Amanda Summerlin Photography: Free Travel in the US

Last time I wrote a post about Amanda Summerlin Photography, who works out of Atlanta but shoots your weddings all over the US I wrote about how funny she is. (Local weddings starting rate: $1,700. Lower 48 starting rate $2,600. Obvious conclusion: she has spent the year shooting APW weddings Every. Single. Place.)  Because seriously, this woman is hilarious. If you don’t believe me (and I have no idea why you wouldn’t believe me) you should go read her FAQ 1FAQ 2, and really maybe just start with her FUQ (that’s Frequently Unasked Questions). Also, sidenote, it’s possible that I would hire someone to shoot my wedding just because they were hilarious (cough), but there are actually a lot of even better reasons to hire Amanda, that we will get into (if you believe better reasons exist, which I find debatable).

So today, I also want to write about how Amanda Summerlin Photography has her heart (and values) in the right place, which is just as important as being hilarious. Amanda’s current tag line is, “Hello. My name is Amanda. I make neat pictures (for nice people).” And she really does. Last time she was on APW, Amanda ran a contest giving away photos to the nicest couple she could find. And it turned out that what happened was she unleashed some magic APW community power. Lots of you entered, and you can see some of the entries (and some of the awesome people that read this site, holy moly) here. You can also see the winners here, though Amanda says that in the end, she feels like she was the one that won (aws). This time she just wants to tell you that there will be a follow up, and “it might be fair to warn everyone to start documenting their good deeds.” Game set match, y’all. And in the meantime she says, “Because I love APW readers, I’m offering a 10% discount to any APW reader who books a wedding by October 1.

Here is the thing. Amanda really, really loves working with APWers. Really. In fact, she’s spent the year shooting so many of your weddings that she was able to teach me about all of you in a totally new way (because I’m just over here behind a laptop, most of the time). Amanda told me this, which actually made me tear up a little: “One of the unexpected side effects of working with APW clients is that I’ve really come to like weddings in a way that I never expected. I look forward to going to APW weddings because I know the people there will be thoughtful and will have created a wedding that reflects their values and their love for each other, their families, and their friends. As a person who’s not allowed to get married, weddings have always been bittersweet for me. In my twenties, when all my straight friends were getting married, I thought weddings were for people who needed to conform. In my thirties, when lots of those people started to divorce, I thought weddings were radical income restructuring schemes. And now, older and wiser and not twenty anymore, I’m watching all of these loving and thoughtful people through the lens of my camera, and I’m seeing people make commitments and mean them. And they mean them because they want to make the promise to love each other forever, and they’ve thought about what that actually means. And I believe these couples will last. I don’t think I believe that because I’m overly sentimental, because that’s not really who I am. I think I believe them because they are the real deal. I think APW readers are the kind of people who make commitments with a true understanding of what they are promising. Which is why I enjoy their weddings so much. Because with so much talk in the air these days about the meaning of marriage, it’s nice to be around people who actually understand the meaning of marriage.” Plus, she says you guys serve really good food and beer at your weddings, and have lots of laughter, which, exactly.

If you guys are like me, and you wonder what other people who read APW look like (I mean, other than their avatars) you need to go scan the APW weddings section on Amanda’s blog. The best part is the crazy diversity. There are formal weddings in Memphis, mixed with backyard wedding in San Francisco, a wedding in the mountains of New Hampshire, and really everything under the sun. And if you’re like me, and you wonder what All The APW Weddings look like, this is an exercise in pure joy.

But let’s talk about Amanda’s style. She has style, and she brings it to your wedding, because she rightly points out, “Your wedding is probably the most important day in your life to date, except for that time you saw Bill Murray buying a diet soda and a pack of gummy bears at the gas station.” Indeed. So I’ll let her put it in her own words: “Making photos at your wedding requires several styles of photography. In a typical wedding day there will be contemporary, photojournalism, portraiture, and traditional posed photos made. In photography, like everything in our lives, there are trends and fashions. Lately you see many wedding photographers applying destructive Photoshop actions (or styles) to irreplaceable wedding photos. I always cringe a little when I see that. Wedding photos are not just for now; they are forever memories for you and future generations of your family. They shouldn’t look dated in five years. They should be timeless. It should be the people and their emotions that stand out in the photo, not the Photoshop manipulations. Does that mean my photos are traditional or boring? Not at all. I’m an artist, and I have a unique vision. I see the things that others overlook and use my camera to point out their beauty to everyone. I don’t need elaborate computer tools for that.” AKA, this is not the kind of photographer who will take a lovely artistically blurred picture where you can’t quite make out your great aunt’s face (which is great and all, but not everyone’s thing).

In short, as I’m sure every APW couple who worked with Amanda Summerlin Photography this year (a bazillion of you) will tell you, with Amanda you get the whole package, hilarity, talent, and kindness. I’ll close with Amanda’s own words, “I’m working to be more deliberate in my approach to photography; to capture more emotion and create more art in every wedding, while still maintaining my sense of humor and timing.” Right? I’d say have fun together, but that part is so obvious.

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  • Lauren

    Amanda sounds like she’s the best. I want to be her friend.

    • Haha! Thanks Lauren. We can totally be friends! :)

  • Jenny

    When Kyle and I got engaged we agreed that for the first month we would only talk about the fun stuff about a wedding. No family drama, no stressing about the seating, or guest list, or budget. We’d spend one month just being ridiculously excited and planning and talking about what we wanted out of our wedding and marriage. I think it speaks for its self that we both agreed on met and signed a contract with Amanda within that month. She’s been great to work with so far, responsive to questions and emails and stress free to work with. I can only hope the rest of wedding planning goes this well. Also within the first 2 minutes of our Skype meeting we were all laughing about Tommy Boy, I probably should have led with that because really doesn’t that say it all?

    • Thanks Jenny. You and Kyle had me laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. I can’t wait to meet you guys in person.

  • Ali

    Amanda is amazing!! She came all the way to NY and shot our wedding in the blazing heat (and humidity) of summer. She was flexible, professional and tons of fun to work with. We would recommend her to everyone:)

    • That humidity was off the charts. I didn’t know there were places that could get more humid than south Georgia. But you guys were so happy and awesome all day and I had so much fun spending the day with you. You made me smile so much my face hurted.

  • DNA

    Amanda photographed our wedding this past weekend, and we had a wonderful engagement session in Brooklyn last month. There were so many hiccups during our wedding (e.g., no hot water at the hotel we stayed in, scattered thunderstorms, it took a lot longer than we thought to reheat all the food for lunch so we put out some Thai rice crackers in the mean time — which thankfully people didn’t dislike). Amanda just rolled with it, and I’m so grateful for her patience, professionalism, and sense of humor. I had so many friends and relatives come by to say how much they liked the photos from our engagement session and how much they liked that Amanda was there to capture all the great moments at the wedding while being unobtrusive. Out of all the professionals we depended on at our wedding, she was the only one who exceeded our expectations. Oh, and her blog is also awesome if you like pretty pictures and an occasional dose of snark. I totally recommend her to everyone.

    • Wow, that is an awesome compliment. Thank you. I loved every minute I’ve spent with you guys. And you guys are the ones who should get all the compliments for keeping your cool under pressure. The day was beautiful, your family and guests were happy, and your wedding was so sweet and perfect. And you pulled all that off in the rain. You two are amazing. Thanks for everything.

  • Amanada’s coming out to Utah to shoot our wedding next month. We hired her last summer after seeing a sponsored post here on APW and getting to know her a little bit via email and Skype. It was so wonderful to talk to someone who was excited about our wedding.

    Over the last year, I’ve been really excited to see each and every wedding she’s shot come up on her blog. Forrest and I would look over them together and feel more and more confident that we’d made the right choice to work with Amanda.

    We had a lovely Skype chat last week catching her up on all of the plans for our desert wedding and ended the call SO excited for the wedding and happy to have Amanda along for the ride.

    Can’t wait to meet you in person next month Amanda!

    • Bethhhh, I hope you write a graduate post!!! I’m excited to see what you and your beloved and Amanda cook up in that desert :)

    • Thanks Beth! I’m soooo excited to come meet you and Forrest and Sprocket, I’m practically dancing in my chair. See you in a few weeks!

  • Our wedding was just over a month ago (also all the way up in NY state, as part of her epic road trip) and Amanda’s photos are our most favorite part of the day. She was amazingly fun & easy to work with and just took damn good photographs. We’ve been sharing our preview photos far & wide and have gotten nothing but rave reviews. I can’t recommend her highly enough.

    • Thank you Alissa! It was awesome to work with you guys. I was so impressed with how you put your day together and how graceful and calm you both were. Not only that, but you guys have real flair and made awesome photos. Thanks for having me be a part of your day.

  • Hiring Amanda was also one of our first and easiest decisions. Hiring a photographer because she’s hilarious (and super talented) makes total sense to us because as she herself pointed out during our Skype meeting, your photographer is the one wedding vendor you’ll be hanging out with. Why wouldn’t you hire someone who cracks you up? Especially if she’s willing to travel to Pensacola and photograph your rehearsal dinner in place of the engagement shoot that neither of you are interested in having. Meeting Amanda in person is one more thing to look forward to about our wedding weekend! And thanks, APW, for helping us find her!

    • Haha! Thank you. I’m excited to meet you guys too. As soon as I read your blog, I crossed all my fingers and toes and hoped hoped hoped you would pick me because I knew you were gonna be a lot of fun to spend a wedding weekend with. I’m so excited to meet you guys in person soon!

  • That bit about why she loves APW weddings is so amazing, it makes me want to give her a hug. And these photos are beauuuutiful. What an awesome lady.

    • Aw, thanks Elissa. Hugs to you too.

  • Janet

    Amanda photographed our wedding in June, and we had a wonderful experience with her. Neither of us are photogenic AT ALL, and as a result we’re not that comfortable being photographed. She made us feel really relaxed, and we look fantastic in the pictures (which is to say, we look like ourselves instead of the zombies that usually appear in pictures of us). She was very flexible and upbeat throughout the whole planning process and the day itself and, like everyone else is saying, she’s hilarious. I really can’t recommend her enough.

    • Oh Janet, you guys are adorable, and sooooo sweet together. You made it so easy to make awesome photos of you. And you can throw one heck of a party. Best. Dancing. Ever.

  • Moe

    I entered Amanda’s contest last year and because I was planning a 2013 wedding I was disqualified which was a bummer, but the most amazing thing happened as a result…I made a new friend. Since then we have periodically kept in touch and she’s offered her time and professional opinion to me as I navigate the planning process.

    She simply rocks.

    • I’m pretty sure you’re the one who rocks! I can’t wait to meet you and The Guy and have that beer one day soon.

  • H

    Love Amanda so far! She’s been the easiest to work with… in fact we booked her less than 5 minutes after we got done Skyping because her pictures (particularly portraits) are just soooo pretty and she was soooo cool. Guys and gals, you should totally do this!

    • Aw, I might be blushing. And I have a feeling we are going to have a great time at your wedding, because you guys are mega-cool.

  • Karoline

    Amanda came and photographed our wedding 3 weeks ago, and let me tell you, hiring her was one of the best decisions we made during the whole wedding planning process! It was great keeping in contact with her before hand, and since she had done lots of weddings before (and we hadn’t) having her advice during the process was shiny =)

    Even though I felt like the morning of the wedding was complete chaos, she was totally calm, funny, and made us feel really comfortable. She captures emotion and hilarity truthfully, and in every picture I look at, I can see what we were feeling and remember the moment. The portraits are beautiful, and she was right there to capture some of the best unplanned moments (like a family friend and my sister having a squirt gun fight, my friend having to sew me into my dress at the last second, or spontaneous giggle fits).

    We sing her praises, loudly, exuberantly, and hopefully in-key!

    • Thank you Karoline! Spending the day with you and your family and friends was a blast. You guys are amazing, and all your family and friends were so much fun to be around. You have some great people in your lives. Thank you for letting me be a part of your awesome day.

  • Lynn

    Amanda took our wedding pictures last October and they turned out great. She caught some very silly moments, in addition to the classic shots. She managed to get horribly sunburned over the course of the day, but didn’t let that slow her down one bit. She also captured photographic evidence of Big Foot (or at least that’s what she said… it might have been my uncle Ben)… We are looking forward to hiring her again for a hot aired balloon ride (Amanda, if you are reading this, be warned).

    • Aw thanks Lynn! A hot air balloon ride? You guys do the coolest stuff!! I’m so there!

  • Megan

    My husband (squeee, two weeks and it’s still exciting to say that) and I LOVED having Amanda at our wedding. Like many posters we booked her very soon after meeting her over Skype, and mostly because not only are her pictures beautiful but we really like who she is and how she approaches her job. Her process of asking questions and really listening to what we wanted and needed was incredible. Through the planning and then the actual day her demeanor was the perfect blend of professionalism and dry humor. Having sent out her blog post of our preview to friends and family every single response we’ve gotten has been incredible – most people think we should be in a magazine, the shots are that gorgeous (that’s us in the first dance photo, our moms framing us on either side!). All I can say is that without hesitation we would recommend Amanda to anyone who wants the absolute best experience with a photographer and the most beautiful pictures they can imagine.

    • You guys are just wonderful. You made ME feel special from the moment I met you. That’s true southern hospitality at its finest, and it made everything easy. Thank you for choosing me to be there for your wedding day. And I hope you never stop being excited about the “H” word.

  • Amanda

    When my husband and I got engaged, we kissed and giggled and made all the excited phone calls, drank champagne and then sent an email to Amanda to find out her availability. A lot of decisions came after that one but in terms of wedding planning it was definitely one of the best. The day of our wedding, Amanda was calm and professional. She put us and our family and friends instantly at ease. Afterwards not only did everyone think the pictures were amazing, they all wanted to be her new best friend! Amanda magically captured both the little details and the essence of our friends and family on our special day. We are so grateful to have had her be a part of our day.

    • Thanks Amanda! I had such a great time at your wedding. You guys have style and are just super cool people. I definitely want to hang out with all of you again. It’s a shame we live so far apart!

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  • M

    Wonderful photographer! How about beautiful Montreal in August next year? We’re hosting our multi-national, less than 20 people wedding with hopes for laughter, chocolate, Montreal bagels, and family. Oooouuuii!

    • Heck yeah! (Sorry, I watched Napoleon Dynamite 11 times yesterday) I’d love to come to Montreal and meet you! I just renewed my passport, and it’s waaaaay too shiny.

  • Bethany

    Yay Amanda! She’s coming to Kentucky next month to shoot our wedding, and we’re so excited! She was one of the first vendors we booked, and we’ve once never doubted our decision.

    Amanda has been super patient and open with us, answering a ton of questions and being very reassuring to two people who aren’t big fans of being the center of attention. We can’t wait to meet her in a few weeks!

  • Thank you Bethany! I’m really excited to meet you guys too. And don’t worry, being the center of attention has lots of perks. If you can tough it out, you’ll get a couple of nice rings for your trouble. See you in a couple of weeks!!

  • So, I’m a little late to the game here (shame on me, but I was under the weather yesterday and didn’t manage to get over to APW!) but I have to say how incredibly awesome Amanda is – and we haven’t even met her in person yet!

    Of course, we were incredibly blessed to win Amanda’s giveaway in March, but after we spent some time on Skype with her (the time went by WAY FAST) we know we would have booked her anyway.

    Amanda, we can’t wait to visit you in Atlanta in September, and of course we can’t wait for you to be at our wedding in October!

  • Erin

    It is difficult to put into words the “incredibleness” that is Amanda – honestly, you’ve got to hire her to understand. She was everything we wanted in a photographer, and more. She was unobtrusive, flexible, patient, calm, and funny. In uncomfortable or stressful situations, she put us at ease; and in joyful moments she shared in the excitement and happiness. We are a queer couple, and choosing a photographer was one of the most important decisions we made. We felt that it was critical to have someone taking our photos who was 100% comfortable and supportive of our relationship. Amanda was perfect! She quickly became an important (and welcomed) part of our wedding. Above all, her heart is in the right place, which makes her photographs fantastic. She captures the moments you witnessed and want to remember forever, and those you missed and were so happy to see afterward.

    • Erin, it made me grin to again see Amanda’s gorgeous photos of you and Jen! And knowing that Amanda is part of the APW community is the icing on the proverbial cake. You and Erin created an event filled with warmth and love, and it was such an honor to officiate for you. Amanda’s comments about being involved with couples who understand the word COMMITMENT certainly resonated with me. On June 30th, we were not only witnesses to the commitment that you and Jen have for each other, but also witnesses to the commitment of all your family members and friends who were there to surround you (and warm your rings) with their love. Best wishes always!

  • Joy

    Ack! I’m a little late on this comment! Amanda photographed our wedding in May. She is the best! She is funny and unobtrusive and patient and kind (even when the bride gets distracted during photo sessions) and so very talented. We love all of our photos (she did our engagement session, too). My partner just said “it felt like she was a part of our wedding.” And it’s true! She gets to know you. That is especially helpful for quiet peeps like ourselves who feel totally awkward being the center of attention. Also, her FUQ page is my favorite and just one of the reasons why we wanted her for our wedding.

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