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Michael & Mary- an Annapolis, MD anniversary session on film

Mary. She’s one of those rare jewels, the kind of person whose zeal for life and everything it’s brought her so far just draws you in- the most dazzling of smiles, an infectious laugh, and the ability to speak the truth with more love than most everyone around her. She encouraging, life-giving, and and oh so impossibly sweet. Any one of those things alone would have been enough to draw Michael her way, and all of them together are enough to give explanation for the way he looks at her. The tender way his arms wraps around her, and the sweet way his eyes crinkle into a smile when she kisses him. There’s so much joy between the both of them.

Michael & Mary, spending the evening with you was reviving down to my soul! It’s so easy to see why you two are perfect together, and photographing your love while hearing your stories of living life together was my every idea of the perfect evening. Thank you so very, very much for the opportunity to capture this time in your lives! Your session and the purpose behind it is the embodiment of why I love anniversary sessions so much- it was such an honor!

Also, Mary’s one heck of a photographer. You should go check out her work :).

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[…] narrowing it down to just these haha!), be sure to see the entire post on Abby’s blog, here. […]

jamie - June 6, 2014 - 8:21 am

loved how you captured these two and their love. i love the one of Mary holding on to Michael’s arm leaning in and he is in focus. these two are pretty special!

Rachel Wells - June 6, 2014 - 12:10 am

Oh wow- I LOVE this session!!…and that skirt!! I need it in my life! :)

Jean - June 5, 2014 - 6:44 pm

Beautiful photographs, Abby. What a gorgeous couple!

Jaclyn - June 5, 2014 - 4:57 pm

Love this, beautiful as always!

Danielle - June 5, 2014 - 4:27 pm

Beautiful images of a beautiful lady and her man! I love the light, compositions, and glittery skirt.

Chelsea Anderson - June 5, 2014 - 3:30 pm

I am so incredibly in love with this. So much, images like these are why I do what I do. The love conveyed in each one is so incredibly. Maybe one day we’ll have to do one of these as well :)

Emilia Jane - June 5, 2014 - 3:02 pm

LOVE THESE!!! SO beautiful.

Michael and Carina - June 5, 2014 - 1:18 pm

Such a lovely session!!!!!

Hannah - June 5, 2014 - 12:22 pm

Love, love, love! Incredible work… although, it’s not too difficult with Michael & Mary in front of the camera!

Tara - June 5, 2014 - 12:13 pm

LOVE this session. So gorgeous Abby. And that skirt!!

Natalie - June 5, 2014 - 11:59 am

Oh my goodness, Abby.. This is beautiful!

Mary - June 5, 2014 - 10:19 am

Abby. Beyond, beyond, beyond words. Tears are streaming as I write this!!! So incredibly blessed by you and these amazing images!!! Much, much love!!! xoxo!

Avoiding the dreaded “Wedding Hangover”

If you’re a wedding photographer, you know exactly what I’m talking about: you’ve spent the entire day before on your feet, running around photographing a gorgeous wedding day, and then morning comes. You open your eyes, wondering why on earth your spine feels like you slept with a barbell on your back. Sitting up, rubbing your bleary, sleepy eyes, you find that there’s a dull throbbing coming from your brain. And then, as you swing your legs over the side of the bed and stand up, the soles of your feet cry out in protest as pain shoots up your calves.

We’ve all been there, amIright? You know I am.

Over the past three-four years of shooting weddings, I’ve found recipes for assured success, and recipes for undoubted disaster. In order to avoid feeling like you played a football game with a bunch of 350-lb linebackers the morning after a wedding, I suggest considering some of the following tips:

1) Hydrate. Yep, super simple, but so helpful! This past year Matt started packing ice-filled coolers for me to bring to weddings, stocked with several Gatorades and several water bottles. Part of my second shooter’s job throughout the day is to run back to the car to grab liquids for us both so that we’re both making sure to stay hydrated.

2) Make sure you eat! Also in that cooler that Matt packs are several Luna bars. I typically eat two of those throughout the day in addition to dinner during the reception. Typically I begin shooting around 12 or 1 in the afternoon, and if I’ve left my house an hour or two prior to that, I most likely didn’t eat lunch. In order to stay on my game, I have to have SOMETHING in my stomach. Avoid the hangries at all costs.

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3) Footwear matters! Rule of thumb that’s absolutely essential in finding proper wedding day footwear: if it’s even slightly uncomfortable in the store, it’s going to be downright painful by the time the ceremony rolls around. I’ve plunked down a lot of money over the years on footwear and the best thing I can tell you is DO NOT SKIMP on cheap shoes- you’ll end up replacing them multiple times over the course of wedding season!

3b) Change shoes after the reception gets started. I typically start in a low wedge and will wear those through the ceremony + family formals, but as soon as the bride & groom have made their entrance into the reception, I switch to flats. Last year, that was a pair of neutral gray TOMS, this year it’s a pair of nude suede flats from DSW. Whatever your fancy, this will absolutely save your feet from that end-of-wedding throb!

4) Pop some Ibuprofen when you get to the reception. My lower back tends to start hurting after a full day on my feet, often with my 5-10 lb camera bag on my shoulder. I usually take two Advil with dinner to allow me to enjoy shooting the rest of the reception without back pain.

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5) Put your bag down while you’re shooting, if possible. That’s what kills my back, carrying 10lbs of equipment in a bag slung across one shoulder- the uneven distribution of weight through a 9-hour day? No thank you. I try to put my bag down during pretty much any opportunity, and if I can’t put it down, I take out anything I don’t immediately need to save myself the pain later on in the day.

6) If you’re starting to feel sleepy, grab some coffee after the cake is cut and served! It’s just a little pick-me-up for that last hour or two of dancing and can put some pep back in your step :).

I’d love to hear your tricks to avoiding feeling like you were hit by a Mack truck the day after a wedding! Care to share?

Sarah (Danaher) Bradshaw - June 5, 2014 - 8:59 am

Great tips! Additionally— start a good workout routine during off-season, and keep it up during wedding season. Make sure it includes upper body and core strengthening exercises! Being in shape makes a WORLD of difference!

Urška Majer - June 5, 2014 - 4:00 am

These are some great tips :) We actually started using ear plugs at the end of the last season and i have to say that starting this year’s season last saturday that we feel less tired the next day because of them, since you don’t have to listen to loud music for the whole reception :)

Cassady Adams - June 4, 2014 - 9:35 pm

Thanks for posting this! It seems so simple, but I’m really going to be more intentional on hydrating and eating. I would highly suggest Dr. Scholl’s inserts for your shoes, my feet and legs don’t even hurt the next day.

Sarah Street - June 4, 2014 - 5:57 pm

Great tips! I have found that putting my bag down, especially during the reception is KEY! I don’t have near the back pain or foot ache at the end of the night as I use to and have more energy near the end of the night.

Maria Grace - June 4, 2014 - 2:44 pm

Love these tips, thank you! One thing that works for me is to get some Naked juice (or a similar brand) that will hydrate me and give me the best nutrients to get through the day. Doesn’t hurt that it tastes delicious :)

Amanda - June 4, 2014 - 1:55 pm

Such a good post! It took me a couple years to learn these and now I have found they help immensely!

Natalie Gibbs - June 4, 2014 - 1:39 pm

All of these tips are great!
I’ve started stashing a Pepsi in the caterer’s fridge or a cooler in my car so I can have something to pick me up as soon as the wedding ends. And I agree that the change of shoes works wonders.

Jean - June 4, 2014 - 12:30 pm

Great advice, especially the shoes and keeping hydrated!

Shalese - June 4, 2014 - 12:23 pm

Love this!! I’ve recently started switching shoes at the reception, too . . . even if you’re going from flats to different flats, it helps! I’ve also bought little footies (the kind you can’t see even with flats on) with padding in the heel and balls of your feet. It’s simple, but they seem to help a LOT! :)

Kat - June 4, 2014 - 12:22 pm

LOVE these tips, Abby!!! Thanks girl!!

Katie - June 4, 2014 - 12:04 pm

Thank you, Abby!! These are such great tips! I”m just beginning my career in wedding photography (second shooting for the first time this Saturday! EEK!) and I can use all the advice I can get. :)

Dan & Alex- an anniversary session in Charlotte, North Carolina

“That butterfly feeling in your stomach? I found myself feeling that around him, and I didn’t know I could feel like that again.” They met in Long Beach, California on a Summer Project, and somewhere throughout the weeks of living alongside each other (and about 60 other college kids from around the country), she fell for him. And he fell for her. Two years later, after thousands of miles traveled back and forth from Colorado to Virginia, Virginia to Colorado, they were married beneath a flowered pergola in Pennsylvania.

And here we are, three years later, with so much having happened between “I do” and “I still do, every single day.” Grad school, job changes, moving halfway down the coast, totally new surroundings and communities. This time, the in-between, it deserves to be celebrated, to be cherished and marveled at. That after three short years, they know infinitely more about each other than when they started, that their relationship has grown by leaps and bounds, and that by loving Jesus more and more, they learn to love each other better with each passing day.

Dan & Alex, we love you both so much! It was such a blessing to spend the morning with you two, Matt & I are incredibly grateful for your friendship. Charlotte is the perfect place for you guys, thank you for the opportunity to come and capture your love story in your element!

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Rosa - June 3, 2014 - 8:04 pm

I think these anniversary sessions are just AMAZING! You (like always) manage to capture the love, playfulness and special bond that marriage brings. Beautiful couple and great work Abby in capturing their love :)

Kathryn Grace - June 3, 2014 - 9:52 am

Love these!! Beautiful!

Emilia Jane - June 3, 2014 - 9:19 am

So cute!!!

Ashley Herrinton - June 3, 2014 - 8:22 am

Oooh I just love these two! I LOVE the last one!! Great job capturing their love Abby!

Jean - June 3, 2014 - 8:10 am

Gorgeous pictures, Abby.

Monday Mash-Up

Happy Monday! This weekend’s been a total whirlwind- from Reston to Williamsburg for a wedding, then back to Reston for about 18 hours, then down to Lexington, Virginia for an anniversary session this morning. As I write this I’m sitting in my hotel room all packed up and ready to hit the road back home, so we’ll make this short and sweet. I’m making a stop at Big Spring Farm to see the beautiful Jill and word on the street (aka an email from Jill) is that there are baby chicks to be seen!

Lessons learned/things that transpired over the weekend:

  • Matt’s sister’s family got a beagle puppy this weekend, so of COURSE we went to go visit yesterday! Ahhh those droopy ears, big brown eyes and soft paws. I could have squeezed him all freaking day.
  • Megan, Matt’s sister, also keeps chickens in their back yard. We brought Lily with us to go meet the new pup, not thinking about the chickens, and I guess it’s no surprise that Lily spent almost the entire visit with her nose pressed up against the coop, terrorizing the poor birds. That dog is such a jerk sometimes.
  • Every time I catch the scent of boxwoods, I think of Colonial Williamsburg. Is that just me?
  • I’m trying out the whole Paleo thing, since I managed to find five extra pounds while in Europe (from all the pasta I ate in Italy, no doubt) and can’t seem to wish it away. So far it’s been pretty good, but I refuse to give up tea/coffee. I just like the ritual of a morning cup of [insert variety of hot beverage]! We’ll see how it pans out in the next couple of weeks.

Here’s a preview from this weekend’s wedding…

Williamsburg, Virginia wedding- Abby Grace

And one from this morning’s anniversary session with Brian & Jessica in Lexington :).

Virginia anniversary session

Stephen - June 2, 2014 - 3:58 pm

Prettiness my dear Abby, prettiness.

Jill Powers - June 2, 2014 - 1:56 pm

Thank you so much for stopping by! We loved seeing you… and I think our breakfast was pretty Paleo!! YAY!

Ashleigh - June 2, 2014 - 9:08 am

love the previews! you are so talented.
PS. the smell of boxwoods always reminds me of CW too!

Jean - June 2, 2014 - 8:09 am

Beautiful pictures. Can’t wait to see pics of the Williamsburg wedding. Thanks for the Birthday call. You started my day off right by singing Happy Birthday to me. Love you!

Urška Majer - June 2, 2014 - 8:08 am

Both previews are so stunning :)

Everyone Loves A Classic: the Ballerina Bun

I’ve been rocking the ballerina bun for years. Sure, not always in the same polished way that the fashion world’s perfected over the last couple of years, but as an actual ballerina- I knew approximately 37 ways to tame ruthless hair into a bun that my ballet teacher, Mrs. Reddick herself, would be proud of. There was always a smattering of bobby pins scattered in the bottom of any bag I was carrying, and I had more bottles of hair spray than anyone I knew. These days, I use the ballerina bun a bit more sparingly, but it’s still an absolute staple for me! More often than not, I use it as a passive way of curling my hair- I’ll forego the hair donut and will simply twist my hair into a simple bun while it’s still a bit damp, and then an hour or so later, voila! A bit of curl without ever needing to plug in an iron. But if I’m going for something a bit more professional/dressy/cute, I’ll go ahead and use the donut. It takes a bit of getting used to, but after finally learning how to stuff my too-long hair into one, I kind of love it!Ballerina bun- Abby Grace PhotographyI found the Braids, Bun & Twists book at PaperSource a few months back and have had way too much fun experimenting with different styles. One of my fun goals this year is to try to style my hair differently for each wedding I shoot- so far, I’m doing well.Ballerina bun- Abby Grace PhotographyAnd guess what? Lucky for you, I have an extra one of these books lying around and I would LOVE to give it to one of my sweet blog readers! So leave a comment telling me your favorite hair style, product, tool, whatever- I’ll pick a winner on Monday at 12 noon. Happy commenting!

Allie - June 2, 2014 - 10:47 am

As a dancer, I have to wear a bun alll the time and I’m always looking for new ways to style mine ;) Love the idea of this book!

Melissa Arlena - June 1, 2014 - 8:44 pm

I was inspired to do a sock bun this weekend for my wedding instead of my usual ponytail thanks to you :) I felt spiffy ;)

Sarah (Danaher) Bradshaw - May 31, 2014 - 9:48 pm

My hair has JUST gotten long enough to do interesting things with! My hair is crazy curly so I usually wear it down, but I like a topknot/messy bun when it gets warm outside. And I’ve recently begun wearing it in a boho side braid on some occasions. Longer hair is SO much fun!

Dad - May 31, 2014 - 11:21 am

To quote a young man who once visited our home “I feel totally inadequate for this conversation.”

Amanda - May 31, 2014 - 8:41 am

More like beachy fun! Oh autocorrect…

Amanda - May 31, 2014 - 8:39 am

I love the hair tutorials on the blog Cup of Joe. Topknots, chignons, buns, braids…you name it, they’re on there with easy to follow steps and pics. Some of my recent hair favs came from her blog. Highly recommend it! And my go to product is sea salt spray…body, texture, wave. Bleachy fun!

Michele Z. Cabeen - May 30, 2014 - 9:28 pm

I love classic buns, and the added braid in yours! I’ve been experimenting with braids – French braids, Dutch braids, waterfall braids, side braids. I’ve been meaning to pick up bobby pins for some styles, too, but keep forgetting!

Love the post/blog! Keep up the great work. =)

Laura - May 30, 2014 - 9:23 pm

I’m doing a top knot at least once a week if I need to run out with the kids and have to do something with my hair. My 2 year old loves Frozen so I’m sometimes able to give her “princess hair” pigtails. I’d love to have more options at my fingertips!

Rebekah - May 30, 2014 - 8:46 pm

My favorite hair product is the Moroccan Oil Hydrating Styling Cream. It is the ONLY product that has ever really tamed my often frizzy half-curly, half-wavy hair, particularly on really humid days. This is it: http://www.amazon.com/MoroccanOil-Hydrating-Styling-10-2-Ounce-Bottle/dp/B002CMLS50

Elizabeth V - May 30, 2014 - 6:29 pm

Woah that looks like an awesome book! I love putting my hair in buns and braids, but, don’t know that many styles… and the older I get the thinner my hair is, so, it is looking rather drab lately. I could use some fresh ideas, for sure!

Erin - May 30, 2014 - 6:11 pm

Oh, I am terrible with my hair! I never know what to do with it… What product to use or what tools. It’s kinda naturally wavy, but not enough on its own to actually look good jwithout either drying it straighter or trying to curl it, which I’m hopeless at so straighter is my default. But then my hair curls up in humidity, so while working a wedding in the Virginia heat, it goes crazy on me!

Jill - May 30, 2014 - 5:40 pm

My favorite tool is a 1 1/2 curling iron–gives such a pretty bounce.

laura - May 30, 2014 - 5:38 pm

my favorite product is Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle!

Sabrina - May 30, 2014 - 5:14 pm

You are adorable! And after seeing a few photos of myself from this year’s weddings, I need to do something other than wear my hair down. Because by the end of the day, it’s a mess. And not a cute mess! My “favorite” (mainly because it’s easy) is a side chignon at the nape of my neck. It’s easy and simple and keep my hair out of my face and out of my shots! But I’m totally open to trying new things and this book would be super fun!

ashley link - May 30, 2014 - 5:10 pm

so fun!!!! i’m so bad at doing my own hair. i can do my kids at school, but not my own!

Tammy - May 30, 2014 - 3:13 pm

I love that my flat iron does double duty and can straighten and curl.

Minh Hussey - May 30, 2014 - 3:04 pm

I love beach waves: it’s low maintenance and laid back.
What a fun prize you’re offering!

Katie - May 30, 2014 - 1:28 pm

You look gorgeous, Abby! That is such great bun style. And, I love your fun goal of a different hairstyle for every wedding! :) I’m just entering into the world of wedding photography and I definitely need to build my repertoire of hairstyles. As far as my favorite hair style, I guess I would have to say loosely curled and down when I have the time (and inclination! Haha!). My best hair trick that I stumbled upon this year, is to wash my hair at night and while it is still damp, braid it into two side braids and sleep on it. In the morning, I wake up with beautifully wavy hair that’s still slightly damp which is perfect for adding a texturizing spray. This super easy go-to hair style has saved me SO much stress and time!

Rachel Wells - May 30, 2014 - 1:00 pm

I love wearing my hair in a top knot!! However, my usual style is wash, dry and go- not exciting at all and I need to spice it up a bit! :)

Ali - May 30, 2014 - 12:54 pm

I love the bun too! My hair is always in one.:-) wish I was good at whipping up cute styles tho quickly. I think you should do a post about all your wedding hairstyles.:-)

Amanda - May 30, 2014 - 12:21 pm

Would love to learn how to do braids, buns and fun stuff to my 8 year old daughters hair! I am hair clueless! I have said for years they should have a class for Mom’s of girls to teach us these great things!

Andrea - May 30, 2014 - 12:17 pm

The french braid. A nice sideswept one looks so fancy and totally hides unwashed or unruly hair! Awesome giveaway, thank you!

sarah der! - May 30, 2014 - 11:54 am

Oh my do I WISHHH I could do that with my hair! So, so cute! I’ve been trying to pull off the french braid on the side, but all my layers keep poking out so awkwardly…! Maybe this book will help me some new skillz and learn some groovy new braided do’s!

Tessa - May 30, 2014 - 11:29 am

My fav thing to use in my hair is flax seed. No joke. I boil the flax seed then strain them and it comes out like egg yokes. It’s the greatest gel for my curly hair.

Shalese - May 30, 2014 - 11:29 am

I’m not so good at the whole doing my own hair thing (seriously, how does anyone french braid their own hair?!?!), BUT when I bought a curling WAND instead of a curling IRON, it changed my life. It’s so so so much easier to use and I always get tons of compliments. My favorite was the bridesmaid who told me I had “mermaid hair.” :)

Jean - May 30, 2014 - 10:48 am

Your hair is amazing and you do such wonderful things with it! Love you!

Ali - May 30, 2014 - 10:46 am

YES! I love that you did a post on this. I stink at these buns, but my hair has LOTS of layers. I’m a huge fan of beach waves and am always trying new ways to make them look more natural. So recently, I just twisted about 20 sections of my hair, pinned them up, and let it dry. I finger combed them out and had a wonderful beach look for a day :)

Kaitlyn Phipps - May 30, 2014 - 10:43 am

oh mrs reddick :] the good old days where having a slick bun meant avoiding being called out! i know little to nothing about hair, but i’d love to know more :]

Amanda - May 30, 2014 - 10:24 am

With the number of shows that I do these days, I feel like I spend more time doing hair than any other non-professional hairdresser really should. For the opera I just did, I did twelve girls hair every night in pinned braids with ribbons and loose flowers. I love getting to experiment with fanciful buns and braids and how to make them read from stage. My personal go to hairstyle for auditions (and, increasingly, everyday) is a french braid that starts just behind my hairline that I wind into a bun at the nape of my neck. Hairspray and a tremendous collection of bobby pins are pretty much my constant companions.

Love the blog, Abby. Thanks for sharing!

Alicia Lacey - May 30, 2014 - 10:20 am

This is awesome, Abby! Ever since you posted this book I’ve had it on my wishlist!! My favorite style is a side braid — it’s perfect for work or going out. You can make it traditional, messy, or fishtail (which I am admittedly still working on!). But anyway,
I love it!

Whitney G - May 30, 2014 - 10:12 am

My hair is so long it’s hard to find good hairstyles that work well! Braids and buns though are perfect for the hot summer days to get it up and out of my face though. My favorite product to use is heat tamer leave-in spray. So on days I do need to use a hair dryer or flat iron my hairs soft and protected!

Emily Crall - May 30, 2014 - 10:11 am

Since I got a wave perm, my hair has been the easiest thing in the world! I can literally get out of the shower and go, letting it air dry through the day. I do try to be a little more put together for weddings though–hah–and often add in a braid or a donut bun. My favorite though is just straight up curling my hair, brushing it out, and hairspraying lightly. With the perm, the curls last for days!

Nora - May 30, 2014 - 9:53 am

My favorite product is Redken’s CURVACEOUS WAVE AHEAD – TEXTURIZING MOUSSE FOR WAVY HAIR!! Such an amazing mousse that doesn’t dry crunchy! I buy them 3 at a time! http://www.redken.com/products/curls/curvaceous/curvaceous-wave-ahead :)

Ashley Herrinton - May 30, 2014 - 9:53 am

So fun! I am in that stage right now where my hair feels, blah. I’m so tempted to just chop it off, but I know I’ll regret it, haha! I’d love to try new hairstyles to keep my loving these long locks ;]

Heather - May 30, 2014 - 9:52 am

This crazy Florida humidity means my flat ironed hair ends up in a crazy messy ballerina bun by the end of the day. I would love to start off my day with something more chic that doesn’t just say “Whoa. Humidity doesn’t agree with her.”

Anna K. - May 30, 2014 - 9:48 am

Oh Abby I love this! I wear my hair in a bun almost everyday and I would love to spice it up a bit!

Whitney - May 30, 2014 - 9:46 am

I love all kinds of braids! – french, fishtail, side braid… They never fail :)