Masthead header

Being bold and making serious changes

That word- bold- it’s one I’ve heard a lot lately. A friend recently described me as such when it comes to my faith, someone else used it to describe the way I ask questions, and just yesterday my designer used it to describe my personality as a whole. That word just keeps cropping up. I like being described that way, it makes me feel brave.

And yet somehow, that boldness never seems to make it over into my photography business. It’s like I’ve compartmentalized boldness into other areas of my life, but refuse to let it spill over to my job. Making decisions when it comes to my business has always been excruciating- I spent an entire HOUR one time debating between a particular editing style for a single photo. I put all these constraints on myself based on what I see other people doing (we all do that, I know I’m not unique in this), and I get so scared of declaring what I want because I’m worried what other people photographers will say.

New York City, Central Park anniversary photographer- Abby Grace

Newsflash, Abby: it doesn’t really matter what other photographers are saying. It matters what my CLIENTS are saying. It matters how happy my brides, grooms, and anniversary couples are. If they’re thrilled with what I’m giving them, the idle chattering of others in the industry doesn’t make a lick of difference. Also, how narcissistic of me to think that others photographers are even paying attention? They’re almost certainly so occupied with making their own businesses successful that they don’t have time to give thought to what a random photographer from Virginia is doing. Ha! That’ll knock me down a few pegs.

I’m sure anyone who reads the blog with any level of consistency has noticed an upswing in the frequency of anniversary sessions posted here, and that’s not a coincidence. My heart’s been changing over the past year from caring solely about weddings, to desiring anniversary sessions as well. But… I don’t just want to shoot them occasionally. (This is where that whole issue of “boldness” comes in- I haven’t seen anyone else state this kind of vision for their business, which makes me scared to be the first. But there’s a certain level of AWESOMENESS with being the first one that I know of, so here we go.)

My perfect vision for my business would be this: a handful of weddings each year with clients who are the perfect fit for my business, with the rest of my schedule devoted to photographing Anniversary Experience sessions.

Las Vegas anniversary photographer- Abby GraceThere, I said it! I love weddings and can’t imagine giving those up- my brides & grooms are the best and I absolutely treasure the opportunity to photograph their big days! But my heart for my couples also goes so far beyond their wedding. I want them to have, as the saying goes, a marriage more beautiful than their wedding day. I believe that the Anniversary Experience is a way to help that vision continue in the years following Day 1 of their marriage- the opportunity to document just how far they’ve come.

This isn’t the kind of change that happens overnight- I’m absolutely still accepting weddings! There’s just more intention behind the process, and the number of weddings I’m booking for next year and beyond will be a bit lower than in years past. It’s terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. I both want to pop a bottle of champagne and hyperventilate. Change is hard, and jumping into the unknown without anyone else’s past success to cling to for hope? That’s scary.

But I didn’t quit my secure, comfortable corporate job to pursue a career in “being safe.” I did it pursue something I love, something that makes my heart swell with affection, something that quickens my pace and brightens my eyes. Both weddings and anniversaries do that for me, so here we go.

Let’s do this.

New York City, Central Park anniversary photographer- Abby Grace

And in case you’ve been considering a session, feel free to click HERE to learn more about the Anniversary Experience. It’s a work in progress as we make site adjustments!

Hannah Rancourt - July 17, 2014 - 3:09 pm

I think this is an awesome idea! You are SO good behind the lens and you really have a talent for photographing each couples love so naturally. I’m so glad you have decided to shoot more of the everyday life and not just the big days:-)

Kathryn Grace - July 14, 2014 - 1:32 pm

Go Abby! I love your focus on anniversary sessions. And other photographers ARE seeing your work… and loving it. :-)

paulina - July 12, 2014 - 10:49 pm

so excited to start seeing more of these!! =)

Marcelle Calder - July 11, 2014 - 10:16 pm

Abby you are an amazing photographer and I love this post because you poured out your heart with thoughts and fears that I too have had. I’m cheering for you 100% Can’t wait to see amazing things happen for you!!

Jean - July 11, 2014 - 2:53 pm

You are BOLD indeed! I treasure the photos you took of our 35th anniversary! You are so talented and I am so proud of you, my sweet granddaughter!

Nicole Regan - July 11, 2014 - 12:34 pm

I love this! As a very new photographer and army wife, and not shooting weddings right now but thinking of where I would want my business to progress, I have thought a lot on the things you have shared about your passion! And I love it! Very inspiring and challenging to really choose the right fit for you and pursue what you’re passionate about! And I would LOVE to have an anniversary session with you in the future!!!

Julie - July 11, 2014 - 11:01 am

I love this post. You are inspirational!

Abbeigh Blake - July 11, 2014 - 10:42 am

Love, love, LOVE this!! I can’t wait to schedule our anniversary session with you!

Tina - July 11, 2014 - 10:34 am

I am so excited for you Abby! For going after what it is you really want, putting it out there and not being afraid to change the workings of your business! It’s scary but so exciting and I know you will succeed in this :) Congrats on being BOLD!!

Mandy - July 11, 2014 - 10:22 am

Abby, I recently made this jump. I jumped from 27 weddings a year, to focusing my business more on families and children. Everyone told me it was stupid because “weddings are where all the money is.” but I continued with my new flight and you know what? I just landed a gig with the Women’s Healthcare Group/Lancaster General Hospital photographing billboards for them. And now we’re talking about me becoming their contracted photographer. FOLLOW YOUR HEART. He has a plan for you, and He will make it work. Just keep doing your best and staying true to yourself!

Samantha Laffoon - July 11, 2014 - 10:15 am

Abby, I love that you’re doing this! You’re inspiring the rest of us to take chances and be bold and do what the Lord is calling us to do with this business. I admire you. I love this!

Sarah (Danaher) Bradshaw - July 11, 2014 - 9:40 am

Love this, and SO PROUD OF YOU!!!! It’s absolutely a perfect fit!!!

Wendy Wade - July 11, 2014 - 9:28 am

You SO have this, girl. I think it’s an awesome idea and know you will be immensely successful in it. This post reminds me of a favorite quote “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough” Go big baby! And one day, maybe Jason and I will participate :)

dad - July 11, 2014 - 9:26 am

Bold huh? I think I like it….no I think I will go out on a limb and say I know I like it, I think.

Terri Baskin - July 11, 2014 - 9:25 am

Yes! I love this! Congrats on being bold and congrats on leaning on your faith to conquer any doubt that you may have been feeling about this move.

Rebekah Hoyt - July 11, 2014 - 9:21 am

I am SO unbelievably proud of you, Abby! Way to follow your heart and pursue your dreams! I cannot wait to see your business flourish as you focus more on what really makes your heart happy :)

Urška Majer - July 11, 2014 - 9:19 am

Congrats on the boldness :)

Tiffany Heidenthal - July 11, 2014 - 9:17 am

I think this is an AWESOME decision for you! And I know that one day, Erik and I will be in front of your camera for our anniversary, too!

Deborah Zoe - July 11, 2014 - 9:17 am

GET IT GIRL:)! I can’t wait to see where this takes you!!

Kelsey DeWitt - July 11, 2014 - 9:16 am

Yay! So happy for you lady :) I can’t describe how much I treasure our anniversary photos!

Announcing: A Practical Wedding Workshop!

Eeee! I’m so excited for this! After taking some time to mull over last year’s workshop, what worked, what fell on it’s face, and what *could* work if tweaked, I’m excited to announce the second Abby Grace Workshop on Monday, September 8, 2014!

When I first started shooting weddings, I didn’t have a game plan. And I desperately needed one. Instead of walking in calm and collected, I entered a bridal suite barely able to mask my desperation and panic. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I literally lost sleep in the days and weeks leading up to weddings from nerves that I wouldn’t be prepared, that I’d be thrown into a situation I didn’t know how to handle and that as a result, I’d ruin someone’s wedding photographs.

I have to believe that I wasn’t alone in feeling like that, so this year’s workshop is quite a bit different than my last one. Rather than trying to give you a generic snapshot of what it looks like to own a business, we’re going to be concentrating on the day-of aspect of being a wedding photographer. What kind of light should you be looking for during the “getting ready” portion of the day? How do you handle yourself when it feels like you’re drowning? How can you take a seemingly hopeless portrait location and turn it into something that works FOR you?

But just as importantly, we’re going to talk about the little things that, when combined, can make for a huge difference. The way you interact with the grandmother of the bride, using specific language when posing the groomsmen vs. the bridesmaids, how to calm an anxious bride. Things that often slip under your conscious radar, but that can make all the difference in the world.

View More: http://abbygracephotography.pass.us/2014-head-shots

After several workshops with my favorite photographers and nearly five wedding seasons under my belt, I’ve got my game plan down pat. And it’s WITHIN that structure that I’m able to find creativity. When you’re running around with your hair on fire, it’s hard to stop and consider “how can I make these portraits even more artistic, and make my clients feel so loved at the same time?” But now that I have a process, now that I’m no longer struggling to tread water, I can actually make progress. There’s freedom within my formula, and I want you guys to be able to experience that same wedding day peace.

Thus, A Practical Wedding Workshop was born. We’ll talk through the wedding day extensively, going over the “how-to’s” of each aspect, addressing challenges that may surface and how to work around them. We’ll have a bride & groom available later in the afternoon so that I can explain in-depth how I pose my couples, and each attendee will leave with a new head shot. We’ll round out the evening with dinner and an extensive open Q&A where we can talk about anything I didn’t cover during the day, whether that’s editing, networking, websites, you name. Nothing’s off the table.

You can learn even more by checking out the workshop website! Registration for the September 8th workshop goes live next Thursday, July 17 at 10am. Seats are $550 and are limited to 10 attendees, but the earlybird code “SUNRISE” gets you $100 off your seat if you register within the first five days.

As always, feel free to email me with any questions! I’m SO stoked for this, and I can’t wait to see the growth that happens as a result!

Terri - July 10, 2014 - 3:30 pm

Can you come and do one in the UK pleaseeeeeeee :) xxx

Terri - July 10, 2014 - 3:26 pm

This sounds awesome!!

Chelsea Anderson - July 10, 2014 - 8:27 am

I’m definitely going to be praying and thinking about coming!

Mary - July 10, 2014 - 8:16 am

My alarms are set and I will be anxiously waiting for the clock to hit 10!!! SO EXCITED!!!! :)

Tiffany Heidenthal - July 10, 2014 - 8:02 am

Congrats this looks awesome!

Ryan & Kathleen- a cozy Georgetown engagement session

I remember the first time I met Ryan- it was my first day of high school and we were sitting in biology with Mrs. Kravitz, going over the syllabus and everyone trying not to appear like they’re trying too hard. Apparently I stuck my tongue out at him in my newfound high school sophisticated-ness, and we were friends from then on! Ryan was always the nice guy- an amazing friend, the best confidant, an all-around good guy, you know?

The first time I met Kathleen was last summer when the two of them came over for a dinner date with Matt & I, and I remember thinking from the first few minutes that she was perfect for him. And looking at Ryan, realizing I’d never seen him so comfortable in his own skin before- Kathleen brings out the best in him, the only one who can procure that true smile he saves just for her.

Ryan & Kathleen, it is SUCH a joy to see you so happy together! It was truly a privilege to spend the morning with you both in Georgetown, and I count myself so lucky to be the one who will document your wedding day. Kathleen, I am so glad you all found each other- to see Ryan this happy and this willing to be in front of the camera is amazing!

Georgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace Photography

Georgetown engagement session- Abby Grace Photography

Georgetown engagement session- Abby Grace Photography

Georgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace PhotographyGeorgetown engagement session- Abby Grace Photography

Jean - July 10, 2014 - 7:48 am

Love the story. What great pictures! Beautiful!

Jeannie Mathews - July 9, 2014 - 1:18 pm

Absolutely beautiful, Abby.

Deborah Zoe - July 9, 2014 - 9:15 am

That ivy!! I love these Abby!!

Caili - July 9, 2014 - 9:06 am

Is this Pleasantville? Gorgeous location! Love the shots of them in front of those white houses with the green ivy. Beau-ti-ful!

Kristina - July 9, 2014 - 9:04 am

These are beautiful, nice work! :)

Urška Majer - July 9, 2014 - 8:31 am

Beautiful!

Monday Mash-Up

One of the perks of working from home and being my own boss is that I get to set my own office/work hours. But being that I’m a sole employee and my “work calendar” also doubles as my personal life calendar, I typically forget to mark off things like government holidays. Like last week, I KNEW that Friday was the 4th. It just didn’t register with me that it would also be a day I’d most likely want to take off. So Friday came around and I had all this work I was planning on doing, yet the rest of the country was like “LET’S GRILL OUT!” and I was like “YEAH! Dangit. but YEAH!”

And that’s how I managed to only blog one of the two engagement sessions I was planning to share last week. Plain old bad planning.

As always, lessons learned/things that transpired over the past week:

  • I totally fell off the Paleo wagon last week. July 4th festivities with friends and family? Yeah, I’m not turning down s’mores. Or corn on the cob. Or “cowboy caviar.” Sorry I’m not sorry. And you know what? I’d like to think it’s what the found fathers would have wanted anyway.
  • My favorite part about running along the W&OD trail in the summer is the abundance of BERRIES that we find along the way! Right now, raspberries are popping up from Reston to Vienna. It’s like treasure hunting during long runs, distracting me from the fact that I’m running 10 miles.
  • Sometimes I have to look back in Instagram to remember what I did throughout the past week. Today is no exception.
  • I went horseback riding yesterday! My brother gave his wife, my sister-in-law Jessica, a horse for their anniversary, and she took me with her yesterday afternoon to go visit them. Prior to yesterday, my horseback riding experience was limited to that one time I rode for about 5 minutes before freaking out and demanding to be taken off. Yesterday went a lot better than that.
  • We have awesome friends. After watching the fireworks atop our friends Eowyn & Russell’s apartment building, I pulled out my soft box and grabbed a shot over everyone there. Matt & I even got a quick photo, too! I’m so thankful they were all willing to play a bit!

Washington DC anniversary photographer- Abby Grace

Also, on a totally unrelated note, I’m heading out to California next month! After a gorgeous wedding at Sequoia National Park for these two darlings, I’ll be in San Francisco for a few days. I have two openings for Anniversary Experience sessions and would love the chance to photograph your love in such an iconic city! If you’re in or around the San Francisco area and have been thinking about an anniversary session, this is the perfect opportunity since all travel fees will be waived. Check out the Anniversary Experience website to learn more about sessions, and shoot me an email when you’re ready to make it happen!

Washington DC anniversary photographer- Abby Grace

Alicia - July 7, 2014 - 5:04 pm

Love that rooftop picture!! Also immediately googling cowboy caviar!

Nikki Santerre - July 7, 2014 - 12:15 pm

I also made Cowboy Caviar this weekend! Definitely worth making an exception for!

Jason & Kendra- a Georgetown sunrise engagement session

These two are just so sweet together! Kendra & I have been chatting since last Spring but didn’t get a chance to meet face-to-face until their engagement session last week; that was one long overdue hug! After less than two minutes of shooting, I just about fell in love with the pair of them. Jason knows how to make Kendra smile at the drop of a hat- it was fun so see that sweet grin spread across her face from something Jason would say just to her. There were so many laughs exchanged between the two of them in Georgetown that morning, I just can’t wait for their wedding later this month!

Jason & Kendra, it was my absolutely joy to finally be able to meet you both in person! Photographing you both together was the best way to spend an early morning in the city, and I’m so grateful that you chose to spend that time with me. I’ll see you both again SO soon!

Washington DC engagement session in Georgetown- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC engagement session in Georgetown- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC engagement session in Georgetown- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC engagement session in Georgetown- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC engagement session in Georgetown- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC engagement session in Georgetown- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC engagement session in Georgetown- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC engagement session in Georgetown- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC engagement session in Georgetown- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC engagement session in Georgetown- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC engagement session in Georgetown- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC engagement session in Georgetown- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC engagement session in Georgetown- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC engagement session in Georgetown- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC engagement session in Georgetown- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC engagement session in Georgetown- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC engagement session in Georgetown- Abby Grace Photography

Nikki Santerre - July 3, 2014 - 1:30 pm

I LOVE the locations! The waterfront in Georgetown is my favorite!

Jean - July 3, 2014 - 12:57 pm

Gorgeous pictures, Abby!

Rebekah - July 3, 2014 - 12:22 pm

I love her outfits! Great pictures as always!

Chelsea Anderson - July 3, 2014 - 12:21 pm

I love these! I love you, Kendra and I love you, Abby! Hope you two enjoyed your time together – can’t wait to see the wedding pictures. :) <3