*This is a paid post from an APW Sponsor*
So much of the wedding industry is predicated on making you feel bad about yourself, in really subtle and not-so-subtle ways. If I were planning my own wedding today and took a quick glance around at the industry, I’d assume I was either not skinny enough, or rich enough, or fancy enough to deserve a wedding. Which is why I’m so proud to have someone like Atlanta’s Amanda Summerlin Photography as an APW sponsor. Amanda has built a bullshit-free business based on the philosophy that the only requirement for working with her is that you be a nice person. (It’s right there in her company’s tagline: “I make neat pictures… for nice people.”) No matter where you live (free travel if you book at least sixty days in advance), and no matter what kind of wedding you’re having, Amanda thinks you deserve the best.
Last year, Amanda Summerlin wrote a love later to APW readers about why she loves working with you so much. But really, Amanda’s whole business is a love letter to APW couples. Just look at the section of her blog dedicated to y’all. A lot of photographers pay lip service to diversity, but Amanda Summerlin’s commitment to working with and representing couples of all sizes, shapes, and colors is right there in the work.
I could tell you all the reasons I love Amanda, but one of the best parts of working with her is that she’s hilarious, and smart, and kind, and it shows in how she talks about working with APWers. So I’m just going to let her do the talking for a little bit:
APW people are nice. And you’re a creative bunch. You’re not afraid to look convention and tradition in the eye and tell them to kiss your grits. Because you are typically thoughtful, you put a lot of effort into creating weddings that are actually fun and interesting for everyone (including you). Your weddings aren’t just another checkbox on a list of overachievements. But most importantly, you’re nice people, and life is just too short to spend working with assholes.
My job is the most awesome job in the world. And it should be, because I picked all of my favorite things and put them all together when I invented my job. Every weekend, I get to go somewhere I’ve never been before and hang out with the coolest people you’ll ever meet. I can’t believe it sometimes, but I actually get paid to go to parties. Not only that, but at these parties, I get to witness people behaving at their absolute best. Weddings are hard sometimes, because life is messy, and the people you love don’t always love each other. And sometimes, they actually kind of detest each other. But on a regular basis, I see people put aside enormous differences and work together to make sure that the day goes well for their shared loved one. To me, that’s been a restoration of my faith in humanity.
And because Amanda Summerlin loves her job and doesn’t have time to waste on making your life difficult, she’s built one of the rare, genuinely bullshit-free businesses in this industry. First, there are her hilarious F.A.Q and F.U.Q. pages that explain everything you did and maybe didn’t want to know about Amanda’s business (from what kind of equipment she uses to how she feels about your grandma). But then there’s just the business itself. Says Amanda of her artistic and operational philosophies:
We don’t fuck with you. All our pricing and information is up front and easy to understand… we are straight up WYSIWYG wedding photography. It’s all right there in dark brown and tan on our website, with no hidden fees or hard-sell tactics. We work really hard to be the kind of people we would want to do business with.
Artistically speaking, there are no sofas (or ovens) in a field on our website. Contrived is not my thing. There are however, lots of photos of people laughing and smiling and dancing and having a damn good time. We don’t copy other “successful” photographers’ formulas, because we’re too busy creating our own formula for success. And we’re making a living doing it, proving that you can be nice and still be a good business person.
Basically, Amanda Summerlin is the kind of person I would want at my wedding. I know she’d be able to roll with the loud antics of my mom’s crazy family, without horrifying the elder WASPs on my dad’s side, and she wouldn’t bat an eyelash at the weirdos I’m friends with. Amanda adds:
A quick note about my salty language (the polite Southerner in me demands I make amends). You may have noticed that I have punctuated my post with a light peppering of saucy four-letter-words, and my website can be a little snarky too (be sure to check out my FUQ page). You see, I love swear words and I think they are hilarious. However, I’m a professional and of moderate emotional maturity, so you can rest assured that on your wedding day, I’m not going to drop the f-bomb in front of your granny. Unless she’s like my granny was and has a potty mouth, in which case, I’m totally going to hang out with her a lot.
Oh, and did I mention that Amanda Summerlin Photography offers free travel anywhere in the continental United States, so long as you book her at least sixty days in advance of your wedding? (With a minor fee for car rentals in CA and NYC, because that ish is expensive.) On top of which, Amanda is offering 10% of any photography package (including custom packages) if you book your date by August 31, 2014. Amanda’s prices start at $2,400 and every package comes with all your digital files and a personal use copyright release. If it’s a good shot, you get to keep it. Amanda never holds your photos hostage or tries to upsell you a bunch of stuff you don’t want or need. Though she does offer killer albums that are custom designed and handmade (yes, handmade) in the US so you don’t have to wait a bazillion years for some guy wearing a beret to paddle it across the Atlantic while sipping an espresso (Amanda’s words, not mine).
I’m pretty sure if you could clone your best friend in a test tube and then add a dash of crazy photography talent to the mix, you’d end up with Amanda Summerlin shooting your wedding. (I mean, we all saw it in yesterday’s wedding, no?) I could think of worse people to have at my wedding, but I’m not sure there are a whole lot that would be better.