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Monday Mash-Up

Well hellO again, Monday! We meet again. And dang, it’s good to see you. Why? Because this week is going to be AWESOME! I’m heading out on Wednesday for the Three Nails workshop with Hunter Leone in Shreveport, LA. I can’t wait to be inspired by this guy- his work is crazy awesome. Totally different than my style, but that’s why I’m looking forward to spending two days learning from him!

We had an amazing weekend- Friday night was spent on a secret mission that you guys will find out about on the next Monday Mash-Up, Saturday was spent photographing one of my best friends from high school as he married his sweetheart, and yesterday we has our church leaders’ Christmas party! So much fun to go around. Matt & I checked the local Goodwill for tacky Christmas sweaters but couldn’t find any, and as soon as we walked into our pastor’s house we were accosted by a rule-abiding 11-year old who promptly interrogated us as to WHY we were not wearing sweaters. Oh boy.

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

  • We mailed out half our Christmas cards! This is the first year we’re doing them and I got REALLY excited about it, but when it came time to address the 100+ cards we’re sending out to friends, family and my clients, I lost a bit of steam. So I’m doing them in batches.
  • Also, I found use for 3-4 books of Harry Potter stamps I’ve been collecting over the past year! I don’t care if Christmas cards are supposed to have holiday-themed stamps- I wanted to use Hogwarts-themed ones.
  • Speaking of Harry Potter stamps, how the heck are you supposed to decide who gets the Voldemort one? Like “hey! Merry Christmas! Here’s a stamp of the most evil wizard ever to walk the literary planet?”
  • I saw this quote outside of an Irish pub and I love it: “As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.”
  • Matt bought me a new 1 lb bag of coffee from Starbucks last week and I noticed the bag advises “use within one week of opening.” Uh, I’m sorry, but what kind of coffee fanatic do you think I am that I, alone, can consume an entire pound of coffee beans within 7 days? Yeah, no.

How gorgeous are these bridesmaid dresses and wintry bouquets? Ryan & Kathleen’s wedding was such a sweet affair, I can’t wait for y’all to see the entire thing!

Fredericksburg Christmas wedding- Abby Grace Photogr

Sydni Jackson - December 10, 2014 - 10:16 pm

You have to do Christmas cards in batches, there’s no other way. We’re in ministry and send out 200+ personal cards! Yeesh. I got the Harry Potter stamps too and thought the same thing! You have to send it to someone who will appreciate it, ha.

Mom - December 9, 2014 - 1:53 am

Can’t wait to see more of the shoot. The bouquets are very pretty!

Urška Majer - December 8, 2014 - 12:49 pm

I love your monday mash-ups! And that Voldemort one made me smile!

Mary - December 8, 2014 - 11:25 am

Voldemort stamps go on things like yucky bills and not-fun mail! Ha!

Kayla - December 8, 2014 - 9:59 am

Ahh- your Monday Mash-ups always make me smile. So fun! Have a blast at the workshop, you lucky girl! :)

Jean - December 8, 2014 - 9:34 am

Beautiful photo. Love the wintry bouquets! Did you decorate for Christmas with a Harry Potter theme?

Dad - December 8, 2014 - 9:28 am

I’m first I’m first great as always, that’s all

New sample album!

This book is waaay overdue- it’s been two years since I’ve refreshed ANY of the printed work in my office! My work has matured quite a bit between 2012 and now, so it was definitely time for a new album to show off to my brides and grooms who come to meet with me. After receiving my final design spreads from Align (more about that here!), it was just a matter of sending them off to Leather Craftsmen!

Photographers- in case you’re curious, this is the 10″ x 10″ 3500 with folded pages, bound in the Platinum Japanese Bookcloth and stamped with silver. See my other sample albums here and here!

Leather Craftsmen wedding albums- Abby Grace PhotographyLeather Craftsmen wedding albums- Abby Grace PhotographyLeather Craftsmen wedding albums- Abby Grace PhotographyLeather Craftsmen wedding albums- Abby Grace PhotographyLeather Craftsmen wedding albums- Abby Grace PhotographyLeather Craftsmen wedding albums- Abby Grace Photography

Rici - December 8, 2014 - 10:53 am

Oh yeah this wedding belongs in an extra Album ^^

Urška Majer - December 6, 2014 - 3:38 am

What a gorgeous sample album!

Terri Baskin - December 5, 2014 - 12:15 pm

Gorgeous Abby!!

Jean - December 5, 2014 - 9:34 am

Beautiful!

Top 3 investments I’ve made in my business

You know that whole adage “you have to spend money to make money?” Totally, TOTALLY true. I remember during my senior year at Radford, I somehow got it into my head that photography “is like a free profession! I mean, it’s not like you have to PAY to take people’s photos, after you’ve bought your camera it’s like you’re making money without having to pay a dime.” Oh Abby, you sweet-yet-woefully uninformed 21-year-old. Being a small business owner of any kind is going to incur costs, some more expensive than others. Today we’re going to chat about the three biggest investments I’ve made, but keep in mind these are the ones that have also paid off the most.

Best investments for photographers- Abby Grace

1. Education. This is the FIRST thing I recommend to new photographers! Find a photographer whose work you love and pay to attend a workshop or mentoring session with them. My first workshop was with Katelyn James back in 2011 and I learned so, SO much about running a business! The next workshop I attended was Walk Through A Wedding with Justin & Mary, and I CANNOT recommend that one enough. I’ve also done two coaching sessions with Katelyn, and attended pretty much every other intensive/mini-workshop offered by J&M. I’m sort of a groupie.

If you admire the way someone shoots, blogs, runs their business, handles their clients, whatever, the best thing you can do is to go learn under them. I’ve paid a lot for education over the past four years but it’s been worth every single penny.

Best investments for photographers- Abby Grace

2. Website design/Branding. You can try and skimp on this, but trust me: you’ll just end up paying more for a redesign a year or two down the road. A great designer is going to be able to hone in on YOU and the kind of style you’re going for, which will ultimately [hopefully] lead to a better ability to reach your ideal client base. A bad website can turn people off within seconds of landing on your home page, meaning they don’t even have a chance to see your beautiful work.

A well-designed website, however, means your work has the best opportunity to shine and invite the viewer in. And in the same way that a well-written resume is the means to an interview, a stellar web presences is the means to a client reaching out for a meeting. If your website sucks (sorry Mom, I know you hate that word) and turns people off, no one’s going to bother wanting to meet with you.

Best investments for photographers- Abby Grace

3. Equipment. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but hear me out: I believe that investing in top-of-the-line equipment is something I owe my clients. If I’m promising them a professional photographer, I believe I need to be using professional equipment. I was fortunate that when I started out, I was able to invest in the gear I needed right at the beginning due to working at a corporate job as I built my business. Everyone’s situation is different though, which is why places like BorrowLenses.com are so awesome- now you can rent the equipment you need until you have the funds to purchase!

There are certain pieces of equipment that every photographer NEEDS to have at any gig they’ve been hired to shoot, and those things are: a camera body, a BACK-UP camera body (rent this if you have to, but for the love of buttered toast, bring a back-up!), an extra (fully-charged) battery, more than enough memory cards, and whatever lens(es) you need to do your job properly. If you’ll be shooting indoors/after dark, you need at least one flash, preferably two in case the first one fails on you. (Go here for an outdated blog post of what’s in my bag, in case you care to see!)

Photographers, I’d love to hear what your three best investments have been so far in your business!

 

Randi-Lyn - December 6, 2014 - 7:42 am

All photography aside, this is a great blog post for anyone in business for themselves. I’m in real estate and the same three apply!

katelyn james - December 4, 2014 - 9:29 pm

Love you girl!!! I always love my time with you!!!! Love this post!! So spot on!

Casi Denton - December 4, 2014 - 4:57 pm

i just took the plunge after not being satisfied with my current website for YEARS (!!!) I took the plunge and rebranded. Now, I have a new logo and am working on new business cards and I am working with a professional web designer that specializes in photography and videography professionals websites. Everything launches January 1, 2015 and I could not be happier with a business NewYears Resolution.

I bought another camera body this year after I landed my first wedding of the year. I use it all the time and use my older camera as my backup.

Jessica Fike - December 4, 2014 - 3:28 pm

Equipment is one for me! Buying top-of-the-line lenses! I wish I could attend more workshops. Those “BIG” workshops that are in New England, the south and California and are sometimes two and three days long!?! They would be awesome, but not doable with two kids. Any suggestions on how to invest in education if you can’t attend workshops?

Deborah Zoe - December 4, 2014 - 12:49 pm

Love this Abby!! I have to agree that education has been a huge part of growth for my business:) Monetary investment aside, just being a kind person and valuing relationships has helped to open doors and bring the most amazing people into my life (and business:))!!

Monday Mash-Up

IT’S DECEMBER!!! My favorite month of the whooole year! Nevermind that it’s almost 60 degrees outside, it’s CHRISTMAS TIME! We picked out our tree yesterday and then spent the afternoon and evening decorating for the holidays with my niece- garland around the banister, ornaments on the tree, and Nutcrackers for daaaays. This is our first Christmas in our new house and I’m determined to do it right! Our town house isn’t too easy to decorate with lights on the outside, so I stuck with simple candles in the window and left the more elaborate stuff for inside. It smells like a Christmas tree in our living room and I’m SO HAPPY about it!

We go to Krop’s Crops every year to get our tree! It’s an awesome family-owned farm in Great Falls, and though we normally choose to cut down a tree, we took the easy way out this year and chose a pre-cut one.

December_1_blog_0004

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

  • Did you know there are approximately 47 varieties of “snow” scents at Yankee Candle? There’s Sparkling Snow, Jack Frost, Flurries, Snow Dusted Woods, Snow Is Glistening, Cherries on Snow, Magical Frosted Forest, Snowflake Cookie, White Christmas and Winter Garden. Holy freaking cow. Who knew frozen precipitation had so many iterations?
  • Speaking of which, I’m burning a Sparkling Snow two-wick candle as I’m typing. It smells like pine trees and fresh laundry!
  • Decorating with an 8-year-old niece is far more entertaining than doing so on your own. “Let’s make a popcorn garland!” she said. “Ok, you’ll need a needle and thread for that,” I replied. “No, just some twine- popcorn comes with holes in it and you just poke the string through.” Oh, ok Isabella. Let me know how that works out for you.
  • Turns out popcorn does NOT come with pre-cut holes for twine. And since I couldn’t locate my sewing basket, we ended up throwing on some butter & salt and eating our garland materials.
  • It snowed on Wednesday!! We got something like 3-4 inches altogether, and though most of it melted the next day, it was so beautiful! I think I got it from my mom; I get SUPER giddy when it snows! And these were some seriously fat flakes coming down. So I commemorated our first snow in the new house (I have this thing about wanting to document all our FIRSTS as homeowners) by making Lily take a few pictures on the front stoop. Doesn’t she look thrilled?

Christmas with the Springmanns- Abby Grace Photography

You guys! There are only 3 seats left for the February date of A Practical Wedding Workshop! And with the TURKEYDAY code that gets you $100 off expiring tomorrow night, if you’ve been thinking of attending, hop to it! You can snag your seat HERE.

A Practical Wedding Workshop, by Abby Grace

And look! A sneak peek from one VERY sweet anniversary session this past weekend :). Anyone remember the two newlyweds??

Virginia Anniversary photographer- Abby Grace

Finally, everyone? Meet my Nutcracker collection, est. 1993. Or something like that. I finally unpacked them all after having them boxed up the last few years and had so much fun remembering all the birthdays and Christmases that brought me these beautiful pieces! And these aren’t even quite all of them- I had 5 more that wouldn’t fit on the dresser top.

Nutcracker collection- Abby Grace Photography

It began with an obsession with ballet- after years of living in a pink tutu, my mom managed to enroll me in classes at SBT when we were living in Orlando. This guy was the first nutcracker ever given to me- I think we picked him up at a yard sale or something, but I LOVED him. He’s a bit worse for wear now :).

Nutcracker collection- Abby Grace Photography

When we moved back up to Virginia, my mom again managed to find a way to make classes happen, this time at Conservatory Ballet (best studio in northern Virginia!). Nothing could taint my excitement for Nutcracker that year- my birthday was on opening night! And for Christmas that year, my parents started a new tradition- at least one new nutcracker was gifted to me each year. As I grew older, it became a thing between my dad and I- during his travels to Europe, he’d take special care to pick out a new Nutcracker just for me. My favorites are the ones from Steinbach, THE Nutcracker designer. This little teeny Mouse King one is definitely in my top 5, as is this fat king nutcracker!

Nutcracker collection- Abby Grace Photography

I’m concerned I might have just made you all think I’m a crazy cat lady. But I’m not, promise- my collecting habits are strictly limited to new photo equipment and Nutcrackers :).

Happy December 1st!

Sydni Jackson - December 5, 2014 - 11:03 am

SWOON!! I have a Nutcracker collection, too! It used to be a tradition for my mom and I to go see the Nutcracker every year (we live too far apart now), and I got my first one after the show. I wanted to start a collection like my grandma used to have! I only have 11 – my husband won’t buy me any more because he hates having a lot of stuff, and I already have four other boxes of Christmas decorations! Eeep!

Rosie Omar - December 4, 2014 - 12:40 pm

I love the nutcracker collection! I can’t wait to buy and home and be able to decorate for the holidays.

Dad - December 1, 2014 - 9:15 pm

The problem now is finding a different one each year, may I will find a traditional photographer nutcracker

Kate - December 1, 2014 - 3:24 pm

I love how excited you are for Christmastime! :) And that candle sounds amazing! I will definitely have to get a Sparkling Snow candle myself!

Vanessa Chupp - December 1, 2014 - 11:42 am

Abby! I Love your nutcracker collection! Our daughter Ellie is almost 4, and recently has been enamoured with Nutcrackers, and the ballet. Her top wish from Santa this year is a nutcracker, and your collection has inspired me to create a new gift tradition for her in our house! xo

Jean - December 1, 2014 - 10:18 am

I knew you had a collection of nutcrackers but was surprised to see how many you do have. They make a lovely Christmas decoration!

Sarah Beth Tapanes - December 1, 2014 - 10:02 am

That is a SERIOUSLY epic Nutcracker collection girl. Jelly!

Natalie - December 1, 2014 - 9:56 am

I am obsessed with that nutcracker collection! Ah! I don’t have a single one! Better get on that…. ;)

Black Friday workshop registration: Go!

It’s absolutely insane to me that there are people out shopping right now, folks who’ve been up and at ‘em since midnight. We headed to the outlets last night and ended up with a few impulse buys- there’s a new vaccuum cleaner and a new printer sitting in our foyer. Super sexy, try not to be too impressed with how cool we are.

It’s workshop registration time! As promised, you get $100 off your workshop seat through Tuesday with the code TURKEYDAY, so get to skippin’ my friends!

Click HERE to snag your seat for the February 23, 2015 A Practical Wedding Workshop!

Want to know more about APWW? Check out the workshops site here!

A Practical Wedding Workshop registration- Abby Grace Photography

And to start this Friday off right, here’s an outtake from out very brief Christmas card shoot a couple of weeks ago. Because SOMEBODY was being a total butthead about taking pictures.

Christmas card picture fail- Abby Grace Photography

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Dad - November 29, 2014 - 1:25 am

Comon’ Matt, get with the program!

Jean - November 28, 2014 - 1:09 pm

Cute pictures. Animals and children are so hard to photograph!

Alex Hinders - November 28, 2014 - 12:53 pm

haha! I love that outtake photo! I feel like that every time I try to take a photo with Nollie!!
xoxo