagliano 37:20
In hindsight, it was. What do you think now?

Susan Stripling 37:24
I think it’s awesome. So for anyone who has no idea what I did. I lived in Brooklyn since 2000, in 2007, I think and once the girls were in college, I was like, Why in the world? Am I spending all of this money to live somewhere that I don’t even like that much. So I sold my apartment in Brooklyn, and bought a building in Baltimore with my friends and I say my friends, it’s a both of them are my friends. They’re married to each other. So we actually bought this building a year, a year before I moved in, during the pandemic, when we all thought we were gonna die. We would sit around and look at Zillow and it was like I would rather die in this beautiful home and I can’t afford this beautiful home like it you know you would like look at and it’s like a New Yorkers pastime Anyhow, it’s just like looking at real estate. Somehow Jane had mentioned that like she wanted to move back to Baltimore. She was like from the area and they were living in the suburbs, they wanted to move to the city. I don’t even know how we started looking at Baltimore real estate. But we found this building that was it’s like an art gallery slash studio with an owner’s residence on the bottom floor, and then an owner’s residence on the top floor. And then a back apartment that could be like rented out or use for guest space, we use it for guest space. The catch was that the downstairs unit was perfect and ready for moving in. And the upstairs unit looked like 1992 had thrown up and died in the apartment like we’re talking. They managed to have both drop and popcorn ceilings, multiple different types of carpet, they this wall behind me they plastered over it like it was a it was a travesty. But we knew that if we bought it and we went in on the renovation together. I had a year that I wasn’t gonna be living here so we could literally rip the whole thing down to nothing and start over again. And so that’s what happened is for my daughter’s her senior year of high school, I was living in Brooklyn, but traveling back to Baltimore to watch this renovation take place which we thought would take X amount of months and X amount of dollars and three times both of those things later. I’ve been here now for a year and a half like officially moved out sold the Brooklyn place live here. And this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived like I can’t believe that it looks like this. I can’t believe it’s done. The final step was finishing like a roof deck so that I had outside space and that was done earlier this summer. I officially like I live out here full time but my business and my studio are still back in New York, which seems crazy but it’s only like two hours and 45 minutes door to door from here to my studio. Door, which is not that bad. It takes me the same amount of time to get from here to Manhattan as it took me to get from Brooklyn to Manhattan on that day. So I just go back for weddings. And otherwise I live here. My cost of living is so much lower. And I live in this weird building. And we’re still kind of figuring out what we’re doing. It’s downstairs, we use it partly as an art gallery. We have a little store that we open on like for, like neighborhood First Fridays? Sure. Figuring out what we really want to do with it long term like does it stand art gallery? Does it become like a pure space sort of rental kind of still sorting that one out? We own the building together. I’d say the biggest friendship commitment I’ve ever made is we have to be friends for at least 28 more years. The weird thing you think when you’re like little and you’re like, I’m gonna grow up and like live in a house with my best friends? Kind of? I kind of do.

Matt Stagliano 40:48
You did it. Yeah, you can either go the cult route, or like what you did? And

Susan Stripling 40:53
I said, I don’t know. Cold route could be next. We’re not.

Matt Stagliano 40:57
We might still be building this commune. You never know.

Susan Stripling 41:00
Listen, listen, we’re letting all the ideas come in. Guys, the dogs don’t think I should start a cold. They all just start.

Matt Stagliano 41:09
Now that you live in Baltimore? Yes. How’s your connection to Broadway? Because you’re a you’re a Broadway freak dancer, musical lover. Right. So do you miss that connection? You still going back a lot? Is that affected your love of Broadway at all?

Susan Stripling 41:25
No, no. And it’s funny because like, it’s and I’m sure anyone who lives in any big city can attest like you do less of the things that are in your city when you live in your city. Oh, sure. Like I never ever went to the Statue of Liberty. And I lived in New York for how long? And it’s always like when it’s there. And you can go whenever you want. You never go. Sure. So I still see stuff, I still go back to see stuff. There’s nothing that’s I’m really super like, like thrilled about right now. There are definitely things that I still love the city for. And I can appreciate a little bit better now that I don’t live there. But I’m kind of handing Broadway over to my daughter, my oldest who just did her first Broadway show contract working on a lighting design team to get a show up and running. And she’s done with that contract now. So she’s now fielding the question of so what are you going to do next? Right, which is the perpetual freelance life question. I didn’t move all the way across the country. I can still go back for anything I want to go back for I can go back with better appreciation. life feels more open. The air feels cleaner.

Matt Stagliano 42:25
I don’t know. It’s Baltimore’s.

Susan Stripling 42:26
I mean, there was a puddle of blood on the street around the corner yesterday morning when we walk the dogs but there wasn’t a visible crime scene. So it’s fun.

Matt Stagliano 42:33
I don’t know what species it was. Anything?

Susan Stripling 42:39

Matt Stagliano 42:40
Speaking of homes. Yes. I’ve got my home here, which you’ve seen. I’ve have several more plants since you’ve left. Good. Good

Susan Stripling 42:49
there on

Matt Stagliano 42:50
the slow euthanasia. Where they look at me sadly. I watered them. I talked to them. I tried to take care of them best I can. But every plant I have in the house is on hospice care.

Susan Stripling 43:04
I was gonna say so your

Matt Stagliano 43:06
hospice facility. I am a hospice facilitator for vegetables. Nice. How can I? Where should I go? What should I bought should just be Should I just get a fake Ficus at like the Christmas tree shops? In the corner or do I go the succulent route? Talk to me Susan stripling.

Susan Stripling 43:25
No, no, just get a bunch of posts. That’s literally all you need. I have. No You’re killing them. How are they dying?

Matt Stagliano 43:33
You live in Maine in the winter. Everything was fair enough.

Susan Stripling 43:36
They’re they’re analyzing themselves on purpose. Everything you need to know about plants just follow Hilton Carter on Instagram. Hilton.

Matt Stagliano 43:44
Literally writing that down. First of

Susan Stripling 43:47
all, the coolest dude ever and I’ve learned everything I know about plants from him.

Matt Stagliano 43:51
Are you speaking at WPI this year? Are you are you out? There you are?

Susan Stripling 43:55
I think yes. Apparently. Yes,

Matt Stagliano 43:56
I am. Yes. So I do want to I do want to come out and see you. Because last time you were there teaching, I had a blast, and you were doing the thing you had your fingernails on. So fortunately, and that was really, really cool. And that’s what got me thinking about your creative journey. Is there any topic that you thought it was just like the keynote that you write in the van on your way out there,

Susan Stripling 44:18
I have a platform class. It’s about using AI for your photography business, in like always shapes and forms from editing, to copywriting to all of that, and then they’re doing kind of like a wedding Summit, and I’m gonna do a talk there. And I just sent in like a proposed topic for that, which was, they asked me to live shoot, I was like, Well, let me do the thing where I show like, and live shooting for wedding stuff is so hard because it’s just so different. But what I really like to show is like the variety of portraits that you can make with just one light and how just one light using it in a bunch of different ways. You can get a lot out of it. So that’s probably what I’ll end up doing if they approve that. If not, you didn’t hear this and I have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m talking

Matt Stagliano 44:59
to teak tomorrow night. And we’re going to talk all AI stuff. So thinking about I know you have this relationship with imagined AI. Yes, I’ve been using more and more AI. Yeah, in all of my workflow, little bits pieces here and there. But even with the podcast here, using different AI tools to make my job easier. At first, I was very, very much against raising up these tools and allowing AI to grab hold. And then I realized I had this stupid little conversation with myself, I was just like, Photoshop has been artificial intelligence, literally, since the first time we ever used it. So why are we cracking eggs over this, there’s really no reason for it. What I’ve found is in my own particular workflow, there are bits and pieces that I use to save time. Yeah, I find myself using AI in that respect, not to create, not to make things I’m using it to replace the time to give me more time to create. So I’m replacing the time that would take me away from creation and putting it more into ways that frees up time for me to do what I absolutely

Susan Stripling 46:14
what I do. Yes, yeah, I’m not using it to make stuff that isn’t there. Right. I’m right now, because who knows where it will take us in the future. But like, if I can teach AI to edit, like I edit, why would I be spending hours and hours and hours doing it myself? Right? When there’s something that could do it for me that I taught to do it? Why would I spend forever cloning someone out of something in you know, my assistant softbox out of something in a photo when I can just loop it with generative fill and have that do it like, I love using AI to make my life faster, easier, just more streamlined. Sure, I’m still not sure how I feel about using it to make things that aren’t there. But I also have a job that is very heavily rooted in things that are they have to be there like it’s with portraits, I could absolutely see being, you know, AI as a huge possibility. But for weddings, there’s so many it’s real moments, real people on a real day, there’s less, let me take the building out that they got married in front of and put them in like Iceland instead, like that’s not quite as well as applicable. There’s

Matt Stagliano 47:31
a different intention behind it to you right there. The intention of Susan shooting a wedding is to capture those moments on that day for those people. You have screw the rest of the world, right? When you’re creating things to put out there to gain attention. And you’re using AI to do it. The intention is different now. You’re just marketing now you’re just advertising yourself. Unless you are a digital artists that use that as your base. And then yeah, manipulating that into something else. It’s such a hazy gray area, right. And I try not to have any level of absolutes because I hate absolutes. So tell me a little bit about not plug imagined AI a little bit. Just just because I know you’re all in on that tool. And you’ve you’ve told me without any audience you’re just gonna imagine AI is the shit without

Susan Stripling 48:23
being melodramatic has legitimately saved my life. Like, yeah, there are so many photographers like posting right now on their stories and whatnot, where they’re like, I’m drowning in editing. And I’m like, I’m done. Yeah, why? Why? I’m done. I come home, I usually call the wedding within a day of shooting the wedding. Because I have me personally if I let too many days go by, it takes me so long to call because my brain just starts forgetting things. And if I do it really quickly, I’m so much faster addicts, I remember the day really well. But like, five days go by and I’m like was that the bride’s mom, and I’m like, Oh my God, you were literally just there. But then once I’ve cold, I send the images to imagine he usually go take a shower while they’re uploading. And I come back and they’re done. That’s me. And I download the edits into Lightroom. And I still go through I still look at every image and I make little tweaks here and there because sometimes, you know, we all make a decision with lighting and AI is like I think this is where you’re going with this but sometimes you also go in this direction with this so we’re but I also then spend way more time than I used to on like playtime like kind of masking that grounds or cleaning things up a little bit more than I used to. But it has just made there’s no more tedious one at a time edits going on. It’s it’s just so instantaneous. And I trust it because I taught it like it’s not just let’s send it to a bot that’s kind of going to guess it is crawled your Lightroom catalogs that you’ve sent it and it knows in these situations you do these things we will replicate them. So I have even less human error that I’ve ever had before. Because it’s I mean, it’s a i, it’s a machine, it’s probably going to take over my house one day, and that’s actually fine as long as my workflow stays okay, but I did the most boring promo video for imagine last year, it was actually hilarious where they had like, they went and visited like charmy. And there was like, tell me what you do now that you have so much more time with AI and Jeremy’s like, I make meals, I spend time with my family. And they’re like having a feast in the yard. And I was like, I sit on my sofa, and I read a book.

Matt Stagliano 50:31
Like, I don’t probably appealed to a huge audience to hear just, I’d love to sit on the couch and do

Susan Stripling 50:37
anything like what they’re like, What do you do with the time you got back from imagine, and I was like, nothing, I don’t do anything. I take naps and walk the dog. But it really has, like anything that can remove the bulk of the busy work. Like having QuickBooks auto import my transactions is so much easier than sitting down with my bank statement once a month and manually typing things in. It just makes my life easier. Why wouldn’t I harness that? Technology because now my brain is clearer. It is more interested in the work I’m doing because I’m not slogging through it. And it just gives me life time back apparently, to just get more animals,

Matt Stagliano 51:18
like I was saying earlier gives you that, that freedom to create a little bit more, let me play with these masks, right, because I haven’t spent 20 minutes on this one photo, just trying to get it to look consistent with all the others. Now I can actually play with it and be a little bit more creative. And I think you’re so good at at at creating impact. In the moment, you don’t have to spend all your time in post production doing this stuff you’re doing it in camera essentially,

Susan Stripling 51:47
is minimal. In all good ways. I like to think,

Matt Stagliano 51:51
which is the best part of AI for someone like you, I would imagine. Because after weddings, you would spend all this time now that you’ve created everything in camera, you can come home and just have it 90% of that work is done, you’re still going to put your touches on it. But 90% of that work is done. That’s gotta feel amazing, especially at this point, right? Where you’re not slogging it out every weekend.

Susan Stripling 52:15
And it’s funny, like when people are like, well, what can I do to make my workflow faster? Like the first thing I say is like your work needs to be tighter? Sure, because the better my images are, when they come out of camera, the less I have to, I don’t want to say fix because it’s not fixing. It’s just manipulating. But the less I have to fuss with each one if it’s cropped the way I want. If it’s you know, as close as exposure as possible, you know, mostly I just spend my time generative filling my assistant who’s holding a light out of Hey, hang on, what are the dogs doing?

Matt Stagliano 52:45
I hear the dogs in the background. They’re shaking. And then there’s booms it sounds like it’s a little bit of constant chaos. But you thrive within this chaos. Like it’s a it’s this gorgeous dance that you’re doing

Susan Stripling 52:59
it? Yes. Sometimes there’s yelling right now the cat isn’t in cat jail, because she’s been really bad. But now all of the dogs are looking at me like what are you saying about me? It’s funny, because like, when it’s chaotic, it’s literally the worst thing. And I think why have I done this to myself. But most of the time, it’s like, wow, I get to share my home with these creatures who are so funny and snuggly. And like the best thing is, like, Bill took a picture of I was having a sick day and I was like laying in bed and all of the animals were in the bed with me, the cat, all three dogs smushed right up next to me, and I was like, this is living, and then they do little. And I was like you can all move out.

Matt Stagliano 53:39
You’ve got a birthday coming up in January. Uh huh. So I understand. You’ve never struck me as the we’re going to make this Susan’s birthday month type of person. But no, but you know, beginning of the year, right, you’ve got a lot of things going on. It’s before the season kicks off. I didn’t know if you took the winter, and especially around the beginning of the year to take a trip or go somewhere warm. I know you’ve

Susan Stripling 54:05
been warm. So that’s you know, it’s a perfect time of year for me. I don’t like to be warm at all. We’re talking about going to go into this Florida wedding and it might be in the 80s and I’m like I’m gonna die. So I don’t book weddings now around Christmas and I we’re just not doing New Year’s Eve weddings anymore. Like I’m like I’m saying the phrase I’m too old for this shit. But like I can’t do New Year’s Eve weddings. I just want to see my parents. I just want to see the girls I want to relax. January is sort of like let’s start planning our road trip to WPI time because last time we were gone for a whole month and it was legitimately the coolest to just be able to take off so we went down to my parents dropped off the dogs. My parents live in Georgia, and then headed out from there. So I think January February. Honestly my goal is to just try to be as reset and chill as possible for the year. I’m doing a lot of business reevaluating right now because As the wedding market is so different people booked differently now they booked closer to their wedding dates, like, the pandemic sort of shook up the market a little bit, just trying to take the time to see where it is where it’s going, what am I gonna do in January? I don’t know. And I say that as a happy I don’t know, I don’t know. We’re also talking about maybe going to Bermuda because we’re trying to find somewhere we can go that’s kind of tropical, but not super hot. We realized that it’s like in the 70s in January, so that might be my perfect, Bermuda

Matt Stagliano 55:33
is beautiful. Then I’ve been down to Bermuda or Aruba, Turks and Caicos, St. Lucia, St. John’s, I spent a lot of time just because it’s so easy to get to from the east coast here, right. So we used to go down quite a bit, we’d either go and spend a week we’d fly down and spend time there or we do the cruise and we bounce. We’ve only went on one cruise, I’ll never cruise again. I don’t think I’m a cruise type. I’m not built for that. And I love it down there. Such an easy pace of living, there has to be an expectation like, I like to go down and be pampered at whatever Resort at the same time. I don’t need all that I could very easily rent a house and have.

Susan Stripling 56:19
Yeah, it’s like Airbnb being a place for a week and just having your own. Well, and also, there’s something to be said for being away from home where I don’t have, oh, I want to start a home project or like I really should I clean out the closet or like something like that, I’d like to be away. Because I guess if I have any creative itch at all, it’s to I started writing a little bit during the pandemic. And my brain keeps kind of like coming back to I think you should maybe write some more. But that’s about as far as it’s gotten. So we’ll see. I don’t know,

Matt Stagliano 56:51
the last question that I’ll that I’ll ask you can very much answer with I don’t know, been in the game a while. You’ve seen the wedding industry up and down sideways this way. The other after COVID? You just said it got shook up a little bit. And I’m hearing the same thing, right? where everything’s been kind of turned on its head? Yep. Do you think that will normalize into the way it was? Do you think this is the I hate saying new normal? Or do you think it will kind of find its way somewhere in between?

Susan Stripling 57:22
Honestly, the correct answer is probably somewhere in between somewhere in between. But it’s also I don’t know if it has anything to do with COVID. Like it’s, you know, newer generations, different ideas about marriage, different ideas about weddings, different thoughts about what they want out of life, like a traditional wedding photography model might not continue working, because things might look different. But I guess what I’m trying to tell myself with all of this, and this is really hard to do is I don’t know, and that’s okay. I just have to keep my eyes open, analyze as many data points as I can. And try not to make any frantic business decisions based on any Shifting Sands that I feel. Because I don’t want to make a panic decision to change the type of way I do business, only to have it two years from now, stabilized or normalized or the economy change. And then I’m like, crud, I made a decision I don’t like. So I don’t know what’s going on out there. I know that bookings are strange. I know that most everyone I know is very quiet right now. Very, very quiet right now, like, more quiet than they’ve ever been like, Does my contact form work? Quiet. And I hear that from everyone who isn’t lying. Honestly, like some people are like, this is the best year I’ve ever had. And I’m like you Instagrammed like for weddings? I was this. Sure. But things are just weird. And the but the economy is weird. Everything’s really expensive right now. And I don’t know that I would want to spend a lot of money on a wedding right now. So I can’t fault how people’s and also that whole thing people were talking about about like, are we going to have a last year or last couple of years where like nobody was really dating in 2020. So like, are we going to have a wedding gap? Like what does that look like? I just know that like back in Oh, eight and oh nine with the economy. Everything shook up the wedding industry again. I was just like, I’m just gonna stay the course and see what happens. And then I will make adjustments based on the data points that I can look at. That’s all I can do right now is just keep saying I don’t know, but keeping my eyes open like the Cuban say, I don’t know. But you’re really just like, I don’t know, I’ve got blinders on. I don’t want to know, what it comes down to is it’s really just freelance life. It’s always going to be a bunch of I don’t know, and like we never get tenure and nobody gets job security and I don’t get a pension. There’s just always going to be so many questions, but hopefully being okay with not knowing I don’t know, from

Matt Stagliano 59:45
what I’ve heard this entire hour has been you’re very comfortable with that. I don’t know now. Maybe a five year old Susan wasn’t necessarily as comfortable with I’ve had the aneurysm. I’ve had an aneurysm completely just blown a gasket. But it sounds like all this work that you’ve been putting into just staying present. And accepting the unknown is really calming. I’m noticing now I don’t know if it’s, you know, this wonderful relationship that you’re in, if it’s just coming to a better place with yourself, but from all of our conversations, again, it has become very obvious that you are much calmer, much more in control of yourself much more serene and content. And it’s an awesome thing to see you stay in that place, even when you’re saying, I don’t know, I don’t know where it’s gonna be.

Susan Stripling 1:00:44
Panic days and like, you know, Bill and I have like our weekly freakout about business and like everybody else’s, but therapy meds. But like realizing that like, I think if 2020 taught me anything is that like, at the end of the day, you only have so much control, right? And I can either learn to live okay with that, or I can let it eat me alive. And we’re gonna try to learn to live okay with that. If not, I’ll just get another cat. I don’t know.

Matt Stagliano 1:01:12
There’s always a solution to every problem. Thank you, Susan, for giving me all your time. I know on a cold night like this, you’d rather be buried in blankets with all the animals, but instead

Susan Stripling 1:01:21
we’re going to get takeout Thai food and watch Top Chef. Yeah, so if people think that like in the offseason I’m like watching high fine art movies, dude, we were like watching Top Chef and TV shows about how to build tiny houses. And I’m reading junk murder mysteries, and it’s like the best

Matt Stagliano 1:01:36
art and speaking which we never even got to talk about horror films. So I put you on the spot top three top three horror films that you’ve ever seen knock them out top

Susan Stripling 1:01:46
their horror films number one, it’s called pie whack it. It will scare the crap out of you. P ye py whack it. Very freaky scares the shit out of me. Number two, it’s called the witch in the window. What happened yesterday I just made that may balloons fly behind my head and this

Matt Stagliano 1:02:06
idea I’ve never seen

Susan Stripling 1:02:12
arms around and all these balloons flew up behind.

Matt Stagliano 1:02:14
So pi wacky, which

Susan Stripling 1:02:15
in the window hereditary and honorable mention is midsummer, which is like my comfort horror film that I like to fall asleep watching because nothing’s really more soothing than you know, burning your boyfriend and a bear carcass.

Matt Stagliano 1:02:28
Got to do.

Susan Stripling 1:02:30
Pi whack it is really freaky.

Matt Stagliano 1:02:32
It’s never heard of that.

Susan Stripling 1:02:33
It’s very, like didn’t get a huge release. Very small movie, but there’s just something about it. That rubbed me really the wrong way. And everyone I’ve showed it to it’s stressed them out because it’s my favorite type of horror, which is you don’t see the bad guy. And it doesn’t end happy. It’s magic formula. It’s true like the second like the I would put smile on like my top list but they show you the bad guy at the end. And it’s looking at the bad guy you’re like that is stupid and it is not scary. That’s

Matt Stagliano 1:03:01
the worst thing you want when you’re in a state of fear is to be like well this is stupid because it just takes you out of the whole story. I

Susan Stripling 1:03:08
can be not scared of that. But if you just don’t show it to me it’s like I’m also on my list is it follows someone you might not even be able to see is just following you around the kill you like that is New York really is all that is that’s really Yeah, the latest scream in New York when like Ghostface is like on the subway I’m like this would never work like New Yorkers are just beat the crap out of them. That would have been over in like two seconds. He would have been trying to like Rob the bodega and everyone would have been like Get over yourself. But yeah, if pie whacking is the one that really Oh, hang on one more can do one more. It’s called Lake Mungo. It’s done as like a faux documentary and I usually for documentaries are usually so cheesy this one like really does.

Matt Stagliano 1:03:51
It’s not like found footage like Blair Witch style. It’s so

Susan Stripling 1:03:55
it’s like a feels kind of like you’re watching like a Dateline. Almost. Gotcha, gotcha. But there’s something about it that just it gets under your skin so wrong. It’s great. It’s great. But if anyone really wants to see all of my 500 favorite horror movies, I have a letterboxed account, so you can just look me up on letterboxed and I have a whole list rated by the ones that I like the best because listen, we had nothing to do in 2020 So that’s what I did.

Matt Stagliano 1:04:24
I love I love that you drop that because I really do want to go check that out.

Susan Stripling 1:04:29
I love horror movies because like, my favorite horror director is Mike Flanagan he did Haunting of Hill House The Fall of the House of Usher like the new Doctor sleep and his wife isn’t a lot of his movies. Her name is Kate Siegel. And if you follow her on Tik Tok her Instagram she did this great monologue once about like why she likes acting in horror and horror movies get a bad rap but it’s actually the truest and most genuine acting you will do because it is your truest and most genuine base emotions of fear of anxiety of i That’s all a whole nother podcast of why I think our movies are the greatest thing ever made.

Matt Stagliano 1:05:04
I would love to do and that’s not Katie Segal Peggy Bundy Katie Segal. Is it? No, no, no. Totally. Awesome. Well, thank you for all of this. And yeah, I will have you back. Why don’t we do something in October issue we can do your do your horror pics.

Susan Stripling 1:05:18
My friend Kayla and I can do our horror movie fan club for you. Alright,

Matt Stagliano 1:05:23
so I’m gonna see you at WPI in a couple months and we’ll have more conversation we’ll go to some overpriced restaurant and have tiny little doughnuts.

Susan Stripling 1:05:31
The type big bill just did a fist pump the stack little donuts over it’s you remember the little donuts at stack the little baby ones? Okay. All right.

Matt Stagliano 1:05:39
We’re going back. This has been amazing. Thanks for giving me your time. I will. I’ll see you soon in Vegas. You better All right. Bye bye.


Popular Post:

Related Posts:

Generator Ep. 020 – Pratik Naik: Through the Lens of Tomorrow

In this episode, Maine photographer Matt Stagliano speaks with Susan Stripling – one of the most sought after wedding photographers in the world and the creator of the Wedding School, an online education platform.

She has won countless awards, been in countless magazines, and represents some of the top brands in the business. She’s a Canon Explorer of Light, a keynote speaker, and has taught thousands of students the intricacies of wedding photography.

In this conversation, we talk about many things including her selling the Wedding School, the importance of self care, using AI, the future of the wedding industry and of course, horror films.

For more information about her work, please visit

Published in the Wall Street Journal

I do work for local real estate agencies. While I was recently in Arizona attending a workshop, the images of this home were published in an article in the Wall Street Journal. All I can say is how grateful I am!

Related Posts:

Let’s Socialize