WHAT DO YOU DO?
During the week, you’ll catch me shooting commercial photos for Raygun as well as managing the Kansas City location. I toggle between product photos, model/staged shoots and reaching out and working with organizations within our community who I then arrange shoots with - such as Planned Parenthood Great Plains, Kansas City Public Schools, and Jewish Vocational Services. On the occasional Saturday, you will find me working behind the counter at Sage Center for Yoga and Healing Arts. And by working, I mean hanging out with the amazing staff and clients. This place is peaceful to the max and their Apothecary shop is full of beautiful goods.
Outside of my full-time gig, I’m a freelance photographer. You’ll catch me collaborating with the lovely Sex + Ice Cream, photographing a high school senior, or documenting an event for organizations such as Stand Up KC - whose purpose goes well beyond the Fight For $15. This organization is fucking amazing (can I say fuck?) but if I get into that, we’ll need a million more pages of the interview so I can rant about abolishing classism, racism, sexism, this-crummy-ism and that-crummy-ism, the destruction of our environment.
In my downtime though, it’s mostly full of hanging out and adventuring with my sweetheart Keith, as well as lots of petting our five cats Tartou, Violet, Zombie, Myrna and Aldo, watching movies (I’m obsessed with documentaries - love me some Ava DuVernay), getting my hands dirty in my teeny front yard we turned into an urban garden, volunteering in a kindergarten classroom at Whittier Elementary, or attending activist/educational meetings usually arranged by SURJ KC or Stand Up KC. I’m not good at sitting still, I guess. I'm still figuring out how to slow down and keep myself balanced. I need more yoga and Headspace in my life. Ooh - but I’ve just started learning how to film and edit shorts. Super pumped to document some radical people. Been scheming on this concept for some years now. Ugh, so much to do yet so little time. Did I mention that I’m not good at sitting still?!?
I keep it simple. Like, crazy simple. In the mornings I rinse my face with water and give it a spray with neroli hydrosol or witch hazel and that’s it. Make-up is a rarity anymore but when I use it, it pretty much only involves filling in the eyebrows (thanks 2000’s for the over tweezing fad!) with whatever brand floats my boat at the time. Right now that’s Anastasia and Glossier. If I’m gettin' fancy or want to give the illusion of “hey, I make time in the mornings to present myself to the world - take me seriously, I’m a professional, no really, I swear”... I will use a little Smashbox or Glossier concealer under my eyes, throw on some mascara, give my face a little dusting of Smashbox powder and hydrate my lips with whatever gloss or lip balm I have laying about. Do you have that too? A million balms in a million places. Balms, balms everywhere. “Oh, what’s this? Just a balm I left in my jean jacket a year ago. Whaddya know, it’s still good!” Anyway - In the eve, I wash my face with Zum lemon and geranium gentle face cleanser then give it another spray with hydrosol and apply ISUN sapphire facial oil from Sage’s Apothecary shop. Simple, simple, simple. Gives me more time to pet cats and sip matcha while watching cardinals yell at me from the bird feeder. As far as hair goes, simple is the name of the game here too. Hair product is a super rarity. Once a week, she gets washed with a natural shampoo and lately, I’ve been giving her some love via apricot oil and an ACV (apple cider vinegar) rinse. Every so often, I refresh the green color. Right now it’s pretty faded and looks more like I’ve been spending too much time in a chlorine pool. And I’m ok with that. I’m pretty ‘whatever’ about my hair.
As soon as you walk in our home, you can gather a lot about us by looking at our surroundings. It’s pretty evident that we’re a nostalgic, sentimental couple with an odd sense of humor. Our walls are covered by art made by our friends and family or a show we’ve attended. My favorite being when you first walk in, hanging above our records - a giant, bright painting by my dad entitled “Dancing Nematodes”. My personal additions to the walls are a painting by Tilly Woodward, an autographed Fiona Apple screen print, an antique African mask I picked up at Boutique Majid while in Morocco, a 1929 Ladies’ Home Journal shampoo ad that my parents always had in the house while I was a kiddo, a Jon Pearson painting (gifted by one of my best babes!), Jen Leatherby’s FORT promo poster as well as a Jen Leatherby portrait of my family, and a professional collage from the early 90s made of my kid brother with a football in hand and a fire-fighter helmet on his head that deserved more glory than sitting in a closet at my folks’ place. God, I get such a kick out of the collage.
It’s pretty easy to guess whose books and records are whose on our shelves. My literature is heavily filled with social justice topics and women authors. My personal records range anywhere from Beatles, Lauryn Hill, Fiona Apple, and Sampha to Slipknot, Dolly Parton, Beck and anything that Psychic Sounds puts out. ‘Waking up and calmly starting my day’ album: Tsege Mariam Gebru put out by Mississippi Records. ‘Blast my face off with rad energy’ album: Dilly Dally’s Sore. ‘I’ve had a long day and need to chill’ album: Beck’s Morning Phases. ‘Help, I can’t slow down my brain’ album: anything Beguiling Isles by Psychic Sounds. ‘Dance and sing at the top of my lungs’ artists: Whitney Houston, Modeselektor, Missy E, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Heavy rotation currently in the car: Dudu Tassa and the Kuwaitis, Rodrigo Amarante, or a classic Keith Rich mix CD.
Our place is littered with things that make us happy, things that are attached to memories from childhood or our little worldly adventures. Our fridge is covered with photobooth strips, Moab magnets, homemade calendars, peculiar souvenirs. And then we have plants. And the occasional hairball. I don’t know, it’s a hodgepodge but it’s our personal sanctuary and scrapbook.CLOSET
Shoot girl, my closet is as obscure and inconsistent as my home. I have my neon Adidas kicks from 10 years ago along with my simple black boots I picked up while in Copenhagen. There are my Preservation beauties, Headhunter and Raygun screen printed tees, Salvation Army/Goodwill/hand-me-down oddities, cat socks, an assortment of hats, pretty things, weird things, patterned things, comfy things. I’m all over the place. Depends on my mood but anymore, my main goal is comfort. Especially if I’m shooting photos that day. The pieces you’ll never catch me without are my pearl wedding ring along with both my parents’ high school graduation pendants.
If I’m not being gifted second-hand gems from my mama Jax, I limit my new purchases to either thrift or sustainable/thoughtfully produced items like Veja or independent makers. Or at least I try to as much as possible. There’s too much cheap garbage out there that is mass produced by workers who aren’t paid fair wages or given proper rights. I don’t want to participate in that bullshit. Can I just add, that’s why I love what you have going on at Preservation so much. Quality, sustainable, thoughtful curated products. Anyway, I rarely shop because I’m either rummaging through a thrift store or saving up to drop some money on a piece that may be a bit more pricey but it wasn’t made at the expense of someone’s dignity being stolen. Leave it to me to close on a bit like that. Sums me up pretty honestly, I suppose. But hey look, there’s a cat on my lap and that’s nice.
- As told to Preservation
Suzanne Corum-Rich photographed at her home in Kansas City, MO by Nicole Lorenson