My daily practice is to
witness the light.
My early photography was very personal and intimate, and the camera allowed me to establish an otherwise-elusive emotional connection with my subjects, who were mostly family.
Years later, on a whim, I visited a tea leaf reader who simply told me to get to the sea where I could become part of the expansiveness of the water. I took her advice, and it has informed my work ever since.
Photographing the magnificence of the sea and its ever-shifting plays of light and color not only helped me heal and stretch myself, it eventually led to a more mindful approach in my work.
I now teach Mindful Photography to mentally and emotionally challenged individuals. This work takes my students to a place of vulnerability and openness with their hearts and eyes. Together, we investigate their resulting images and examine how the photographs impact their lives and vice versa.
As I teach, I am inspired by stronger forces of consciousness. My black-and-white work, my everyday photos, the essence of beauty through the darkness, all reveal a sense of honesty, compassion and complexity.
I am driven by the light. My subjects catch my eye through shadow, movement, boldness, introspection and surprise—all adding up to a convergence of possibilities.
My first photographs were of family. They revealed an intimacy and connection that, coupled with the forces of light and shadow, became the trigger points every time I raised my camera.
I was born and raised in Texas, and my early work—all black-and-white, mostly using Tri-X film—was inspired by the works of Eugene Atget and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
This foundation in analog photography instilled in me a sense of commitment, integrity, and purpose. In college, I majored in photojournalism and was deeply influenced by the power of photography to tell stories, as well as the complexity of artists such as Imogen Cunningham, Ruth Bernhard, and Joyce Tenneson.
At 30, I landed a job in San Francisco, and a new visual trajectory appeared in my work. Living on the west coast inevitably led me to photograph water, in all its abstract forms. The forces of the sea had a personal impact on me and as my internal landscape shifted, so did my photography. The result was a body of work around water that reflected its beauty, motion, fluidity, and the unknown.
In 2019, as my day job in public relations was winding down, I was engaged to teach a Mindful Photography class at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital’s Mental Health Rehabilitation Center.
Teaching this class named what I instinctively knew but had never articulated—that the process of photography itself could heal. (It certainly had helped me throughout my life.) Now, I saw the power of the medium as a tool to help others, especially those coping with mental illness.
As an artist, I feel a responsibility to use my art in service to the world. Mindful Photography has enabled me to do that.
September 2016 PhotoPlace Gallery, Middlebury VT – Personal Narrative, Juried by Susan Burnstine
September 2014 NIDO Gallery, San Francisco CA – Land + Earth, Curated by Alex Ray
July 2013 PhotoPlace Gallery, Middlebury VT – Water, Elemental & Fundamental, Juried by Laura Moy, Photolucia
January 2013 Center for Photographic Art, Carmel CA – Juried Exhibition, Juried by Dean Brierly, B&W Magazine
January 2013 See Exhibition Space, Long Island NY – Juried by Emily K., Director
June 2012 Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series, San Francisco CA – Juried by Daniel Simmons, Andre Guichard, Charley Palmer
June 2012 Surf Spot, Pacifica CA – Restaurant Opening, Curated by Derek Burns
October 2010 5 Claude Lane Gallery, San Francisco CA – Retrospective Work (solo show), Curated by Leila Seppa
December 2010 5 Claude Lane Gallery, San Francisco CA – “A Community in the Making” non-profit for the Women’s Building
May 2009 Kelly Street Gallery, Half Moon Bay, CA – Juried by Deborah Penrose
May 2007 San Francisco City Hall, San Francisco CA – Curated by Louise Dawson
April 2006 Texas A&M, Women Alumni Invitational, Commerce TX – Juried by Stan Goodwin
Accolades & Publications
- Medium, “The Motivation to March for Women’s/Equal Rights for All” 2018
- Our Town: Best of the New Fillmore – included in retrospective 2018
- Ms. Magazine, Online Blog Personal Pictorial Essay on Gloria Steinem Impact 2017
- Medium, “Gloria Steinem’s Indelible Impact on Me” 2017
- Design Good Community, Suzie Biehler Photography, featured in “Creative People Rockin’ Their Later Years” October 2015
- CBS Bay Area Local, “How to Take Better Pictures with Your Phone” (expert column) July 2015
- BayKeeper (Protectors of San Francisco Bay) Newsletter, “Water Photography for Clean Water Organization” July 2014
- Juried Exhibition Catalog, Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, CA January 2013
- The New Fillmore, San Francisco pictorial essays 2009 – 2020
- San Francisco Magazine, Half Moon Bay Coast July 2012
- Decline Magazine, Photo of Shelby Smith, biker feature March 2012
- Lumosity, self-published book May 2006
- 7×7 Magazine, “Bring on the Night,” top 25 honored November 2006
- Austin American Statesman, Napa Valley story/photographs June 1986
- Suburban News, pictorial essays, Dallas, TX 1975 – 1977
- East Texan Newspaper, A&M staff photographer, Commerce, TX 1973 – 1974
- First Place, Sigma Delta Chi Photographic Contest, East Texas State, Commerce, TX May 1974
- Second Place, Sam Houston State Judged Photographic Salon May 1974
Zuckerberg San Francisco Hospital’s Mental Health Rehabilitation Center, April 2019- June 2019
Teacher of Mindful Photography
The New Fillmore Newspaper, San Francisco, January 2010 – December 2019
Susie Biehler Consultancy, San Francisco, December 1984 – December 2019
Public Relations & Photography
Suburban News (subsidiary of the Dallas Morning News) Dallas, TX, 1976 – 1978
News Editor & Darkroom Manager
Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA – The Alchemy & Intimacy of Photography, Andy Wilson 2018
Business of Photography, San Francisco – Hollman Turner 2011
Rayko Photo Center, San Francisco – Documentary Workshop, 2009
Sedona Photographic Workshop, Arizona – Jan Phillips, 2004
New England Photography Workshop, 1980
Texas A & M at East Texas State University, Commerce, TX – Photography & Journalism 1972 – 74
Texas Women’s University, Denton, Texas – Journalism major, 1970 – 72
The Women’s Building, San Francisco, CA 2010 – Present
The Women’s Building is a women-led community space that advocates self-determination, gender equality and social justice. It is an anchor institution in San Francisco’s Mission District, welcoming 25,000 clients and visitors each year to use in-house programs and gain access to social services, attend workshops, take wellness classes, volunteer, hold celebrations, and deepen their community connections.
The Friendship Line, Institute of Aging, San Francisco, CA 2016 – Present
For more than 45 years, Friendship Line has been a vital lifeline for people aged 60 years and older and adults all ages living with disabilities and/or mental challenges, to connect with a caring, compassionate voice ready to listen and provide emotional support. As the nation’s only accredited hotline of its kind, the need for this service has increased with the arrival of COVID-19 and the host of emotional well-being issues related to social isolation.
Coalition for Homelessness, San Francisco, CA
The Coalition on Homelessness organizes homeless people and front line service providers to create permanent solutions to homelessness, while working to protect the human rights of those forced to remain on the streets.
Their work is different from the many direct service provider nonprofits. The Coalition outreachs to all areas of San Francisco where homeless people congregate and live to gather input on homeless policy in San Francisco. They are primarily funded by individuals with no government funding.
Suzie Biehler Photography is donating 10 per cent of all photography sales on this site to benefit this valued organization.