Susu Hauser: The Woman Behind the Camera

Lucky for us, award-winning professional photographer and cinematographer Susu Hauser has made her home in the “green and vibrant” Town of Cary.

The youngest daughter of a superior court judge and a Hungarian refugee, Cary resident Susu Hauser — a self-described visual storyteller — has been surrounded by inspiring narratives since birth.

“My father presided over many criminal cases, but devoted 20 years to domestic violence cases. He made such a mark that the mayor named May 4 Larry Hauser Day,” said Hauser. “My mother was a Hungarian refugee during the Hungarian Revolution and escaped Budapest in 1956. I lived with her stories of the escape and the resilience and strength that she showed over the years.”

Inspired by her parents, Hauser was never afraid to get her feet wet and try her hand at everything. As a young girl, she did gymnastics, dance, piano, jewelry-making, swimming, you name it.

“I really gravitated toward dance and the arts, and that continued through middle and high school. I was always an individual,” said Hauser. “There’s a quote that says, ‘Dare to be different; dare to be yourself.’ I think I lived that to a T.”

Hauser’s originality and passion for new experiences caught the eye of her high school counselor, who suggested that she go into communications in college. Hauser took the advice to heart, earning her degree in visual media communications and a minor in studio art at American University. After finishing up an internship with The George Michael Sports Machine, Hauser took her creativity and spirit of adventure all the way to Los Angeles.

Susu Hauser’s illustrious career spans the globe, quite literally — including a full-length conservation documentary concerning undiscovered species in Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains National Park. Contributed photo.

“I had zero connections in LA, but I knew it was where I needed to be to do studio television,” said Hauser. “California was calling, and I moved three months after graduation.”

Like many LA transplants, Hauser worked a variety of odd jobs to pay rent, from dog walking and catering to stints at Starbucks and Jamba Juice. It was during those early days that Hauser met Maria Jovanovic, artist and founder of MJ Atelier, an LA-based art studio.

“I have had the honor of knowing Susu for almost 20 years,” said Jovanovic. “She became the most amazing sidekick apprentice! Susu reminds me to keep searching for the significance in what I do, to enjoy the process and find small ways to touch and inspire others along the way. The impact on my life is like her art: hauntingly beautiful!”

Although Hauser enjoyed her time working as an artist assistant, it was her longtime passion for dance that led to her first job in the industry.

“I guess this is a thread in my life: If I follow my passions, they’ll eventually lead me to where I need to be,” said Hauser. “I was at a jazz class in Studio City, and I met a girl there who was the coordinator for Deadliest Catch, so I sent her my resume and hounded her. That’s how I got my first production assistant job at Original Productions, which produced some of the top-rated reality shows on TV.”

Hauser adds wildlife photography to her expansive portfolio on one of her many treks across Africa. Contributed photo.

Hauser climbed every rung on the ladder on her way to the top, from production assistant all the way to producer — going out of her way to make a name for herself in the docu-reality world. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, going from point A to B wasn’t always easy, but Hauser’s persistence and resilience paid off.

“I’ve never known Susu to complain about the long hours and hard work that goes into creating her art. She is almost oblivious to the elements and the discomforts encountered in many places and remains humble and honest in all aspects of her life,” said Jovanovic.

If you ask Hauser for outlandish career highlights, she’s got them in droves. Filming in a Piper Cub with the engine cut out and coasting down for Discovery Channel’s Airplane Repo? Done. Shooting out of US Coast Guard choppers with California Fish and Game for National Geographic? Been there, done that. Not to mention shooting off the back of Harleys for the History Channel, on top of SUVS across Atigun Pass in Alaska, or filming NASA physicists who designed instruments for the Voyager mission and Maya women in the highlands of Guatemala.

“I’ve filmed in every walk of life, every environment,” said Hauser. “I’m no shrinking violet, and I love to live life to the fullest. I think as a person that values freedom and curiosity, this career has fit me perfectly, and it’s allowed me to tap into both of those.”

After spending years on the road bouncing from show to show, Hauser reevaluated what she wanted out of life and founded The Invisible Lens alongside her ex-husband, with a mission to create meaningful and impactful programming to enhance communities — especially in the areas of conservation, environmental and philanthropic filmmaking. During this time, Hauser produced a full-length documentary about undiscovered species in Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains National Park and a short documentary called Voices of the Inside Passage about transboundary mining between southeast Alaska and British Columbia (which later went to the Colorado Environmental Film Festival in 2018).

Silhouetted against a deep orange sky, Hauser quietly captures magnificent moments in her life as a visual storyteller. Contributed photo.

Following their passions came with a price, however; Hauser and her then-husband Byron Goggin found themselves financially squeezed and decided to move to North Carolina after a brief spell in Colorado.

“We did a lot of searches on livability, and I loved what I was finding about Cary in particular,” said Hauser. “The Cary Arts Academy was a huge selling point, as well as all the recreation and greenways. There’s just a vibrance. After just a week in Cary, I knew that I could make it home.”

The pandemic brought a lot of change to Hauser’s personal life and career. The dissolvement of her marriage meant the end of The Invisible Lens, and Hauser found herself hitting the reset button on her life. After losing her job as the multimedia specialist for the AKC, Hauser threw herself into volunteer work, creating the Women Making Change video for Dress for Success, volunteering with the Living Arts Collective in Durham, and picking up freelance work with the AKC.

“Susu is a cinematographer and storyteller who is never afraid to challenge the status quo, and her creativity seems to have no limits,” said Magen Leavell, AKC’s online education manager. “Using the American Kennel Club’s historical records, archival footage, oral histories, interviews, and more, Susu brought stories to life in a new and innovative format for a new generation of viewers.”

Prior to the pandemic, Hauser had looked into producing a documentary about the empowerment of women through fair trade and the artisan market. Unfortunately, Hauser’s idea had everything to do with travel, and Covid had different plans. With extra time on her hands, Hauser’s endless thirst for knowledge led her to Photographers Without Borders.

“I’ve observed Susu’s infl uences, and she elevates everyone around her in a holistic way,” said Magen Leavell, online education manager for the AKC.

“The stars aligned, and I found an assignment that was in the Guatemalan highlands working with Maya women who are skilled in textiles and embroidery. It hit all of the elements — transformation through art, empowerment of women through art, and empowerment of Indigenous cultures,” said Hauser.

During her time in Guatemala, Hauser was able to document the artistry and impact of Multicolores, a nonprofit supporting Maya women in their process of self-discovery and artistic development. Hauser now hopes to find a venue for a fully immersive multimedia exhibit, featuring embroidery, video, photos, and even sound effects from the area.

“I feel that everyone has a starting line in life, and I was very blessed to have started with so many opportunities,” said Hauser. “I want to pay that forward and expose others to life’s joys and life’s offerings. I want to focus on projects that empower women and girls, in particular.”

“There’s a great W.E.B. Du Bois quote that says, ‘There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise,’ and I’ve seen that in all corners of the country and the world. And I want to show people, because those women inspire me to keep going.”

If you are interested in learning more about Hauser’s mission to level the playing field for everyone, especially women and girls, or to just see and appreciate her work, visit

Click to learn more about Susu Hauser and work.

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