*This is a paid post from an APW Sponsor*
One of the single best projects we got to see launched on APW last year was Emily Alt Photography’s Airstream Elopements. The deal? Emily and her husband Ian would come to you in their vintage Airstream, and photograph your wedding, pop-up style, complete with traveling officiant as needed. What started out as a short-term idea turned into a twelve thousand mile trek across the country, with Emily and Ian witnessing and photographing twenty-eight (TWENTY-EIGHT!!) APWers getting married in front of their (temporary) home. It looked a little something like this:
The launch of the Rolling Elopements tour turned into a huge year for Emily. (Have you been following her on Instagram? Her feed is bananas.) And it made her realize something really important about her APW clients:
twenty-eight Best Days Of My Life
In the past year, I’ve shot the weddings of twenty-eight APW couples. That means that those twenty-eight weddings were absolutely, a hundred percent, truly, without a doubt, some of the best twenty-eight days of my life. I know that might sound like an exaggeration or general hyperbole, but believe me, it’s not. APW couples are inevitably exactly the type of couple I want to work with. As soon as they get in touch and make it clear that they learned about me through APW, I pretty much know immediately that it’s a great fit. And I’ve been right to trust my gut on this twenty-eight times. APW couples are usually very kind (this is a HUGE deal in the wedding industry, trust me. And working with kind people is like… beyond important to me), very well educated (many of my clients are in school for fancy PhDs, or working to save the world through education, social work, counseling, or in the nonprofit field. As a former high school English teacher in the public school system, I love working with folks who want to make a change and want to use their careers to do this), and very much focused on the marriage, rather than the details of the day.
Plus, APW couples just seem to get my type of work. They understand that hiring a wedding photographer isn’t just about if you like the photos or not—it’s about hiring the WHOLE package—that means all my ridiculous jokes, my penchant for organizing an out of control bridal party, enjoying my amazing assistant’s dance moves (full disclosure, my assistant is my husband and he is the cat’s pajamas), and hanging out at least once to drink Prosecco on a porch and not only talk wedding details, but, more importantly, rehash the final episode of The West Wing. APW couples are great to work with because they want a friend at their wedding, not just a photographer, and that’s exactly what I want too. I want clients who feel like friends, who are friends by the end of the night, and whom I’ll continue to be friends with for years to come.
Rolling Elopements Tour
Since my last sponsored post, my husband and I set out on the great open road for our Rolling Elopement tour—photographing weddings while traveling in our thirty-one foot Airstream trailer with our two canine companions. We covered twelve thousand miles in five months, visited twenty-five states, and photographed and officiated numerous weddings from New Orleans to Texas to Santa Fe to South Carolina. We offered Pop-Up Weddings, all around the country, using our Airstream as the backdrop for the wedding chapel. Seeing a couple from start to finish in their wedding planning is pretty damn awesome, but the best part of it is seeing people at their VERY best on their VERY best day with their VERY best friends. I’m a giant sucker for emotions, happiness, love, joy, giddiness, and everything in between, so when I get to a wedding and I see that start to unfold, I am often smiling behind the camera.
Emily Alt PHOTOGRAPHY Becomes Watassa Wedding Photography
Emily also learned something else really important on her rolling elopements tour. While she loves working with APW couples more than anything, her heart belongs in Michigan, not on the road. So this year, Emily is parking the airstream and Emily Alt Photography is turning into Watassa Wedding Photography, serving Northern Michigan and beyond!
I lived in Chicago when I initially launched Emily Alt Photography and, as a result, I was shooting a lot of fancy, high-end affairs with black ties and elegant champagne. Then I moved to Michigan (my home state) and I had this moment of realization that THIS is the type of wedding I want to shoot—I want to shoot in Northern Michigan, I want to shoot in quiet, rural settings, I want to work with couples who are having super small celebrations, or even eloping. So I’ve decided to be intentional about seeking out weddings that are a good fit for who I am, and for me that means taking smaller weddings, rustic, woods, beach, backyard venues, and moving away from the large ballroom weddings that are more common in big cities.
Watassa Wedding Photography is about collecting memories from the day through my work: the good, the fantastic, the beautiful and the emotional. I’m a photographer who sees and loves the emotions. I do not, in any way, believe in shooting weddings to be featured on blogs or just to make a great Pinterest photo. I believe in shooting weddings that will convey to anyone who had to miss the day that it was a knock-down, drag-out, real-talk love fest complete with tears of joy, huge laughs, and giant smiles.
From the start, it’s been clear that Emily gets what weddings are about: community and commitment. Watassa Wedding Photography is all about Emily’s love for her Northern Michigan community and her commitment to simple, honest wedding photography.
The name Watassa comes from a huge hunting lodge that sat smack in the middle of the Northern Michigan woods that my great-grandfather bought in the 1950s. My family used this home as a summer retreat for years until my dad sold it in 2004. Watassa was the name of the home, and it comes from a Navajo word meaning “Nirvana” or “place of peace.” When I think of Watassa I think of the very best of my life—the happiest moments, the best spot, the most beautiful place, the place where I want to go when I die. And that is the type of photography work I want to do—the best, the happiest, the most beautiful, the moments you want to remember for your entire life.
As part of her community commitment, next year Emily will return to her other job as a high school teacher. (Do you know who can boss around your family during portraits better than a teacher? Nobody.) Which means that she’s only booking a handful of weddings (think ten to twelve) for the whole year, so she can keep her killer customer service skills up to snuff. But don’t worry, Emily’s still got dates available for next summer! Watassa Wedding Photography’s prices start at $3400 for eight hours of coverage, an assistant photographer, an engagement session, all digital print rights, plus travel within Michigan and Chicagoland, and a new best friend for life. (Can you put a price on a best friend for life? Probably not.) For unlimited day-of coverage (up to twelve hours), an assistant photographer, engagement session, digital print rights, and travel throughout the ENTIRE continental US, dirt cheap prints, a whole bunch of presents, and a best friend for life, the price is $4800.
We’re always complaining how there aren’t enough awesome APW photographers outside of the East and West Coasts. Watassa Wedding Photography solves that problem for at least the Mitten-ers… (that’s what we call Northern Michigan readers, right?) in the house. In the past year, twenty-eight APWers got amazing wedding photography and a new best friend from the now Watassa Wedding Photography (plus possibly presents? I want to know more about the presents, Emily). If you’re getting married in Northern Michigan next year, you could be lucky number twenty-nine.