One of my favorite things about being APW’s managing editor and an active sponsor is that I’ve spent the past few years getting to know most of our longtime sponsors on both a personal and a professional level. And the best part of that has been watching how each of these baby businesses have grown from just an inkling of an idea into fully fledged operations of awesome, largely through the support of the APW community. But possibly my favorite success story yet has to be Elissa R Photography in Austin, TX. Elissa has been a longtime reader of APW (she found us while planning her own backyard wedding in 2009), and with huge support from you guys, she was able to leave her desk job earlier this year to pursue photography full time (and man, has she been owning it ever since).
The thing I love most about Elissa (though to be clear, there are many things I love about this lady. She’s proudly nerd-chic with a fantastic dry wit, and happens to be one of the nicest people on the internet) is that her entire business is woven from the thread of APW. In fact, in her very first sponsored post ever (almost two years ago! What?!), Elissa said that the very reason she even started her business was because of you guys:
While I was reading about these smart, practical, talented folks I thought to myself that I would love to support them all, one day, somehow. Being a part of this community has made me feel like I have thousands of awesome sisters—or, at least, some awesome distant cousins.
At the same time I realized that my life was so much better with creativity and art and I picked up my camera again. I realized I could contribute to this fantastic community by being a part of their wedding days. Does that sound insane? That I chose to go into wedding photography because of the people I met here? I admire the seriousness of the love, life, and marriage that these ladies (and gents) have admitted to owning. And hey, if supporting their marriage means being there with a camera in hand, working my butt off, I will totally do it.
So, since Elissa’s been around APW since almost forever and essentially built her business around you, she really understands what makes you tick. She told me, “I got started with my wedding photography business a little after my own wedding. As I moved forward with my business, I tried to keep a hold on what it felt to be a bride. The anxiety, decision-making, budget-balancing countered with the pretty, the shiny, the shoes. I try my best to make sure that my clients are comfortable, and that I’m not a stressor to add to their wedding-planning burden. I want to be a resource—hit me up, ask me questions, request my opinion, be my friend on Facebook so I know what is going on with you!” And while lots of us might say these things, Elissa actually delivers. In fact, there is an entire section of the Elissa R Photography website dedicated to helpful tips and tricks for clients (and I mean, actually helpful, not “help me help you spend more money” kind of helpful).
But where you really see Elissa’s dedication to her clients is in the words they have to say about her when they’re done working together. One recent APW client said:
I think our photos were worth every penny. Elissa’s customer service is absolutely fantastic. She made us feel like her only client and priority, while still being a tremendous and talented professional. Our photos were gorgeous, relaxed, and warm. I’m so glad she was there to capture our day.
I’d seen a few of Elissa’s weddings featured on APW and always thought they were lovely and light-filled. When I started following her blog before we’d even started planning the wedding, I found that she seemed like she’d be a great friend as well. She was the first photographer I sent an inquiry to and the one I was the most excited about getting a positive reply from. I knew that Elissa would be able to capture our wedding the way we remembered it perfectly, and she did. Her ability to be present and sense the personality of the couple, event, and space while still infusing her artistic style into her photographs are her greatest strengths.
Which, honestly, part of me feels like I should have just put up that testimonial today and walked away, because it sums up so clearly how I feel about Elissa’s work.
But the thing is, all of the above is honestly just icing on the Elissa R Photography cake (really, really delicious icing, but still). Because as much as I love Elissa herself, and admire her dedication to APW, what really blows me away is Elissa’s talent (which just continues to develop each year that I know her). The fact is, Elissa’s photos don’t look like anyone else’s: they’re soft without losing focus, romantic without being overly saccharine, and all around just compositionally brilliant. She even does these crazy multi-exposure panoramic composites like the one below, which are surreal without looking unnatural, and completely blow my mind in an I-don’t-even-know-where-to-start-understanding-how-that-was-done kind of way.
And since Elissa is all about paying it forward with her business, she’s hoping to achieve this goal next year by offering you guys some unbelievable deals, starting with a special backyard wedding package for just $1800. (I mean, I don’t even know what to say to that, except can we please make this happen? That price is almost too good to be true.) The backyard wedding deal includes five hours of coverage, and is valid for any 2013 weddings that take place in January, February, March, August, or December. Or, if a backyard wedding still feels like a bit too much and you’re thinking of heading down to city hall, Elissa is also offering elopement and courthouse coverage starting at just $650 for two hours, valid Monday–Thursday, with additional coverage available at $250 per hour up to five hours (um, damn it, why wasn’t this around when I went to city hall?).
Of course, if you’re planning a larger affair, there’s no need to fret. Because Elissa R Photography is sweetening the pot for you guys too. Elissa always offers 10% off her regular wedding packages to APW readers (which start at $2,500 before the discount and always include digital negatives), but this year if you book her before New Year’s Eve she’s upping that to 15% off any regular wedding packages. Any 2013 weddings are valid, though the 15% discount cannot be combined with the backyard or courthouse discount (because I think if it could, Elissa would be paying you?).