Susan Theis

In this post, we take the time to meet Susan "Susie" Theis owner of Susan Theis Creative. 


Instagram: @susietheis

Susie Theis is a filmmaker and photographer based out of Northern California and Utah. She initially fell in love with capturing life through the lens as a teenager while developing photos in the darkroom. Now, she specializes in telling stories through film. Her work has taken her on adventures all over the globe, from sailing in Greenland to skiing in Japan. When she’s not traveling, she likes to spend as much time as possible outside.

Professional Photography 

What was your first camera?

Pentax 35mm.

Where did you start your professional career as a photographer?

Someone once told me that if you are paid to take photographs, it means you’re a professional. I think the first time I was ever paid for a shoot was doing senior photos in high school, and then I continued to study art and advertising in college. After school, I moved to Park City to work for Ski Racing Media (then Ski Racing Magazine). While I was working for the publication, I began shooting video for our advertisers, and I quickly became obsessed with it. I became a full-time freelancer about a year and a half ago.

Do you specialize in a specific style of photography?

While I think it’s become somewhat of a buzzword these days, I would say I specialize in storytelling. I studied journalism and have always felt intensely curious about different people and cultures, so that’s typically where I turn my lens to. In the last couple of years, I’ve narrowed my focus even more to action sports. I absolutely love working with female athletes, specifically. 

Do you have a favorite style of photography as a fan?

I gravitate towards dark and moody portraits. I specifically favor medium and large format black and white photography. Early on, I was very inspired by Vivian Maier and Sally Mann. In recent years I’ve enjoyed the work of photographers like Niki Boon and Alec Soth.

Do you travel for photography assignments?

I travel about 50% of the time for my work. 

Favorite place your work has been published?

I don’t do much print or editorial work at the moment. However, I love seeing a video project come to life and get shared across the web. Most recently, I worked on a project for [outdoor sporting brand} Scott with a professional mountain biker, Kate Courtney.

A skier airs off a natural feature in the backcountry of British Columbia.

Professional mountain biker Kate Courtney nearing the end of a 547 mile, seven-day ride along the coast of California.

What details do you believe make the best photographs?

I think the best photographs are the ones that make the viewer stop and ask a question. Either about the subject, themselves, an issue, etc. 

A local boat flies across the harbor just past midnight in Ilulissat, Greenland.

Three skiers spot their lines before dropping into the red rocks of Southern Utah.

Life in Park City

What about Park City inspires your work as a local?

To me, the most inspiring thing about Park City is its people. It’s a tight-knit community that shares the same values. While it’s hard to ignore its aesthetic beauty, I find my work is more inspired by the individuals I meet and have the opportunity to portray. 

What is your favorite season in Park City as a photographer?

The line “came for the winter, stayed for the summer” is very true for me. I absolutely love the summer light in Utah. While I am a skier first and foremost, I’ve really grown to love summers here the most. 

What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

When I’m not working, I like to be skiing, mountain biking, climbing, hiking, or spending time on the water. Really anything outside. In the summer I love to go for a mountain bike ride and end on Main Street to grab food with friends afterward. If it’s the wintertime, I love touring up Park City Mountain and skiing down to High West for a drink afterward.

What is the most interesting job/assignment?

Tough question! I have been extremely blessed to travel all over the world for my job. Last fall, I was hired to document a research expedition with the local non-profit Ocearch. We were anchored off the coast of Nova Scotia for just under a month researching white sharks. On that specific trip, the crew was able to take samples from 11 sharks. 

Roughly halfway through the 25 mile approach to the base of Gannett Peak.

Do you have a favorite trail for photographs?

I love shooting from the Park City Mountain ridgeline. Sunrise on Jupiter Peak never disappoints. 

Sunrise views from the top of Jupiter Peak.

Taking it all in from the top of Park City.

Do you have any advice on taking photographs in Park City?

My advice would be to scout locations ahead of time, if possible. If I am planning to shoot in a location, I’ll go for a hike with friends there first or scope it out myself. I would also say make an effort to get up for sunrise. It’s worth the sleepiness. 

A summer night in the Uintas. 

For fun, we had to ask:

Where is your favorite place in town to eat or grab a drink?

My favorite place to grab a drink or a bite to eat is Handle

How many photos have you taken of/at the McPolin Barn?

Haha, let’s just say I have stock footage from every season at the “white barn.” It’s a classic Park City landmark that clients frequently request.

More of Susie Theis's Work

Paradise is a backcountry hut in the Selkirks

The beginning of a long walk home from the summit of Gannett Peak.

Crossing Taggart Lake on the way home from a day in the Tetons.

A sunset photo mission on Devil’s Castle.

A bluebird day in Canada.

After a week of backcountry bliss, our ride out of the Selkirks arrives.

For more of Susie Theis' work, connect with her online:


Instagram: @susietheis