Suzette Allen describes herself as a “hope-full photomaniac” whose passion for photography, love of teaching, and commitment to a hopeful outlook is abundantly evident in her work. A portrait photographer for 35 years who has taught photography and Photoshop for 20 years, Suzette challenges herself and her students to keep creativity fresh and find new ways of communicating visually. Based in Sacramento, CA, Suzette and her husband Jon Yoshinaga took ‘Bubble Trailer’ (a 1985 13-foot camp trailer) on a coast-to-coast tour across the U.S. in 2019 and documented their adventures.
Experienced in photographing a wide range of settings, Suzette turns to the Lumix 8-18 lens to create a feeling of drama and motion in just about any scenario. “I love to use the 8-18 as my wide lens for weddings, when I capture the bride and groom in the limo; or in a lovely landscape, framed by trees or on the cliffs of the ocean.” The possibilities for creativity and innovation have increased with this new lens: “formerly, my favorite was the 7-14mm, but with the newer 8-18mm, I’m able to use ND filters when needed for silky water shots.” She relies on the ability to show the full view to communicate a heightened sense of presence, ultimately creating a more engaging photo. “You can look at everything from what is nearly beneath your feet, to all around you making you feel more like you are there . . . like you can see and feel the grandness of the scene.”
Using this super-wide lens is Suzette’s key to capturing stunning architecture, like the all-glass Wayfarer’s Chapel in Palos Verdes, CA, or showing her fresh, vibrant take on iconic landscapes such as the Grand Canyon. “Especially when hiking places like the Grand Canyon, where vistas are larger than life and you can barely take the view in with your natural eyes, the ultra-wide lens lets you capture the emotion and sensation of overwhelm.” And it’s not just the lens that makes the difference—the portability of a Lumix camera body is key to traveling light. Her Lumix G9 served as a trusty companion when hiking the Grand Canyon to Havasu Falls. “It’s wonderful to carry a lightweight micro 4/3 camera, especially when hiking deep into the Canyon. The M43 format is small enough that it allows me to carry ALL my lenses—the full range from 8mm to 200mm (perhaps 400mm) even when going on long hikes!” Her unique take on other natural scenes, such as the Vernal Pools in Sacramento, CA, makes the natural world come alive; the graceful trees in the mirrored water seem infused with energy. The textures and colors of our beautiful world (especially the National Parks) create a visual display of grandeur, begging to be captured!
Suzette’s infatuation with the natural world, and ability to draw inspiration from it, seems endless, making it no wonder that she is such an inspiring teacher. Her blog and Instagram tell the story of travel, friendship, and her joy of communicating to others—not just about getting the perfect shot, but about how to stay creatively engaged and see the world with fresh, hopeful eyes. Learning to revel in the beauty of wherever you are is the best lesson of all.
Suzette is a Global Ambassador for Panasonic Lumix Cameras and Adobe Influencer. She is also a Photographic Craftsman and Certified Professional Photographer, as well as an Approved Photographic Instructor with Professional Photographers of America. She has served her industry in education, as a school director (West Coast School of Photography) and also served on the Board of Directors of both West Coast School and California Photographic Workshops. Now as an instructor, she has had the immense honor of teaching at a dozen of the PPA Affiliated Photographic Schools across the country!