Classic Four Seasons Georgetown wedding | Abby Grace Photography

“How are you feeling?” “Honestly? I’ve never felt more calm. I’m excited to see him, but I’m so relaxed right now.” There was this constant buzzing in her bridal suite that morning- excitable chatter, the hustle and bustle of seven bridesmaids, two flower girls, a few family friends, and the various vendors zipping around. But Claire was just as peaceful as could be. Nothing rattled her cage that morning, not even the rain forecasted to fall the entire day. And that, my friends, is what blessed assurance looks like. She & Ryan were made to be together. Their engagement and then wedding came as no surprise to anyone around them, it was simply a confirmation of what everyone already knew.

Everything on Saturday was impeccable; Claire, Ryan, their bridal parties, their sweet families; from the beginning of the ceremony to the end of their exquisite Four Seasons Georgetown wedding reception. I literally lost my breath when I walked into that ballroom, and it served as the cherry on top of one of the most beautiful days for one of the most amazing couples I’ve ever had the joy of photographing.

Ryan, Claire, what to say? You two are incredible. Your sweet hearts were evident in every area of your wedding day, and the way you welcomed your friends and family to celebrate alongside you all, it’s exactly what a wedding day SHOULD look like. Thank you, a hundred times over, thank you for the joy of being the one you trusted to document it all. I hope you’re absolutely loving honeymooning in Hawaii!

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The incredible team-
Ceremony: St. Dominic Catholic Church
Reception: Four Seasons Georgetown
Coordination: Christine of Engaging Affairs
Dress: Mira Zwillinger, via Carine’s Bridal Atelier
Bridal tulle skirt: Monique Lhuillier
Makeup: Carl Ray
Hair: Amie Adkins of Bang Salon
Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Bridesmaids: BHLDN
Groom: Hugo Boss, shoes by Ferragamo
Florals: Yellow Door
Paper: Dandelion Patch
Music: Trademark from East Coast Entertainment (they were AMAZING!!)

 

 

It took almost four years of attending the Academy together before their paths finally crossed, really crossed. They’d both just selected their ship where they’d be stationed after graduation, and after realizing they’d both be heading out to San Diego with several of their fellow graduates, they decided they’d better start getting to know each other now. And then sparks began to fly, slowly but surely. It took a cross country road trip from the East Coast to the West for them to realize that this was most definitely not just a fling, and here we are just a few years later planning for their US Naval Academy wedding in October!

I don’t know what it is about the Academy, but the brides and grooms of mine that have come out of Annapolis have always, always been dream couples. Love stories that have stood the test of time, deployments, hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles. Brides and grooms who are, above all, excited to be MARRIED, not just to have a wedding. And add to that Colleen saying “you were our dream photographer!” during their session, and I think I might just move to Maryland. (Just kidding, Mom).

Matt, Colleen, you made a warm, sticky night on the Bay a complete breeze. Your joy at being together, finally together after months of deployment separation!, it was exactly what I needed to witness during a week when I was beginning to feel the exhaustion of wedding season. Thank you so very much for being so very in love; I am SO excited for your wedding in just a few short months!!

US Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace PhotographyUS Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace PhotographyUS Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace PhotographyUS Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace PhotographyUS Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace Photography

US Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace Photography

US Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace PhotographyUS Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace PhotographyUS Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace PhotographyUS Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace PhotographyUS Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace PhotographyUS Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace PhotographyUS Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace PhotographyUS Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace PhotographyUS Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace PhotographyUS Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace PhotographyUS Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace Photography

US Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace Photography

US Naval Academy Annapolis engagement session | Abby Grace Photography

  • Abbeigh - AH! Love these!!! Colleen & Matt – y’all are precious! Can’t wait for you two to get hitched!ReplyCancel

They’ve been together for ages; since the beginning of the UK’s equivalent to high school, so going on 15 years now. After 10 years together they tied the knot, and just a few years into marriage, they made the decision to up and relocate from London, England to the West Village in Manhattan. Why? I asked. “Why not?” If ever they could do it, that was the time, and they wanted to shake things up- Paul & Suzanna felt they were getting too settled into the every day ins and outs, and they wanted an adventure. So they moved to the busiest city in the US. I’d say that qualifies as an adventure, wouldn’t you?

It’s been five years since their wedding day, and after a couple of years in New York City, Paul decided it was time to celebrate this particular stage of their lives. Exactly where and how they are now, so that one day they can look back and reminisce about the gorgeous slice of Manhattan that they called home for a while.

Paul, Suzanna, I cannot conceive a better way to have spent an evening in New York than by exploring with you all, documenting your sweet relationship, and gabbing over prosecco. It was such a joy to see that after all these years together, your spark is still so present! Thank you, endless thank you’s, for allowing me into your world for the day. It was a privilege!

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West Village NYC Anniversary Session | Abby Grace Photography

West Village NYC Anniversary Session | Abby Grace PhotographyWest Village NYC Anniversary Session | Abby Grace PhotographyWest Village NYC Anniversary Session | Abby Grace PhotographyWest Village NYC Anniversary Session | Abby Grace Photography

 

Well helloooo there, Monday! It’s mighty fine to see you again after such a spectacular weekend! Why was it so spectacular? I give you Exhibit A below. You guys went Pin crazy after Ryan & Claire’s engagement session? Well, prepare for Round 2, because their wedding day was absolute perfection!

Four Seasons Georgetown wedding | Abby Grace Photography

As you may have noticed when you clicked on today’s blog post, we have a NEWSLETTER in the works! I’m so excited to get this started, it’s been on my to-do list for a LONG time now, and with the help of my awesome designer Jeff, it’s finally happening!

So what’s the purpose of the newsletter? Well, it’s where we’ll FIRST announce both of the exciting projects we’re working on this summer, where you’ll get first dibs on workshop seats and early bird rates, and where we’ll be sharing educational tips and tricks for photographers and small business owners that you won’t find on the blog. I promise NOT to spam you- my hope for the newsletter is that it’ll going out once a month, with an additional one to two emails whenever we have something new or exciting going on!

I would LOVE to have you join the newsletter community! If you’ve already X-ed out of the pop-up window, never fear- check out the entry form on the lefthand side of the page! Or just refresh the page. Either works! And just to get the ball rolling, I’ll be giving away a one-hour Skype mentoring session to one of the first 100 sign-ups! Sooo do it to it, friends!

Four Seasons Georgetown wedding | Abby Grace Photography

Back to Monday Mash-Up: it’s time for our weekly lessons learned/events that transpired!

  • If you’re not already following Sarah Bradshaw & Natalie Franke, you should absolutely do so! Ryan & Claire’s wedding this weekend was a STUNNER, but the forecast was calling for rain all. day. long. Natalie’s post a few weeks ago about her rainy day kit saved me- I made a last-minute Amazon purchase of 10 clear dome umbrellas, and they were exactly what we needed! Then I called Sarah in panic about portrait locations in case it was deluging (which it was, at points), and her advice was my saving grace; I can’t WAIT for y’all to see the blog post on Thursday!
  • Last week at church I met a new friend, Olga, who had this awesome Frozen-esque, inside-out, French-braided hairdo going on. And I loved it so much, I did my hair the same way pretty much every day last week. I love braids.
  • Fact: I feel approximately 4,000X cooler when I’m sipping a cocktail in a secret DC speakeasy than when I’m sipping one at home. Hot dang, I love northwest DC!
  • This is one of those weeks where I have to look back through my camera roll to remember what happened- if we’re going based on my iPhone’s camera roll, this is what my week looked like: puppies, crazy sky after a storm in DC, more puppies, braided hair, a cup of coffee, Kate Spade, and Georgetown at sunset. Oh, and one more photo of our puppies.
  • On a related note, I take too many iPhone photos of our dogs. Lord help us if/when we have kids, I hope I’ll love them as much as I love Lily & Sirius.

And one more preview from Saturday! Because it was too beautiful of a day not to share!

Four Seasons Georgetown wedding | Abby Grace Photography

Happy Monday, lovelies!

  • Jean - Loved the clear umbrellas. Beautiful photos!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Bradshaw - Thanks for the shout-out! Can’t WAIT to see the wedding!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Heather - I’ve had to go through and delete a ton of photos off of my phone 4-5 times since Conor was born due to the over abundance of “OH MY GOSH HOW CUTE!” moments every day. It’s inevitable! STUNNING photos!ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah - I feel the same way about my puppy. I take so many pictures of our dog that I often wonder what it will be like when we have kids. I hope I love them as much as I love Chaucer (our corgi).ReplyCancel

  • Sabrina - LOVE these photos, Abby!! I finally bought a clear umbrella for any potential rainy day weddings, but I didn’t think about getting them for the entire bridal party! Off to Amazon I go… And to help ease your concern about loving your children as much as your dogs, well, I can’t really speak to that since we don’t have dogs, but my phone photos consist mostly of my daughter. I’ve definitely become “that” parent ;-)ReplyCancel

  • Sydni - I feel the same way about our cat!! I really hope I love our future kids as much as I love her :) :)ReplyCancel

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and I mean that in the nicest way possible), you’ll have noticed that Instagram is where it’s at. Facebook and Twitter still have their places for sure, but Instagram is becoming an increasingly bigger player in terms of where people are spending their social media time. Maybe it’s because it’s simpler, or because you don’t have to pay to have your posts seen (yet), or because you really DO see posts from everyone you follow. Whatever the reason, Insta is my favorite social media app!

Taking better Instagrams | Abby Grace Photography

Because we’re photographers, there’s a natural expectation that your Instas will be, well, better than the average bear’s. A natural assumption, right? Cell phone cameras have come a LONG way since their first iterations, but it’s still vastly different than shooting with your typical camera, meaning there can be a learning curve when it comes to iPhonetography + navigating the nuances of Instagram itself. I thought it’d be fun to share some know-how on taking better images with your phone + prepping them for Instagram! So here we go:

1) Remove clutter from the background. 99% of my taken-on-my-phone Instagrams are by NO means photojournalistic- pretty much every Insta is carefully staged for good light, a clean background, and a cohesive color scheme. And the first thing I do when I’m getting ready to snap an iPhone photo? Clean up my background.

Also, I want my images to feel light, feminine, and clean, so most of my still life Instas are shot either on my white desk, our white TV stand, or the natural wood, butcher’s block-topped kitchen island in our (you guess it) kitchen. It’s a neutral background that’s not going to distract from whatever I’m photographing, and with enough consistency, it becomes recognizable as an Abby Grace image without having to look at who posted it. And recognizability is huge!

Taking better Instagrams | Abby Grace Photography

2) Then, find good light! I *only* shoot iPhone photos for Instagram using natural light. True story: if I have something I really want to post on IG but it’s after sunset? I’ll wait til the next day to take the photo, because natural light is just that important to me. It’s helpful in curating a more consistent feed when someone looks at your account as a whole, which may seem like a silly thing to care about, but does actually make a difference in accruing new followers. Pretty feed overall = a higher likelihood that someone will click “follow.”

3) For the love of Hogwarts, wipe off your camera lens. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a photo and can’t figure out why it’s so cloudy, only to realize there are 47 fingerprints on the tiny little lens. Give it a quick clean off with your t-shirt, THEN take your photo! I clean mine off every time, just to be safe!

4) If your shadows are too deep on your image, use some sort of a white reflector- I’ve used anything from a blank sheet of printer paper to foam core board. It helps make the contrast a bit less severe!

Taking better Instagrams | Abby Grace Photography

5) Can’t get your focus right? TAP your screen where you want the image to focus! For example, you’re taking a photo of your dog, but the phone is focusing on the chair behind said pup: touch your screen where the dog is positioned, and the camera will readjust to focus on your subject.

6) Use an editing app. My favorite is VSCO. Typically, my first step after bringing my images into the app is to brighten exposure, then I sharpen my image, then I may tweak the contrast. If it’s too blue, I’ll warm it up a little, and if it’s too green, I’ll change the tint to slightly more pink. And if it still needs a little something extra, I’ll add just a touch of the T1/Moody filter, scaling it down to a 2 or 3. Then I save to camera (if I want to preserve the non-square dimensions) or upload directly to IG.

A before and after image- edited using the aforementioned steps in VSCO, and it only took about 30 seconds.

Taking better Instagrams | Abby Grace Photography

**To clarify, I only use VSCO on iPhone images- never on my professional photographs.

7) Use an app like Squaready for non-square photos! Sometimes, especially with my professional images, I don’t want to crop to a square. So Squaready allows me to upload a horitzontal or vertical image

Taking better Instagrams | Abby Grace Photography

When you’re thinking about your IG feed as a whole, like I said above- we’re going for consistency. For me, this means that I don’t necessarily post about everything I’m going/everywhere I’m going, because if what I’m looking at isn’t clean, light and de-cluttered, I know it’s not going to look right on my feed.

Take this shot from Manhattan as an example. It ALMOST doesn’t match my feed, because of the yellow cabs. But I walked until I found an angle that I liked, and because the clean white Postal Office building + sky take up the majority of the image, it sort of neutralizes/minimizes the effect of the saturated yellow cabs.

Taking better Instagrams | Abby Grace Photography

Why does your feed matter? Because IG is sort of like a tiny version of your portfolio- if you have a gallery that consists of 19 bridal portraits and one family photo, that family photo is going to stick out, and not in a good way. It’s the same thing with IG- if I were to post a super contrasty, tons of color image, it’s going to draw your eye as you scroll down my feed, distracting you from the overall effect that I’m after. So if I DO post an image that doesn’t really fit with my feed, I’ll actually delete it after a couple of days to preserve the overall feel. It might sound crazy, but that’s what works for me!

You can find me on Insta under @abbygracephoto, or just click here!

BTdubs- we’ve just started up a newsletter sign-up, so if you found this helpful and want to read more occasional tips + tricks for photographers, be sure to enter your email address at the left sidebar! Or that cute little pop-up window. Your choice!

  • Jean - You turned me on to Instagram, and I love it. That’s where I do most of my browsing now. I can almost always pick out your beautiful photos, and now I know why. Love you.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Anne Hayes - This could not have come at a better time! I’ve been looking for some resources to step up my IG feed and photography this week, so thank you for this, Abby! :)ReplyCancel

  • Morgan Leigh - You’re the best! Thank you sharing!ReplyCancel