This Photographer Is as Passionate, Progressive, and Feminist as You Are


Watassa Wedding Photography in Michigan, Chicago, and beyond

by Keriann Kohler, Advertising Manager

woman laughing in a photo by Watassa Wedding PhotographyIf you’re having a less-than-traditional wedding in a more traditional part of the country, sussing out vendors can be… tricky. Will they actually get what you’re going for, or cluelessly attempt to accommodate you? Will they try to persuade you to do things their way? Are they accepting of your relationship? Are they accepting of… you? Do you share similar values, and is their business one you’re proud to support? (Anyone who spent the day after the election giving strangers the side-eye while attempting to read their thoughts knows what I mean.)

Well, if you’re a passionate, progressive feminist (aka an APW reader) getting married in Michigan (or beyond—she travels), then longtime APW sponsor Emily Alt of Watassa Wedding Photography is a photographer you can feel comfortable and proud to work with. Watassa’s rates for Michigan and Chicago weddings are $2,900, and she is an absolute expert at tiny weddings and elopements, which are $1,700.couple laughing in a photo by Watassa Wedding Photographywedding party photo by Watassa Wedding Photographycouple and dog by Watassa Wedding Photographycouple standing in front of an airstream vanEmily of Watassa Wedding Photography has been hitting it off with APW readers for a while now (four years!), ever since she and her husband, Ian, traveled across the country in an Airstream, hosting pop up weddings (told ya she was an elopement expert), and Emily’s commitment to the kindred clients she finds here just keeps growing:

This is my fourth year as a vendor on APW, and about 90 percent of my couples are from APW—I love working with people who have the same values and beliefs as I do. I am also a high school teacher and have a degree in social justice education. I am a strong advocate for and of those in marginalized communities and work hard to make that a significant focus of my daily work. I will not work for clients or with vendors who do not support LGBTQ partnerships or believe in marriage equality. I identify as a feminist photographer, and I have written about what that means to me here.

I believe in total authenticity, never faking anything, hardly ever posing couples, and keeping it extremely real. It’s extremely important to me to click with the people I work with, and I have had many, many, many clients over the years, all APW clients, who have become lifelong friends. Like REAL friends. Friends who text me when they are celebrating and who do the same when they are mourning. (The day after the election my phone was exploding.)

All of the above means I really, really, really do not fall into the “typical wedding photographer” category, and I think, for the Midwest that is fairly unique. I started my business in Chicago and now work in my hometown, Grand Rapids, Michigan. There are a lot of badass disrupters in places like Los Angeles and New York City, but in Michigan, many wedding professionals are still tied to a more “traditional” style of work. My mission is to help progressive couples in Michigan find their wedding niche without falling victim to the trough of Midwestern guilt.

couple looking at each other Watassa Wedding Photographyoutside wedding ceremonyJust like Emily, Watassa Wedding Photography’s rates are super straightforward:

Package 1 ($2900) gets you:

  • 7 hours of coverage in the Michigan or Chicago area
  • assistant photographer
  • all digital print rights
  • discounted engagement session
  • blog of wedding day

Package 2 ($1700) is the elopement special:

  • 1 hour of photography
  • legal ceremony by Ian
  • champagne/picnic basket
  • all digital print rights
  • blog of wedding day

Emily also travels! Over the years, she’s actually shot just as many weddings around the country as at home in Michigan, and she is happy to put together a custom package with travel included no matter where you are—just ask. Check out where she’s headed next here.

BONUS! Mention this post when booking for $300 off, now through February 28th.

couple standing outsidecouple walking up the wedding aisle Watassa Wedding Photographya couple walking on sand dunesWhether it’s elopements or full weddings, Emily’s clients at Watassa Wedding Photography love working with her as much as she does with them:

EEEEEEEEEE!!!! That doesn’t even cover the feelings about the pictures. Ridiculously ecstatic… everything we hoped for. I don’t have the words. I am over the moon at all of the amazing little moments you captured during the ceremony. Jay’s face from the first look is the most priceless thing ever. I can’t even believe how many we have to choose from in the full gallery!!! You are a true talent, and we are so incredibly lucky to have found you to orchestrate this and photograph it in such a beautiful way. Jessica and Jay, Michigan elopement

Oh. My. Goodness. They are amazing and we love them!! There are so many wonderful pictures of us together and of all the people there. I think there is truly at least one very good picture of every person that was at the wedding—what an amazing thing! Looking through the galleries and the blog, I just couldn’t stop smiling; it was truly a lovely day and you and Ian captured that so beautifully. Emily and Evan, Michigan wedding

This was our perfect wedding and I cannot thank you enough for doing it. The location was beyond amazing, working with you was the best wedding planning anyone could ever ask for (hardest decision was where to rent a house), and you and Ian (and everyone else!) were so wonderful and kind. We left feeling like we had met friends. Ian, thank you so much for doing Princess Bride (and dealing with the odd bits of the ceremony). It’s pretty much all my family talked about for the next day. You were absolutely wonderful and the best officiant we could ask for! Katee and Evan, Michigan elopement

detail shot of a wedding dressphoto of a bride by Watassa Wedding PhotographyLast, but definitely not least, Emily is at work on a very special project, called I Am Syn, that we can’t help but share with you guys:

After the election of Donald Trump, I basically decided I will not sit down and be quiet. I speak my mind and I’m a strong AF woman. I’m a wedding disrupter. After November 9, I spent about five days feeling totally disgusted and upset. Then I put on my big girl pants, and I started a fundraiser aimed at fellow women disrupters. It’s called I Am Syn. Syn is the pagan goddess of denial, refusal, and boundaries. She says no and it means no. Women who participate in the I Am Syn project are stating that they are not accepting rape culture, disrespect of women, or powerlessness. They are refusing the President Elect’s behavior of grabbing and groping women and they are denying living in fear. I Am Syn is about women from all over (including women of color, trans women, and the LGBTQ community) coming together and showing ourselves and others that we are more than just a gender checkbox. We are mothers, lawyers, business owners, doctors, scientists, police officers, writers, educators, thinkers, doers, believers, hopers, and, most importantly, fighters.

The logistics: 

You donate. (If you can.) Emily shoots. You write an “I Am Syn” statement. Emily sends 100 percent of the proceeds to Grand Rapids Planned Parenthood, the Grand Rapids YWCA, and the ACLU, and compiles your portraits and statements into a printed portfolio to be mailed to our female Congressional leaders as a reminder that you are the women they are working for each day in Washington, DC.

I Am Syn sessions are happening in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois, in January, February, and March, and if you can gather a group of a group of eight to ten women in your space of the country, Emily will come there, shoot your photos, and ensure you’re part of the project. (If you’re in Portland the weekend of February 10–12, Phoenix or Los Angeles the week of March 31–April 7, or Chicago April 23, Emily is already headed your way, so be sure to reach out.) black and white photo by Watassa Wedding Photographyblack and white photo by Watassa Wedding Photographycouple smiling togetherIf you’re looking for a wedding photographer who will wholeheartedly support your untraditional choices, your feminism, and your passion, Michigan’s Emily Alt of Watassa Wedding Photography is your woman, hands down. Check out more of her work, see where she’s headed next, get in on I Am Syn, and contact her to book.

WATASSA WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY IS OFFERING $300 OFF TO APW READERS WHO BOOK BY FEBRUARY 28th

Keriann Kohler

After spending her formative years in a monastic pursuit to become a professional ballet dancer, Keriann has since embarked on a mission to make up for lost time by doing All The Things. A reader since way back, the APW community has taught her wanderlusting, commitment-phobic self that while exploration is good for life experience, marriage isn’t so bad for a relationship, and she’s been happily married since 2011.

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    Gorgeous photos and even more beautiful message!

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