Voting in the Shoot & Share photo contest- what I

I’m not the only one who’s literally had HOURS of my life sucked into voting am I? This thing is addicting! I think it’s because it sort of feels like gambling- you never know when one of YOUR photos might pop up, so I keep telling myself “just one more round. Ok, two more. It’ll definitely come up in the next grouping!” It took me hours to choose my final set of images to submit, and it’s a huge thrill whenever I see that one of mine is still a contender!

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, go HERE. The contest is the largest in the world, and there were more than 115,000 photos submitted this year! So naturally, the range of skill and talent is super varied, and I’ve actually discovered a lot about myself and my tendencies as I’ve been voting. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. I take way too many “bride looks down at her shoulder” photos. It seems to be a default for me when I can’t think of anything else to do, and the more photos I see pop up in the contest of a bride simply looking down for seemingly no reason, the more it’s turning me off. So this year, I know to make a more concerted effort to mix up my solo bride portraits!
  2. The colors of a film photo have no equal. I’m so glad I shoot anniversaries with a combination of film and digital!
  3. When it comes to the families and children categories, my favorite images are the ones where people are completely ignoring the camera. Kids being kids, dads and moms being goofy or playing pretend with their little ones.
  4. Fake “authentic” moments really turn me off! I promise to never try and force those again, because if I feel awkward viewing them, I can only imagine how my couples feel.
  5. I love things that make SENSE! If a photo doesn’t seem logical to me, I probably won’t vote for it. That’s my type A personality coming out, that is.
  6. I heart wide, epic shots. I should take more of those!
  7. If there is a: tulle skirt, set of twins or triplets, Harry Potter reference, or puppy in the image, I’m going to vote for it. Every time.
  8. If there is a: ballerina with under-developed technique, someone blowing glitter/snow/confetti at the camera, or a fake snow overlay, I’m not going to vote for it. Every time.
  9. Does it make me a total narcissist if I freak out and screen shot my images every time they pop up? Because I definitely do that.
  10. The simplest images are often my favorites! One of my favorite J&M sayings in regard to crazy photo techniques is “just because we CAN, doesn’t mean we should.” My favorite newborn images are the ones that show infants in settings that feel most natural- in their momma’s arms, or simply swaddled in a comfy blanket. The overly-manufactured, overly-processed, overly-posed images just aren’t my thing.
  11. Sometimes, I can’t tell if I’m voting for the content of the images (i.e. a gorgeous dress), or skill of the photographer who took the photo (i.e. how well they captured the light).
  12. I really want to shoot at Glacier National Park!
  13. Voting for my friends’ images is JUST as fun as seeing my own show up!
  14. Someday, I want to photograph a wedding where the reception takes place outside underneath hundred of cafe lights.
  15. If you ever feel the need to be taken down a few pegs, just sit and vote in the contest for a while. I’m overwhelmed by how much incredible talent there is in the photo world- it’s insane!

Voting in the Shoot & Share photo contest- what I

How about y’all? What are thing you find yourself gravitating toward as you vote?

Happy Friday!

  • Thuy Minh H. - Glad to see I’m not the only one voting for hours, and getting all excited when one of my photos appear. I even take screen shots when it happens…ReplyCancel

  • Ashley Herrinton - YES! I feel like I’ve learned SO much by voting and totally thought I was crazy for feeling that way! It has definitely inspired me for this upcoming wedding season!!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn Grace - I agree, it’s been really fun to be almost subconsciously honing your style by finding out what you gravitate towards in voting! I’ve seen several of your images and I haven’t even been voting that much. :-)ReplyCancel

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

I’m quickly learning that for me, teaching workshops is as enjoyable as photographing anniversaries and weddings! Workshop days (and the days leading up to them) are crazy; tying up all the little details the night before, assembling furniture hastily purchased at Ikea so that attendees will have somewhere to sit for dinner, and whipping out the sewing machine to make a simple table runner + matching napkins just a few hours before things are scheduled to begin. It’s insanity, but I LOVE it. The fact that it’s a labor of love just further embeds my business vision into everything that I do!

This past workshop was better than ever! It was freezing, and I mean fuh-ree-zing. There was ice and snow to contend with, yet everything went off without a hitch. Our sweet models Zack & Ashleigh didn’t complain at all about the temperature and were absolute pros in front of the camera, and I lost track of how many times I heard my girls exclaim “they are SO SWEET together!” as we were shooting.

There are a ton of people to thank for making this workshop as amazing as it was, so we’ll start first with the incredible sponsors!

Florals by Rachel of Floral & Bloom
Hair & Make-up by Martha & Libby of Alison Harper & Co.
Dress by Kevan Hall, provided by Soliloquy Bridal
M&S Grill in Reston Town Center
ShowIt
Align Album Design
Leather Craftsmen

The day begins with the in-home teaching portion where I take attendees through a wedding day with a fine-toothed comb! (Thanks for the behind-the-scenes photos, Kaitlyn!)

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

Sweet dances moves are encouraged, but not necessarily required.

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

Then we move into the shooting portion! This is my favorite part- I get to walk attendees through, step-by-step, how I pose my brides and grooms, complete with mistakes I’ve made and how you can avoid them to get the BEST images possible for your ideal client!

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

This is my “oh my effin goodness, it’s 22 degrees outside, why on earth did I take off my coat??” face.

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

And now, all the eye candy from the day!

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

Thank you to Matt, for always doing whatever it takes to make my workshops a success. Even if that involves a last-minute trip to Ikea for a new area rug + chairs, and assembling them late the night before. You are the Sriracha to my Vietnamese pho soup, darling!

A huge thank you to Kaitlin for coming up to assist me for the second workshop in a row! You make an amazing impromptu model, and you make great coffee for someone who never drinks the stuff :).

To my parents, thank you so so much for coming over to help us set up the night beforehand, and for making to effort to get the house ready for us to shoot in and around! I’m so excited for more workshops at your new beautiful home!

And here’s most of the gang from Monday- we’re missing a few because, as usual, I got caught up in having an amazing time and totally forgot to grab a photo of everyone until the very, very end! Ladies, I am SO grateful that each of you made the decision to attend APWW. It was such a joy sharing with you all and getting to know you, and I’m so excited to watch your businesses grow!

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

  • Kaitlin Simpson - So awesome!! ONE DAY!!! Eeeee!! Love your rainboots too! :)ReplyCancel

  • Heather - Abby,

    I can’t say it enough…THANK YOU!!! :) I am SO glad I had to opportunity to come learn from you! The entire day was so much fun and I walked away from there with a smile on my face, and a little more confidence. You made the entire workshop so much fun. Thank you for all of the effort you put in to making it a wonderful day!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - Abby,
    This was such an amazing workshop and I couldn’t have imagined it being any more perfect than it was. This was hands down, the best investment I have ever made in my entire photography career. Definitely a game changer. I am so grateful to have met you and learned as much as I did and I can’t wait until the next time we meet up! You changed my perspective with photography and I left the workshop knowing exactly what I want to accomplish and why.
    XoxoReplyCancel

  • Jean - looks like you had a great workshop! Photos are beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Mary - Abby!! You’ve done it again!! Been a raging and wonderful success!! It looks lovely…can I just come to every APWW?! Please?? :)ReplyCancel

A few weeks ago my friend Camille, a fellow photog (and total branding connoisseur), asked if I’d be willing to be part of a branding book she’s putting together for photographers. “Heck yeah!” I’d said. She told me she’d send over a few questions for me to answer, and then she’d also want me to pick out a few of my favorite images to accompany the text. So then I put my foot in my mouth and said “favorite images? Or images that really embody my brand? Because if you’re creating a branding tool for photographers, wouldn’t it make sense to have images that illustrate each photographer’s visual aesthetic?” She agreed, and asked me to send over fiveish images that illustrate the visual side of Abby Grace Photography.

Yeah, SO much easier said than done. It took me three hours to whittle it down into a mere five photographs. Because, see, I wasn’t just picking images I love the most. I was picking ones that embody everything about the physical BRANDING side of Abby Grace Photography- taking into consideration photographic style, the intimacy with which I shoot, colors, layout, attire, the style of my subjects, composition and architecture. I went back and forth about a hundred times, sorting this image and that one, re-choosing photos I’d *just* sorted into the “nah, that won’t work” pile. But in the end, I was really happy with what I settled on.

If I had to sum up the visual portion of the Abby Grace brand in fiveish images, this is what I’d show you:

An exercise in branding- choosing 5 images that represent your visual aesthetic- Abby Grace Photography

I actually have five total picked out, but when I went to write this post I realized the fifth one really didn’t fit. Just these four photographs do it- they communicate pretty much everything my about my visual aesthetic (with the exception of typography, obviously). The white, city-like architecture, the classic nature of each subject, the white-and-gray-with-pops-of-pink color scheme, the black tux, the Marine Corps dress blues, the birdcage veil, the two cathedral-length veils, the classic champagne glasses, the smiles on the faces in the background. All of it fits perfectly!

This is an exercise I’d suggest all photographers do at some point! It forced to me to examine, really examine the “sticking points” of my what I’m visually communicating with my online presence, which will be so helpful in the future whenever I go to make tweaks to my website and such!

  • David Abel - Yes, narrowing down the photos to the essence of what you want your photography to be about is so difficult! Look like you’ve got it figured out though!ReplyCancel

  • Rici - Great ideas here! Thank you for the inspiration <3ReplyCancel

  • Camille - Such gorgeous photos Abby – and they really do scream Abby Grace Photography. :) Thanks again for your awesome contributions (photos and wisdom) to my branding series. I shared on your wall already but just in case you don’t see it there your interview is live! http://www.camillecatherine.com/branding-talkback-with-abby-grace-photography/ReplyCancel

  • Kat - I LOVE this idea, Abby!! So often I hear about finding words that you identify you brand with (which I think is important!), but I LOVE the idea of a photograph:) xo!!!ReplyCancel

You know the adage that a goldfish will only grow as large as its containing tank allows? Like a small bowl will yield a teeny fish, whereas a larger tank will result in bigger ones. That’s kind of how I work with purses- the small the bag, the less stuff I carry. The larger the bag, the more crap I amass and end up carrying around. I think it’s because I’m not constantly on the verge of running out of space, so I just keep throwing stuff in there without going through to clean it out.

The contents of a woman’s purse can tell you a lot about her, so I thought it’d be fun to dump out my bag and show y’all what’s inside! I didn’t modify any of the contents, with the exception of pulling out all the business receipts that were crumpled at the bottom :).

Here we go! The bag itself- my favorite leather bag by the darling Kate Spade! It’s an awesome all-around bag, I take this thing everywhere.

WhatWhat

Inside, we have:

  • two tubes of red, red lipstick
  • three Chapsticks
  • a jillion business cards
  • two rolls of film
  • mints
  • my phone, with a Platform 9 3/4 protective case
  • Polaroid sunglasses
  • a key card from Creative @ Heart in January…oops
  • two G-2 pens (my favorites!)
  • headphones for any phone calls in the car
  • an extra pair of pearl earrings
  • Kate Spade wallet, with streaks of paint I accidentally added when I was painting my office
  • a mini Bible
  • a Moleskine notebook (I take it everywhere!)

What

 

Whaddya think? A spare pair of pearls, just in case? Pretty typical of me, I’d say. Happy Friday!

  • Tatyana - Love everything Kate Spade!ReplyCancel

  • Jean - No Kleenex or keys?ReplyCancel

  • Shalese - One time, I had a can of Chef Boyardee in my purse for about a week. I’m a little afraid of what that says about me as a woman, but I would also say it’s pretty typical.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Bradshaw - I’ve never known a woman whose purse contents SO PERFECTLY sums up her personality and brand. I love this. haha.ReplyCancel

  • Leah Kohri - I am pretty sure we are handbag sisters! Holy cow mine is super similar! I have that bag in navy blue with the EXACT same wallet in pink. I have the black G2 pens (with the .38 tips of course), head phones for when I go to the gym, my iPhone, a wayyyyy more chapstick then I will ever need! LOVED seeing this post!ReplyCancel

I know you’re probably thinking: a) NO DUH. And 2) it’s about dang time!

It’s been almost two years since we’ve made any tweaks to my blog, and for the entire nearly-4 year existence of this blog, it’s been the same basic layout. Different colors and fonts, headers and bio pages, but same functionality. And it’s worked really well for me! The blog audience has grown and grown, and I can’t believe the number of people who read my little slice of the internet every day.

But something I’ve learned is that just because something “works well enough,” that doesn’t mean it’s really working FOR me. My blog layout, while familiar and comfortable, wasn’t a perfect match for the sleek, joyful, sophisticated feel I’ve come to associate with my work and brand. I’ve come to a point in my career where “good enough” is no longer enough- it needs to be GREAT.

Fortunately for me, I have the world’s most amazing designer. I got linked up with Jeff of J. Shipley Creative after my mini identity crisis in December 2012 and realized my then-current web presence was no longer a fit for the business I wanted to curate. We scheduled a Skype date (can you believe that was 2 years ago, Jeff??), and after clicking “end” on the call, I knew I was in good hands. (Psst- that’s Jeff!)

J Shipley Creative

I was scared by the idea of spending more on my website, a mere 6 months after forking over more than $3,000 for a full branding and web overhaul with my previous designer (who did a great job!). But I knew Jeff got me, and I knew he was going to be able to pull who I am and what I represent, and put it into a visual representation for my online presence.

Since our first go-round of website revisions, I’ve continued to come back to Jeff over and over. And bless him, he is so patient with me! He’s always willing to chew over what I’m saying I want, but the thing I love most about Jeff? That he’s not afraid to tell me when I’m being…well… kind of stupid. I’d emailed him during a freak out I was having last spring when I felt like my website had been copied by another creative, and so I’d sent him a list of things I wanted to change to be BETTER than that other creative’s website. And here’s what he said-

“If I may, I’d like to invite you to take a deep breath.:-)It’s all good. As tempting as it is to feel the pressure to change things when someone does something similar, I think it’s okay, expected and not necessarily a bad thing…. But I’d encourage that we make those changes from a place of making it fit your more and to evolve alongside you, rather than a reaction to what someone else is doing.” 

(This was my first ever blog design!)

old_blog_design_0003

Can I get an amen? That is so, so on point! Having the mindset of “how can I do what’s best for my business, best for my client?” is ALWAYS going to yield more fruit than simply asking “how can I be better than THAT person/group?” The first question comes from a place of outward-focus, whereas the second question is all self-centeredness and conceit, at least in my case

I was trying to WIN the photography game, but there is no winning it. Because it’s not a game. These are peoples lives, this is MY life, and I love that my designer gently points me back to the questions that actually matter.

Jeff, you are so dang awesome. I know it probably gets repetitive, me telling you how amazing you are, but I hope you know I genuinely mean it. Not in a “using-the-world-‘literally’-in-a-figurative-sense” kind of way, but in a “you-really-are-the-best-designer-I’ve-ever-had-the-honor-of-meeting” way. I’m so grateful for you, for your raw talent, but more importantly, for your ability to ask the hard questions of me. And for not just letting me take the easy way out.

(And this was the second iteration of my blog from sumer of 2012!)

old_blog_design_0004

I hope y’all enjoy the new site layout- feel free to poke around- I would love to know your favorite part! And if you’re feeling like your blog could use some sprucing up, definitely check out the Tonic Site Shop (a collaborative genius by my designer Jeff and the gorgeous Jen Olmstead!)- my blog is a modified version of the Southside layout, and I’m completely in love with it!

  • Alicia Lacey - Yay, I love it Abby!!! I chose Southside too and love how much you can change it around to be YOU!ReplyCancel

  • Alexandra {Heart Love Always} - It’s perfect, Abby!! <3ReplyCancel

  • Jean - Always good to change things up a bit, especially when you have someone awesome helping you out. Great new design!ReplyCancel

  • Kat - AH! I love it, girl!!!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Bradshaw - LOVE IT!!!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Shalese - Remember when we talked about how I found you and how long I’d been reading your blog? Since the Abby-on-the-slide days!!!! Seeing that blog took me right back to sitting in my college apartment reading your blog when I was supposed to be reading Shakespeare. :)ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Beth Tapanes - Looks so awesome, Abby!!!ReplyCancel

  • Lindsay - Abby I love it!!! My favorite part is the category archives for your weddings, engagements and anniversaries! Such a perfect way to display your galleries! Also I love your cleaned up “about” section- it’s SO you- classy and fabulous!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Green - Abby, Abby, Abby, oh my GOODNESS!! This is amazing and I love it so much! I especially love the background – it fits your DC style so well and it is so “Abby Grace”!! I love this!! :) Very CLASSY!!!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth V - You know what is cool? Today is our fourth wedding anniversary… it is SO exciting to see how far you have come over the past 4 years! I remember that FIRST website! This one looks awesome, though, and I am so excited for you :)ReplyCancel

  • Rici OMG - OH my Gosh!!! YAY!!! A new outfit for your blog!! So lovely! Is this Sarah`s picture of you on the left column? <3
    Many cheering you on greetings!!!ReplyCancel

  • Sydni - Very lovely! I remember all of your previous blogs! Wow, can’t believe I’ve been following you that long – that’s fun :) I kind of miss the key because it was such a great little signature, but I like how grown-up your blog is now too :)ReplyCancel

  • Sydni - PS – I meant to also say that I love how honest you are! We can all relate to wanting to operate out of pride/jealousy rather than pure motives, and I love that you are open to sharing those thoughts on your blog. Thanks for being real!ReplyCancel

  • Jen Olmstead - I just love seeing Jeff so well appreciated! He DOES give some great advice, and is a fantastic source of sanity. ;) This update is such a perfect next step for your presence. I love how it turned out!ReplyCancel