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Redefining professional headshots

A woman in an orange shirt and glasses stands in front of a large sign that reads TEDx NSCC Wa…(the rest is unseen). She is holding cue cards in her hands and appears to be giving a presentation.
Sue Siri talks about her Iris Professional Photo Booth during an NSCC-hosted TEDx event at Waterfront Campus.

“It’s essentially 30 years of industry knowledge in a 20 square foot space,” says Sue Siri (Professional Photography) of her Iris Professional Photo Booth. Her latest location: NSCC’s Waterfront Campus.

Iris Booth is a fully automated photo booth that allows users to achieve a professional quality photo without the professional costs. With just a tap of your foot (on a pedal switch), some touch-ups and cropping, six headshots are emailed to you for closer inspection. Users only pay if they want to keep the images.

As her company approaches a milestone of 40,000 headshots taken, Sue notes that timing was everything. “I think I’m hitting the market at exactly the right time. People are really becoming aware of personal branding and how important it is to have an online brand and I’m right at the intersection of that.”

I think life in general has been my biggest education, but NSCC set me up really well to get into the business and be a professional in the world of photography. I don’t think that would have been possible without NSCC.

Sue Siri

How it all started

Sue says the idea for Iris Booth started as a punchline over dinner.

“A university in town put out a request for proposals to do 2000 grad photos,” says Sue. “I joked that I was going to go to the university, set up my lights and tripod, and record my voice. But, the more I said it, the less I laughed.”

That was just over two years ago. Today, Sue has six Iris Booths— two in Halifax, one in Dartmouth, and three in Toronto—the busiest being at Scotia Square Mall.

With a staff of two, Sue says that the company has room to grow. “We are working in a few American cities to bring this into the U.S. so we are in talks with Nova Scotia Business Inc. to better understand and navigate those markets.”

An entrepreneurial spirit

Sue gives much of the credit for her success to Nova Scotia’s business landscape.

“The nice thing about Nova Scotia is that it has an incredibly supportive environment,” says Sue. “We like those people who take risks and dream big. Nothing like this ever happens by the power of one. I feel like in Toronto I am really going to have to hustle to get this kind of support.”

She adds that for anyone with a business idea, it is important to give it your all.

“When I decided to do this late in life, to start something this big, I knew that I would rather give it 100 percent and fail spectacularly, than to never give it a try.”

When asked what’s next for Iris Booth, Sue says, “I can do anything from here. The world is mine.”

Fast Fact

Sue graduated in 1988 from NSCC Bell Road Campus. In 2005, the nearly 60-year-old campus was torn down. Today, the site is home to Citadel High School.

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