Suzy Holman is single-handedly changing Instagram for us. Yes, it’s that bold of a statement. She’s a wife, mother to four, and business owner of six-figure companies. She owns Denver Photo Collective, a photography and event studio, and is a social media influencer utilizing Instagram as her marketing and sales platform.
As we know, Instagram is a multi-faceted outlet - it’s a mashup of business and personal, often with people like Suzy infusing their very beautifully curated feeds with a little bit of everything. A part of being public on the platform means that you often get trolls and haters who trickle in, but after some particularly heart-breaking outlash, Suzy had had enough.
The beginning of June marked a month of reclaiming Instagram for her. That meant shutting off her public setting, simultaneously shutting off her influencer income, and taking her 85,000+ following on a behind-the-scenes tour of her real life. It included details on being an influencer (yes, she even talked money), a working mom (yes, she publicly potty trained her son), and a woman owning and living her life as is (yes, that included marital arguments and a lot of McDonald’s diet coke). She’s just ended her month of going off-script, and has lived to tell about it. Check out my chat with Suzy Holman below about her month of reclaiming Instagram and what it means to live an authentic life.
Can you share a bit about the work you do, and how you got started as an influencer on Instagram?
I am a photographer by trade, owning two photography studios, so what started out as a place to showcase my photography work via Instagram became me showing my personal photography work, and then morphed into showing my personal life. That led me to getting some sponsorships, and it snowballed from there.
You decided to abandon a public Instagram account for a month, giving up business deals and opportunities in order to make your account private and be able to share the reality of your daily life. What prompted this month of reclaiming Instagram for you?
I had a few really nasty experiences with followers and I kind of just snapped. The bigger my following grew, the more trolls commented on my posts or via DMs. People who don’t know me, and clearly don’t know my heart, would send nasty messages. Even knowing they’re just negative people, what they say still hurts my heart. Strangers were telling me I was a terrible person who didn’t deserve to have children, among other horrible things, and that just made me snap.
I had to ask myself, “Why am I putting my heart on display for this? Am I going to change because of these people? No. All they’re doing is hurting my heart.” I felt an overwhelming feeling of being done, and didn’t have this going private experience as a plan, it just sort of happened.
I had to break a lot of work contracts, but just couldn’t do it anymore.
What have you learned from this experiment?
It’s been so wonderful to see that the more you put yourself out there in an authentic way, the more people are drawn to you. It’s a rare thing to really show up as you are, but it also takes practice. You can’t just show up one day as your most vulnerable self, you have to do it over and over again.
I also realized that if there was anything in my life that made me feel shame, or cringe a little, then that is what I needed to show.
Once you put that out there, it erases it for you and helps remove that shame. That’s where the magic is, and that has been a huge lesson for me. It’s been so freeing!
Are there any changes in your work or life that you plan to make moving forward as a result of this month?
Yes. I’m only going to be present on Instagram now for one week on and one week off. I wanted to really put some focus back on my real life and be more conscious of how I spend my time.
Do you have any ideas for keeping this movement going?
I wish that I could inspire others to do this one-week-on and one-week-off plan with me. We are so connected to our phones, that we miss so much of what’s happening right in front of us. There’s a lot of power in being connected, but there’s a super power in not being connected.
We all have Instagram fatigue, but it requires an act of bravery to say, “I don’t care, I’ll be back in a week.” I wish other influencers would do this to show that real life is more important than Instagram life.
What advice can you give us when it comes to this whole Instagram world and living more authentically?
Practice being vulnerable and real. Just do it, and it will get easier. You will be amazed at how much closer you get to those around you. Showing up as your most authentic self is the most powerful tool you have in relationships.
Photos courtesy of Suzy Holman