Susan Riley Photography | Blog

In My Mind's Eye

Welcome to my musings on the art that emerges from my mind as my photographs become a part of my imagination.


A Miracle

December 29, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

This Christmas portrait of a beautiful young mother-to-be came about as I  researched other portraits online. I have had the red fabric in my studio for some time but had not had a special occasion for its use. The model was wrapped in the fabric and a fan created slight movement. As I assessed the photo I had made, it came to me to create more drama and interest with the satin material. The finishing touches applied to the surface of the print suggest a glamour and grace worthy of this beautiful, expecting woman. At one point as we neared the end of the session, she confessed to feeling a little dizzy. She delivered a healthy baby boy two days later.

Embellished and Adorned

January 28, 2014  •  2 Comments

Norma TalmadgeNorma TalmadgeNorma Talmadge 1922. This is Norma Talmadge, a beautiful silent film star of the early 20th Century. I found the original black and white had been scanned and posted on the internet as I did research on the project resulting in my 'Vintage Beauty' gallery on this site. I loved the dress and the chair and the pose so set out to color enhance Ms. Talmadge and give her new life. After I printed the image on Velvet Fine Art paper by Epson, I applied tiny light-catching materials to replicate the dress ornamentation as it might have appeared in 1919. The finished piece is 16x20 and joins others in my growing collection of glamorous women of the era. The video helps the viewer to imagine how exciting this piece is in person. What do you think?

Bayou Sorrel, Louisiana

July 01, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Bayou Sorrel lies in the heart of the Atchafalaya Basin in southern Louisiana. The basin is the largest refuge for wetland birds in the country and home to some spectacular bald cypress trees. On June 24, 2012, my brother and I went with our guide, Dean Wilson into the swamps to experience the beauty and grandeur of this bayou.


No alligators revealed themselves but herons and egrets stood gracefully posing as we slid by in our small boat. Dean is invested in preserving the old cypress trees from poachers who cut them down for mulch. It has become a problem and thanks to people like this who keep public awareness at the forefront of his protective fight, the native stand like the one pictured above will be safe for the future.


When the motor was turned off and we sat drifting, large birds flew in the distance, beyond my lens, seeking a fresh fishing spot or hoping to catch a crawfish for dinner. There were other small craft with people fishing in some of the nearby channels, but Dean called this one a 'natural 'bayou and for whatever reason, we found ourselves alone here. I couldn't have been happier.


The time was too short and the sky free of clouds, a detail I could do nothing about at the time. Others can be content with what they capture at the instant the shutter clicks, but as for me, I refuse to let limitations such as time and nature encircle me. Who knows. On another day at another time, this might be exactly what Bayou Sorrel looks like.

The Passing Storm

June 14, 2012  •  1 Comment

As I view this in all its 12 inch glory, I am a little disappointed all the details aren't visible as they appear in the 44 inch width of my original. Oh well, it can't be helped.


The beach at sunrise has become a bit of an obsession for me. The sky is never the same; the ocean, the birds, the sand and the air can vary dramatically. And so on this particular morning as my friend Viktoria and I arrived to take in the early beauty of the beach at Port Aransas, we were met with a spectacular sight. A storm had recently swept through, taking with it the seaweed we were accustomed to seeing and leaving behind a huge bent log, rising up from the sand like a large sea creature. The sky took my breath away!


Normally one can drive on the sandy road that runs beside the dunes separating the water from the homes. What a shock to see no road at all. A layer of water, maybe 3 inches deep was continually supplied by unusual, low waves.


We parked a distance away and walked in the very shallow water to inspect the beached log and to marvel at the inspirational sky. The wind was whipping Vik's orange dress and hair, taking my voice away with it. She could barely hear me calling out to her to move this way and that. Vik is not a professional model but did a masterful job of creating lyrical movement for my camera.


Perhaps the most beautiful feature of this sunrise was the large opening in the clouds which allowed white light to pour onto my subject. I am still awestruck by the fact, and grateful as well, that there are never many people on the beach at sunrise. On this morning, we had it all to ourselves.

Holding the Sun

June 07, 2012  •  1 Comment

holding the sun How I remember. It was time for sunset and the heavy clouds formed a dark bank all the way to the ocean. This famous beach in Deauville, France, is very wide and my friends and I were enjoying the fact that so few people were at the water's edge. Young Olivia and her brother were playing and running in the shiny, course pebble sand just as the clouds split near the horizon and the sun shone through. I asked Olivia to sit alone for portraits as the vivid pink made a slim line of brilliance behind her.

Her father called out to hold up her hand so the sun would appear to rest in her palm. No! Too high!! No! Too low!! To the left! More to the right! I believe the look on her face is one of concentration as she sought to get it just right.

As quickly as the light came, it was gone with the sinking sun. A little magic later added glow to her hair and hand. Still one of my favorite photos and memories.

beach heron
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