I’m going to start this off by giving credit where it’s due: I was 100% inspired by David & Kristy Abel’s wall of silver IKEA frames! You have to go see theirs, it’s way better than mine. But after you’re done goggling over their living room wall, come back here and we can get on with things.

Are you back yet? Good! Let’s proceed.

This project is not for the faint of heart, unless you’re ok with non-uniformly hung frames. In which case, you’ll be a lot less stressed that I was as I completed our wall. My original goal was to get this completed before my first date of A Practical Wedding Workshop last September, a mere three weeks after we’d moved into our new home. But I didn’t start the project until the night before, so of course, it didn’t work out the way I’d planned! It wasn’t until two days before the NEXT workshop (5 months later) that I finally finished!

The hiccups I faced: I measured, and then measured again, and then broke a frame, and then broke the glass on another frame out of sheer frustration. Fortunately, I’d already ordered my prints, but somehow I managed to lose the first set of 4×6’s that had come with my shipment from Miller’s. Then I didn’t have the proper equipment to hang the last couple frames, so we had to go BACK to IKEA where they told me I had to wait in a 45-minute line to get a freaking spare part.

But finally, it was finished! And every time I look at it too long and think “Hey, is that frame slightly too high/low/left/right?” I shut my eyes and walk away, because DONE is better than “perfect.” So friends, welcome to our living room!

IKEA Ribba silver picture frames in silver- home wall display- Abby Grace Photograpy

I’m not really the sort of person to fill our walls with photos of us, just because… well, I don’t know. Maybe that’ll change one day when we have kids? For now, though, I’ve stocked our frames with my favorite images from my/our Europe travels (see more here, here, and here. Oh, and you can’t miss this one)! And guys, I’m really proud of our living room. Y’all know I have seriously limited skills when it comes to decorating, but I’m so pleased with how everything’s come together!

IKEA Ribba silver picture frames in silver- home wall display- Abby Grace Photograpy

IKEA Ribba silver picture frames in silver- home wall display- Abby Grace Photograpy

This isn’t wall decor. Lily & Sirius are just really cute, and I thought you might want to see his & her adorable faces. I was right, wasn’t I?

IKEA Ribba silver picture frames in silver- home wall display- Abby Grace Photograpy

This wall is my favorite in our home right now! I love that it serves as a reminder of adventure, and that it’s become one of the first things my couples notice when we’re meeting to chat about their wedding! You guys know I shoot a lot of personal work when I travel, and our frame wall is where we put the best of the best!

P.S. In case you were wondering, yes, I do sell prints of my travel work :). Shoot me an email if you’re interested! abby@abbygracephotography.com

  • Katie - Nice!! Love your prints of Europe!! I have something VERY similar in our hallway, but not all of just one place…just random travel photos. Some from New Orleans, CA, etc. So fun to look at them every day!ReplyCancel

  • Matt - My favorite is Lily in the bottom left corner of the first wall picture.ReplyCancel

  • Alicia - Oh, IKEA — I love you and I hate you. I always end up making multiple times for a frame too!! PS — looks amazing in the end!!ReplyCancel

  • Jean - love your living room and that wall is beautiful. Can’t wait to see it in person.ReplyCancel

  • Emily - Abbyyy!!! I love this! I wish I had as many beautiful travel photos as you do because those would definitely be on our walls!ReplyCancel

  • ashley mitchell - Just got the best mental image of you hulk smashing a frame out of frustration ;) – this looks SO good. Our living room is an odd shape (I guess they didn’t plan on having TVs in a living room in 1930??) so we don’t have a ton of wall space which makes me sad because I LOVE stuff like this!!ReplyCancel

  • David Abel - This wall looks great! Love the photos in them too! Side note we just put up one of the photos you took on NYE!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - Love it!!! Looks really good. We are redoing our home office and I finally have some decent wall space to hang up some photos and this is a great piece for inspiration!!ReplyCancel

It’s Tuesday! Which means I’m one day late with a Mash-Up post. But seeing as I was totally consumed with all the incredible conversations and life change that was going on at Creative @ Heart this past weekend, I’m ok with it. As the Emily Ley quote goes, “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection!” Trust that there will be a much longer post coming this week to enumerate on exactly why it was such an amazing experience, but for now, let’s get on to the Mash-Uping! (Thanks to The Herrintons for this photo!)

Creative At Heart conference in Roanoke Virginia- Tyler Herrinton Photography

Actually, I’m actually not really sure what to write. Because last week was totally insane, and much of my thought process was devoted to one of two things: either A) “EFF. I need to practice my talk, but I can’t right now because I don’t have the time, but if I don’t practice then I’m going to mess up and I’ll probably just end up self-imploding in front of the entire group!” or B) “What the heck am I going to wear?? Maybe if my outfit is cute enough, it can distract from the hot mess my presentation might end up turning into…”

So we’ll just dive into the lessons learned/events that transpired, shall we?

  • Things I do not recommend: waiting until 20 minutes before you need to leave to pack for a highly-anticipated weekend. This results in high levels of stress for everyone involved, especially when you’re already stressed over the aforementioned two things on my mind.
  • Things you can do to distract yourself from the stress of it all: log onto B&H’s website and order $200 worth of film for your upcoming Europe adventure.
  • Don’t ever go to a conference for creatives, one specifically geared toward women, with any sort of notion of “eating well.” I mean, you’ll eat WELL, but as for watching your sugar content? Yeah, no. I ate TWO mini pies over the course of the conference. Yes, they were single serve, but there’s no excuse. Except for the fact that they were delicious.
  • I regret none of it.
  • There was black & white washi tape in the swag bags!!! If you don’t know why this is relevant enough to deserve a bullet point on MMU, see this photo. It’ll all make sense.
  • My grandparents are the best. They came to hear my talk yesterday, and when I accidentally cussed in front of 100+ women I respect and love, my Pawpaw stood up and pointed at me, like “I see you, Abby! I heard what just came out of your mouth!” And it was awesome.

Creative At Heart conference in Roanoke Virginia

Ok, so this kind of ended up being all about Creative anyways… sorry about that. But now it’s time for link love! Remember last week how I said I wanted to start sharing posts from around the web that I think y’all might like? Well, I only have one this week because I honestly didn’t read much last week due to everything going on, but here ya go:

  • This post from my dear friend Natalie Franke. Go read it, and share the crap out of it because it’s one of the best things I’ve ever read.

Aaand happy Tuesday, my friends! It’s WARM outside today!

  • Alicia - Guilty as charged about being a late packer as well!! Glad the speech went okay — can’t wait to hear more!ReplyCancel

  • Mary - Your grandpa sounds like the cutest ever! So sweet that they came to watch! Also, I am the queen of last minute packing. I usually bring way too many of one thing and none of something else (usually more important of course).ReplyCancel

  • Shalese - Ahhhh haha your Pawpaw sounds like a marvelous man! And it’s ok, people curse sometimes!! We’re all humans! I wish I could have heard your talk, but I am certain it was magical!ReplyCancel

  • Jean - So glad we could be there to see/hear your presentation. We received a very warm welcome from your friends at the conference, with offers of food and drink and a good place to sit. What a great group of young professionals you can call friends. It is our pleasure also to have you visit for a few days. So much fun in my sewing room today! Love you.ReplyCancel

  • Stefani Lefler - I loved that your grandparents were there to hear you speak. I loved your presentation and the fact that you obviously love Harry Potter as much as I do. :) I can’t wait to get to know you more. Awesome post!ReplyCancel

  • Natalie - You did so well with your talk! And thank you so much for linking to my Overcoming Comparison post… girl, it means the world to me! Love you!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Wells - Thad LOVES my last minute packing antics and having to turn around pretty much every time we go on a trip because I always forget something. Ten times worse with a baby to pack for these days! I so wish I could’ve been there…it sounds like everyone had such an amazing, inspiring weekend!ReplyCancel

It’s something you hear a lot from new photographers: “I really want to second shoot, but I can’t find anyone who will let me shoot with them,” or “I really want to get to know that photographer I love, but I don’t have $500-1000 to attend a workshop or conference right now.” I hear you! You just want a chance, one chance, to prove yourself, or to get that experience, or to learn from that photographer you so ardently admire, and all you need is for one person to say “yes.”

Annapolis-naval-academy-wedding-photo_0003

From a photographer who’s been in the game for about 5 years now, I’ve learned ways to genuinely ingratiate myself toward other photographers… and ways to seriously turn them off from ever wanting to get to know me. And in an industry of small business owners who seriously benefit from working together and being for one another, turning other photographers OFF is not the right way to go. This industry, like any other, has nuances and subtle social norms that are hard to know without having been in the business for a little while.

So if you’re new, it can be hard to know that something you’re asking for might be considered imprudent, and sometimes even rude. Because you haven’t had a chance to learn otherwise, even though you’re desperate for knowledge. I totally get it! And if this is you, then YOU are exactly who today and tomorrow’s blog posts were written for, dear friend. This post is meant to encourage you, not to condemn!

We’re breaking this down into two parts. Today is Part 1: The nature of the “I want to learn, somebody please help me” dilemma, and the reasons behind why more experienced photographers respond the way they do.

**In an effort to get a bit more insight on the topic, I reached out to a few friends in the industry for their take on the matter- any paragraphs in italic text + quotations are feedback from other talented vendors! **

Annapolis Naval Academy wedding photography- Abby Grace

1. Recognize that there has to be give and take in any healthy business or mentoring relationship. Be mindful that you’re not the one who’s only ever taking, failing to give. In the same way that a pitcher of lemonade can only fill up so many glasses before it runs dry, creative small business owners can only give so much without return before they start to burn out.  If there’s something you can offer a photographer in return for extending you an opportunity, throw it out there! Maybe that’s shooting or assisting for free a couple of times, or helping them out with photos for their blog, or asking what their rates are for coaching.

Also along the lines of give and take, it’s important for you, the person doing the asking, to understand just what it is that you’re asking for :

I think it’s hard when you’re starting out to understand that this is our full-time job! We still have to spend 40 hours (but usually more) working on our business and then when another photographer asks us for something like a coffee date, it just adds to that time that we feel like were working, even if we want to do it! … I once had someone ask to meet me for coffee so I could give them advice on an aspect of their business and it ended up turning into a three hour portfolio review, and in the end I just felt really icky and taken advantage of. It’s so hard because we all want to be able to give back and pour into others! But by that time that meeting was over, it was 8 PM and I was missing out on eating dinner with my husband and having an evening at home with him.”
Annapolis Naval Academy wedding photography- Abby Grace

2. “Remember that the photographers you admire are succeeding because of how much they have poured (and continue to pour) into their own businesses, which leaves limited amounts of time for coffee dates + long lists of questions. And rather than feeling rejected or ignored, find ways to reach out to other photographers in a spirit of community and support. Not a ‘PLEASE HELP ME! I have a list of 20 questions you owe me answers to even though you haven’t had time do your laundry in 2 weeks,’ but rather a ‘How can I help you, you inspire me, keep rocking girlfriend!, love that blog post- here are a couple ideas for future ones because newbies like me are curious!’ sort of way. — That spirit of service that so often stops me in my tracks and has encouraged me to bring so many girls onto my own team!”

3. Don’t gossip. Just don’t. This world of wedding/creative professionals is a lot smaller than you’d think, and if you talk smack about someone behind their back, it’s going get back to them. And the people you’re saying those things to? It’s going to damage your professionalism in their eyes, and no one likes to be associated with gossips in the workplace. Because gossips are the ones who drag you down, the ones who eventually become dead weight that no one else is willing to carry. Don’t become that person- I’ve been her, and she is no fun at all to be or to know.

Also, let’s be honest- aside from the business repercussions, gossip is toxic. It’s toxic to the person you’re talking to, it’s toxic to the person you’re talking about, and it’s toxic to YOU. Gossip poisons you from the inside out, and though you can try to mask the bitterness the gossip stems from, it’s going to come out in one way or another. Again, don’t become that person. I’ve been her, and she sucks. No one wants to work with, for, or around her, and she’s a miserable person!

Annapolis Naval Academy wedding photography- Abby Grace

Hopefully this was helpful for those of you who are still in the early stages of your business! Come back next Friday for Part 2: The Etiquette of Asking!

 

The winter blues are a real thing, people. And we were feeling them pretty strongly this past winter- it was just so cold all the time, with winds nasty enough to chap your skin until it cracked. Not fun. Not fun at all.

During one especially nasty, wintery period, Matt proposed the idea of going south for a week. He’d always wanted to attend spring training, and I really wanted to go to Disney World with him + see the new extension of Harry Potter world at Universal, so we found a date that worked and booked our travel! We decided to drive the whole way because a) it was a heck of a lot cheaper and simpler than flying + renting a vehicle, and 2) we like spending the time together in the car :).

We went to two Nats games, fulfilling Matt’s spring training dream- it was a blast being so close to the players! I loved watching kids get so excited over autographs, whenever the players had a sec and came over to sign baseballs.

Washington Nationals Spring Training- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington Nationals Spring Training- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington Nationals Spring Training- Abby Grace Photography

and then we visited Universal with my BEST friend Sarah and her husband Dan! Remember these two? Sarah hadn’t been to Harry Potter world yet, and I hadn’t seen the new part of the part that was opened last fall, so we made plans to go together. Sarah’s a closet HP fan, and I guess I never really realized how extensive that fandom is until Universal- we had SO much fun geeking out over the little details throughout the park, things that only dedicated Potterheads would take notice of/realize the significance of. Sarah, I think I love you even more than before.

We started in Hogsmeade…

Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Hogsmeade - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Hogsmeade - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Hogsmeade - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Hogsmeade - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Hogsmeade - Abby Grace Photography

Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace Photography

Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Hogsmeade - Abby Grace Photography

And then took the Hogwarts Express to Diagon Alley!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Hogsmeade - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Hogsmeade - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace Photography

How freakin cute is my best friend?!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace Photography

I loved the subtle touches. Matt & I are standing in front of Number 12, Grimmauld Place- see if you can find the surprise in the photo!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace PhotographyWizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace Photography

We met Captain America over on the other side of Islands of Adventure. MURICA.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace Photography

The rest of these are iPhone photos, excuse the bad quality!

This is sort of what it was like to walk Sirius before we got the easy walker harness for him.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley - Abby Grace Photography

Ok, so let me explain this. There’s this thing called Disnebounding, where you dress up like a character without wearing a costume, per se. Cinderella’s always been my favorite because I love her blue dress (because let’s be honest, the original Cinderella has like ZERO personality), so I found a blue dress, made myself a black necklace from a piece of ribbon, snagged a blue headband from the kid’s section at a department store, and boom. Disneybounding version of Cinderella.

Disney bounding- Abby Grace Photography

Chatting with Cinderella re: the pros and cons of mice as personal attendants.

Met some evil stepsisters. They weren’t huge fans of mine.

Disney bounding- Abby Grace PhotographyDisney bounding- Abby Grace Photography

Happy Thursday, friends!

  • Shalese - AHHHHH it’s time for me to schedule my trip to the world of HP! :) I LOVE that you found the perfect Cinderella dress . . . those sleeves are SO Cinderella!ReplyCancel

  • Alexandra {Heart Love Always} - Ahh!! I wanna go! I wanna go! I wanna go!! That is all!! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Kaitlin Simpson - Ahh! I haven’t been to the new part of Harry Potter World yet! They totally went ALL OUT!! And do I see Mrs. Black in the window above you and Matt?! :DReplyCancel

  • Jeannie Mathews - Now you’ve done it. I’m going to have to read all of the Harry Potter books again. And go to Florida.ReplyCancel

  • Jean - the photos are great. Looks like you and Matt had a fun filled trip! You make a great Cinderella!ReplyCancel

  • Tina - Jose and I have always wanted to go to Spring Training too! Its definitely on our bucket list (but for the NY Mets! lol) and YESSS!! Isn’t the Harry Potter section amazing!?!? When we went through the brick into Diagon Alley, I cried! It was just so perfect and overwhelming. And I just LOVE you posing with the Evil stepsisters and Lady Tremaine! lol Too funny!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Brennan - I LOVE THIS POST!!! I can’t even express how much fun Dan and I had on that trip. It even got Dan enthusiastic about Harry Potter and he’s been all about watching the movies so he can pick out things he saw at the park. You two deserved this trip and your pictures capture it perfectly!! And that Cinderella dress is PERFECT! I love you Abby Squash :)ReplyCancel

Confession: I wasn’t planning to blog today, but I logged onto Facebook and saw the sweetheart Amanda Hedgepeth had blogged about Creative and I realized- holy cow! It’s THIS WEEKEND. I mean, I knew it was this weekend, but it hadn’t really sunk in yet.

For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Creative @ Heart is a two-day conference for creative small business owners. But it’s not just any conference. It’s not one that’s focused on “the cool kids” or merely those who are good at projecting an image of success, it’s one that sincerely seeks to authentically educate and encourage everyone who attends, no matter WHERE they are in their business. And I love that SO much!

Creative At Heart conference- Abby Grace Photography

I also love that part of the heart at the center of the conference is to foster relationships among professionals! Natalie Franke wrote one of the best blogs I’ve ever read two weeks ago entitled Overcoming Comparison, and in that post she talked about the importance of “community over competition.” That notion is a huge part of C@H! Within the wedding industry, there’s a lot of borderline-cutthroat competition. And it’s the kind of thing that leaves you feeling even lonelier than you already did, being a small business of one. So I love that C@H provides an atmosphere that allows attendees to blow past the defensive, secret-keeping nature that so many in the industry feel like they need to maintain, and gets straight to the “how can we grow together?” idea. During Natalie’s talk, she summed it up perfectly with this sentiment:

“A rising tide lifts all boats.”

I can’t wait for this weekend! I can’t wait to see old friends, to make new ones, to have authentic, raw conversations with people I’ve just met. Because I think there’s something really powerful in being new to the industry and hearing someone who’s been at it for several years say “it IS a struggle sometimes, and I DON’T have it all together, but the good news is that YOU don’t have to have it all together, either.”

Creative At Heart conference- Abby Grace Photography

This round of C@H will be a little different for me, since I’ll be speaking to the group at large as well as serving on a panel. I’m really nervous, but I’m even more excited for the chance to share about concepts that have made such a huge difference in my business and life! If you’ll be there this weekend and I haven’t met you before, PLEASE come say hi- it would be such a joy to hug you!

  • Danielle Blocker - Abby, I’m so excited to meet you too! You are awesome and you’ll be amazing, I just know it! Looking forward to hearing what you have to share with us.ReplyCancel

  • Jean - can’t wait to see you!ReplyCancel

  • Karen Field aka Mom - I wish I could be there to see you. I suppose the trip to Florida will do as a replacement. Will they be recording you? I’d love to hear you since I can’t see you!ReplyCancel

  • Alicia - You’re going to be amazing up there, Abby! You gotta report back to us after the conference!!ReplyCancel

  • Kat - yes. yes. yes. I AM SO EXCITED!!!ReplyCancel

  • Tina - I wish I was going – it sounds like an amazing conference! I hope to go one year!! Good luck speaking!! I know you will be great :)ReplyCancel

  • Alexandra {Heart Love Always} - Can’t wait to see you!! <3ReplyCancel

  • Natalie - Can’t wait to hug you!! It’s going to be quite a weekend!!ReplyCancel