A little over two years ago I came to know a photographer named Amanda Reed (www.amanda-reed.com). I had read an article she wrote, in which she explained that you should put your family first and say no to things you didn’t want to do. Or something like that. I was struck by her confidence in saying so, and I googled her right away. I sent her an email thanking her for writing the words that I desperately needed to hear, and she responded immediately, friended me on facebook, and liked my fan page. ”Wow,” I thought. This photographer is REAL.
Over the past two years I have come to really admire this woman. Not only because her photography is some of the BEST I’VE EVER SEEN, but because of who she is. And let me just explain that who she is is on the surface very different from who I am. And yet, peeling back the layers a bit, we are very much alike. She is a small-town country girl, tough on the outside. I am somewhere between suburbia and city, trying to please everyone, even if it means I don’t make myself happy. But our guiding principles are the same. We are guided by God and our families and doing the right thing. And of course photography — hoping to preserve a moment in time, make the experience fun and enjoyable, and find beauty in everyone.
And so I found myself up at 5:00AM last Saturday morning, having spent the prior evening at an event in DC, running on adrenaline to make it to the Amanda Reed meetup in Rainelle, West Virginia. The breathtaking drive took me about 4.5 hours. Rainelle is a tiny mountain town in coal mining country in West Virginia. The type of town where everybody knows everybody and there are handmade signs at the Kroger’s supermarket wishing their staff members well as they retire. So different than the Northern California suburbs I grew up in. And that’s what I like about photography — you get to know people you never would have known from all over the world.
As I walked into Amanda’s studio I felt a little like a child on Christmas morning. The meetup was done the right way. No cost, just come. She had about 20 other photographers there from Missouri, Tennessee, North Carolina, Illinois, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. An impressive lot. But the most impressive thing I saw that day was Amanda’s true commitment to her family. Her little boy ran in and around the studio. Her husband popped in several times and even made a pizza run for us. We learned technical things. We each had our turn to shoot models and model ourselves. We swapped marketing ideas and client stories. But most of all I learned that Amanda Reed is “good people”. Which is the most important thing any of us can be.
So thank you Amanda! For teaching us much more than f-stops or lighting ratios. You are a beautiful soul!