Moving out to Sterling wasn’t my first choice, but it was where we found a house, so Sterling is where we are. I wasn’t thrilled about it at first, but the longer we’re here, the more I love it. A lot of that has to do with the fact that two families from our church are within a quarter mile walk, and since moving, we’ve had SO much fun spending time with these two couples + each of their sweet daughters, both born within 5 days of each other last fall. If I get baby fever, I’m blaming it on Flo & Nicki.

Snow days are a time when I’m particularly thankful for these friends- when the snow started falling hard, I called Flo and asked if I could pop over in a few minutes to take some portraits of her and Terry in the snow! Lucky for me, they said yes, so I grabbed my mk3 and walked over. Matt stayed inside with Baby Elsa, and though it was fuh-REEZING and the snow was whipping like crazy, we had a wonderful time!

Virginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace PhotographyVirginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace PhotographyVirginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace PhotographyVirginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace PhotographyVirginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace PhotographyVirginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace PhotographyVirginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace PhotographyVirginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace PhotographyVirginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace Photography

And then Matt called Alan & Nicki to see if they’d want to come over for a movie and some hot chocolate, and I asked them to come ready for portraits too. Once again, Matt stayed inside to babysit little miss Charlotte, and the three of us tromped outside for a round of chilly photographs. It was SO much fun- having the chance to photograph friends is one of my favorite joys, because knowing them makes capturing their love authentically all the more enjoyable and easygoing.

Virginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace PhotographyVirginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace PhotographyVirginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace PhotographyVirginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace PhotographyVirginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace PhotographyVirginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace PhotographyVirginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace PhotographyVirginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace PhotographyVirginia anniversary session in the snow- Abby Grace Photography

Terry & Flo, Alan & Nicki, thank you for being willing to brave the frigid cold for my sake! Matt & I are so, so grateful to live so close to each of you- it makes snow days unimaginably awesome :).

  • Caili - The SNOW! So magical, Abby. I love the one of her laughing over his shoulder! I’m such a nerd, though, because I saw the first picture and instantly worried about your equipment getting wet. :)ReplyCancel

  • Jean - how sweet that you have such good friends! Beautiful photos.ReplyCancel

  • Jaclyn - I am sick of the snow and the winter but this was too cute to not look at. Such a fun shoot! :)ReplyCancel

  • Mona Balentine - these are so awesome! you captured fun and joy and love!ReplyCancel

  • Urška Majer - These are so beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Rici - So much snow! Wow Abby, it looks like incredible fun!!ReplyCancel

  • Rici - Oh yes living in walking distance of church friends. I have a bunch of my campus crusaders in 10 minutes walking distance. Hear you 500%
    And I am so sorry to leave it behind soon.
    Hope you enjoy every day of it. ;)ReplyCancel

I remember the first time Matt & I had to spend the night apart after we got married- I was still working my corporate job and I’d been sent to Lawton, OK for a Comms thing. We’d been married something like two months, and I thrilled at the chance to wake up and see him next to me, so the prospect of a few days spent without my best friend was a source of contention for me.

And then you meet people like Kam & Erin, he an officer in the Navy and she an officer with the US Marines. Stationed on opposite sides of the country, they couldn’t take a honeymoon right after their wedding because they both had to report back to base. During their session, Kam said something about being “up to 85 days,” and after asking what he meant, he told me that was how many days they’d had together since their wedding in November of 2013. And he said it with JOY, not with anger; smiling over at his bride, he was grateful that they’d had as many as 85 days in each others’ company as husband and wife.

Kam & Erin, spending time with you both was so life-giving! Thank you for the chance to be reminded of how precious time with your spouse is, and that time together is to be cherished. I love watching you treasure each other!

Williamsburg anniversary session photographer- Abby GraceWilliamsburg anniversary session photographer- Abby GraceWilliamsburg anniversary session photographer- Abby GraceWilliamsburg anniversary session photographer- Abby GraceWilliamsburg anniversary session photographer- Abby GraceWilliamsburg anniversary session photographer- Abby GraceWilliamsburg anniversary session photographer- Abby GraceWilliamsburg anniversary session photographer- Abby GraceWilliamsburg anniversary session photographer- Abby GraceWilliamsburg anniversary session photographer- Abby GraceWilliamsburg anniversary session photographer- Abby GraceWilliamsburg anniversary session photographer- Abby Grace

Williamsburg anniversary session photographer- Abby Grace

Williamsburg anniversary session photographer- Abby GraceWilliamsburg anniversary session photographer- Abby GraceWilliamsburg anniversary session photographer- Abby GraceWilliamsburg anniversary session photographer- Abby Grace

Hey, remember that time last week when I hosted a workshop on a Monday and TOTALLY blanked on blogging? Yeah, me too. Sorry about that! I didn’t realize I’d forgotten to blog until Monday night, and at that point, I was already sprawled on the couch with a glass of champagne, donning my best pair of sweatpants. C’est la vie!

Guys, I’m not usually the person to wish away weeks at a time by saying “I just want it to be Spring already,” but… I’m really tired of winter. I never though I’d get sick of snow, but we’ve reached the point where frozen precipitation is starting to make me angry. It’s snowed/iced three times in the last week, and when you have two dogs who have to be walked separately? Ice is a big problem. We had to get Lily a set of socks because her feet keep freezing whenever we take her out in the snow, and 65-lb Sirius is a puller (we’re working on it) so walking him on slick sidewalks? Nightmare. I’m definitely ready for warmer weather!

snowy Virginia anniversary session- Abby Grace Photography

On that note, Matt & I are heading down to ORLANDO this week!! I’m so excited!! Matt’s always wanted to see Spring Training so we’ll be at two Nationals games, and then we’re also visiting Disney and (of course) HARRY POTTER WORLD!!!! We haven’t seen the new part they’ve opened up, and my best friend Sarah hasn’t seen any of it, so we’re going with Sarah & Dan and it’s going to be epic. I’m going to start fasting now to prepare myself for all the butterbeer I’m going to consume. I’m also pretty stoked for the chance to wear short sleeves and see my favorite palm trees! I lived in Orlando growing up, and going back always makes me giddy in a way I haven’t been since I was 7. I can. not. WAIT.

As always, lessons learned/events that transpired over the past [two] week[s]!

  • Don’t leave brie on the table unattended. Especially an entire slice of it, especially when your newest dog’s head reaches table-level. I left a whole wedge of creamy brie alone for FIVE SECONDS and came back downstairs just in time to see Sirius grab the entire glob of it and attempt to wolf it down before I could intervene. Fortunately, a whole wedge is difficult to swallow with only five seconds to do so, and I got it out of his mouth before he could claim victory. Jerk.
  • Mouth Party Caramels: dangerous to keep around the office. I’ve ordered a bunch of them for an upcoming project and have instructed Matt to hide them until it’s time to package them up, they’re that dangerous.
  • Anyone else watch The Walking Dead? Rick Grimes, you seriously need a shave, my friend.
  • Also, I haven’t watched last night’s episode yet, so no spoilers!
  • I saw The Washington Ballet’s production of Sleepy Hollow a week and a half ago- PHENOMENAL. Definitely different than my typical fare, but the music was on point and the choreography was really fresh! They had a guest ballerina from ABT and watching Xiomara Reyes dance was utterly enchanting!

The best part about living within a five-minute walk from two couples we love dearly is that we get to hang out a lot. But the second best part is that they’re available to model on short notice when it’s blizzard-ing outside!

snowy Virginia anniversary session- Abby Grace Photography

Happy Monday!

  • Ally Skeer - Abby – I ordered 5 and a half POUNDS of Sea Salt Caramels from Mouth Party for a project… and I think that a pound of them is already gone. They are so dangerous. I think Matt needs to come hide mine from me, also.

    CANT WAIT for Wednesday, and bon voyage! #frozenbutterbeerovereverythingReplyCancel

  • Lindsey Chambers - I figured I’d post this time so you know I read it. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Sami Orndorff - Two things — A) Have you tried Sirius with a Gentle Leader leash?! We got one from Graham a few months ago and it made ALL the difference!!! B) I just realized Sirius’s name is a shout-out to HP. #fail #whoami? Which means that now this is three things…C) I had no clue you were from Orlando too! I lived there for two years in elementary school — what a small world :) Have a blast & soak up some warmth, chica!!!ReplyCancel

  • Kerith - I couldn’t use a gentle leader, Onyx hated it so much she ran her face into the ground until she bled trying to get it off. But the Easywalk from Petsmart that hooks in the front? Took walking from a strength exercise to a pleasant experience. SO much easier. I swear by it.ReplyCancel

Voting in the Shoot & Share photo contest- what I

I’m not the only one who’s literally had HOURS of my life sucked into voting am I? This thing is addicting! I think it’s because it sort of feels like gambling- you never know when one of YOUR photos might pop up, so I keep telling myself “just one more round. Ok, two more. It’ll definitely come up in the next grouping!” It took me hours to choose my final set of images to submit, and it’s a huge thrill whenever I see that one of mine is still a contender!

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, go HERE. The contest is the largest in the world, and there were more than 115,000 photos submitted this year! So naturally, the range of skill and talent is super varied, and I’ve actually discovered a lot about myself and my tendencies as I’ve been voting. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. I take way too many “bride looks down at her shoulder” photos. It seems to be a default for me when I can’t think of anything else to do, and the more photos I see pop up in the contest of a bride simply looking down for seemingly no reason, the more it’s turning me off. So this year, I know to make a more concerted effort to mix up my solo bride portraits!
  2. The colors of a film photo have no equal. I’m so glad I shoot anniversaries with a combination of film and digital!
  3. When it comes to the families and children categories, my favorite images are the ones where people are completely ignoring the camera. Kids being kids, dads and moms being goofy or playing pretend with their little ones.
  4. Fake “authentic” moments really turn me off! I promise to never try and force those again, because if I feel awkward viewing them, I can only imagine how my couples feel.
  5. I love things that make SENSE! If a photo doesn’t seem logical to me, I probably won’t vote for it. That’s my type A personality coming out, that is.
  6. I heart wide, epic shots. I should take more of those!
  7. If there is a: tulle skirt, set of twins or triplets, Harry Potter reference, or puppy in the image, I’m going to vote for it. Every time.
  8. If there is a: ballerina with under-developed technique, someone blowing glitter/snow/confetti at the camera, or a fake snow overlay, I’m not going to vote for it. Every time.
  9. Does it make me a total narcissist if I freak out and screen shot my images every time they pop up? Because I definitely do that.
  10. The simplest images are often my favorites! One of my favorite J&M sayings in regard to crazy photo techniques is “just because we CAN, doesn’t mean we should.” My favorite newborn images are the ones that show infants in settings that feel most natural- in their momma’s arms, or simply swaddled in a comfy blanket. The overly-manufactured, overly-processed, overly-posed images just aren’t my thing.
  11. Sometimes, I can’t tell if I’m voting for the content of the images (i.e. a gorgeous dress), or skill of the photographer who took the photo (i.e. how well they captured the light).
  12. I really want to shoot at Glacier National Park!
  13. Voting for my friends’ images is JUST as fun as seeing my own show up!
  14. Someday, I want to photograph a wedding where the reception takes place outside underneath hundred of cafe lights.
  15. If you ever feel the need to be taken down a few pegs, just sit and vote in the contest for a while. I’m overwhelmed by how much incredible talent there is in the photo world- it’s insane!

Voting in the Shoot & Share photo contest- what I

How about y’all? What are thing you find yourself gravitating toward as you vote?

Happy Friday!

  • Thuy Minh H. - Glad to see I’m not the only one voting for hours, and getting all excited when one of my photos appear. I even take screen shots when it happens…ReplyCancel

  • Ashley Herrinton - YES! I feel like I’ve learned SO much by voting and totally thought I was crazy for feeling that way! It has definitely inspired me for this upcoming wedding season!!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn Grace - I agree, it’s been really fun to be almost subconsciously honing your style by finding out what you gravitate towards in voting! I’ve seen several of your images and I haven’t even been voting that much. :-)ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah - My husband & I took the trip of our lifetimes (so far) this past Fall when we went to Glacier, Yellowstone, & Grand Teton Ntnl Parks. And I have to say Glacier was our favorite. We saw 4 bears, 4 big horn sheep, numerous mountain goats, & a ton of other wildlife, not to mention gorgeous glaciers! We felt like we were in The Sound of Music. It’s a must-see, must-photograph location for sure. Yellowstone & Grand Tetons were epic too, no doubt, but honestly Glacier was our surprise favorite.ReplyCancel

  • Erin Schrad - I love this post… You crack me up! I have my things that get automatic “yes”s and “no”s too. My photo or my friends’ photos = yes. Railroad tracks = no. Dogs = yes. Overly staged newborns = no (if I have a choice). I am also now very anti-blowing things at the camera. And I’ve become biased against images that are clearly from styled shoots that are in a category other than styled shoot. Maybe shouldn’t be… but I am. The contest has been amazingly educational and now that we’re in Round 7, it’s getting harder and harder to vote because the images are just so good!ReplyCancel

  • ashley mitchell - Can’t.Stop.Voting. I have voted for many of yours m’lady!!! :)ReplyCancel

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

I’m quickly learning that for me, teaching workshops is as enjoyable as photographing anniversaries and weddings! Workshop days (and the days leading up to them) are crazy; tying up all the little details the night before, assembling furniture hastily purchased at Ikea so that attendees will have somewhere to sit for dinner, and whipping out the sewing machine to make a simple table runner + matching napkins just a few hours before things are scheduled to begin. It’s insanity, but I LOVE it. The fact that it’s a labor of love just further embeds my business vision into everything that I do!

This past workshop was better than ever! It was freezing, and I mean fuh-ree-zing. There was ice and snow to contend with, yet everything went off without a hitch. Our sweet models Zack & Ashleigh didn’t complain at all about the temperature and were absolute pros in front of the camera, and I lost track of how many times I heard my girls exclaim “they are SO SWEET together!” as we were shooting.

There are a ton of people to thank for making this workshop as amazing as it was, so we’ll start first with the incredible sponsors!

Florals by Rachel of Floral & Bloom
Hair & Make-up by Martha & Libby of Alison Harper & Co.
Dress by Kevan Hall, provided by Soliloquy Bridal
M&S Grill in Reston Town Center
ShowIt
Align Album Design
Leather Craftsmen

The day begins with the in-home teaching portion where I take attendees through a wedding day with a fine-toothed comb! (Thanks for the behind-the-scenes photos, Kaitlyn!)

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

Sweet dances moves are encouraged, but not necessarily required.

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

Then we move into the shooting portion! This is my favorite part- I get to walk attendees through, step-by-step, how I pose my brides and grooms, complete with mistakes I’ve made and how you can avoid them to get the BEST images possible for your ideal client!

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

This is my “oh my effin goodness, it’s 22 degrees outside, why on earth did I take off my coat??” face.

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

And now, all the eye candy from the day!

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby GraceA Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

Thank you to Matt, for always doing whatever it takes to make my workshops a success. Even if that involves a last-minute trip to Ikea for a new area rug + chairs, and assembling them late the night before. You are the Sriracha to my Vietnamese pho soup, darling!

A huge thank you to Kaitlin for coming up to assist me for the second workshop in a row! You make an amazing impromptu model, and you make great coffee for someone who never drinks the stuff :).

To my parents, thank you so so much for coming over to help us set up the night beforehand, and for making to effort to get the house ready for us to shoot in and around! I’m so excited for more workshops at your new beautiful home!

And here’s most of the gang from Monday- we’re missing a few because, as usual, I got caught up in having an amazing time and totally forgot to grab a photo of everyone until the very, very end! Ladies, I am SO grateful that each of you made the decision to attend APWW. It was such a joy sharing with you all and getting to know you, and I’m so excited to watch your businesses grow!

A Practical Wedding Workshop- education for photographers, by Abby Grace

  • Kaitlin Simpson - So awesome!! ONE DAY!!! Eeeee!! Love your rainboots too! :)ReplyCancel

  • Heather - Abby,

    I can’t say it enough…THANK YOU!!! :) I am SO glad I had to opportunity to come learn from you! The entire day was so much fun and I walked away from there with a smile on my face, and a little more confidence. You made the entire workshop so much fun. Thank you for all of the effort you put in to making it a wonderful day!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - Abby,
    This was such an amazing workshop and I couldn’t have imagined it being any more perfect than it was. This was hands down, the best investment I have ever made in my entire photography career. Definitely a game changer. I am so grateful to have met you and learned as much as I did and I can’t wait until the next time we meet up! You changed my perspective with photography and I left the workshop knowing exactly what I want to accomplish and why.
    XoxoReplyCancel

  • Jean - looks like you had a great workshop! Photos are beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Mary - Abby!! You’ve done it again!! Been a raging and wonderful success!! It looks lovely…can I just come to every APWW?! Please?? :)ReplyCancel

  • Stephen - Oh Abby, those wellies.ReplyCancel

  • Holly - Beautiful! Fun fact, I went to high school with Ashleigh!

    Also, how do you get your hair so perfect?! No, really! How?! hahaReplyCancel

  • A Workshop with Abby Grace Photography » Allison Maxwell Photography - […] I could go on and on, but I’ll save it for another day.  We spent the sunset hour of the day honing our craft by photographing a precious bride and groom, one of Abby’s couples from last year.  Enjoy a few of my favorites below, and check out Abby’s post here! […]ReplyCancel