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Basking in the Glow of Photographic Success

Manawatu Evening Standard, 8 October 2008

Susan Siu | Glow Studio, 2008

A pageboy scratches his head or a man, normally staunch, melts at the sight of his wife-to-be. “The way someone laughs, the way the groom reacts when he sees the bride coming down the aisle . . . my goal is to capture that.” Every wedding is unique, says photographer Susan Siu. Each couple has its own story and she counts it a profound privilege to be involved. Miss Siu says she brings the same attitude to family shots and business clients, be they architects, lawyers or physiotherapists. “My goal is to bless people with what I do

– put a smile on their faces.” It seems couples eagerly share their engagement stories, she says. “They just glow when they tell me.” Glow – that's the name of her Princess St studio in Palmerston North. Her role is to “pull the glow out of people”. And capture it.

Glow Studio’s floor is a sandy colour, bordering on beige and the walls are albescent white and fuscous-grey, with a dash of shiraz red. Miss Siu, 24, wants the studio to exude freshness and warmth, so it feels like home for people who walk in. Her long board, a favourite mode of transport about the streets, lies near the front door. Jazz music plays in the background. Several times she waves to passersby.

At the Manawatu Business Awards, where she won the solo entrepreneur category, she invited everyone to join her for a cup of tea. “People actually do,” she says.

There’s a comprehensive range on offer. Green tea, peppermints, lemon ginger . . . she counts to 14, but she feels she's missed one. Glow Studio was open just three months when the business was nominated for an award. Some people thought she should wait for things to settle down, but, after receiving encouragement from her parents, Miss Siu decided to go for it. “I worked hard on it. It was like doing a huge assignment again,” she says. The judging process helped her think about the direction of her business. “I realised how much my heart was in it.” She started taking photos as a 10-year-old, learned to use film and was often in the darkroom at school. A hushed audience at last month’s awards listened to Miss Siu tell how she had been taking photographs at the awards for the Manawatu Standard two years ago and wondered if she might one day be part of it. “It doesn't feel like a job. I love what I'm doing. Praise God.”

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