Forever in Love
FEATURED IN AUTUMN | VOL.2 | ISSUE.18
Summer Simmons is a traveling Tennessee photographer who specializes in couples, engagements, weddings, and elopements. She’s been pursuing this career professionally for about 3 years venturing further into the photography world. She recently graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in communications and plans to use those skills in building her photography brand. She most enjoys working closely with couples and has made it a goal to leave as friends with the clients after every shoot. She loves to travel and wants to shoot intimate weddings in every corner of the world.
Q. What is it like capturing true love?
Honestly? I think it’s one of the worlds biggest honors and greatest experiences. Love is what spins things into motion in this world and it is a universal language that everyone can understand and relate to. That’s the amazing thing about photography, no words are needed. You can simply look at an image and see the story, feel the love, and get an idea of what the couple is like. Love is the start of someone’s entire life. If you get to start working with a couple for their engagements, soon it will be their wedding. Then maybe they begin growing their family and need pregnancy announcement photos, and then their first baby’s pictures and so much more. In this crazy, sometimes scary, world, it is an honor to document something so beautiful, timeless, and real.
Q. As a wedding photographer, do you find it hard to organize yourself?
In the beginning, absolutely. I would stay up late, trying to find a balance that just wasn’t there yet. I learned that it was something you have to ease into. Just like any other skill or goal, it takes time to grow to where you want to be. It took some long months of teaching myself website design and SEO metrics and other analytical tools to reach that status of “professional wedding photographer”. I’ve now come up with a system starting with a basic inquiry email all the way through the booking process. One of the key take-away points is to be consistent. If you start running your business a certain way, and keeping at it, I’ve learned that it will eventually keep itself organized.
Q. Where do you get inspiration for the themes of your shoots?
It’s a mix! I love keeping up with fellow creatives in the area through social media, and especially those who are chasing their dreams in far off places like Scotland and Italy. I have a running board of images I’ve seen that are just incredible and I keep them tucked in the back of my mind. I’ll see a photo with the lighting perfectly peeking through the trees and I’ll think about how I can recreate something similar that will fit perfectly with the personality of my couples. The other half of my inspiration comes from the couples themselves. When I do engagements, I often ask my couples some questions about how they met, what their favorite thing to do is, and what keeps them falling for each other every day. Then I bring these things up randomly throughout the shoot to get those real, genuine laughs and moments. It’s helped me capture images where it’s just a look in her eye that makes you instantly read her mind and know that they were meant to be together. It’s those little moments that are almost impossible to photographer that challenge and inspire me at every shoot.
Q. When is your busiest time of the year and how do you manage yourself during this time?
My busiest time of the year is the spring. I shoot a mix of seniors and graduates and a lot of spring weddings! The best way I’ve learned to manage it is to create a system and plan way ahead. That includes making sure contracts are signed, deposits are paid, inquiries are answered, and more. I’ve also learned to not spread myself too thin with booking.
Q. What was it like booking your first client? and what advice do you have for beginning wedding photographers booking their first client?
It was honestly an adrenaline rush. It’s the first big step towards your career, but it’s also a little nerve-wracking at the same time. It was my first official job for photography so there was some pressure. It was a test to see how prepared I was to make this a career. I was nervous about how to go through the big day because I had never done that by myself before. If I could give advice to other beginning photographers who are dealing with their first client, I would just say to calm down and make a list. Make a list of everything you should ask them about the day from the timeline to the color palette. Consider what gear you may want to use when. Think about the location and how to best set up your shots. Get a shot list ready and ask if there are any “absolute must” pictures the bride and groom will want. At the end of the day, though, they chose you. They trust you. It’s all going to work itself out.
Q. Do you find it challenging having to edit so many images after weddings? or do you use your own preset to edit large amounts of images quickly?
At first, absolutely. It was overwhelming to jump right in and have a wedding every weekend and spend my next few weeks full of editing. It can get challenging if it slips through the cracks or gets put on the back-burner. I have a routine now where I come home, import my images and spend that week editing that past weekend’s events. Yes, I have tweaked some presets to apply to the images as I go, editing each one based on the lighting, scenery, or time of day. Once it’s something you do every day, it all starts to flow together pretty well.
Photographer: Summer Simmons