authentic you interview series: susannah conway (and a giveaway!)

As I mentioned before, while in England I had the opportunity to meet Susannah, the beautiful soul behind the blog Ink on my fingers, and the photoblog Unravelling. I'd been a fan of Susannah's work for a while; in particular, her amazing photography. So when she kindly sent me an e-mail a couple of weeks before we left for our holiday, inviting me to look her up if I was ever in town, I leapt at the opportunity.

Our intent was for her to show me around town to shoot as much as possible, but once we met at the coffee house that morning, it was clear that we were going to spend most of our day deep in conversation. I have to say that Susannah is one of the most interesting people I've met this year.  In addition to being a very obviously beautiful woman, she's a study in contradictions: she's at once sensitive and somewhat cynical; she's very spiritual, yet deliciously irreverent. I found that she was both not what I expected, and so much more than I expected -- and now, when I look at her amazing photographs, I feel like I should've known she'd be the enigma that she is. I mean, it was all right there in her beautiful, mysterious images.

Toward the end of our day together, I felt brave enough to invite her to participate in my Authentic You Interview Series, and happily, she agreed. The following are her insightful answers -- and at the end, you can see how you can win a print of one of her beautiful images.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  A sunny day, a selection of beautiful vintage cameras and film, a new place to explore, (preferably abroad), good friends to have dinner with later, and a man I adore to make love with through the night..

2. What is your greatest fear?  Losing my sister.

3. Which living person do you most admire?  There are many people I admire: Germaine Greer, Annie Leibovitz and Magnum photographer Martin Parr are three of them, off the top of my head.

4. What trait do you most deplore in yourself?  I’m a perfectionist who thinks too much, who sets such high standards for herself it’s almost impossible to get anything done. Every day I battle with my over-analytical brain.

5. What trait do you most deplore in others?  Ignorance and rudeness.

6. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?  Chastity.

7. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
  What: photography. It’s a love affair that started when I was 18 and at art college. Even when I’d convinced myself that the competitive world of journalism was where I should be, I was still taking pictures in one form or another. Now, at last, it fills my every waking thought.

8. Which talent would you most like to have?  I love to be able to sing properly – not the karaoke caterwauling I do, but soulful from-the-heart singing.

9. What is your current state of mind?  Agitated.

10. What do you consider your greatest achievement?  Surviving the death of the man I loved; in 2005 I thought my life was over, but I have found a new way of living, and so many gifts have come into my life in the last few years. But it could have been otherwise.

11. What is your most treasured possession?
  My diaries. I started keeping one when I was 11 and have amassed an assortment of journals and files of paper over the years. The last five years are held in 20 large Moleskine notebooks..

12. What is your superpower?  The ability to channel wisdom from somewhere other than my head. Occasionally I’ll have a conversation with a friend and have no idea where some of the things I said came from – but luckily they were helpful!

13. Who is your favourite hero of fiction?  Jane Eyre.

14. Who are your heroes in real life?  Heroes might be pushing it, but I am inspired by Jeanette Winterson, Diane Arbus and the journalist Janine di Giovanni.

15. What is your motto?  ‘Fuck it’ – as in, should I have the salad or chocolate dessert? Fuck it, I’ll have the chocolate. Should I approach the owner of that gallery or should I hide away at home in case I get rejected? Fuck it, where’s my portfolio? Life is too short to live any other way.

16. What do you most value in your friends?  Their patience and faith in me; I’m not always the easiest person to love as I’m bit of a lone she-wolf.

17. Which word or phrase do you most overuse?  See number 15.

18. What is your greatest extravagance?  Polaroid film.

19. What is the quality you most like in a woman?  Passion, honesty and a healthy cynicism laced with humour.

20. What is the quality you most like in a man?
  Wit, intelligence and an adventurous heart.

21. On what occasion do you feel the most authentic?
  The moment I have a camera in my hands I am most completely myself. And I’ve recently discovered that teaching photography/creativity workshops brings out the best parts of me too.

* * * * * * * *

I told you she was complex, didn't I? And she's also generous: simply leave a comment below naming which of the prints Susannah has in her etsy store that's your favourite, and I'll pick a commenter from random tomorrow to win that print. It's that simple. Comments will be open until midnight tonight.

But that's not all!

If you decide one print just isn't enough for you (or you decide that rather than comment, you'd actually purchase a print), simply mention "chookooloonks" as you check out, and you'll be automatically given a 20% discount on all your purchases. This offer will be good until Tuesday, December 23rd.

So don't forget, leave a comment below, naming your favourite print. You won't regret it: they're beautiful.

Song: Unraveling, by Deb Talan. Says Susannah: "On January 1st 2007 I started a photo blog and was trying to decide on a title. I wanted a word or phrase that encapsulated what my photography was about, and where I was in my life at that point. And it was then that my iTunes started playing Deb Talan’s song Unraveling and I had my a-ha moment. Unravelling (I use the British spelling) perfectly describes my picture-making processes and my healing path. Unravelling… letting go… peeling back the layers to find the real beauty inside."