Local Photographer Wins

We Say “Ata-Girl!”

Tammy Blalock of Ata-Girl Wins First Place

We live in a world where smartphone cameras and photo editing apps make it easy for anyone to call themself a photographer. But taking a killer selfie or knowing which filter to use on your Instagram story doesn’t make you a professional. It takes an understanding of the nuances of photography including lighting, framing, composition, and more to achieve quality photos that live beyond social media and preserve life’s most important moments for years to come. A good professional photographer knows that it takes years of practice, a relentless commitment to education, and the willingness to put yourself out there in competitions. Tammy Blalock, owner of Ata-Girl Photography, is one of those.

Atta girl photography

Blalock, who was recently featured on Bridal Buzz for her book The Complete Guide to Wedding Photography for Couples Getting Married, has been attending and competing in the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) conference since 2013. This past week, after nine years of entries, her work merited enough points to earn the distinguished WPPI Associate Photographer Designation.

“For an image to receive merit it has to receive a score of 80 or more, and this puts it in a category that is considered above the professional standard,” she explains. “There are thousands of images entered into the print competition every year, and maybe only 15% of those merit.”

As she was processing that news, the photographer had another exciting development in the form of a first-place nod in the Wedding Photojournalism category of the Cosmos International Competition. The award-winning image of a bridesmaid falling as she catches the bridal bouquet is being considered for the grand prize to be announced in April. Not bad for a woman who has officially been in the business for only 12 years. But even though she may be a late industry bloomer, her reasons for wanting to help couples capture their special moments are rooted in a history that dates to her childhood.

Ata-Girl Photography
Ata-Girl Photography

“In 1984, I lost my seven-year-old sister when she was hit by a car, and almost exactly six years later, my mother committed suicide,” she says candidly. “When we buried my mother, we had hardly any photos to choose from for her tombstone,” she continues. “We ended up using one of her wearing her pajamas that I had taken before I was even into photography. I realized then that if I shared my talents, maybe no one else would have to memorialize a loved one in their pajamas.”

Blalock started by shooting her daughter’s high school sporting events, before moving on to senior portraits. When she booked her first wedding, this mom knew she had found her niche.

“I got into this wanting to help people,” she explains. “Images are powerful in that they help you connect to those who came before you. When I shoot a wedding, the images will live long after the couple is gone and introduce them to people who haven’t even been born yet.”

Blalock, who in addition to the annual WIPP conferences attends in-person workshops with world-renowned wedding photographers each year, says that she will continue with her commitment to ongoing education as she works towards her goal of reaching the WPPI Master Photographer designation. It’s not a cheap investment, but it pays off in the long run.

Tammy from Ata-Girl Photography

“Continuing education sets me apart from approximately 98% of the other local wedding photographers out there,” she states, adding that many photographers get the bulk of their knowledge from places like YouTube. And while she acknowledges that there is some good, free content out there, nothing takes the place of in-person learning.

“No respectable educator is going to spill all the beans for free,” she cautions. “You aren’t going to get the gold nuggets unless you attend in person.”

For more information on Blalock, or to order her book, visit


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