I was sitting in the airport in Vienna, Austria when I was finally able to look at my film scans from the lab. Aware that drawing attention to yourself as a foreigner isn’t the smartest move, it took a lot of self-control to keep from squealing and dancing as I clicked through each new image. These are easily some of my favorite ballerina images ever! I know I say that after every session, but it’s true!!

Jane, you are a classic beauty and are such a natural in front of the camera. You made this WAY too easy on me! Thank you so much for allowing me to photograph you, this was the perfect session in every way! The red lipstick + tulle skirt + nude pointe shoes, all of it came together to make the most dreamy session. Ahh!

Also, Indie Film Lab deserves a huge shout out- they worked their tails off to make sure I had my scans before leaving the country!

Washington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace Photography

  • Mia Bjerring - These are amazing!! Definitely my favourite ballerina session of yours! Jane is gorgeous and you captured her beautifully!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn - So, so amazing!! Just beautiful! Love them all!ReplyCancel

  • Beth Hamilton - So dreamy!! You are so talented Abby!ReplyCancel

  • Jean - Oh, Abby, these are gorgeous shots! You really nailed it with this session. Such a beautiful ballerina!ReplyCancel

  • Beth T. - WOW! These are stunning Abby! Love every.single.one. Thanks so much for the constant inspiration! Can’t wait to see your work from Europe!ReplyCancel

  • rebekah j. - so lovely! i think my favorite set yet.ReplyCancel

  • Bethanne - I’m pretty obsessed with this! Such gorgeous shots! AND THE FIIIIILM! Just beautiful work Abby!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Beth Tapanes - Truly incredible, Abby. Like something out of a dream <3ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Wells - Ahhh I love these so much!!ReplyCancel

  • Caili - You KILLED this one, Abby! My favorite so far!ReplyCancel

  • Emilia Jane - Yep this is definitely my favorite of your ballerina sessions so far <3ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah - I agree, these are amazing! The red lipstick adds such a nice pop of color. Great work!ReplyCancel

Buongiorno, friends! Raise your hand you if had an amazing week, because I sure as heck did, too. I got a ton of work done, shot a beautiful Anniversary Session, got my film back from Jane’s ballerina session, and left for Italy in a state of pretty much no stress! I mean, there’s the usual stress over “I’m really going to miss my husband,” but I started packing early enough in the day that I managed to avoid the panic associated with last-minute suitcase jamming. AND get this: I have extra room in my suitcase. Yeeeah buddy!

My mom’s the one who holds on to everything, whereas my dad finds purging + a more minimalist approach to be more calming. So I’ve got a bit of both when it comes to packing- “but I *might* have a chance to wear that really cute dress!” warring with “CONSOLIDATE OR DIE.” It usually results in me bringing too many outfits, and then feeling real anxiety about it every time I open my suitcase. So for my last two overseas trips, I’ve made a real effort to bring the bare essentials- enough tops + bottoms to get me through each country, with the plan that I’ll wash everything before packing up to hit my next destination. It worked really well last time, I’ll keep you posted on how it goes over the next couple of weeks!

As always, lessons learned/events that transpired over the past week!

  • If you can’t get a window seat booked on a large flight (the kind with two aisles and a row of seats in the middle), get the middle seat in the middle rows. That way if you want to go to sleep, no one’s having to ask you to get up to let them out!
  • Bring your own ear buds for a long flight. The ones they provide are terrible and they stab your ear canals.
  • I flew through Vienna, Austria on my way to Rome, and I just don’t get German-speakers. I mean, they were all really nice! But their clothing styles? I don’t get it.
  • For example, there was a dude sitting across from me at the airport with a hair style like THIS, and Harry Potter glasses, a tan blazer, cerulean-blue denim pants, hiking boots, and wool socks, with the blue pants tucked into them. I don’t get it.
  • Rome. is. AMAZING. So much more to come on this city once I have my film back, but Italy is winning me over with every new experience.

Alright, I’m going to jet for a day in Siena and an Anniversary Experience session with these two! I don’t have any previews of Italy because I’ve been shooting on my Contax, so you’ll have to make sure you’re following along on Instagram to catch all my #abbygraceineurope adventures as they’re happening! I WILL, however, leave you with a peek at what’s hitting the blog tomorrow :). AH! You’re going to love this one!

Washington DC ballet photographer- Abby Grace Photography

AH! You’re going to love this one! I was dying as I went through my film scans, Jane is absolutely divine!

  • Rhiannon - Oh my gosh! This photo. Absolutely incredible. You’re wonderful, friend.ReplyCancel

  • Jean - i was so happy to find your blog this morning! Looks like you are having a great time. The packing, I understand, especially this time of year, when you need some long sleeve and some short sleeved things. I always come home with some unworn clothes. Keep on having a great time! Love you.ReplyCancel

  • jasminelilovesphotos - Simply beautiful. Did you use tilt shift for this?ReplyCancel

  • Kaitlin Simpson - THAT. PHOTO. *dies*

    Also, LOVED your Periscope stream on packing! The no-air-baggies (I’m blanking on the name) is GENIUS.

    Have fun!ReplyCancel

It was almost two years ago, and I was planning for James & Deanna’s Surrey, UK wedding at the beautiful Gorse Hill. My dad, an avid traveler and lover of Europe (I am definitely my father’s daughter!), was sharing with us all his favorite spots in London, Stamford, and Paris. “You have to do one of those red bus tours- it’s the best way to get around the city! Just jump on and off wherever you like, and that way you can hit up all the major sights.” And then my mom, being the sweetheart that she is, was sharing her advice for documenting memories- “make sure you take a travel journal! That way you can write down and remember later and the fun people you met, and the cool places you see.”

London wedding travel photographer- Abby Grace Photography And of course, various other friends & family sharing their favorite spots and tips for each place we were going. All of it was great advice! I know they were all sharing from a place of being excited for us. But I started getting anxious, really anxious. There was this knot in my chest for a week or so before I finally realized what it was- for every tip I got, I made a mental list of obligations. Like “so-and-so said we had to go to that place Angeline’s in Paris for hot chocolate,” and “so-and-so said I need to make sure to visit that pub Victoria’s over near Ebury St. in London.” And with that list, I somehow felt like I was going to be disappointing people if I didn’t take their travel advice. Which is absurd, obviously.

Paris wedding travel photographer- Abby Grace Photography

I value spontaneity when I’m in a new city- I don’t want to make a huge list of sights we must see, or shops we have to visit. Because what if I wake up one day, and I feel this spontaneous whim to just WANDER instead? Then I end up feeling like I’ve missed out on whatever detailed plans we may have made. You know, that whole “fear of missing out” thing? It’s real, man. It’s real.

When I’m in a new place, I want to experience it like a local. I don’t want to spend my three precious days in Rome going to the Colosseum, or waiting in line at whatever pizza place the tour book says is best. Instead, I want to wander, get lost in the twists and turns of the little alleys and accidentally stumble upon some hole-in-the-wall joint that most tourists never find. Because it’s not on the beaten track, you know? I don’t want to see the Google-image-search-version of Marseille- I want to see the Marseille that locals pride themselves on experiencing every day. It’s experiencing the culture of a place in whatever limited time I have there that I’m after, not just photos of recognizable landmarks.

Paris wedding travel photographer- Abby Grace Photography

So please, if you offer travel advice (and you’re not someone whose spent an extensive amount of time in one place) and I choose not to take it, don’t be offended! It’s just how I like to travel. Other people I know LOVE seeing a new place via tour bus with a guide book in hand, dining at all of Rick Steve’s most recommended eateries (and the guy knows his stuff, so his recommendations are good ones). But as an artist, I need freedom in travel- freedom to wander, to dawdle, to get swept up in a beautiful collection of blooms outside an unassuming Parisian floral shop.

A huge shout out to my bride Caroline (who you’ll meet next week!) who gave me the most amazing gift at their engagement session last week- a set of cards that take you on off-the-beaten-track walking routes around the city, according to whichever arrondissement you’re in! She lived in Paris for a year so she knows the city, and I’m totally using those cards next week along with all her advice for the best places to people-watch among local Parisians.:)

Paris wedding travel photographer- Abby Grace Photography

Happy Friday, dear friends! I’m boarding a plane for Rome today and will see you in two and a half week! Ciao ciao!

London wedding travel photographer- Abby Grace Photography

  • Urška Majer - Such a true post! Have a great trip :)ReplyCancel

  • Currie - So true Abby! When I lived in Prague, my absolute favorite days had no agenda – we just walked and explored! It was the BEST way to experience it.ReplyCancel

  • Leah - So jealous! Have fun, and I can’t wait to hear all about it.ReplyCancel

  • Jean - Have a great trip. Be safe. Love you!ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah - I very much agree with you. When I travel, I like to have a few major sites I want to see but for the most part I really like having no (or very few) set plans. I love being able to just wake up & wander around wherever I am, whether that’s a new (to me) city like Boston or a national park like Yellowstone. I’ve always thought trying to absorb the “every-day” culture of a place is far more exciting than just doing the normal touristy stuff. Also I hate large groups, so the idea of a tour group makes me feel nauseated.ReplyCancel

  • Karen Field aka Mom - See you in Paris on Saturday!ReplyCancel

They’ve known each other for a long, long time- first memories include walking to math class together in sixth grade and awkward, stilted conversation. You know, that stage when guys and girls first start actually interacting instead of just pushing each other over on the playground? It didn’t take very long to take a liking to one another, and as much as you can date when you’re in sixth grade, they dated. There was a break-up at one point, but they eventually came back together- “I love him, and I’m going to marry him,” she remembers telling a friend on the way to soccer practice, when she was only 16 or 17!

They eventually parted ways in high school, choosing to pursue different adventures on their own, but two months into freshman year are Virginia Tech, sparks flew again. And this time, it was for real- “I guess maybe it’s weird to tell someone, an hour into dating, that you love them.” But when your history starts as far back as 6th grade math class? I don’t think there’s anything weird about it at all. When you know, you justknow!

Lee & Danielle, I had so much fun with you both in Blacksburg! Having the chance to capture you all on the campus where you finally realized you were made for one another, it was perfect. I’m so grateful to be the one photographing your Fairfax, Virginia wedding next year- it’s going to be a STUNNER!

*In case you think Danielle looks familiar, you’re right! Her sister Lindsay was one of my 2014 brides, and I met Danielle at Lindsay & Jason‘s black tie Georgetown wedding last summer! Sigh. I love my couples so dang much.*

Virginia Tech engagement session- Abby GraceVirginia Tech engagement session- Abby GraceVirginia Tech engagement session- Abby GraceVirginia Tech engagement session- Abby GraceVirginia Tech engagement session- Abby GraceVirginia Tech engagement session- Abby GraceVirginia Tech engagement session- Abby GraceVirginia Tech engagement session- Abby GraceVirginia Tech engagement session- Abby GraceVirginia Tech engagement session- Abby GraceVirginia Tech engagement session- Abby GraceVirginia Tech engagement session- Abby GraceVirginia Tech engagement session- Abby GraceVirginia Tech engagement session- Abby GraceVirginia Tech engagement session- Abby GraceVirginia Tech engagement session- Abby Grace engageme

If you’ve been hanging around the blog for a while, you might remember THIS post from spring of 2013! Well, today’s post is a follow-up to that one. After spending this past week shooting in DC during one of the most crowded times the city sees all year, I realized there’s a trick I employ during almost every session that I’ve never mentioned before on the blog!

How to photograph in a crowded place- Abby Grace Photography

Being a city-lover means I’m used to crowds. With shooting in New York + DC as often as I do, you just have to be comfortable with large groups of people! My palms used to sweat, literally sweat, at the thought of photographing a couple in a location that’s frequently clogged with traffic, but it doesn’t phase me much anymore. Over the past five years I’ve learned a few tricks to take the heat off when my couple wants a location that could be congested with pedestrians. Make sure you check out Part 1 first, since this is a follow-up!

So, here are my secrets to getting those tourist-free shots:

1) Wait. Seriously- that’s the biggest component. Have your camera settings ready, and go ahead and direct your couple where/how to stand, but let them know you’re waiting for tourists to pass so they’re not standing in an intimate embrace for an unspecified amount of time. As soon as the background clears, tell your couple “it’s go time!” and shoot, shoot, shoot!

2) Compose your shot so that the couple’s bodies are blocking tourists/photobombers. Super simple, and all it requires is a bit of shuffling your feet!

This is what it looked like at 6:45am at the Tidal Basin this past weekend. The view from where I stood…

How to photograph in a crowded place- Abby Grace Photography

And what was coming and going behind my back.

How to photograph in a crowded place- Abby Grace Photography

But THIS was the final product. You’d never know by looking at this image how crowded it was that morning!

How to photograph in a crowded place- Abby Grace Photography

Another example of strategic composition. I use this trick all the time in New York!

How to photograph in a crowded place- Abby Grace Photography

3) Rise early. If you’re shooting in a location that’s busy 24/7 (like Time Square), it’s not really going to matter what time you get there- it’s perpetually insane over there. But if it’s a place that might be less crazy at sunrise, then shoot at sunrise. That my one condition for cherry blossom shoots- my couple has to be willing to shoot at dawn. I try to schedule my New York City shoots early in the morning as well, but when that’s not possible, I follow steps 1 & 2!

And if all that fails, as Tim Gunn says,

4) Make it work. Make those tourists a part of your story! Sometimes crowds are inevitable, so if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! Like this :).

How to photograph in a crowded place- Abby Grace Photography

How to photograph in a crowded place- Abby Grace Photography

I hope that was helpful! And if you guys have any additional tricks up your sleeve, I want to hear about them!

  • Janelle C - You are AWESOME Abby! Great post!ReplyCancel

  • jean - wow, you have really mastered this technique . Bravo! Love you! And these photos are beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Erin Schrad - I recognize those cuties under the blossoms! Looking good, Hoyts!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley Mitchell - Totally agree on sunrise shoots! We shot on the Brooklyn Bridge at sunrise during a weekend shoot and had the ENTIRE BRIDGE to ourselves – it was awesome! And my favorite thing about the cherry blossoms is the runners who get annoyed with all of the people walking around- like HELLO maybe you should choose a different path for a couple of weeks LOL.ReplyCancel