Atlanta And BeyondAmanda
Atlanta & beyondest. 2009

blog—-DO NOT READ IT—-Just post it and let me know when it’s up

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I got an email yesterday. The title of it was, “blog—-DO NOT READ IT—-Just post it and let me know when it’s up.” Let me ‘splain. No. It is too long to ‘splain. Let me sum up.

You see, lately, it’s been a little harder than usual to think of things to tell you in these blog posts. I dunno why. It’s not like I’m feeling shy or quiet… that could never happen. But for some reason when I sit down at the computer, all the voices just go away… uh… well, you know what I mean. Anyway, I was chatting with my friend (who I used to like very much) Leslie a little while ago about blogging and how I didn’t have much to say lately, and she said these fateful words, “Why don’t you let me guest blog for you?” And I was like, “Sure.” And she was all like, “Will you let me say anything I want?” And I’m like, “Sure.” And she’s all like, “You promise you won’t edit it?” And I’m like, “Sure.” And then she’s like, “Do you swear?” And I”m like, “Sure.” You see, I’m not worried too much at that point that it will actually happen anyway, ’cause there’s no way she has time to write anything with all the work she’s been doing lately. I mean, check out her fan page.. she’s doing a million sessions a week. How can she possibly have time to guest write a blog entry for me? Well, now I know, Leslie will always make time to torture me. Because she’s a REAL friend. Those are rare and special and hard to find. And because she took time out of her already overloaded schedule to say all these [rotten] nice things about me, I am obligated to honor her efforts and publish her post. Oh, and because I promised, dammit. And, quite honestly, if I don’t, she will never, never, ever, ever, not ever stop tormenting me and calling me chicken poo for the rest of my life. So here it all is. I swear I had nothing to do with this. Except for the stuff I just told you. I did that. But the rest is all her.

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(Oh yeah, before it gets deep in here, I got a new fish eye lens. Isn’t it cool?)

What Leslie Said

When I suggested to Amanda that she let me be a guest blogger for her, I have to admit that I was pretty surprised when she immediately took me up on it. Even more surprisingly, she immediately agreed to post whatever I said and there was no option offered to her to censor or edit it. That was a pretty fearless move on her part because I’m not known for my gentle delivery of my thoughts or opinions. (insert evil laugh here….)

As I spent 3.8 seconds pondering over what it was that I wanted to say, it occurred to me that I didn’t want to drone on and on about Amanda’s amazing work because if you’re here reading her blog, chances are that you’ve seen her work and you don’t need me to tell you how incredibly awesome that it is. At the point that I figured that part out, it was obvious that I needed to tell about who you’re dealing with when you hire her for a job.

I’ve known Amanda for most of my life. We grew up in the same small town in South Georgia and actually only lived a few miles apart although we never really hung around together. I saw her in school and I always marveled at her creative ability when I’d see some drawing or painting that she’d done in art class hanging on the cafeteria wall or outside of the art room. I’d see some work of art that appeared to me to be museum quality and I’d immediately know that she was the artist. Meanwhile, I’d be doing my color by number projects and still not being able to color inside the lines. Amanda wasn’t a particularly social person back then. I guess she probably was if you were in her circle of friends but, to me, sociable meant loud and obnoxious and she wasn’t loud. (sorry Amanda, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get one little jab in there!) But, we never really crossed paths that much and school ended and we all went our own separate ways. My mother and her mother are friends and I’d get the occasional story about her here and there but that was pretty much it for a number of years. Then came Facebook…..

Amanda had posted some of her pictures and I stalked her page to stare at her work and ogle over what I thought was her God-given talent. Pretty soon, we started chatting back and forth and she agreed to do some pictures for my family. She came out and hung around with us for the better part of an afternoon and I’ve got to say, I wasn’t really looking forward to the picture taking part. The kids had already started to grumble when we mentioned that we were going to have family pictures made. “It’s hot”. “I don’t have anything to wear”. “I hate having my stupid picture taken”. These were just a few of the things that we heard prior to the shoot and I was already nervous that the pictures were going to be horrible. As soon as she arrived at the house, I started trying to explain to her that the kids were being resistant and we’d just do the best that we could but I’d pretty much resigned myself to the fact that despite any “talent” that she may have, these pictures were going to suck. She never flinched and just reassuringly told me that we’d do what we could but she was certain she’d be able to get at least a couple of good shots. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, she had the kids doing back-flips to get in every shot. This one wanted to sit on a log….this one wanted to throw a football….this one wanted to sit in the swing. Amanda just talked to them like they were buddies that hung out all the time. She didn’t try to use their lingo or be extra cool. She just listened to their thoughts, assured them that they were looking pretty dang good and she won them over in no time. As we all relaxed, it felt more like just hanging out and having fun with a friend than having to worry about my fat roll when she shot from different angles. It turned out that the pictures were FANTASTIC! Amanda captured the personality, not just the image, of our family. We couldn’t have been more pleased.

As time went on and I kept bugging her with one photography question after another, she finally offered me some “lessons”. She knows that we have three kids and that money isn’t always plentiful around our house so she did these lessons out of the goodness of her heart. She never made me feel like it was an inconvenience for her or that she halfheartedly did any part of the planning. I’m sure that she was ready to stab herself in the eye with a pencil by the time each lesson was over but she never made me feel that way. Amanda worked hard to help me to be better with no expectation of getting anything in return. She would spontaneously combust before she’d ever want to come across as sappy and sweet but she’s probably one of the nicest people that I’ve ever met. Ever. She wishes good things for people and actively works to make that happen for them. That’s a pretty rare quality in a person.

I soon learned that her supposed “talent” was the result of lots and lots of hard work! She didn’t just wake up one morning with the ability to take an awesome photo or paint a picture that would take your breath away. She worked her butt off. She didn’t shortcut the system in any way, shape or form and it shows in everything that she does. There’ s never been a single time when I’m out on my own shoots that I don’t think of something that she told me or hints that she gave me. I’m constantly in awe of her work. She truly gets better and better every single time she shoots. I look at her work and I can’t see a way for her to get any better and then she’ll post more shots and completely knock it out of the ballpark. Amanda’s the real deal. She can turn anything into something beautiful because she truly sees the beauty in EVERYTHING. Spend some time around her and you’ll start to see it, too.

I hope that she doesn’t read this before she posts it because if something is being said about her that’s nice, she’ll move heaven and earth to stop it. If you’re reading this, chances are she kept her word and just posted whatever I said….good or bad!

Looking for the most awesome photographer around, then book her now! This woman will be a legend one day.

The End

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Thanks old pal. The check’s in the mail.

Oh, one last thing, if you want to put a face with the B.S. …. err… story, here’s Leslie’s family portrait session from so long ago. It might be time to torture, uh, I mean, shoot, uh.. make a new family portrait for them again. What do y’all think?

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