We had the good fortune of connecting with Suzaine Aguirre Acuna and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Suzaine, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
When I was little, I remember my mom and dad seemed to have it all together – family, friends, careers. And I remember thinking, when I’m older, I’ll know how to do it all, just like they did. I’ll be able to balance my life and career.

Since I started working in film and photo, my work life balance has definitely changed. At the start of my career, I was fresh out of college and wanted to take everything on. I worked on all the sets I can be on and tried to learn from my experiences. Back then it was easy to prioritize work and a career in production. Not yet married and no kids, that was a pretty easy feat to do. Flash forward to 11 years later, with work, plus one husband, a toddler, and a brand new baby – lots have been added to my balancing beam.

Through the years, I have still been able to work on a lot of jobs and also be home most evenings to put my little one to bed. I’ve been fortunate in that.

I can’t say I have a great method to balancing it all, because I don’t. I do try to give my all with what I am doing at that moment, and make sure to find time within the day to fulfill my other duties in life, whether it’s working, playing with the kiddos, or household stuff like folding laundry. And of course, when I can, I will be strategic with my day and “multitask.”

Don’t think I’m quite at the balancing act level of my parents (as viewed by a younger me) but I’m pretty happy with how I’m doing it so far. It’s led me to my current body of work and a happy little family.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a cinematographer. Since watching Amelie in high school, I decided that my future was in cinematography. I fell in love with visual storytelling through film, How composition, movement, and color can express so much. I thought “If a photo speaks a thousand words, imagine how much can be expressed in a film.”

My journey with cinematography took a few detours through other departments, As a film major in college, I took every chance to work on a set for the student films being made. I also took the opportunity to take every photo class available. After college, I interned at a small camera house and started working at a digital retouching facility that worked on the BluRay re-releases for older films. There I learned how to view a film with a quality control mindset. I’d be able to spot a dusty frame with ease. From there, I moved on to working in visual effects, with on set vfx teams from Rhythm and Hues, Weta, and MPC. This role gave me the chance to work for on set visual effects teams and see that film go through the whole visual effects post process, from filming to delivery. While on these features, I got to witness first hand how some of the top cinematographers work, how their film was being shot, how scenes were lit, and what gear was currently being used. After a few years exclusively working in vfx, I started working at Industrial Colors. There, I worked with some of the greatest photo and video teams that created a lot of the commercial and editorial visuals that we see in magazines, billboards, online ads, social media etc. Here I gained more experience with beauty and fashion. I loved that I was able to have experienced working on all types of shoots. I feel like all my past set experiences, from photo to feature, had added a little something to my tool belt.

I am currently repped by Neer Motion as one of their DPs. I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to work on projects that range from beauty to tv promo spots. With my past experiences, I feel that my cinematic, technical, and photo background add to my current style of shooting.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d be the friend that would suggest Disneyland for the best time ever, and then follow up with another theme park, Universal Studios. And coming from the valley, we end the trip with a stop at Black Market Liquor.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My family. My mom was a great support when I was starting out. She always believed in me and instilled the idea that I had the skills and determination to get where I wanted. My brother and sister, Sonny and Sancel, are the greatest inspirations. Without them, I wouldn’t have discovered my love of the arts and had the courage to pursue it as a career. My husband, Lenny, is a great supporter and partner. Without his encouragement and contagious passion for film, I wouldn’t be where I am with my work and growing family. And of course my long list of extended family and friends who always believed in me.

Would love to give a shoutout to my agency Neer Motion, especially founder Brent Mata. Not only an amazing cinematographer himself, but a great friend and inspiration. Also a big shoutout to the kind folks at Industrial Color. I had my start there with beauty, fashion, and editorial projects. I’m so thankful for that foundation of work. And lastly, I’d be remiss to not mention my crew from past projects and my reoccurring crew – esp Nate Garcia, Evan Cox, Anthony Yamamoto, and Hans Borg. I am so lucky to work with such a talented and hardworking group of individuals.

Website: www.iamsuzaine.com

Instagram: iamsuzaine

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