Specifically, the ones by Ticonderoga. Because there’s nothing quite as good as a freshly sharpened, yellow-coated pencil with a full eraser, a blank page, and a head full of ideas.

Ticonderoga pencils- Abby Grace Photography

I like the elementary inspiration of it- it takes me back to a place where I wasn’t bound by self-inflicted rules, by silly self-created boundaries that do nothing but hold me back. And I like that if I make a mistake, I can erase it and start over, without leaving a big black smudge all over the page. (Unless you mistakenly bought the Rose Art pencils, which DID leave smudges because the erasers were awful. Amiright?)

Ticonderoga pencils- Abby Grace Photography

I know that mechanical pencils are more practical, and that you don’t have to waste time sharpening, sharpening, sharpening.

But I think I LIKE the fact that I can see my progress, 1/8″ of graphite at a time. Because if I’ve started with a perfectly sharp pencil point and write until it’s dull, I’ve obviously accomplished something (hopefully). And I like the sound of a grinding pencil sharpener- to me, it personifies getting stuff DONE. The more times I have to turn the pencil sharpener crank, the more I’m writing, and the more I’m writing, the more I’m doing. 

Ticonderoga pencils- Abby Grace Photography

Writing it cathartic to me; whether it’s writing a list, filling in my planner, or just brain dumping onto a piece of paper, writing helps me de-stress and de-compress when it feels like my mind is crammed too full. Something about it helps me center my thoughts and clarify, so that I’m more prepared to take on my next task!

(The camera pencil sharpener above is from Paper Source, but you can grab one here!)

Monday Mash-Ups start to get a little bit dicey for me during the months of January-Marchish- it’s when I’m not shooting much, so I have a couple choices: a) use a photo of my dogs, which will either make my audience say “aww!” or “eff, doesn’t she ever talk about ANYTHING other than her animals? or 2) pull something from the archives. Today, I’m opting to pull something from the sort-of archives; I’m still waiting on my film scans from David & Kristy’s anniversary session, so in the mean time, I’ll share another one of their digital images at the bottom of this post!

It’s snowing outside! Today’ weather forecast is snow, alllllll day and alllll night. I LOVE IT! There’s nothing that gets me more giddy than looking out my office window and seeing white fluffy stuff accumulate. Of course, it means the concept of “going anywhere” is out the window, since people in Northern Virginia tend to go bat crap crazy when it snows- like somehow, precipitation means everyone suddenly forgets everything they know about driving and regresses back to the same motor skills they had at age 15. Come on, people- the roads aren’t even slick. Proceed as usual.

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

  • We had a lock-in with our small group on Friday! For those of you who didn’t grow up attending church youth group, and lock-in is basically a big old sleepover where you stay up all night and play games, eat your weight in junk food, and emerge the next morning in a state of extreme sleep deprivation. Now, try that as an adult, and add in a few games of Cards Against Humanity and a glass of wine? Recipe for an AWESOME night!
  • And now that it’s Monday and I’m feeling the crushing guilt of a weekend spent eating raw cooking dough, Cheet-os, and dessert quesadillas (peanut butter, chocolate chips + banana slices on a tortilla), it’s time to purge. Back to Paleo I go.
  • Only I refuse to give up milk in my tea/coffee. I know you can substitute with almond milk, but have you had almond milk in tea? It’s disgusting!
  • Somehow, we lucked into having the only two German Shepherd mix pups that don’t shed. And praise the LORD for that, because me and vacuuming? We don’t have what you’d call a “close” relationship. Neither do me and sweeping.
  • Can I get a show of hands? How many other people out there only clean house when there’s company coming over?

Heeere’s David & Kristy! I’m crossing my fingers that my scans come in this week, so I’ll be sharing their entire session soon!

Washington DC anniversary session- Abby Grace Photography

  • Jean - Beautiful photo! So classy! Yes, cleaning house before company is something we all do. Glad you are enjoying the snow, but also glad we are not getting it this go round!ReplyCancel

  • Heather - We had that exact discussion about our cleaning habits this weekend! It seems like things pile up and then suddenly someone wants to stop by to say hi and we go into extreme cleaning mode. I just say it makes us efficient when the time comes :)ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah - The only reason I now vacuum regularly is because of our corgi. He is ADORABLE in every possible way, but he does shed like CRAZY.ReplyCancel

  • Taylor - Our Rottie/Pitt mix sheds like crazy! When we get done bathing her, hair is waist high on the tile walls. How, how does she have so much hair to lose?! Luckily, we have hardwoods throughout the house, so hair doesn’t get stuck in any carpeting. Sweeping is still a pain in the butt, but I’m working on my relationship with it lol.ReplyCancel

  • Camille - Yay! Our lock-in/game night made it onto the blog :) Oh..and no…you’re not the only one who only cleans when people are coming over…ReplyCancel

  • Karen Field/Mom - Since we’re selling our house we are keeping it clean and using the Roomba a few times per week. But, when the phone rings with a realtor coming, we slide into frantic mode and clean to make it all look like perfect. I’m glad your lock in with your small group went so well!ReplyCancel

  • Morgan D. - **slowly raises hand**ReplyCancel

  • Monday Mash-Up » Modern International Wedding Photographer - […] that time I said our dogs don’t shed? HA. Sirius proved me waaay wrong on that one. That dude’s fur falls out at such a rate […]ReplyCancel

One of the first things Kylie told me that day was “we’re both really, really awkward in front of the camera.” I love it when my couples say that kind of thing at the beginning of a session- my response is always “challenge ACCEPTED.” Because honestly, looking through their images, have you ever seen any two people look less awkward together?

Wedding photographs aren’t about putting on your best Tyra Banks model face, and they’re not about capturing perfection. Wedding photographs, at least, the way I choose to capture them, is about freezing genuine moments in time through the click of a shutter. It’s not about forcing your relationship to look a certain way that it would never look in real life,  it’s about giving you the opportunity to interact the way you already interact, framing that in the best possible light/composition, and pressing the shutter. So when it comes to Abby Grace couples, there’s no such thing as “awkward in front of the camera.” Because you just have to come prepared to be you, to love authentically, and to kiss with abandon. That’s all.

Zac & Kylie, it was an absolute joy to spend this time with you both. I know the weather was awful and that it seemed like the forces of nature were actively working against us, but you both absolutely rocked it. I can’t think of a better way to have spent that afternoon than with you two!

Washington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace PhotographyWashington DC wedding photographs at the National Portrait Gallery- Abby Grace Photography

  • Sarah Beth Tapanes - These are timeless, Abby. I love how the city lights are reflecting on the rain-slicked ground- it’s luminous! And that bridal shot in front of the window? Doesn’t get much classically beautiful than that <3ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah - You’re right! They look completely natural & beautiful together. Great work!ReplyCancel

  • Urška Majer - So beautiful and classy!ReplyCancel

  • kaitlyn phipps - Can’t believe I missed these last week! So gorgeous Abby. I feel like you excel in all of the times when a lot of photographers have trouble. Like shooting indoors and in storms! Goodness these are wonderful.ReplyCancel

  • Rici - Love the shoulders of that dress!ReplyCancel

It started with one of my AGP Poster Couples, Phil & Megan. Megan’s been around since the veeeery early days of Abby Grace Photography- back when I only had a blogsite, when I still watermarked my images, and when my hair was still above my shoulders. They were the first couple who I photographed for their engagement, wedding, AND anniversary. (Also, can we talk about drastically my work has changed over the past four years? Praise the Lord!)

Washington DC anniversary photographer

Then Eddie & Priyanka took it one step further- I did their proposal, engagements, wedding, and anniversary. And then when their daughter Leah was born this past December, I photographed her too!

Washington DC anniversary + wedding photographer- Abby Grace

With the realization of how much JOY it brought me, the idea of the Abby Grace Legacy Couple was born!

See, I often spend a year or more getting to know these fabulous couples- we’ll do wine together, have an amazing time at their engagement session, and then I have an all-access pass to the biggest day of their lives thus far. And then… I sometimes never see them again, especially if they’re not from the DC area. It’s such a bummer! My couples are incredible human beings; people that I’d be friends with in life anyways, and having been there for such an exciting and important time in their lives, I feel especially connected.

What’s also fun is that the blog readers who’ve been following along for years? They feel connected, too! They’ve seen every blog post, viewed every wedding, they remember things like “Maria- she was the bride who wore her mother’s wedding dress, right?”

Washington DC anniversary photographer

So having my brides and grooms return on their one, two, three year anniversaries is SUCH a gift! I love hearing how their love stories have grown, what’s surprised them most about marriage; I love hearing about their biggest highs and the battles they’ve overcome.

Washington DC anniversary photographer

One of the foundational beliefs that I’ve built my business and work on is that your marriage is worth fighting for. Knowing that my couples are fighting for theirs, whether that’s in something simple like a date night, or something major like walking through tragedy, it gives hope. Being able to reflect on and celebrate your victories as a couple can help make walking through the hard times a bit more manageable. Having moments captured on film that show those blissful moments when you couldn’t remember ever loving each other more than you do right now? Those are worth far more than their weight in gold when the going gets tough.

To all my Abby Grace couples who’ve trusted me over the years with some of the biggest moments of your lives, I can’t express what an honor it is to be asked to photograph you after the wedding day’s come and gone! I can’t wait to photograph more of these this year!

  • Alicia Lacey - This is such an incredible idea, Abby! You are pioneering a new client experience in photography and I can’t wait to see where it takes you!!ReplyCancel

  • Emily - My husband just emailed me this saying “are we a legacy couple??” Looking forward to Abby Grace shoot #3 in 2 months!!ReplyCancel

  • Emily Gerald - ohhhh Abby! I love this, especially the sweet babes!!!ReplyCancel

  • Wendy Byrd - oh this is so wonderful. I can’t wait for photo shoot #3, 4, 5…ReplyCancel

  • Rici - Awwww! How cool of you Abby! To share the journey & share about your couples again! Crazy stuff, I remember all the posts from the early days! Oh WOW! Such a great progress & wonderful road you have taken!!!!!!
    Loads of greetings from Germany!ReplyCancel

Things that I do not suggest doing: deciding the DAY BEFORE a shoot that you’re going to “just make” your own 12 foot x 16 foot backdrop. The last time I photographing Christa in studio (remember that pas de deux session?), I did so without any backdrop- just the white cyc wall of the studio itself. This time, I wanted a more “polished” feel to the session, so I got a bit ambitious and decided to paint my own backdrop.

I headed to Home Depot (twice), then Lowes, and then Lowes again. And then for good measure, I headed back to Home Depot at 9pm to pick up another can of paint, because canvas soaks that stuff up like you wouldn’t believe. And then the morning of the shoot, I was outside on our deck as soon as the sun had risen to touch up any spots that needed more color.

In the end, it was definitely worth it! I loved having the neutral background to make Christa’s skirt really jump off the page. The next time I attempt something like this, I’ll do a bit more research beforehand, but for a last-minute hack job with a canvas dropcloth and two buckets of paint? I’d say this was a win.

Christa- you, my dear, are wonderful. Your heart and personality alone would be enough to make me want to photograph you, and adding on top of that how exquisite you are? You’re one of my favorite muses! Thank you for giving me your time- this first might be my all-time favorite from my ballerina series!

Washington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby Grace

Washington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby Grace

Washington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby Grace

Washington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby Grace

Washington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby Grace