From the photos posted on her blog, Susannah Conway, a 41-year-old Londoner, might be described as the next Diane Arbus creating meaningful moments of her passions, her loves, her city. In stark simplicity, she shares images both real yet deeply personal. Her writing too draws you in as if reading the journal of a good friend, true writing from the heart.
As the owner of a creative online business, Conway wears many hats—author, photographer, blogger, teacher. She works alone in her flat and refills the well with a coffee and sessions with her journal. A prolific journaler since age 11 and a self-confessed stationary addict, she owns many, her favorite being Moleskine notebooks and Filofax binders. But she’s never met a notebook she didn’t fall in love with as she touts the cute, unusual ones on her blog from time to time.
Conway is the author of Londontown: A Photographic Tour of the City’s Delights, This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart, co-author of Instant Love: How to Make Magic and Memories with Polaroids, along with over five e-courses which she teaches independently on her blog.
I was an active reader of her blog, admiring the simple beauty of her photography, and one day I joined her conversation and enrolled in her Unraveling e-course. The course explored the photography of our lives and journal prompts were included for those inclined to write as well. We shared our photographs on Flickr and Conway not only led the course but shared her photo interpretations of the prompts. Conway gives of herself unselfishly in both art and as an instructor. Unraveling is about peeling the layers back of our inner onions, embracing the good and the awful truths, and discovering and nurturing our gifts.
“Unraveling is not a bad thing. It’s not coming undone or losing control. It’s a letting go in the best possible way, untangling the knots that hold you back, unwrapping the gifts you’ve hidden far too long, unearthing the potential that’s always been there, finally ditching the labels and should-haves, and letting yourself be what you were always meant to be,” says Conway in her book This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart.
Conway, an art school trained photographer who also lauds a journalism degree, worked in fashion journalism in London when her life was struck by something unthinkable. In her early thirties, her boyfriend at the time died of a heart attack. This launched her life into a period of bereavement. She fled London for England’s coast—trying to reclaim her fragile sense of self by the sea. Through working with a therapist, she began to look deeper, look backwards, and examine her life, her relationships, her family, her values. Through journaling and therapy, she began to gain more and more clarity, self awareness, and insight into her own creative process. She began to discover a way to use her talents of writing and photography in making a living. And the name Unraveling stems from the song by the Weepies of the same title which she heard one day as the idea for her future business clicked. First she offered it in person at a recreation center but as she wrote about it on her blog, which began about her grief and keeps evolving, her readership grew and people outside of England wanted in on it. Unraveling went online, then going viral. It wasn’t long before Conway was supporting herself again.
Every week she ate lunch out with friends or by herself always planning her budding business. Her blog caught the attention of a publisher and she gleaned the opportunity to write a book proposal for This I Know. Her friendships online led to her collaborating on another book on Polaroids as well as creating the Red Fox retreats housed at a castle in England.
Today, she recently completed another book, Londontown, after lugging her Polaroid SX-70, and other antique cameras in her collection—not to mention her iPhone around London documenting the city and its peoples. When not working, she spends her time with her 4-year-old nephew, Noah, and helps her sister with the new baby.
You can read her blog, enroll in her courses, and/or buy her books at http://www.susannahconway.com.