This day was a long time coming. They’d just celebrated their 8th dating anniversary last month- together since high school, having weathered the ups and downs of attending colleges several states apart and the inevitable strife that comes with growing into one’s own. But they grew together, which made the process that much easier. Rather than two people growing completely separately, Nick & Nicole managed to grow autonomously while still moving toward one another. In today’s crazy fast-paced world, that’s what I’d call the beginnings of an incredible legacy.

After meeting Nicole as a fellow bridesmaids for William & Meg’s Bald Head Island wedding last year, and knowing Nick already had a ring, I was SO excited when I got the email from Nicole! I kew this was going to be one of my favorite days all year!

And as expected, their wedding day was sweet, so sweet. The years of anticipation, of planning and waiting, it all came together in one perfectly lovely wedding day. She was all smiles all day, with a hint of a joyful tear here and there. And he was completely smitten with her- from the way he took her hand to the longest kiss at the end of a first dance that I’ve ever witnessed. Slipping outside for portraits at sunset, she exclaimed about how this day was finally here, and all she wanted to do was soak it in!

Nick & Nicole, I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am to have been the one chosen to document this stage of your legacy together! Thank you so very, very much. I loved every minute of it, and I hope you’re basking in the full glory of an Antigua beach right now!

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Annapolis, MD wedding | London Town Inn & Gardens | Abby Grace Photography

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Details coming soon!

 

  • Jean - Gorgeous dress, beautiful bride. Just a beautiful album of a very special day for these two! So lovely!ReplyCancel

  • Abbeigh - Literally just ooh-ed and aah-ed over this entire post! Her dress, the bridesmaid dresses, the location, the details! Love it all!! You captured it perfectly!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn - Ahhh, I just LOVE the back of her dress!! Lace perfection! Stunning wedding, Abby, you knocked it out of the park!ReplyCancel

  • Natalie - You knocked this wedding out of the park!ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - Abbyyy!! These are such a beautiful and perfect representation of us and our wedding! We are so lucky to have met you and that you shared our day with us and captured it so beautifully for us to cherish forever <3ReplyCancel

  • Diana Parker - The most beautiful wedding ever.ReplyCancel

These two. If you’ve been hanging around the Abby Grace water cooler for any extended period of time, you’ll remember them- Shawn & Ashley were actually my first engagement session EVER! Ashley was one of my roommates during senior year at Radford, and having the opportunity to watch her and Shawn’s relationship as it takes on each new stage of life has been such a joy. I was there (alongside 100+ of my CRU friends) when Shawn asked for Ashley’s hand, Matt & I witnessed them exchange vows on a beautiful June day in 2010, and since marrying, I’ve had the honor of photographing their love story as it grows!

From this anniversary session to this one, to little miss Emerson’s debut in the world, it’s an inexpressible joy to literally watch their story progress before my eyes. And they’ve been there since day 1 of Abby Grace Photography, from the time that it was a mere Facebook business page- they’ve watched me, they’ve seen my work grow up before their very eyes. It feels like Shawn & Ashley were the FIRST poster couple for AGP, and the fact that they keep coming back (because let’s be honest, that first engagement session was NOT my best work) speaks volumes to me. They started as two, then became three, and are now on their way to becoming four! Little miss Emerson joined us for a few images, too, and guys. She’s a treasure.

Shawn, Ashley, Emerson, and soon-to-be-Luda #4, I am so grateful for you all. As you continue to expand your family, Shawn & Ashley, it never ceases to inspire me how much deeper in love you fall with one another. I’m so grateful that you both are so intentional about investing in your marriage, and I am SO excited to meet your new little miss or mister in September!

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  • Kaitlyn Phipps - I’m so in love with these. These are so real and I love how you captured their little family.ReplyCancel

  • Jean - What a beautiful family. I know they will cherish these wonderful photos.ReplyCancel

…I photographed a wedding when things finally CLICKED. The couple was Jamie & Abbeigh, and I knew from the moment I first met them that they were everything I wanted in an ideal Abby Grace couple- excited for their wedding, but even more excited to simply be husband & wife. He, a handsome USNA student-then-Marine-Corps-officer, she, a stunning redhead with the most infectious joie de vivre. This effervescence that took my breath away- just being around them lifted my already-elevated spirits!

Their wedding represented a huge shift for me- the first time I’d shot at the Naval Academy, the first time I used off-camera-flash at a wedding, the first time I was 100% comfortable with my wedding day game plan, and as such, could experiment with composition, posing and direction a bit. It was, as cliché as it sounds, a game changer for me.

These two took a chance on me, as did all of my 2012 couples. That year was a HUGE year of growth for me, and I think that growth began at Jamie & Abbeigh’s wedding! So, J +A, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking a chance on me, taking a chance on my dreams, on my desire to serve and bless you with wedding photographs you’d always cherish. Thank you for having a wedding that ended up being a day full of huge “AHA!” moments as I learned what it looks like to truly be the perfect fit for each other as a photographer, for inadvertently teaching me that those precious relationships with clients who turn into friends? They’re worth the wait, they’re worth the hustle.

Happy 3rd anniversary, Jamie & Abbeigh!

USNA wedding photographer

  • Camille - I love this Abby! I feel like I finally have one of those couples for fall 2015 and am so excited to photograph their wedding and have them as part of my “brand champions.” Do you think these game changing moments are more about the couple or more about the TYPE of wedding/location. Or both?! Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Jean - Such a beautiful photo. Watching your personal and business growth has been such a pleasure for your grandparents! Love you!ReplyCancel

  • Abbeigh - Abby – thank you! You were our biggest and greatest decision on our wedding day (other than actually getting married, ha!), and these photos remind us all the time how amazing your work was and is! So proud of you, friend!! xoReplyCancel

DC + Virginia fine art film photographer- Abby Grace

I’d taken the plunge in June of 2012 and bought the mother of all medium format film cameras, the Contax 645. I knew I loved film and 35mm just wasn’t enough for me anymore, so I took a chance and purchased the Contax- I’d promised Matt if things didn’t pan out and I never used it professionally, I’d just resell it on eBay (that’s another story for another day, though).

So I started shooting with this new film camera. At first, everything was going alright- I was getting more and more comfortable with my settings, my results were becoming more consistent, and I was gradually becoming less afraid of, in general, mucking up my film. But then some sort of switch got flipped- I think  I’d spent too much time reading Jose Villa‘s book Fine Art Wedding Photography, or maybe it was too many hours poring over Elizabeth Messina‘s The Luminous Portrait. Whatever it was, I stopped looking through my viewfinder with the question “how should frame/compose/photograph this?” and started filtering everything through “how would Jose or Elizabeth photograph this?”

DC + Virginia fine art film photographer- Abby Grace

To someone who’s not a photographer, I know that may seem like a silly thing to get worked up about. But it was causing serious stress in my film work, esPECIALLY when I was trying to shoot with film & digital in one session- it was like having a split personality, trying to switch back and forth between Abby Grace mode and Jose/Elizabeth mode. It was really, really hard, and to be honest, I was pretty bad at it.

Why? Because I will only ever be ME. No matter how hard I try, I will never be as good of a Jose or an Elizabeth as those two are, and that’s what makes their work beautiful- they are the only ones who can produce that particular kind of art. The way Jose sees the world through his viewfinder is uniquely HIM, and with my 2012 film mindset, the best I could ever hope to do is spend a lot of time copying that artistry without ever actually creating something uniquely ME.

DC + Virginia fine art film photographer- Abby Grace

It wasn’t until I quasi-stopped shooting with film, and then had a conversation with my friend Christina (about ceasing film work) that things finally shifted. I told her about my split personality issue when it came to my Contax, and that I’d pretty much stopped shooting because things were too hard, and she told me this:

“STOP COMPARING. Your work is YOUR work and it is beautiful. Frankly, I’m tired of seeing so many Villa/Messina imitations. I thought I wanted my film to be like theirs, then I shot it and found I prefer something else. So I am doing my own thing and hoping people love it. If you believe in your work, others will too. [There were] YEARS of self-doubt that I had to change into self-APPRECIATION.”

DC + Virginia fine art film photographer- Abby Grace

So I stopped comparing. I stopped looking at what other people were doing, and I started shooting film the way I, Abby Grace, would naturally shoot. And you know what? It’s only made me better. My film and my work in general has only grown since I stopped trying to be a cheap imitation of someone else, and embraced what MY art looks like as a standalone product rather than in comparison to someone else’s. I’m proud of the work I produce, and though I know there’s still so much growth that will continue to happen over the course of my life, it feels really good to be able to say “This is who I am, this is my art. And if you love it? Amazing! But if you don’t? That’s 100% fine with me, too.”

Here’s to YOU looking through your viewfinder with only your artistic voice in the background- you have something unique to offer, don’t water it down by trying to imitate someone else. I’m proof that doing so will only hold you back, and that breaking that bad habit only leads to GOOD things.

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  • Jean - i think every artist struggles and you have proven that it only makes you that much better at your craft. Keep on being the Abby that we all know and love.ReplyCancel

  • Karen Field, aka Mom - I agree whole heatedly with your Granny. I’ve had to learn this lesson on just being myself 24/7 and not trying to imitate someone else. Being 56 I’ve pretty much figured that out. In my quilting I learned that early on. I think you are a great role model to others in your chosen field of art in this aspect. We’ve watched you as you’ve been going through this process as a woman, too. God is good, is He not?ReplyCancel

  • Kelley - thanks for the perspective! I’ve also found that it is really easy to fall into a “what would Jose do” mentality after reading his book. He’s such an inspiration, of course, but we should use that to inspire our own styles! :)ReplyCancel

So I had actually intended to blog my most recent Paris images this morning. I even told a couple of people “Hey! Look for Paris on the blog tomorrow!” But then I had another idea! You all know how beholden Paris is to me, and therefore how precious my film from my time in the city is. And there’s always this sort of “womp womp” moment whenever I blog scans from the city of light, because in my head I’ve built it up to be this incredible experience, but in the end all it ever gets is a single day to showcase on my blog.

This time, instead of posting all of my Paris images at once, I’ll be posting one a day for the next 50 days over on Instagram! I’d love to have you follow along with the hashtag #50daysinParis! I know it’s different than the usual, but I think different is good in this case!

Ok, so now let’s talk about Scotland. Edinburgh was so much fun- I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, which made taking everything in easier. There weren’t any pre-inclined notions about how things should have been, you know? The city of Edinburgh definitely felt tourist-heavy, so the next time I’m in Scotland I’ll think I’ll go further out. I really want to see the highlands, the moors, the lochs and countryside. But for a first introduction to the country, it was amazing! And I just happened to be there during the spring peak of flowers all over the city, which made getting lost that much more enjoyable. I really liked the quirkiness of Edinburgh, and I have a feeling my introverted husband would LOVE it there.

Enjoy!

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One of the highlights of my entire adventure was visiting Elephant House, the cafe where JK Rowling began writing the Harry Potter series. Just being there, sitting in the same room with a pot of tea, it was incredible. I think I loved it because the cafe was so unassuming, so ordinary in terms of UK cafes, and yet something so huge was born out of the seemingly unremarkable.

Also, when you walk into the restroom at Elephant House? There’s Harry Potter-related graffiti from floor to ceiling (and on the ceiling itself), left by years and years of fans. Anything from “Thank you JK for influencing my childhood” to “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened- enemies of the heir, beware.” I could have stayed there all day reading the thousands of notes! But that would be weird. Because it was a bathroom.

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Rumor has it that JK Rowling strolled through this graveyard for naming ideas, and that the gravestone on the right is what inspired Tom Riddle’s name!

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These were too cool not to photograph. I didn’t think headstones ever actually looked like that in real life!

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The barista asked for my name, I told him “Voldemort,” and this was the result. SO MUCH WINNING!

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  • Urška Majer - Wow! Love every single image from this post :)ReplyCancel

  • Jean - These are gorgeous photos. But I want to hear the stories behind some of them next time I see you. So beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Shalese - I LOVE the Elephant Cafe stories. :) And these photos are PHENOMENAL, as usual!ReplyCancel

  • Laura Weatherly - Love Edinburgh and adore these images. So beautiful! And your coffee tag is amazing!ReplyCancel

  • rebekah j. - beauutiful! and yes – definitely trek out to the highlands next time. :)ReplyCancel

  • Lauren Swann - That first image of the man with the bag pipes!!! It’s incredible, Abby! Such an iconic image!!ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah - Wow, these are wonderful! Gosh, I want to visit Scotland!ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany Heidenthal - Ah I just got back from here! We went to the Highlands and it was our favorite day by far. So beautiful. I blogged my pictures the other day!ReplyCancel

  • Sydni Jackson - Bahaha I love that you actually told them your name was Voldemort… and the response :) And I would not have judged you at all for staying in that bathroom to read every single response.ReplyCancel