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Dreaming bigger and going the distance

Right now I’m in the middle of what we in the biz refer as “the off-season.” For the most part, from roughly January-March, my calendar is usually free of weddings and shoots, due to the sometimes-unpredictable weather (like today- 12+ inches of snow!). It’s a time for dreaming, resting, and doing all the small, menial tasks I didn’t get to during the regular season. But I keep forgetting about the RESTING part- I was thinking back the other day, and the last time I actually took a real vacation, and I mean sans-email, sans-blogging, sans WORK, was… an embarrassingly long time ago. When you run a small business, it’s hard to let your life be consumed with your job, because when you’re the only one fighting for your business, it feels like you NEED to be on, ready to go 24/7.

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Rest is important. Without taking time away from my business, my camera starts to feel like it’s leeching the life out of me. And I don’t want to feel that way! I love what I do, the reason I started this business in the first place is because I have a passion for photography, and just as importantly, a passion for people. But in the same way that it’s important to rest up for a big race or game, it’s crucial that I take time for me as well. If I want my business to succeed from year to year, there’s no choice in the matter- burnout is a real thing, especially for creatives, and I don’t ever want to feel that way about something I love so much.

Remember last year when I blogged about dreaming, and how I wanted to go back to Europe? We’re making that happen! One of the amazing things about Matt is how he sees what inspires me and pushes me toward it. During our trip abroad last year, I felt my soul come alive- it was like a rocket booster for my work, and I learned SO MUCH about myself during our travels last year! Matt sees just how hard it is for me to step away from my business, and so when I told him about my idea to head overseas again, he not only agreed to it, he encouraged me that I SHOULD go. That I need time away from my office, time to be inspired, and time for just me. Folks have different places they go for inspiration- for some, that’s a beautiful painting, a favorite song, an elegant piece of stationery. For me, it’s TRAVELING. I know there’s nothing unique about liking travel and that most people jump at the opportunity to go somewhere exciting, but there’s something about it that breathes life into my soul and opens my eyes even wider. It’s not just the pleasure of being somewhere new, and I can’t really describe it, but traveling, especially in Europe, does something for me that nothing else can. I feel on fire, unstoppable, and utterly, breathlessly in love with life.

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So next month, I’ll be heading to Italy, France and Ireland for about two weeks. I don’t have many solid plans about what to see or where to shoot, and I kind of prefer things that way! My usual tendency is to try and map things out hour by hour, but when Matt & I went to Paris without a single solid plan other than checking into our hotel room, it left the door wide open for spontaneity. Spur-of-the-moment turns down this windy lane, or that cobbled street, just wandering with the joy of being lost in a beautiful place.

If there’s been something on your to-do list that will breath life into you, don’t make excuses and just make time for it. Lara Casey said it best:


What’s stopping you?


Jean - February 13, 2014 - 1:51 pm

Go do what makes you happy and wear that tulle skirt! Love you.

Sarah (Danaher) Bradshaw - February 13, 2014 - 1:13 pm

I love you and your love for life. I’m so proud of you for taking the time to build into yourself this way!

Rachel M. - February 13, 2014 - 12:37 pm

Abby, I love how transparent and authentic your posts are! That is a goal of mine with blogging, to never get caught up in the pressure of having “perfect” posts. I appreciate your honesty and the way you share your heart to inspire and encourage other creative people!

Erin - February 13, 2014 - 11:44 am

It took me forever to buy my plane ticket for UNITED because I couldn’t decide whether to just fly in and fly out and just go to the conference, or tack on a few extra days and actually fly in and out of San Francisco instead. It’s been an expensive year thanks to needing a new A/C unit AND a new furnace, but I just decided to throw caution to the wind and do it. I’ve been to California several times, but always San Diego or LA-area and I really wanted to see Northern California and Yosemite. So, I don’t have a solid plan, but I’ve stretched me 4 days at UNITED into a week with a few days just to be by myself. I’m hoping to get to Europe again in 2015… my cousin graduates from high school next year and she wants to go to Paris. I haven’t been since I was 13, but I love to travel. I really want to go to Ireland… something about having a name that literally is the poetic name for Ireland has always made me fond of the country. And my mom’s family has Irish roots… albeit very, very far back. I will get there one day!

Natalie - February 13, 2014 - 11:29 am

I couldn’t agree with you more… Sometimes I have to remind myself that rest and relaxation are a vital part of my success.. I can’t be going and working all the time! Love this post!

Kerith - February 13, 2014 - 11:27 am

I love Lara Casey and the whole Southern Weddings team. I applied to intern in college :)

I found this blog post to mean a lot today. I’m really struggling with my corporate job and the fact I don’t feel like I contribute anything meaningful or do anything there that makes my soul happy. It’s incredibly difficult to find a place where my passions and career can meet.

This image is now saved to my computer, to remind me that sometimes doing what you love is more important than anything else.


Monday Mash-Up

Sometimes I wake up and stare at my computer screen for a full 30 minutes before coming up with what I want to write for my MMU post. Actually, scratch that, sometimes it’s a full hour to hour and a half. I don’t know why it’s so difficult to get these started in the winter- maybe it’s because life is going at a slower pace and I don’t always have some crazy “you won’t believe what happened over the weekend” sort of story to start things off with. So instead, I just go downstairs for my second or third cup of tea to delay the writing process. And then we end up with paragraphs like this that make you wish you could have the last 30 seconds of your life back. :).

As it turns out, my weekend WAS pretty eventful! We made the four-hour drive down to my Granny & Pawpaw’s house to spend a few days with my grandparents, and I decided to bring along a new sewing project that I was hoping my Granny could help me with. See, for Christmas, I received the most perfect blush pink tulle skirt, and I wanted to take a crack at making one of my own, but this time I wanted it to be cream-colored and a bit shorter. My Granny, being the excellent seamstress and quilter that she is, said to go ahead and bring the fabric and such with me and we’d do our best. I was of the mindset that the design seemed simple enough, so how hard could it be?

I comPLETELY overestimated my own capabilities when it comes to sewing, and it’s only thanks to my Granny’s mad skills that the skirt we produced came out as perfectly as it did. Thank the Lord I didn’t attempt this on my own because I would have wasted at least $40-50 in fabric. In the end, we managed to create one heck of a tulle skirt with no real pattern to go off of, and I’m pretty sure I’ve turned my grandmother off from ever using either satin or tulle again, due to it’s inherent nature of being difficult to work with. (Sorry again, Granny!)

So, in honor of our weekend of fabric-related challenges, I present: lessons learned/things that transpired over the past week:

  • If you’ve decided to sew something you’ve never sewn before and your seamstress skills are novice at best, don’t fool yourself: you’re going to need a pattern. “Just freehanding it” won’t work. Even if your sewing partner/Granny is a boss when it comes to needlework.
  • In the event that you proceed sans-pattern anyways, you may end up needing your TI-83 calculator. Remember that time you told your 6th grade math teacher you’d never need to use Pi in real life? Lies. I used 3.1415 this past weekend to calculate measurements for our homemade pattern!
  • …which we traced onto wrapping paper with a homemade compass, comprised of a pencil with a ribbon tied to it. It worked surprisingly well, by the way.
  • It is absolutely necessary to have a large glass of wine ready at the end of the day, due to the stress incurred by all of the aforementioned points.

I’ll be you’re hoping to see a photo of the skirt we made, aren’tcha? Well, you’re in luck- here’s an Instragram I posted yesterday!

Tulle skirt- Abby Grace PhotographyHere’s to my Granny, the best grandmother in all the world!

Becca B - February 19, 2014 - 10:41 am

You are so pretty!! The skirt is gorgeous, too :) I’ve been coveting something just like it that I saw on pinterest. Nice job!

Lydia - February 18, 2014 - 1:11 am

The skirt is beautiful! I may just have to get some tips from you at United to make my own!

Holly - February 11, 2014 - 2:05 pm

That’s AWESOME!!

Rici - February 11, 2014 - 7:05 am

Very cool Abby! Ever since you first mentioned to make your own, I´m thinking about making one for myself as well. How fun would it be?
~ Saluti.

Erin - February 10, 2014 - 8:59 am

Jean, you remind me of my grandmother! She too loves a project and is not afraid to MacGyver something together herself from what she has lying around in lieu of something ready made for the job. And she too has mad sewing skills.

Natalie - February 10, 2014 - 8:55 am

That skirt is absolutely GORGEOUS! I hope to see you rocking it at United in two weeks! Ahhhh!

Jean - February 10, 2014 - 8:46 am

I thought the skirt turned out perfect, especially in light of the fact that we ended up making a pattern. It looks beautiful on you. As always it was fun working on this project together. Now what is the next challenge? Love you.

Anniversary sessions, and finding time to reconnect

Matt & I’s story is probably similar to that of nearly every other photographer’s family- we went the first almost two years of marriage and only managed to take a grand total of something like four photos together, three of which were probably iPhone photos. After attending WTAW in June 2012, I realized just how very much it bothered me that I’d failed to put more of an emphasis on documenting OUR love story. I’d spent so much time and effort working to capture other people’s memories and moments that I’d forgotten to take care of Matt & I; we have a story worth telling as well.

There’s a tendency to have photographs taken during the “big” moments- engagement, wedding, babies, etc. But what about the in-betweens? What about the years spent just the two of you as you fall more in love, become even better friends, and learn the in’s and out’s of living life together? Or the years spent with small children, when sometimes you just want an excuse to get away and enjoy the presence of just your spouse? Those moments, that time, it matters.

Virginia anniversary photographer- Abby Grace

I’ll never forget how I felt during our anniversary session with J&M in New York City. The images are of course beautiful, and I appreciate them for the gorgeous photographs that they are. But even more so, those photographs allow me to recall how I FELT during that brisk Sunday afternoon- standing there in Central Park in the chilly November air, holding onto my husband, his arms looped around my waist, and kissing. Kissing a lot. I remember falling in love with him all over again that day. Wondering how I ever got to lucky to share life with this incredible man, a man who would drive up to New York to spend several hours out in the cold taking pictures, all because he knew that it was important to me to have those photos. We needed that.

At my core, I believe that marriage is worth fighting for. That some day, every marriage will face its share of up’s and down’s. And sometimes, in those moments, we need to be reminded that love NEVER fails. And THAT is why I love anniversary sessions. Do I think that photographs are a magical cure for marital problems? No, I don’t, but I do believe that photographs can act as a conduit for healing, as a reminder that things weren’t always this hard, that times can and will be beautiful once more.

Virginia anniversary photographer- Abby Grace

As time passes, I realized more and more than as much as I love weddings, I love MARRIAGE even more. Last year, I had the honor of photographing several anniversary sessions, and I’ve come to realize that I want “celebrating marriage” to be a much more significant part of the Abby Grace brand. So for 2014, I’ll be opening up my schedule a bit more for anniversary sessions, and just a tad less for weddings. It’s important to me that people find a reason to celebrate their marriages, and photographing your love, just as it is in this moment in time, is the perfect way to do that.

If it’s been years since you’ve taken a photo with your husband or wife, do yourself a favor and get in front of someone’s camera and spend time simply enjoying one another’s presence. Your marriage is worth celebrating!

Virginia anniversary photographer- Abby GraceVirginia anniversary photographer- Abby GraceVirginia anniversary photographer- Abby GraceVirginia anniversary photographer- Abby GraceVirginia anniversary photographer- Abby Grace


Laurel - February 15, 2014 - 11:27 am

Your photos are so gorgeous! My husband and I decided (well, I decided and he’s going along with it :-D) to have an anniversary session done every year. Photos are so important to me, and I absolutely love yours.

Kristen Duffy - February 11, 2014 - 11:26 pm

Aww Abby this is beautiful! And beautifully written :)

rosa - February 10, 2014 - 1:46 am

Oh! If only you were closer! Anniversary sessions ARE or should most definitely a must. In a time where marriage is rarely taken seriously, it can remind us how beautiful it can be :)

Alex Blackmon - February 5, 2014 - 9:49 pm

This post just made me more excited about mine and Dan’s anniversary session with you! So excited!!

Jean - February 5, 2014 - 6:35 pm

I love the anniversary photos you took of us. You are so good!

Nikki Santerre - February 5, 2014 - 6:18 pm

I love this, Abby. You are so right, while weddings are awesome, it is MARRIAGE that really matters. Beautiful images…I can’t wait to see what you create this year!

Caitlin Gerres - February 5, 2014 - 2:49 pm

I love this! We did an anniversary session this year and it was amazing! I’d love to do one every year!

Tiffany Farley - February 5, 2014 - 10:45 am


Michelle - February 5, 2014 - 10:38 am

Love this! The images from our session with you are still some of our most cherished possessions. Two years later they still remind us of who we were and where we were at that point in our marriage and that is so precious.

Kat - February 5, 2014 - 10:12 am

YES! So great, Abby. My thoughts exactly!!

Kathryn Grace - February 5, 2014 - 10:03 am

Love this SO much.

Katie Wallis - February 5, 2014 - 10:02 am

I been toying with the idea of doing an anniversary session. This blog post just confirmed that I want to go through with it :)

Megan Guernsey - February 5, 2014 - 9:44 am

I could not agree more! I am so glad we did anniversary photos to document our first year of marriage. And obviously glad we chose you to do it :) That is one of my favorites!!

Lindsay - February 5, 2014 - 9:43 am

YESSSS!!! A million times YES! I look at the canvas from our anniversary session every day (because it’s hanging in our room) and just sigh… it’s such a magical moment captured forever! I totally and completely, 100% agree that this is SUCH an important thing! Thanks for documenting OUR story Abby and I’m SO excited for the couples you’ll be photographing this year!

Tiffany Heidenthal - February 5, 2014 - 9:35 am

YES! Erik and I need to do this.

Mary - February 5, 2014 - 9:34 am

This post makes me so happy! I was just telling my husband that we don’t take near as many pictures together now that we are married. I SO wish we still lived on the east coast so I could jump on this! Can’t wait to see the future anniversary shoots!

Monday Mash-Up

Can we all go ahead and agree that last night’s Super Bowl may have been one of the least interesting games to date? I didn’t have a real vested interest in either team; I was sort of pulling for the Broncos because I really like Peyton Manning, but the Seahawks had never won a Super Bowl and I would have been happy to see that too. But come on, guys- at least make it a good game! That match such a blowout that we stopped watching after the third quarter and made our way home to watch the newest Sherlock episode. If you aren’t already hooked on Benedict Cumberbatch’s version of the infamous sleuth, you’re missing out.

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

  • I have a deep-rooted mistrust of hair dressers and this past week’s appointment to get my hair cut is a perfect example of why. They all (and I mean ALL) chops off way more than I’ve asked for, and I’m left pretending to be happy with it for as long as it takes to get out to my car where I then stare morosely at my locks and mourn the loss of several inches of hair. So, that being said, anyone have a trusted person in northern Virginia they recommend who won’t take un-asked for liberties with your locks?
  • Also, I’m 100% aware that ^this^ is a first-world problem.
  • Thanks to our friends Terry & Flo, I discovered the GREEN Tabasco sauce a couple weeks ago, and now I put that stuff on everything. Soup, tacos, even a plain flour tortilla. So good.
  • I received a gorgeous blush tulle skirt for Christmas and now I’ve got the urge to try and make one myself! I picked up the tulle + lining fabric and we’re heading to my Granny’s house this weekend, so I’ll keep you guys posted on how it turns out.
  • You know those ridiculous late-night conversations that you have with best friends and/or your spouse that make you laugh one of those good, hearty belly laughs? Matt & I had one of those last night, the subject being “names for boys” if we were ever to have one. After a discussion revolving around how April, May and June got to be the only months that are also acceptable names for people, Matt suggested “how about October September Springmann, and we’ll call him ‘Toby?’” WHAT? In the past, Matt’s also suggested “George” and “Mason,” if we ever have twins. I countered that with “George” and “Fred,” but he wasn’t going for it.
  • **And no, we’re not having children anytime soon.

Last week I had the opportunity to shoot in a studio for the first time- that was definitely an experience! I won’t be sharing the images on my blog, but I’m hoping it’s something I’ll have a chance to do again soon! Perhaps with my next ballerina session?


Also! The deadline for sending in an application to be a shooting intern is TODAY at 5 pm. I’ve received way more interest than I anticipated (thank you to everyone who’s applied!) so I’ve implemented a cutoff to allow me time to make a decision. If you were thinking of sending in an application, make sure it’s in my inbox by 4:59 this evening in order to be considered :).

Emilia Jane - February 4, 2014 - 5:04 pm

I am DYING to shoot a couple with a gal in a tulle skirt

Terri Baskin - February 4, 2014 - 2:53 pm

I don’t know Abby, October “Toby” has a nice ring to it! lol Or Mason Radford Springman, perhaps?!?!

Caitlin Gerres - February 3, 2014 - 2:21 pm

I feel your pain on the hair cuts. I purposely ask for 1-2 inches less than I intend. But I always need a few days to get used to the change.
I think you’re doing pretty good if Matt’s suggestions are Toby, George, and Mason. Ryan wants Winston, Emerson, and Vincent.
And your “not-pregnant” disclaimer made me laugh. That’s become a staple for my posts. I always seem to be a little too vague.

Jean - February 3, 2014 - 1:17 pm

Have you not heard of the actress January Jones? April Springmann would be awesome! Or you could go with gem names like. Pearl, Opal, Ruby! Just kidding! Can’t wait to see you and Matt.

Ashley - February 3, 2014 - 1:14 pm

I feel your pain about the haircut woes. One of the things I love about my stylist Tiffany at the Anne Welsh Salon in Alexandria is how well she listens and translates that request into my cut. And when I ask for just the TINNIEST of trims (less than 1/8th an inch), that’s what I get. I’ve never had a stylist actually listen like that!

leah - February 3, 2014 - 1:12 pm

Jhovanna at Semblance in Ashburn or Miriam at Accent Beauty (they have great first time client specials).

Melissa - February 3, 2014 - 12:53 pm

ABBY!!!! I was so excited to run into you at the studio – finally I got to meet Abby Grace. Woot Woot.

Natalie - February 3, 2014 - 12:17 pm

What about August?! ;) I’ve known two August’s growing up.. one was a girl the other was a boy we called “Auggie”! Seriously! Months for names… love it!

Amanda - February 3, 2014 - 12:07 pm

You should go see Hediah at Encore Color in Fairfax City – she is amazing – she does exactly what you want and does a great job!

Calling all interns!

My method when it comes to additional shooters on a wedding day has changed a lot over the past few years. It used to be that I wouldn’t even consider showing up to a wedding without a second shooter, but then my attitude swung more to the side of non-shooting assistants, rather than a designated second shooting photographer. And here I am, embarking on the beginning of year 4 of photographing wedding on my own, and I find things changing again.

As great as things worked out with having assistants over the past year, it was getting pretty frustrating when I found myself with a different assistant at almost every wedding. I had a few favorite gals to work with, but if they were already booked, it meant I needed to reach out to someone outside of my circle of preferred photographers, often resulting in a brand new assistant at each wedding. This meant I spent a significant amount of time on wedding days training new assistants in how I needed them to help me out. And they all did a wonderful job! But I’m at a place where I need more consistency than that- working with a different assistant almost every weekend was at times unreliable and, to be honest, a bit counterproductive.

Cue: the idea of “shooting interns.”

I recognize that I need more stability when it comes to my secondary photographers on a wedding day, but I’m also aware that it’s difficult to ask ONE person to reserve all of the Saturdays on which I need them, so I’m looking to hire two to three shooting interns for the 2014 wedding season. This is an educational experience as well as a paid position- I’m looking to find two to three photographers who are already accustomed to working their cameras, and to pour pretty much everything I know about shooting weddings into each of them. I’ll do my best walk you through what I do and why I do it, and during down time you’ll be able to ask as many questions as you like. AND, unlike in the past, I’ll work with each of my interns to curate images at the end of their time with me so that you’ll be able to use a handful of photographs from each wedding you shoot with me to get your own online portfolio started. In short, I want each of my interns to walk away from the 2014 season with me feeling empowered, able, and confident enough to get their own wedding photography business up and running in time for the 2015 season.

So let’s talk about a couple requirements/details:

  • You’ll need to be available and ready to solidly commit several months in advance to 6-8 Saturdays throughout the year (we’ll divvy up my schedule between interns so no one’s having to commit to every wedding weekend)
  • Applicants need to have at least some experience in photography to begin with. You don’t need to be a full-time photographer or a wiz with off-camera lighting, but you do need to know how your camera works. We’ll be jumping right in on wedding days and you’ll need to know how to use the equipment you have.
  • The positions will pay per wedding day, and that rate will depend on experience and the amount of equipment you already own.
  • Most of all, I want you to want this. I want you to have a desire to better yourself as a photographer, to have a passion for learning, to be teachable, and to be EXCITED! Because as crazy as wedding days can be, we’re going to have a lot of fun!
  • Oh yes, and there will be a degree of travel involved for some of the weddings, so be ready for that as well! (You’ll know before committing to a weekend whether or not there’s travel involved)

So. If you think like this sounds like something you’re ready for, interested in, and excited about, shoot me an email at with a brief introduction, a link to your recent work (even if it’s a Facebook album), and your answers to the following questions (feel free to just copy + paste this into the email):

  1. Experience- how long have you been shooting, both personally and professionally (if applicable)?
  2. What do you LIKE to shoot?
  3. What equipment do you already own?
  4. Why do you want to shoot weddings?
  5. What are you hoping to learn from being a shooting intern?
  6. Are you generally available on Saturdays? (this one is really important!)
  7. What does love mean to you personally? (I’m not looking for a fluffy, nondescript answer you think I want to hear, I really want to know what it means to you!)
  8. Favorite Disney movie. GO.

I’m really excited to talk with you!

Classic Virginia wedding photo-Abby Grace

**Updated 2/1/14: You guys are incredible! I’ve received over 50 applications at this point, so if you’re stilling thinking of sending one in, I’m setting a deadline of 5 pm Monday, February 3rd. Can’t wait to hear from you!**

***Updated 2/4/14: No more applications are being accepted at this time- thank you!***

Brianna Schlecht - January 31, 2014 - 1:18 pm

So exciting!! I just sent you one of the longest emails EVER :)

Rici - January 30, 2014 - 2:41 am

You don´t happen to need an intern in Germany/Italia?? Oh my! It sounds soooo good!
~ Saluti!!

Michael and Carina - January 29, 2014 - 9:28 am

Just sent someone your way!

Emilia Jane - January 29, 2014 - 9:14 am

I’m so excited for you with this love <3

Rebekah Hoyt - January 29, 2014 - 9:07 am

Abby, this is SO exciting!

Arli Quinn - January 29, 2014 - 9:05 am

Love this! I’m out of the office right now but you will receive an email from me this evening! :)