Holly Gardner Photography in Florida

With a wedding photography giveaway!

Today’s introductory post is exciting because I get to introduce you to our first sponsor in Florida, serving the Southeast (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, take notice). It’s also extra super-duper-special because it’s been three years in the making. Holly, of Holly Gardner Photography (on the Florida Panhandle), has been reading APW since she was planning her wedding back in 2010. She is an amazing person (she thinks her wedding graduate story of eloping to Yosemite after a tiny wedding just for family says more about who she is than anything she could put into words). Plus, she’s a phenomenal photographer.

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Holly’s one of those people whose work is so good, it’s sort of pointless for me to try to describe if for you, because DUH. But, let’s try anyway. Holly is that Godsend kind of photographer who can do everything. She takes the best classic wedding portraits you’ve ever seen, plus she throws in a little sweeping majesty. She also shoots with a tremendous sense of humor, which is one of the skills I’m most blown away by, because do you know how hard it is to make a picture funny? But she also takes the kind of photos that you’d expect to see in an art book: the kind of photos that claw your guts out. ALL IN THE SAME PACKAGE. Mind-blowing, right?

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Her weddings start at $3,000, and her elopements at $1,500. (Side note: as someone who eloped herself, Holly is passionate about shooting elopements.) She has no travel fees between Tallahassee on the east, Pensacola on the west, and Dothan, AL on the north. If you’re a little farther than that (read: anywhere), never fear. Holly likes to travel, and for you guys, she makes it as affordable as she possibly can. Which brings us to the really, really good part…

This week celebrates Holly’s fourth year of shooting weddings. She says, “It’s been a long, strange trip and I’m so excited to have made it so far. But I’ve also not had much time for a vacation. So I’m combining some of my favorite things into one: namely, photographing cool couples in cool locations.” All of this means, Holly is giving away FREE wedding photography (your only cost is paying her travel expenses, and she promises to travel affordably) to a couple getting married between June and December 2014. Her only requirement? Take her somewhere cool. Ironically in the midst of the government shutdown, Holly really wants to celebrate people getting married in national parks, because that’s where she got married. So if you’re getting married in a national park? Enter! If you’re getting married in a cool city? Enter! If you’re getting married near something everyone should see? Enter. Getting married somewhere outside the US? Enter. Basically, if you’re getting married in an even vaguely cool place next year, you’d be a fool not to enter.

You can enter the giveaway by filling out this form, and Holly herself will pick a winner to receive the following:

  • 6–8 hours of photography coverage from her and an experienced photography assistant
  • Choice of either a day-after or day-before session
  • Hi-res and web-sized digital images delivered via digital download
  • Online proofing and ordering gallery

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Giveaways are fun (and you should enter), but it’s really Holly’s story that is the important piece here, and it’s why she’s your girl:

I like working with APW couples because they’re focused on what’s important and realize that a marriage is much more than a wedding. I was very recently on the other end of things, so I get it. Just a few years ago I was stressed out, broke, tired, and just. wanted. to. get. married, without all the fuss or the expense. We chose to focus on two things: 1) being together and making one another happy (even if it ticked off some friends and family in the process) and 2) having killer photography to document the day(s).

Because of my life experiences (the first husband dying and all that) I have a real appreciation for good photographs. I understand how important these images will be for future generations. Fortunately, I hired a good wedding photographer for my first wedding so my daughter will have those to look upon when she’s older. But I have very few solid images of him and my daughter together, which I regret terribly. That’s why budgeting for good photography is a huge priority in my life.

While I’m admittedly a sucker for little details that make the day pretty, my focus is always on the genuine emotion and interactions that take place. I think that comes across in my images. One of the things I hear most often from my clients is, “You take really great portraits, but how on earth did you capture that glance from grandma, or that silly face my maid of honor made? I didn’t even know that was happening, and I freaked out (happily) when I saw the gallery.” That’s what I aim to do for every wedding.

A huge part of running this business for me is also giving to those less fortunate then I am. When life has gotten really sucky (like, seriously sucky) I have always had people to come help me out, either emotionally or financially. I feel that it’s my duty to give some of that love back, which is why I donate a percentage of all income to non-profit organizations with projects that support widows and orphans. It’s a non-negotiable thing that comes off the top, and I try to encourage clients once or twice a year to make additional donations as they see fit.

Bam. Do it you guys. If that’s not love at first read, I don’t know what is.

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  • Sarah Knight

    Holly’s amazing story and sweet spirit are the reasons I chose her to photograph our wedding and what a wonderful decision it was! Whoever wins is a lucky girl :)

    • Thank you so much, Sarah! It really was an honor to be a small part of your wedding day.

  • Kat91314

    Ahhh…..my friend is getting married in May in Panama City Beach. So wish I could enter her for this!!

  • memery

    This is amazing! Would your daughter enjoy Colonial Williamsburg? Say, on May 3? Just entered!

    • YAY! I have spent over half my life in the DC area (and a year in Chesapeake) so I’m very familiar with Williamsburg. I look forward to reading your entry!

  • Man oh man, well, we’ll be in south Florida by December for a big life change. Do you do family (er, couples with pets sort of family) portraits, Holly?