News Sports Opinion Photos Social Classified Obits Contact

Small Business Spotlight: Suzannah's Photography

Staff Report

Suzannah Solomon Wilson has photographed an uncountable number of occasions and people in and around Tallassee from weddings and dance recitals to babies and ball players.

Suzannah's Photography on James Street

Suzy owns Suzannah's Photography, a Tallassee institution since 1985.

Her first interest in photography began when she was given a 35mm Mamiya camera for her 15th birthday. As a Tallassee High School student, she took pictures for the Talla-Hi News, the Tiger Tracks yearbook and the Tallassee Tribune.

Suzy said that one of her greatest inspirations was P. H. Polk, a longtime photographer for Tuskegee Institute. Polk photographed George Washington Carver and many other famous people.

"I met him when I was in  high school for an interview for the Talla-Hi News," she remembered. "He had an exhibit at the Corcoran. He gave my parents and me all the original prints from the exhibit and told  us to 'take them to school and let the students see them.' So we did. I can't begin to imagine how much a single print would have cost. From that day on, I told myself I wanted to be like him."

Her parents, the late Jack and Olivia Solomon, were well known folklorists and teachers. The Solomons wrote several books, and Suzy followed suit.

She edited "More Memorable Tallasseeans," and wrote "The Picture Lady - Confessions of a Small Town Photographer."

Chamber of Commerce representatives (from left): Jerry Cunningham, Torrie Suggs and Laura Leigh Peters presenting Suzy with the Francis Wagnon Volunteer Service Award earlier this year.

"I spent a good part of my childhood and teenage years accompanying my parents all over central and southeast Alabama collecting epitaphs and listening to people tell stories," Suzy recalled. "When my parents put a camera in my hand, I began my own journey of documenting the world around me."

After all, 'a picture is worth a thousand words.'

"As a photographer in a small town, my focus has always been the people and  places of Alabama, particularly Tallassee, where I grew up. I feel a strong desire to leave behind a visual history, whether it’s a simple school picture of one of the thousands of children I’ve photographed, or a photograph of an old church." 

The award-winning "My Rosalie"

Suzy's roots in Tallassee go back to her great grandfather, Isaac Pienezza.

"(He) was an Italian stonemason who came to Tallassee to work on the mill," Suzy noted. "He stayed and fell in love with a Tallassee girl. My family, particularly my mother and my great uncle, Bill Pienezza, instilled a great love for Tallassee in me."

After studying journalism and photography at the University of Alabama and graduating in '85, she returned to her hometown to start Suzannah's Photography.

The business was originally downtown on Sistrunk and moved to James in 1989. She moved up James Street to her current studio in 2005.

Suzy is a member of the Professional Photographers of America. Her photo, "My Rosalie," was awarded Best in Show at the Kelly Fitzpatrick exhibit in Wetumpka last year. Earlier this year, she was the recipient of the Francis Wagnon Volunteer Award by the Tallassee Chamber of Commerce.

She is president of the THS Alumni Association, local coordinator for Alabama Communities of Excellence, vice chair of the Tallassee Housing Authority and a member of the Tallassee Chamber of Commerce. Suzy is married to Tallassee city councilman Darrell Wilson.

"I’m a realist; I like to photograph what I see, not create an illusion or fantasy. I grew up shooting film long before digital enhancement tools were invented, so, although I may use some photoshop tools, I usually compose and light during my session.

"I hope when I'm gone people remember me as the lady who documented life in a small town in Alabama."

"Fall on the Tallapoosa"