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Check Out Samantha Brammer’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha Brammer.

Hi Samantha, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I became interested in photography at the end of middle school and then for my 15th birthday, I received my first DSLR camera from my parents and grandma. That next year I photographed my cousin’s wedding — although I hardly knew what I was doing, I knew this was a career I could see myself pursuing for the rest of my life. I joined my high school’s newspaper and yearbook staff and dove headfirst into dedicating my time to photos. Although I was still learning so much and didn’t know a lot on the technical side, I was really passionate about providing quality photos for our newspaper and yearbook. I wanted to have more students represented and I also wanted to advocate for journalism in high school. I photographed a few more weddings and some senior portraits over those next few years.

When it came time for me to decide what to major in when I went to college, I naturally picked photojournalism. I fully immersed myself in all things photo-related (again). I joined my university’s newspaper and magazine staff. I learned so much that first year of school from my peers and mentors. I worked my way up to becoming the newspaper’s multimedia editor but eventually realized that I wasn’t taking photos that made me happy anymore. I have the utmost respect for journalists, particularly photojournalists and the work that they do, but I realized that it wasn’t the career for me. I went into photojournalism originally because it was the closest thing I could get to a degree that focused on photography and documenting events and somewhere along the way, I forgot that because I was more worried about being a top student for my professors. I was accepted into an immersive learning project in the fall of 2016 and it opened my eyes to the fact that I should be pursuing what I want to do in life, no matter how scary it can be. So I left my position as multimedia editor before the beginning of the spring semester and started fully dedicating my time to pursuing wedding & senior photography.

I graduated college in December 2017 and shortly after made plans to move from my home state of Indiana out to Phoenix, Arizona to be with my long-term boyfriend and pursue my wedding photography business full time. Between a lot of trial and error, second shooting as much as possible and trying to integrate myself into the wedding photography community in Arizona… something was missing. Although I felt like this was what I was supposed to be doing, every time I left a big, traditional wedding, deep down I knew I wasn’t fully happy with where my career was going. I spent a lot of time analyzing my own work and wondering if it was something that was lacking in myself and questioning what I was doing wrong.

Then in 2019, I started hearing more about elopements and adventure wedding photography within the industry. I started setting up some styled shoots just to grow my portfolio and then at the beginning of 2020, I set up a styled elopement and the girl that I was taking photos of told me she was a full-time elopement photographer and that I had to join this course that she was in because it would change my life. It was the Adventure Instead Elopement Course that basically is the equivalent of an online college course ALL about elopements. So I made the jump, bought the course, and fully dove in like I have so often in the past. Then when COVID-19 hit, it totally threw a rock in the wedding industry and honestly opened the doors for so many couples that changed their mind about having a big wedding. I had taken a couple’s engagement photos a few weeks prior and then their original wedding plans got canceled so they wondered if I would want to photograph their elopement in Sedona… I obviously said ABSOLUTELY.

That elopement right there completely changed my life and opened my eyes. When the day ended, I sat in the car thinking to myself, “THIS is how people should get married. THIS is what I want to be documenting.” Fast forward to this year, I’m a full-time elopement photographer! I want all couples to get married however feels right to them and whatever will make them the most happy. And I’m here for those couples that don’t want the traditional day. The couples that want it to be just the two of them or just their closest friends and family by their side. The couples that want to hike up a mountain, eat cake with a beautiful backdrop, say their vows surrounded by scenery that doesn’t even look real and know that their wedding day is all about what they want.

It took me just under ten years of taking photos to fully know that this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Gosh, it was so worth it though.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I think anyone that goes into ANY career, especially when you’re self-employed, you understand that you’re going to hit quite a few bumps in the road along the way. I’ve been so fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue my career in photography for all these years and be able to dedicate so much time to it. Has it been easy though? Not at all.

When I first moved out to Arizona a little over three years ago, besides for my boyfriend, I knew no one at all. I had no connections, no family, no friends. Looking back at it now, it doesn’t seem that bad, but I was really lonely that first year or two out here. I had lived in my hometown of Muncie, Indiana my whole life. I was used to having my mom and closest friends just down the street and the rest of my family just a couple of hours away. When you add in that, I was pursuing a career where my only coworkers are me, myself, and I — it makes sense why it was a little rough. A part of me questioned if it would have been easier to just stay in my hometown for a little longer. My business had started to take off in the Midwest and I know I would have had a successful upcoming year out there. I knew that’s not what I wanted though. I’d dreamed of living somewhere like Arizona for as long as I could remember.

Making that jump was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, and some days it’s still hard, but it’s all been absolutely worth it.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I specialize in adventure elopements! I encourage couples to have authentic and meaningful elopements that feel like home in the outdoors. I help my couples with everything from planning their day, crafting their timeline, helping choose locations, what activities to include in their day, and so much more. My biggest focus is that we’re creating a day for them that’s exactly what THEY want to do. I think oftentimes people hear the word “elopement” and think 1 of 2 things: You’re running off to Vegas to get married in secret OR you’re just “eloping” to get pretty photos.

Elopements are NOT what they used to be and it’s also about SO much more than pretty photos. This is about the experience. We’re not running through just a checklist of photos and moving to the next spot. I want you to be able to sit on your wedding day and take in the view, watch the sunset, drink your favorite drink with your partner for life and know that you spent your day exactly how you dreamed. I like to think that the photos are just an added bonus so that you can remember your epic day for the rest of your life.

I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve created this business on my own and the job that I’m doing is creating and capturing memories for couples to have forever. I will always advocate and encourage them to do what will make them the most happy on their wedding day.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
Something that is surprising and also random that I don’t talk about a lot is how much my taste in music growing up really shaped who I am. In middle school, I fell in love with the pop-punk and emo-pop scene and started going to shows pretty young. I went to my first Vans Warped Tour in 2009 when I was only 13. I always felt so at home at these shows, even at such a young age where the majority of the crowds were in high school and college. I was lucky enough to have a mom that enjoyed going to all of the concerts with me and my childhood best friend. Something about that music always helped me feel confident enough to wear whatever I wanted and genuinely be whoever I wanted. The bands that l loved, particularly All Time Low, embraced weirdness at their shows and also talked openly about life being hard and confusing. Having that music with me throughout my whole life has always made me feel a lot less alone and it also takes me back to when I truly had no idea who I was or what I wanted to be.

The Vans Warped Tour ended it’s cross country tour in 2018 and I actually got to go to my 10th and final Warped that summer out here in Phoenix. It felt like a huge chapter of my life was closing, but it seemed appropriate it ended out here in AZ. Without the confidence and hope that music and tour had given me, I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to chase my dreams… which is what got me to where I am today.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Samantha Rose Photography (samantharosephotos.com)

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