There’s this difficult balance, being a photographer who captures precious moments in my couples’ lives: I know what my anniversary couples WANT, but then I also know what they’re doing to NEED.

They want their digital files, because psychologically speaking, it allows you to rest easy knowing you can print you images in the future. You know, when you get around to it. But the problem is, we never get around to it. We *think* we will, but it gets put off time and time again. Kind of like how Matt & I have been married for more than four years now, and we STILL don’t have a wedding album.
Fine art print packaging- Anniversary Photographer Abby Grace

After a few years in the business, though, I know what my Anniversary couples need are prints. Tangible, touchable proof of how they felt that day in front of my lens, visual evidence that it all began with just the two of them.

So I give them both. Their PASS gallery, which enables them to save the digital files for the future, but then I also send a set of 5″x7″ photographs. Because I want to know for sure that their time with me doesn’t end with their files living on computer, I want it to end with photographs in frames around their home- constant reminders that their marriage is worth fighting for.

You guys know my heart behind anniversaries. You all know why I love photographing married couples. The session itself is half of the experience- the photographs themselves are the other half! The prints are what serve as an everyday reminder of how you felt in that moment; for me and our anniversary photos, it was the chill of the November air, the warmth of his embrace, and the feeling that I’d never been so in love with him as I was at that exact moment in time.

Fine art print packaging- Anniversary Photographer Abby Grace

These photos need to be printed, and I believe this so strongly that I decided to print them myself to make sure my couples don’t forget in the hustle and bustle of every day life!

I know there are some business models that would advocate keeping the files to myself, and charging my clients for each print in order to make sure they do, indeed, print their photographs. And as a result, I’d make a nice sum from the print sales. But I don’t want my couples to feel like I’m holding their images hostage, and I don’t want them to begrudgingly order prints at inflated prices. I want my couples to depart from me feeling well-loved and provided for! So I’ve taken the Shoot & Share business model of providing my couples with their files, and added in an extra dose of love with a full set of prints. It’s the best of both worlds!

Fine art print packaging- Anniversary Photographer Abby Grace

The prints are delivered in gorgeous portrait boxes, handmade by Michael Chinn- I couldn’t be happier with them! They’re tied with a delicate silk, hand-dyed ribbon from FrouFrou Chic, and sent along with a handwritten note. I’ve come to love sending prints to my couples, because it’s the perfect way to complete their Anniversary Experience- on a sweet, sweet note.

Just a few Instas from some sweet friends who loved their prints!

Fine art print packaging- Anniversary Photographer Abby Grace

 

Fine art print packaging- Anniversary Photographer Abby Grace

 

Fine art print packaging- Anniversary Photographer Abby Grace

 

Fine art print packaging- Anniversary Photographer Abby Grace

To learn more about The Anniversary Experience with Abby Grace, go HERE!

  • lindsay - LOVE IT!!! So gorgeous and so you!! This makes me even more excited for April!!ReplyCancel

  • Shalese - LOVE the heart behind this AND your pretty packaging! Question: how do you put the borders on with WHCC? Is that one of the options that I’m missing??ReplyCancel

  • Chelsea Anderson - We absolutely LOVE ours!!ReplyCancel

  • Kat - This is BEAUTIFUL, Abby!!!! Literally dying.ReplyCancel

  • alex blackmon - Dan and I appreciated these prints SO MUCH!! It was so unexpected and sweet, and we loved being able to immediately frame these and put them around our home!ReplyCancel

  • Tina - Aww did we book you to early to not get this!? Either way I LOVE this, such pretty packaging! And still love our photos so much :)ReplyCancel

  • Rici - These little goodies look so very elegant! WOW. Great ideas Abby!ReplyCancel

  • Sydni Jackson - Wow, you’re amazing!! Okay, it’s official… if me and Whit ever do an anniversary shoot, we’re coming to you!ReplyCancel

Guys, I’m REALLY excited that it’s Monday! Why? Because it’s supposed to get up to 60 degrees outside today!! I think Spring might finally be on her way, and I, for one, could not be more happy to see her! It’s been a crazy long winter here in Virginia and I am ready for warm weather. I love that winter gives you the excuse to stay in and cuddle up, but walking two dogs one a morning when its so cold that your breath freezes on your scarf is just plain miserable. This morning, I only had to wear a sweatshirt + light jacket outside! NO GLOVES! Life is good :).

I’m pretty sure Lily is actually a cat. Why? you might ask. She certainly looks like a dog, albeit a funny-looking one, but a dog all the same? My reasons for thinking she’s actually a cat, dear readers, is because she’s been sitting here under my chair for the last 15 minutes groom Sirius by licking his face nonstop. And this is a regular occurrence for her. She also regularly sits and licks at her paws in a very cat-like way. She snarls [hisses] at Sirius when he hops on the bed or couch to near to her liking, and in general, behaves like a total princess. So I think I might start calling her “kitty.” But in the same voice that Boo from Monsters Inc. uses. Like “KITTY!” Know what I mean?

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

  • Real talk: people at amusement parks have NO spatial awareness. None at all. I lost track of how many people walked straight into me because they weren’t paying attention to where they were walking. I mean, it’s sort of understandable, what with how MUCH there is to look at in Diagon Alley, but seriously: PUT THE CAMERA DOWN and watch where you’re going, at least a little bit?]
  • And there I go sounding like a crotchety old man again. Sorry about that.
  • Fun new project that the Springmanns (that’s Matt & I) will be working on: we just ordered about 10,000 honeybees! My dad raised bees with my brothers and I growing up, so Matt & I are trying our hand at it. And before you ask, no, we’re not keeping the bees at our town house. Matt’s aunt has property out in rural Virginia where our hives will be located. So that’ll either be a great success or a tremendous tragedy. Stay tuned to see which it is!
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is even better when you’re with your best friend in the world. Seriously- having your best girlfriend to geek out alongside about the littlest details in Hogsmeade is the best! I can’t wait to share our vacation photos on the blog this week!

Here’s an iPhone snap from this morning of Lily being a cat, giving Sirius a tongue bath. And don’t be fooled by Sirius’ startled expression; he loves it.

Monday-Mash-Up_0002

And HERE is a selfie with Rapunzel, because she is the CUTEST Disney Princess of all time!! And yep, I was #Disneybounding as Cinderella :). More on that in my vacation post later this week!

Disneybounding at disney world- Abby Grace Photography

I think one reason I love Monday Mash-Up is because it just feels like a conversation! No pretense, no fluff, just giving it to you straight. Like publicly admitting that I dressed up like a Disney character. Maybe that’s why it’s often my most-read blog post of the week!

  • ashley mitchell - BEES?! I love it. We really want chickens. Our neighbor has chickens (named Oprah Winfrey and Ellen Degeneres no less), and we really really want some. Apparently in Portsmouth you can have up to SIX lol. I will trade you fresh eggs for fresh honey – deal?!ReplyCancel

  • Alicia - hahah that costume is the best — can’t wait for your vacation post!ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah - Oh my goodness, the dogs are too cute! My corgi is often quite cat-like also.ReplyCancel

  • Rici - Yes indeed. I love your Monday Mash ups, totally understand the rest of the world if it is the most read post ;)
    HONEYbees? Seriously? I like you more and more!!! My grandfather had bees as well! Do you know the song Honeybee by Gloria Gaynor? Oh please go and listen to it!
    Lot os bee-buzz-love to you!ReplyCancel

  • Sydni Jackson - I always come around for your MMUs! And, you’re getting BEES??!! I’m so jealous!! I really like bees, and really really like the environment, so I would love to become a beekeeper one day. My husband says that if I got bees then he would get spiders… we respectively hate the other one tremendously! Hmm.ReplyCancel

How to keep your blogging calendar organized- Abby Grace Photography

I resisted the idea of a blogging calendar for a long time- I’m pretty sure it was due to laziness. Or maybe I just liked the thrill of getting up in the morning and NOT knowing what I was going to write about, and then spending an hour cudgeling my brain for a good topic.

Nope, it was definitely laziness.

My blogging calendar is my saving grace these days! I don’t always follow it religiously, but having it in place helps me stay on top of my blog to make sure I don’t do the “wake up and wonder what the heck I should write about” thing that I always used to do.

I start out a couple of days before a new month starts by filling in all of the pre-determined posts, like Monday Mash-Ups. Then I take a look at my Day Designer monthly calendar to determine when I have anniversary sessions and weddings, and then I schedule the posts for those events accordingly. Weddings are usually schedule to be blogged about 10 days after the date, and anniversaries take a little bit longer since I have to wait for my film scans to come back from the lab.

Then I start filling in the remaining days with educational, business, and personal posts! I swipe a little strip of highlighter or colored pencil at the bottom of each post to help me see an overall picture of how I’m spacing out personal, business, educational, and photo-related posts.

How to keep your blogging calendar organized- Abby Grace Photography

I always write in pencil, just in case I need to change something halfway through the month. And because sometimes, I wake up and something else is on my heart, so I share that instead. Have the calendar written out like this has been SO helpful! It’s made it so much easier to write a post a few days before, so that I’m not scrambling to come up with something the day of.

I’m a paper girl, y’all already know that, but this would be JUST as easy to do with a Google calendar- just color code the text of your days to keep track of the different categories! This calendar stay taped to the wall right next to my desk for easy reference, and whenever I’ve published a post, I go ahead and cross it off with a pencil. Anything NOT crossed off throughout the month means I either posted something else that day, or just didn’t post. And the ones that DON’T get posted are usually rolled over to the next month- i.e. I’ll be blogging about our Ikea frame wall later in March :).

The printable calendars are from The TomKat Studio, and I LOVE using these. The pop of color makes filling out my calendar just a little less of a chore!

I’d love to hear from y’all- what are you best practices for staying organized and on top of blogging? Sound off!

  • Kaitlin Simpson - COLOR!! I’ve tried doing the virtual calendar (like iphone and google) and the paper versions too. I have calendars all over the place! Which I think might be one of my problems. I need to come up with ideas for my blog in advance too! Especially since I don’t have a lot of clients yet, I want to be able to show that I write consistently that shows ME so potential clients and readers can get to know me better too. I like this idea! Thanks for posting :)ReplyCancel

  • Jean - i love the way you keep yourself so organized! I also like the fact that you are willing to share what you have learned with others. Keep up the good work. Love you!ReplyCancel

  • David Abel - I need something like this, I’ve always tried to blog but I usually go hard for a month and burn out, great idea with the wall calendar!ReplyCancel

Over the past 5 years of being in business, I’ve developed quite the arsenal of go-to resources. A lot of those are physical products, like Leather Craftsmen or my Day Designer. But others are simply really, REALLY helpful online places that serve to make running my business easier than before. Here are my top online resources for photographers!

New York City elopement photographer- Abby Grace

1. Sunrisesunset.com- I use this thing all the dang time. It’s my go-to for scheduling anniversary + engagement sessions! All you have to do is type in the city where you’ll be shooting and the month in which your session takes place, and it pulls up the sunrise + sunset times for every day of that month. Bookmark this site!

2. Gmail- I couldn’t live without Gmail. My official business email address is abby@abbygracephotography.com, but I have that set up to forward everything to my Gmail inbox. Google’s made it SO easy to sort my emails, access them quickly, it interfaces well with my iPhone, and it’s intuitive. I’m not one to love complicated online systems, so Gmail is my BFF. Plus, it also works in tandem with my calendar!

3. WordPress/Prophoto template- my blog is built on a WordPress platform, using a customized ProPhoto template (designed by the geniuses at Tonic, and customized by the whiz himself, Jeff Shipley). Since I blog frequently, this is one of my most-used tools in my arsenal! It’s easy to use, simple to update, and it’s a widely used platform so if I ever have issues, there are always tons of friends and tutorials out there to seek help from!

New York City elopement photographer- Abby Grace

4. ShowIt- my static website (abbygracephotography.com) is built on a ShowIt platform and I could not be happier with it! I’m a total tech-novice, and have always been the type to simply give up trying if something online proves to be too involved for me to understand quickly. The awesome thing about ShowIt is that, after Jeff created the gorgeous design and filled it with my images and verbiage, I’m able to go in and tweak things if I need to without needing a degree in web coding. It’s an easy-to-use system that allows me to update my images, text, pricing, etc. without any fuss at all. And the ShowIt folks are super accessible so if I have an emergency, like my website being down for 24 hours without me knowing about it (true story), they’re right there to help me out when I need it.

5. Paypal- Last January, I made the switch from paper checks to doing everything through Paypal, and haven’t looked back since. Really, I can’t believe I didn’t switch sooner. Paypal makes receiving payments SO much faster, easier and more secure. I use Paypal for my anniversary + wedding couples, as well as workshops, any miscellaneous invoices, and for making payments to other online boutiques. It’s the bee’s knees!

What are your top choices? I’d love to hear them!

  • Rici - Thank you for sharing! I use Gmail tons & loooove twilight calculator for finding the sunrise/sunset times – will definitely check your link ;)ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Fike - PayPal! I’m considering! Have you found the fees to be overwhelming for your expenses?? I’m considering Pixifi and 17 Hats and both have 2.9% fees with $0.30 per transaction. I just don’t want to incur a huge expense!ReplyCancel

  • Beth Hamilton - Hi Abby! Thanks for sharing these things! I wasn’t even aware I could integrate my gmail and my “official” email address, but I’m going to look into it now! That will make things so much easier. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • For Photographers: My 5 Favorite Software/Programs » Modern International Wedding Photographer - […] about my Top 5 online resources for photographers- if you haven’t read that one, check it out here! Today, I thought it’d be helpful for some of y’all to go over my Top 5 […]ReplyCancel

Good MORNING from sunny Orlando! I’m sort of sad we missed the 8-12 inches of snow that fell last week, just because of how pretty I’m sure it was, but I’ve been sporting sundresses and short-sleeved tops these past few days, so I’m not all that sorry. It’s been so wonderful to get away for a little bit to simply enjoy being alive with Matt!

Hogwarts at Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Abby Grace Photography

The main purpose of the vacation was to come down to see our Washington Nationals play in spring training, but while we’re here, we’re also taking advantage of the other fun stuff Orlando has to offer. Like HARRY POTTER WORLD! We went yesterday with my best friend in the world and it was a.maz.ing. Sarah’s a closet HP fan, so we had so much fun geeking out over all the little details in Diagon Alley & Hogsmeade! And tomorrow, we’re going to Disney!!

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

  • If you ever buy a chocolate frog, the folks at Honeydukes will advise you to eat the back legs first so it can’t hop away. The more you know!
  • Watching Nats games from as close as our seats have been at spring training has totally spoiled me for regular season. Thank goodness for StubHub, because I’ll never be satisfied with nosebleed seats again!
  • Guys, the new part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is even BETTER than the first one! I didn’t think it was possible, but they’ve outdone themselves.
  • Vacation: where the calories are made up and the carbs don’t matter.
  • No but seriously. The calories don’t count, right?
  • Because I’m going to have another butterbeer today.

I can’t wait to share all my photos from Universal, but for now, here’s our group as Sarah & I geek out over being at Hogwarts!

Hogwarts at Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Abby Grace Photography

Happy, happy Monday! We’re off to explore!

  • Ally Skeer - I hope you are having SO much fun! I can’t wait to hear about the new parts of HPW!!!!! Secretly (not so secretly) jealous of your adventures in the sun!ReplyCancel

  • Jeannie Mathews - So jealous. We decided to skip our Florida trip this year, and last week we were asking ourselves “WHY???” BTW, if you buy those close-up seats at Nationals Park buy on the 3rd base side – gets shade a lot earlier on those baking hot summer afternoons. Enjoy your trip!ReplyCancel

  • Jean - loving your pictures from your trip. Knowing we’ll be going south next week keeps me from being jealous. Have fun!ReplyCancel

  • Jaclyn - Haha I love your enthusiasm for Harry Potter. I thought I was a huge fan because I love the movies, but you definitely have me beat by a long shot!ReplyCancel