Smith Rock State Park Photo Extravaganza

This year is my 10th year as a wedding photographer. When I invented this strange job for myself, I wanted to include as many of my favorite things as I could. I mean, if I have to work for a living, it should be fun sometimes, right? From the beginning, I wanted to serve the LGBTQ community (my community). I wanted to make art that had meaning. And I wanted to travel as much as possible. Over the years, that is exactly how things have evolved, and I have loved every minute. Well, most of them. I could do without the long lines at the Atlanta airport and the way folks like to breathe on me at the security check. That’s kind of gross.

But I digress. This post is really about several things. It’s about celebrating all the people who have trusted me to record memories for them. It’s about growing artistically. And it’s about returning to my roots. This past year was the first year since I started making wedding photos that I didn’t have an ‘epic adventure.’ There were no road trips or visits to National Parks in 2019. It was a busy year and it wasn’t until late in the year that I realized I wasn’t going to be able to make one happen. So I did something new. I made a model call in a group I’m in on social media and convinced four perfect strangers to meet me in the middle of the Oregon desert at sunrise on a Sunday morning. I still can’t believe it happened so perfectly.

The photos you see here happened from a series of random events and some blind luck. These two gorgeous couples are people I’d never met before and would never have met otherwise. And I love it. I love the idea of like-minded people coming together through coincidence and chance to make something beautiful. I love the enthusiasm everyone had in the early morning light as we stumbled around in the lip of a canyon. I love that they were willing to risk getting crappy photos so that I could try out a couple of new things. Of course, I made sure they get some damn good photos too.

So today I want to introduce you to CeCe and Kat, and Samantha and Vanessa. Four adventurous souls who took a risk and met a weird artist person in the desert to make some cool images. Thank you all for trusting me enough to travel as far as you did, for being patient with my tired post-wedding brain, and for your enthusiasm and patience. You’re all heroes to me for all of those reasons and more. This year, as we move toward my official 10 anniversary, I want to find myself doing things like this more often.

Meanwhile, if you’re someone whose wedding I’ve photographed, I want to hear from you what your favorite photos are from the day and why. I’ll be posting on social media soon to start collecting everyone’s favorite memories. I don’t really know what I’m going to do with them yet, but I can’t help but think it’s going to be fascinating to hear the stories. I can’t wait. Happy New Year y’all. Let’s make 2020 kickass.

One last thing before you go. As we were packing up to leave the canyon, Samantha gave me the best present ever, a copy of her album. On my four hour drive back to Portland, I listened to it at least six times. I listened to it the first time out of curiosity. I listened to it the next five times because I couldn’t get enough of it. It’s one of my new favorite albums. Please show her some support and check out her website Samantha Lynn Music. You can also stream her music on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and YouTube (which I did not know before today and I’m now totally following her everywhere like a stalker, but a cool stalker. Did I say stalker? I meant fan.).

Amanda Summerlin



Making neat pictures of nice people since 2009. You're not like everybody else, your pictures shouldn't be either.