Susan Seubert and the “New Normal” for Travel Oregon
Portland, Oregon-based Susan Seubert, a well-seasoned travel photographer, has contributed to Travel Oregon for over a decade. Even though she’s not one to stay in one place for long, everything changed when lockdowns and quarantines hit home.
Since COVID, I haven't left the state, which is highly unusual. Normally, I work primarily out of Oregon or out of the country.
There have been plenty of things considered highly unusual since COVID: one is the extra focus on being isolated and what it means to connect through and despite that. This focus on connection, juxtaposed with a specific distance, becomes apparent throughout the story Susan tells in her portraits.
Susan has been a travel photographer for over 20 years, shooting restaurants, hiking trails, hotels, and anything else that might have to do with travel. So when she became a contributor to Travel Oregon, it made sense. Throughout her time with Travel Oregon, she has built up a certain level of trust, especially needed amid such uncertainty.
It is now, more than ever, important to have a good client relationship. They want to be able to know, without a doubt, that you will not only deliver a strong body of photos but that you can do so within the safety parameters of the pandemic.
This is a time when many of us are grasping for some sense of stability and not just in our working relationships. Susan's article for Travel Oregon urges us to rely on each other, to help our communities, and accept their help when it's offered.
The story is titled “Kindness to All” and focuses on how small business owners and the hospitality industry are adapting to their new normal.
These small businesses have had to adapt on a more personal scale than larger corporations. When Portland shut down and thousands of people were out of work, Han Ly Hwang put aside the panic and shock many of us felt. Instead, he decided his restaurant, Kim Jong Grillan, should "just feed people for free." Realizing this was no small task, he set up a GoFundMe for his employees to keep them afloat before their unemployment kicked in.
The article touches on this idea of a "work family": usually that encompasses employees and employers, but especially since COVID, it has grown to include the customer as well. Executive Chef Jesse Romero at Solstice talks about how much his job has changed. He went from being a Chef with consistent day-to-day responsibilities to a chef who spends most of his time taking care of people and making sure his staff has what they need in and outside of work.
The stories continue similarly. Small businesses, communities changing, becoming tighter, doing what is necessary, and then doing more than that. Each anecdote makes you feel a little warmer.
It was really nice to see how everyone was so well adjusted. I cannot imagine trying to run a service business right now, so I was impressed by their willingness to adapt to the new normal.
These stories show more than just the resilience of the subjects. They offer a shift in focus. It's less about the bottom line than ever before, even at a time when arguably, the bottom line is much further out of reach. COVID-19, while it has been isolating for many, has also strengthened their sense of community. These communities have created deeper connections between customer and business, between employee and employer, and of course, between photographer and client.
All of the subjects were really excited to be getting some love from the press, and we were excited to feature safe and friendly places for the story.
To read more about these safe and friendly businesses, head to traveloregon.com.
Check out more of Susan's work at sseubert.com.
Check out our other great photographers on our Find Photographers page!