BEHIND THE LENS
Amanda is a wedding, senior, newborn, lifestyle, family, maternity, portrait and branding photographer based in Knoxville, Tennessee
WHAT IS IN YOUR CAMERA BAG?
Lots of things! 2 Canon 5D Mark III bodies (ready to upgrade to 4's though), Canon 35, 50, 85, 100, and
135 mm prime lenses. Canon 24-70 and 70-200mm zoom lenses. 3 Canon 600 exII-rt speedlites.
WHAT TYPES OF SERVICES DO YOU OFFER?
I specialize in Weddings, but I also offer various Portrait services. Weddings include 8 hours and full day coverage on wedding days. I offer Bridal, Boudoir, Rehearsal Dinner, and Engagement session add-ons.
I also offer Senior, Newborn, Lifestyle, Family, Maternity, and Branding portrait sessions.
GIVE ME YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH.
I want to help you remember and I want to help you build your legacy. After an emotional day of saying your vows, or birthing a baby, we remember those feelings. We remember that intense emotion, But over time it fades. You forget the smells and the sounds and all the intricate thoughts passing through your mind. But with a picture, you remember. You see that image laughing into one another's eyes as you can't fit the ring on his finger and you remember. You see that shot of your first newborn landing in your arms with all the tears and the sweat, and you immediately remember. But these memories aren't just for you. They are also for your children and grandchildren. They are for the generations that come after you who want to know about their history. They are there to give the stories meaning and substance because the images are proof of that one time you danced all crazy at your reception. Give your family the gift of remembering.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR BUSINESS?
I started out with a film Minolta. I took some photos of the kids at my church playing on the playground while the adults were in Wednesday night bible study. I developed those photos at Walmart, went to yard sales and bought a bunch of $0.25 picture frames, framed them and gave them to all the parents at Christmas. When I saw the look on their faces when they saw their babies laughing and playing in the photo, it put a spark in me to want to give that to people all the time! I was in middle school when I did this, and in high school when I was interviewed for the local paper, I said that I wanted to be a photographer when I grew up... and here we are :-)
WHAT MAKES YOUR BUSINESS STAND OUT FROM YOUR COMPETITORS?
The personalization that you get from me. I genuinely put so much into the experience for each of my wedding couples. From gifting to them, to get-to-know you questionnaires, to an annual AMP social that I host for all of them every year. I invest time into their service but I also invest time into building a relationship with them.
IF YOUR BRAND AND/OR BUSINESS HAD A PERSONALITY, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE IT?
Fun, bright, bubbly, loving, generous, and kind.
HOW DO YOU DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF IN YOUR LOCAL MARKET?
By exceeding expectations for everyone that touches the experience with my couples. Of course, I aim to exceed my couples' expectations, but I also want to exceed the vendors expectations, the family's expectations, and the bridal party's expectations. I want to set the bar high and then pass it up!
WHO ARE YOUR BUSINESS HEROS?
Nancy Barger is a small business owner in Knoxville. She runs an event venue, clothing store, and florist shop. She's also opened and sold lots of other businesses along the way. She's on numerous boards and committees, and she was named Knoxville's 40 under 40 a couple years ago. She has contacts all over the place, and she is a guru at building relationships. She speaks at my workshop every year because she's amazing. I adore her and admire her so much. She blows me away. On a national level, I love Katelyn James. I love how innovative she is, and how she changed the industry for us all when she started back in the early 2000's. She's so creative and continually brings value to my business. I also greatly admire Marshawn Evans Daniels. I saw her speak at a conference a couple years ago and she blew me away. I then bought her book and have since passed it on to anyone and everyone I know. She has grown multiple businesses to 6 figure incomes in a matter of years and is a phenomenal leader.
Share 3 adjectives that describe you personally.
Excited, Smiley, and Bubbly.
SHARE 3 ADJECTIVES THAT DESCRIBE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE.
Bright, Natural, and Timeless.
Describe your dream client.
First and foremost, I want them to value photos. My most favorite clients to work with are ones who love photos as much as I do and understand everything that they mean and do. Additionally, my ideal client is giggly and cuddly. They adore and respect each other. They trust me. They value photography, so they are willing to pay a premium amount for a professional and they trust that professional. They like my style and don't ask me to change anything about my posing or editing. They get creative and offer up locations that are personal to them. They love wedding planning and their favorite source of decor is Target. They are so much fun to work with, and value the relationship with me!
Describe the primary feeling/message you want your clients to experience when interacting with your business.
"It seems like we are working with a friend." This means SO much to me. If they view me as more of a friend than their hired vendor, they trust me more and can be their real genuine self. Being able to let walls down is what gets that real, raw emotion flowing.
WHAT YEAR WAS YOUR FIRST PAID SESSION AND HOW MUCH DID YOU CHARGE FOR IT?
2010 was my first paid portrait session for $50 and 2011 was my first paid wedding for $500.
WHAT ONE ACTION CAUSED YOU TO SEE THE MOST GROWTH IN YOUR BUSINESS?
Investing in education and equipment. There have been multiple growth leaps in my business. The first was when I upgraded to a mark iii. Next is when I established my editing with more consistency by designing my own preset. Next was when I did a large dollar value educational event with Katelyn James. Next was when I purchased and switched over to shooting with all prime lenses.
WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR BIGGEST BUSINESS FAILURES?
Not outsourcing sooner. I juggled working full time as a public accountant for three years of my career. I longed to go full time but I was too scared. If I had started outsourcing then, I would have been able to grow more because I just didn't have the time with such a demanding day job to invest what I needed in order to grow AMP. That earlier growth would have lead me to quit my day job earlier. It was a great day job that taught me a lot about running a business, but also I was freshly married and living in a loft downtown and I wish I could go back and enjoy that time of my life a little more.
How did you know when to "quit your day job" and go full-time with photography?
I swear I DIDN'T even see this question when I answered the one above. I knew it was time when I was out of capacity to take on more but could. When I had no other weekends, no other evenings, and my revenue was still under $50k, I knew I needed to quit so I could start saying yes to more things without completely overfilling my plate.
WHEN DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU "MADE IT" AS A PHOTOGRAPHER?
I think that feeling was when I grossed 6 figures and hired my team. I love having an assistant and two editors that help me accomplish some of the time consuming behind the scenes things so that I can focus more on the personalized experience for my couples!
What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you started your business?
Prime lenses are the way to go, and put yourself out there as much as possible! The more you put your face in your business, the more unique it is because there is no one like you. Let your potential clients get to really know you, so when it's time to need your services, they think of you first!
WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL PURPOSE?
This is going to sound like a Sunday School answer, but honestly, my whole goal with Amanda May Photos is to serve Jesus. He has shown me countless times that He has used AMP to bring glory to His kingdom and I know that I'm where he wants me to be because He just keeps using it. He keeps bringing me amazing clients and opportunities to serve and donate my services where I can.
What is the hardest thing about running a small business?
You never turn it off. There's never a point at any time of day or any time of year where I just turn it off. When I shut my computer down at night, I'm thinking of things that I could be doing to better AMP. When I go on vacation, I am still answering emails and following up on leads. When I leave for a wedding day, I'm still not "out of the office" technically because prompt responses back to current clients and potential clients is one way to exceed their expectations... even when it's totally reasonable to not be getting back to them.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM?
Bluebell Ice Cream (it's SO darn expensive) chocolate peanut butter fudge cookie dough. I can rarely find it, but when I do, I pay the $7 for a half gallon because holy moly, it's so good.
WHAT IS THE THING YOU'RE MOST LIKELY TO END UP IN JAIL FOR?
Trespassing! I do it without even realizing it because all I see is amazing light and a great photo and I don't even think that it might be private property. One time I brought a couple to an old abandoned factory. The windows were knocked out of it, graffiti everywhere, parking lot had weeds growing up through all the cracks, and it was beside a public baseball field. I looked at it and thought, surely no one would care that I let my couple stand in the parking lot beside this park with this building behind them for some photos... sure enough, I got an email a couple months later saying if I didn't take down that blog post they would report me because I was on private property. er. so I definitely took it down and haven't been back since!
If you would like more information on Amanda's services please visit her website
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