We had the good fortune of connecting with Susan Onysko and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Susan, we’d love to hear what makes you happy.
For me, it is more a question of “when” makes me happy versus “what” makes me happy. As I prepare for a trip, everyone asks me if I am excited to be going. They are usually shocked when my answer is “not yet”. I am very fortunate to have a large family that includes lots of kids, lots of furry things, lots of feathered things, and uncountable gilled things. Traveling requires planning to the point of exhaustion. For me this means finally being packed at 4:00 am just in time for my 7:00 am flight! “When” am I happy about this entire process? When I get my first glimpse of the airport. It is then that the feeling of no turning back kicks in which allows the anticipation and exhilaration of the upcoming trip to come to the surface. There is a distinct sense of letting everything go that makes everything leading up to the trip seem unimportant probably because it is ultimately now out of my control. That moment marks the coming of all of the unknowns that I love so dearly. I love running through airports to catch flights and the international shuttle busses filled with passengers speaking languages that I do not understand. I love being armed only with a kind look, a warm smile, and body/sign language to communicate with. I get emotional thinking about how those interactions often exceed those based in words. I love getting lost in the crowds at the airports and being a fly on the wall able to watch all of the emotion that flows when people get together. The sense of butterflies in my stomach when looking around for my name in the airport arrival section is something that makes me feel whole. When I photograph in an unknown land, I speak the same non-verbal language that I do on the trip to that destination. In almost all occasions, kindness is met with kindness and the result is a beautiful photo. When I finally get to hold the camera to my eye, the only thing in my mind is that single moment; all of the cares and worries of daily life are left behind. I am able to zone out to a point where it is just me and the subject in a timeless moment. I look forward to experiencing those moments again. During the pandemic I have been able to go through and edit images from years past, sweeping me back in time. When I look at polar bear photos from Churchill, I can feel the cool air on my cheeks; the crispness and bite of it. I remember the apprehension and thrill I had standing on the ground next to the glorious creatures as well as the mint tea served throughout the trip. The pandemic has made me realize how lucky I have been to travel and photograph the world. I will be that much more appreciative and exhilarated when I get out of the house and back out there! 

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I love taking travel photography images that people want to hang on their wall. I am extremely hard on myself and my photos. While I often take thousands of photos on a trip, ten at most will be processed. Capturing timeless cultures with traditional dress in remote locations should make the viewer question what year my photo was taken when they see it. My photos should evoke an emotional response, especially my wildlife images. In addition to travel photography, I am in the process of photographing Cosplayers in all fifty states. Twenty are completed so far, but this project is of course on hold due to the pandemic. My team transports an entire professional photography studio (over 8,500 pounds) to Cosplay conventions, rent a room, and hand out Golden Tickets to select Cosplayers which entitles them to a supermodel-type shoot. It is loads of fun! Photos from the Cosplay 50 Project have found their way onto many gallery walls and I hope they hang on the participants walls as well. Please visit Cosplay50.com to view many great Cosplayers. I have grown to enjoy public speaking, which was quite a challenge considering how quiet I normally am. My techie husband, who has picked up a camera all of once in his life, often accompanies me to my engagements to set up my equipment. People who attend my engagements clearly know that they are coming to see Susan Onysko, with “Susan” being a fairly standard female name. It continues to shock me every time when people start showing up and make a beeline to my husband to talk to him beforehand about “his” photos! At least I have gotten him to stop making up fake camera terms and settings when they corner him. I find that people rarely take notice of women photographing portraits and weddings. Once travel, wildlife, and a bit of danger are added, women tend to get a lot more of the “were you scared?” type of questions than their male counterparts. It can be a bit infuriating, but as the years go by times will change as they always do.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Family of course deserves the first shoutout. I averaged 150 days of travel for photography per year from 2017-2019. That level of travel requires lots of love and support from my husband, mother-in-law and some very adaptive children. Tom Bol (https://www.tombolphoto.com/) is an amazing photographer whom I have the privilege to call both my mentor and my friend. He is truly the best photography teacher that I have ever met. I attended my first photography workshop with Tom in 2009 at a time when I was a stay-at-home mom with four children all under the age of 11. I was feeling lost at the time with my only identity being that of a Mom. That trip, for the first time in many years, sparked a passion inside of me. I felt that perhaps I might actually have a talent other than motherhood. Photos could be truly mine – made and created by me and me alone. Photography became a lifeline during hard times that was always there for me. I would send anyone wanting to learn any level of photography to Tom, a teacher who engages each student uniquely. He evaluates everyone individually and tailors his approach specifically to them depending on how best they would learn.

Website: https://www.susanonyskophoto.com/ https://cosplay50.susanonyskophoto.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susanonysko/
Twitter: @susanonysko
Facebook: Susan Onysko Photography
Youtube: Susan Onysko Photography
Other: Just to clarify two websites are listed above https://www.susanonyskophoto.com/ https://cosplay50.susanonyskophoto.com/

Image Credits
Spock Cosplay – Spock on Earth (FB)) and Spock on Earth (IG) Harley Quinn Cosplay – MissDovahQuinn (IG) Maleficent Cosplay – Anastazia Nichole (FB) and anastazianichole (IG) Mina Ashido Cosplay Mintea Prince Cosplay (FB) and minteaprince

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